It seems to be a long time ago when my adventure in Denmark started… although it was only in the end of January. It was the first time that I travelled alone. I took the airplane from Vienna to Billund (with one stopover in Brussels) and after a short bus ride I arrived at my destination Haderslev – a small and charming city in the South of Denmark with approximately 22,000 inhabitants. My buddy (an international student who also studies in Haderslev) picked me up at the bus station and brought me to my accommodation.
The University College organised the accommodation for me. I lived in a flat in Christen Kolds Vej 18 with seven other students from all over the world. We shared the kitchen but I had my own cosy bedroom and bathroom. It was very interesting to live with students from other cultures and we often discussed things like eating, lifestyle etc. On the ground floor lived boys who attended the technique school next to the house. There was also a washing machine and a dryer in the building. The only bad thing was that we had to walk 30 minutes to get to the university and the centre of Haderslev.
University College South Denmark, Campus Haderslev
Lembckesvej 7, DK-6100 Haderslev
Contact information of the Erasmus office
Anne Christine Jeppesen, email@example.com, +45 7266 5011
The University College Syddanmark (short UCSyd) offers a well-organized ERASMUS+ programme for teacher education called “Living and Learning together”. In addition to the teacher training programme, the Haderslev campus offers other study programmes as well. For example, I met students studying Nutrition and Health, Business Language and Marketing, Graphic Communication and Media. Due to the fact that Haderslev has a very small campus (about 1,400 students), the atmosphere was very familiar. All teachers knew our names and took care of us. They asked us several times if everything was alright and if we had had any problems I’m sure they would have found a solution. I had to get used to calling the teachers by their first name. They don’t pay a lot of attention to titles etc. There are also a lot of opportunities for many different leisure activities, e.g. volleyball, badminton, music etc. at the campus. The swimming hall is free for students each Saturday afternoon. Every Friday the student bar “Fredagscaféen” is opened from 12 am to 12 pm. The drinks there are cheap and you easily get to know some of the Danish students while playing table-top football or beer pong.
Living and learning together
The programme consists of the course “Education and Culture in Denmark and in Europe” and two individual selectable modules (more information under: https://www.ucsyd.dk/international/welcome-to-university-college-south-denmark/). Each module is worth 10 ECTS points. However, sometimes not all courses can be combined, for example it was not possible to choose “Outdoor” and “Youth Culture expressed through music” because they both took place at the same time. I would recommend asking Anne (Erasmus coordinator) whether the combination is possible in order to avoid changing the Learning Agreement afterwards. There is a compulsory attendance of at least 80 % while regarding the internship attendance was compulsory for all sessions. In each course, we had to do two independent assignments.
The lessons at the UCSyd are totally different than in Austria. The focus is on group work and creating a “hygge” atmosphere where every student feels happy.
Education and Culture in Denmark and in Europe (mandatory for all, 10 ECTS)
In the course “Education and Culture in Europe” we talked about Denmark, Danish history, culture and society. We learned from each other’s education system and created our own “Edu-dream”. We also discussed philosophical topics based on the book “Momo” and did a “narrative interview” with our parents about Globalization and High-speed-society. The module ended with two final comparative assignments – an article for the “The Comenius Journal” and a short presentation on a topic chosen by us.
The course “Education and Culture in Denmark and in Europe” also includes compulsory Danish lessons and school experience in a practice school organised by the UC Syd.
The Danish lessons took place twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) at the language centre. We worked with the book “På vej til dansk” and learned some basic Danish. For those who want to learn a little bit more on their own, I would recommend the app “Duolingo” which offers a free Danish course. The exercises consist of little sequences and are based on daily practise (You can choose the daily goal in the settings!).
The university divided us in little groups of three or four persons depending on the grade we will teach back home. We always went together to the internship and planned our lessons together. We also had to do a lot of other tasks within the school experience groups. This year the teachers organised the school experience in a new way. Instead of a continuous internship of two weeks, we had one fixed internship day a week.
Contact information of my practice school:
Sønder Otting Skole (Børneunivers)
Buegade 11, DK-6100 Haderslev
I followed Ellen Bastrup Joergensen, an English, Danish, German and Art teacher in class 3 (8-9-year-olds) and class 6 (11-12-year-olds in German).
