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Ashley Vu

(she/her)
SFU Student Undergraduate
Beedie School of Business › Marketing
Study Abroad › Exchange

Program:
University
Location:
Experience Faculty
I studied at Aarhus University in Aarhus, Denmark. Embracing the Hygge spirit of Aarhus University, Denmark, during my Fall 2022 exchange – a journey filled with great people, fun lessons, and unforgettable memories. 🌍
Experience Details
Semester
Fall
Year
2022
Introduction + Preparation
Location Research

Before my exchange, I found information about how to get from the airport to my accommodation in Denmark to be helpful, which was available on Aarhus university website. Information relating to how the course would be transferred to SFU and information about the websites that student at Aarhus university should know (like Brightspace, where to look for course information, course schedule). When researching courses, at first, I had a lot of trouble finding Aarhus course information page. My exchange student advisor had to help me find this page. This is where I found information relating to the course offered in Fall 2022 and selected my courses. Aarhus university sent me emails with links to websites such as course schedules, important dates for international student and this is particularly important for me to plan my academic.

Financial Preparation

Denmark can be very expensive to eat out or buy clothes, however, groceries and accommodation is roughly the same as Vancouver. In Denmark, I mostly used cash and my Canadian visa. I did not set up a bank account in Denmark as it takes a lot of time to set up a bank account there (over a month) and I was only staying in Denmark for a term, so I did not find it necessary.

Packing

I packed quite light since it is only a term. I packed for both hot and cold weather since September in Denmark can be quite hot. I also packed medicine, some essentials such as hairdryers…

Travel and Transportation

In Denmark, travelling by buses is quite easy and can be navigated through google like Canada. In Aarhus, I did not have to purchase transportation card, instead, I bought bus tickets on an app. However, in Denmark the most popular transportation is bike, and their roads are designed for biking. Therefore, biking in Denmark is very convenient for everyday life.

During my Experience
Orientation and First Weeks

During my exchange, I was provided with a lot of information, and I was given a schedule for international students. I always knww what events are going on and I could catch up with all the events. There were a lot of orientation events such as Intro Day, International Student Party, Dinner. I was able to make a lot of friends through these events that the school organized.

Accommodation and Living

I struggled a bit with finding accommodation in Aarhus and was able to secure a place one week before my arrival. The place I live at is Skjoldhojkollegiet, a residential area. I had a studio-like apartment to myself with my own kitchen and washroom. I was quite surprised by many different housing rules and contract terms.

Learning and Adaptation

The lecture hall in Aarhus university was much smaller and there were less students which I found to be more comfortable. All my classrooms were located close to each other at the same campus, so it was very easy to navigate. I felt like a lot of the lecture format was similar to SFU. Instead of Canvas, Aarhus university use Brightspace, I could also find course outlines on Brightspace same as on canvas. Different from most courses at SFU, the courses I have at Aarhus university did not have regular exams or assignments. Instead, there was only one final exam for each course. I took 3 courses and I went to classes 5 days a week. Classes at Aarhus start 15 minutes later than the time that was put on schedule.

Cultural and Environmental Observations

I really enjoyed learning about Denmark culture and their ways of living. In Denmark culture, they value spending time with loved one, friends and family. “Hygge” is a term refers to Danish spirit, coziness, and contentment with life. I feel like this spirit is integrated in Danish everyday lives from the way they interact with one another to their lifestyle. Even though I do not speak Danish, I could still speak English to everyone in Denmark. People were always willing to communicate with me. Danish people always made me feel welcome and willing to help me. They made my time in Denmark very comfortable and I learnt a lot from them. In Denmark, it was very windy, and could get very dark during the winter months. I had to purchase extra coats and scarfs for the winter months there. I found Denmark weather to be quite similar to Vancouver weather as it was rainy and dark during winter months. The only thing to be aware of is how windy it can get; therefore, a scarf is a must while staying in Denmark. In Aarhus, I particularly enjoyed the restaurants, cafés and bars in the city center. Everything is located close to each other in the city centre, and it is fun to explore all of the places while living in Aarhus. I have also visited Den Gamle By, a historical museum in Aarhus, which was really close to Aarhus University. The city centre was very lively and is always packed with people, especially on weekend nights. On the other side, Aarhus also offers a lot of nature such as Marselisborg Deer Park and the beach.

Social and Extracurricular Activities

Around early September, there were a lot of student activities that was organized by the university and the city. Around late August early September, the city organized Aarhus Festuge (10 days festival) in the city centre and there was one festival night for welcoming students at Molleparken. This was one of the most amazing social activities that I found to be memorable. During orientation week, there were a lot of events that were organized by the schools like international student party, or fun bar night and these activities helped me make a lot of friends and good memories. During my time in Aarhus, I signed up for a dance class in the city centre and I really enjoyed my time there. The class was in Danish; however, I was still able to learn the dance moves and make friends in the class.

Reflection & Tips
Reflection

After my exchange term, I believe I have become more open to new experience, new culture and learn to enjoy it. I learnt to make friends from diverse culture, to communicate, to study and work in an environment that I am not familiar with and to adapt myself to such dynamic environments. More importantly, I have grown to be comfortable with changes and to have the courage to constantly step out of my comfort zones since this exchange have taught me the value of changes. There were many challenges throughout my exchange from little things such as paperwork, communication challenges, language barriers to burnout, social anxiety, culture shock and so on. However, I managed to overcome these with the help of other exchange students who were in the same boat as me.

Most Valuable Aspects of This Experience

Before coming to Denmark, I wish I had known that this exchange experience was meant to be for me and that I should enjoy it in the way that I want to, that I am comfortable with. Before going on exchange, I had certain expectations and always forced myself to live up to such expectations by doing more. This led me to a burnout stage where I was exhausted with balancing class and social life while feeling like I was still not able to achieve much from the exchange. I overcame this by giving myself time and allow myself to relax more. Other things I wish I had known was that in Denmark, there are a lot of thrift store where you can buy stuff for much cheaper.

Advice for Future Students

The advice that I have for upcoming exchange student is that you should give yourself time to adapt to the new place as it can be quite overwhelming, and you should attend many events as you can during the orientation week as this is where you will meet a lot of new friends. Planning is also very important since as an exchange student you might have to deal with a lot of paperwork, travelling, and so on. Lastly, everyone on their exchange has different goals and you should not have to force yourself to do what others do to feel good about your exchange experience, allow yourself to rest and do what you are comfortable with, and you will enjoy your exchange the way it should be.

Author

Ashley Vu

(she/her)
SFU Student Undergraduate
Beedie School of Business › Marketing
Study Abroad › Exchange
visibility  114
Aug 15, 2023