You are thinking about going abroad but don’t know where you want to go? If you are looking for a cozy little city with a chill atmosphere you are right in Aabenraa.
Aabenraa is a Danish city with about 16.000 inhabitants (January 2020). It’s very close to the German border so many people will be able to understand and speak some German there. The city has a beach, where you can go swimming if you enjoy cold water. In their local forests you can find beautiful walking paths and many campfire places, where you can make your own campfire. The area is also great for going on bike tours.
The University College Syd Danmark is located in Aabenraa city. It is a very modern building that was built just a few years ago. Inside and outside of the university are many places where you can sit together with your friends. The university has its own outdoor cooking place, which we also used in one of our lessons. Indoors are many study rooms with a table, chairs and a monitor to which you can connect your computer. There is a music room as well with many instruments that you can use to play. The university has a gym room, and also provides table tennis and tabletop soccer which can be used by students. It is also possible to have private cinema nights in university and to have gatherings there. Usually, the cafeteria is a nice place to meet as well. As a student you have access to the campus 24/7. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to use the campus that much because of the coronavirus, but I can imagine that it would be a really nice place to be, if the virus wasn’t there.
For those who are interested in the offer, the university provides apartments. The students are accommodated in three apartments with 5-6 students in each of them. The flats are very close to each other and only 5-10 min by bike from the university and the beach. Supermarkets, bus stops, and a gas station are directly next to the apartments, as well as a forest and a school. Unfortunately, we had some troubles with the neighbors (especially the ones who lived underneath us), because they were complaining a lot about every tiny noise we made. I think this might have been influenced by the Corona situation, because we didn’t have any other places to meet than our apartments and I guess the neighbors were home most of the time as well. Anyways, it was a great offer from university to provide these apartments. We also had Wi-Fi there and a washing machine and a clothes dryer in the basement. If there was anything that needed to be fixed in the apartment, the university immediately helped us with getting it repaired.
My Practical Period in Primary School
The Crossing Borders course included two modules, a theoretical one and a practical one. From August to November, we had the first module where we learned theories and other things in university. After that, we had our practical period in different institutions such as primary schools, after school clubs, kindergartens, nurseries and a facility for adults with disabilities. I absolved my practical period in a primary school in the class 0. The school was located on the outskirt of the city. Even though there were buses driving there, it was better to go there by bike. To get there by bus you would need to change once and from the bus stop it’s still a few minutes walking to get to the school. That’s why I decided to go there by bike, which was quite exhausting because it was uphill most of the time and it took about half an hour to get there. Even though it was not that easy to get to the school, it was an interesting experience. The kids were nice, the teachers as well and it was interesting to get to know a different educational system. We also had the opportunity to plan our own activities or lessons. How many activities we wanted to plan ourselves was completely up to us.
Things that would have been good to know in the beginning
- Public Transport
In general it is easy to get around with public transport. You can take different busses to go to cities nearby and make nice day trips. Also, Flixbus and trains are available. The only little problem is that the Flixbus station and train station are outside of Aabenraa, so it takes a while to go there. However, public transport is not cheap in Denmark. If you have to take it once or twice, no problem. But if you have to take buses regularly, I recommend getting the “Rejsekort”. This is a card that gives you discounts on tickets for public transport.
In Denmark it is not obligatory to have a NemID (online self-service) but for us it would have been useful to have one. When making a corona test it takes a lot of time to get an appointment and it can get hard to get the results. With the NemID it’s no problem. You can login, make an appointment online and see your test results online. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a NemID which led to some difficulties with going home for Christmas for some of us. The problem is, you can’t get the NemID alone – you need someone who already has a NemID to confirm that you are actually you. But I’m sure, if you need it, you will find someone who can help you with it.
I can definitely recommend buying a bike there. In Denmark using bikes is very common and you can go everywhere by bike. When I arrived there, I got the contact of a friendly man who sells used bikes for a cheap price (you can also sell them back to him before going back home). But I’m sure there are other ways as well to get a bike.
All in all, I have to say that I enjoyed the semester abroad a lot. I met many nice people, went on trips to see the amazing landscape of Denmark and got to know two Danish primary schools. The teachers at the university were all very nice and friendly. The only thing I really think is a pity is that we didn’t get a Danish course at university. Because of Corona we had some difficulties (for example finding places to meet or going home in the Christmas holidays), where we would have wished for more support of the university. Even though it was not always easy, we had a good time there. I can definitely recommend going on an Erasmus semester!
Author: Anna Hödlmoser.