In the first weeks, we visited also two other schools. One was the Fællesskolen Favrdal Fjelstrup in Christen Kolds Vej (just next to my apartment). There they told us a little bit about the life in a Danish “Folkeskole”. The main differences to Austria are: The Folkeskole starts with class 0 and ends with the 9th class. After they graduated from this school, there are different school types to choose. There is a lot of freedom for pupils and teachers. They rarely have tests and the first time they are graded is in the 8th class. Their grades range from 12 (Excellent performance) to -3 (Unacceptable performance). The Danish philosophy is that pupils do what they love to do. The school will provide the room for finding what they really love.
The other school we visited is called Efterskole Hoptrup in Hovedgade 11. The Efterskole is a boarding school before high school with different specializations (drama, sport, catholic school….). The common feeling there is to learn and live together. Efterskole has the focus on growing as a person and developing the students’ personality. This is one of the only school types for which parents have to pay.
Outdoor living and learning for global citizenship (elective module, 10 ECTS)
All classes took place outside or at the museum. We investigated beaches, forests and the city and learned how we could use the environment for teaching. Most impressive was the stay at the Iron Age Village for three days. There we had to live and work like people from former times (without electricity, running water…). We experienced how the Iron Age society in the years 500 (B.C.) – 850 (A.C.) interacted with nature and how strong the community in the village had to be to ensure the residents’ survival. We also learned a handcraft (blacksmith, pottery, wood work or cooking) which we afterwards taught to pupils at the museum. During the last week, we also did a 40 km (!) hike on the old “Oxen” road to simulate a little “pilgrimage” in harmony with spirituality and nature. The module ended with two assignments reflecting on the stay at the Iron Age Village and reflecting on the teaching experience.
Creative learning in school and creative writing processes (elective module, 10 ECTS)
The module focused on “supportive learning” and “hands on tasks” where we could try many different creative methods and had to work independently, creatively and practically. We worked a lot in creative workshops like writing poems, pop-up-collage, creating new active activities, relief printing with foam etc. To sum up, we learned many ways to think out of the box and ways to use this in the school practice. For this course, we had to create a matching website with eight selected pieces of our work and taught pupils one of the creative learning methods.
I had to apply for a registration certificate and a CPR number (in order to go to the doctor, open a bank account etc.…) in Denmark. The university organised a trip to the registration office in Aabenraa for all students. Thus, this was very convenient for us.
The prices for daily products in the supermarket are maybe a little bit beyond our prices, but it is not that bad. There are some discount supermarkets like Netto, Fakta, Rema 1000 and Lidl.
Eating at a restaurant is rather expensive. The menu is about 130 DKK (~ 18 €) and one glass of lemonade is also around 50 DKK (~ 7 €). There are two restaurants: Black Angus (burger around 10 €) and an Italian restaurant “Firenze” (Pizza also around 10 €) which are affordable and good. If you have some money left, I would recommend going to “Cafè Kridt” and eat a burger there.
In the pedestrian streets Storegade and Bispegade and in the area around the cathedral you find different shops like Deichmann, Only, Vero Moda, H&M… There is also a JYSK (like Dänisches Bettenlager) where you can buy pillows, bed linen etc.
The hygge Danish life
The people in Denmark are very friendly, openminded and helpful. They are always ready to help you if you are searching for the right way or just need help to find the right train. In my opinion the Danes seem to be more relaxed and don’t have that much stress as we have. Nobody complains if the train takes a few minutes longer or you have to stay in line for three hours to take the ferry. They focus on quality “hygge” time with family and friends. It is not easy to describe this special atmosphere but if I had to translate “hygge” I would do it with the words “cosy” and “comfortable”. I always felt welcome in Denmark and the Danes were always happy to include us in their customs. For example, I learned a Danish dance the first weekend I arrived in Haderslev and we participated in a torchlight procession to celebrate the Lysfest. I never would have imagined that Denmark and especially Haderslev would become like a second home for me.
The weather in Denmark is very changeable and unpredictable. There can be sun, rain, hailstones and snow all in one day. Just one thing is sure: There is always wind in the flat country Denmark. The first thing I bought was a rain trouser which is very practical when you go by bike. You may need a cap and gloves until the end of April. However, in the middle of May summery weather finally arrives in Denmark. The last 3 weeks of my stay were sunny and I even got a sunburn. I enjoyed seeing the spring coming, how everything started to bloom and everything became green. I would really recommend the stay during the spring term because most tourist attractions open at the beginning of May and close in August.
If you go to the local bus station, you can get a Rejsekort. You can upload money on this card and pay busses, trains etc. all over Denmark with it. It is also cheaper than paying cash at the bus or at the railway station.
I always planned my trips with the app “Rejseplanen”. There you can also see the prices. The Danish public transport system is in my opinion well developed and you can easily travel throughout the country. In general, the busses are very punctual and reliable.
If you want to go to Copenhagen, the cheapest and most convenient way is taking the Rødbillet bus. This bus goes directly from Haderslev to Copenhagen and you can book online under: https://www.rødbillet.dk/. This is also the way I went home: I took the Rødbillet bus to Copenhagen and then a non-stop-flight to Vienna.
Taxis are rather expensive but may be useful if you have to go from the bus station to your accommodation with all your luggage. I always took the Taxa Haderslev (+45 70 10 75 00).
I decided to rent a bike from the ESN (Erasmus student network) because I already knew that my accommodation would be far away from university. Fortunately, I reserved a bike in advance under firstname.lastname@example.org because there are only 12 bikes for around 30 students. The deposit for the bike is 550 DKK (which you will get back when you give the bike back). The monthly fee is 50 DKK with ESN card and 75 DKK without ESN card.
The local car renting company is quite expensive and the price also depends on the amount of km you drive. For our road trips, we decided to rent a car in Flensburg (Germany), as it was much cheaper. But you should be aware that you have to be over 21 years old and own a credit card if you want to rent a car.
Some destinations I would recommend:
- Aarø, a little island not far away from Haderslev, is perfect for bike tours. It offers a beautiful beach, a light tower and in the summer, you might also go swimming in the sea if you are brave enough.
- Aarhus, the cultural capital of 2017.
- Odense, the birth place of Hans Christian Andersen.
- Ribe, the oldest city of Denmark.
- Legoland Billund (The ESN organised a trip.)
- Grenen (Skagen), the most northern point of Denmark, where the two seas meet and if you are lucky you can also see some seals.
- The north coast of Denmark offers a lot of beautiful beaches. My favourite one was Lønstrup with the light tower on the sand hill in front of the cliffs. Just perfect for a sunny long weekend in May.
- Of course, Copenhagen – the capital city – with its countless sights.
- Also, Hamburg in Germany is worth a visit. (The cheapest way to get there is with Flixbus.)
Review on the internship
On the one hand, I could find similarities to Austria. On the other hand, I learned a lot of new methods how to teach and especially a totally new way how to work in groups. My view on testing and giving grades (which is not common here in Denmark) has also changed. I am now more aware of the advantages and disadvantages. The most impressive thing for me concerning school practice was the focus on social values and not on exams, grades and individual performances. I am sure this experience will also influence my future job as a teacher in a positive way.
My personal review
I learned a lot which I wouldn’t have learned without studying abroad, e.g. a new language, a totally different culture, new teaching methods and how education systems in other countries are organised. I learned so much about myself, my language, my culture by reflecting and talking about other cultures, education systems etc. After I came back home, I realised how much I and my personality have changed. I have become more relaxed and calm, more flexible in speaking English and definitely more openminded towards other cultures, countries and languages. In addition, I have become more independent by living and travelling alone and this experience made me grow in my personality and my self-confidence. I have benefited so much from my stay abroad in a way I would have never expected.
I left with two suitcases of clothes and other stuff and came back home with a lot of experiences, new friendships and the wonderful feeling that I was brave enough to leave my comfort zone and embark on an adventure.
That was a little overview over my adventure in Denmark and for sure one of the best times of my life. I hope you will have a great time too.