Before You Go
There are a few things that everyone should know about before they arrive in Denmark. The first part of this guide has some general guidance to prepare you before you leave. Part two will contain some advice that is more specific to Denmark for when you arrive. This guide is intended for students.
Set up a bank account or a building society account that has relatively low foreign cash withdrawal fees. It’s important to know your bank’s transaction fees and ATM cash fees. It might not matter much for a short length of time, but these fees and charges can add up quickly.
Avoid making low value purchases with your card, because this will incur a fee each time. If you’re buying something like a stick of gum with your card, the fees could amount to more than the value of the item itself. Part Two will contain a section on bank accounts for when you’re in Denmark.
It’s a good idea to make a kit list and to pack light. This way, you won’t forget to bring the essential items and you won’t be overloaded. In addition, a list will help to ensure that you only take what you need and what you’ll use. You’ll probably acquire stuff while you’re abroad, so keep that in mind.
I only needed my carryon luggage and one suitcase with a 20kg allowance this year. When I came back for Christmas, I was able to drop off some things and keep it light. You don’t need to bring your favourite nightstand with you.
What to Bring
Before my exchange, I asked a couple of the last academic year’s Denmark exchange students for tips on what to bring, and they were kind enough to provide me with some useful information. Here is the culmination of their tips and mine:
Bring a decent waterproof jacket. The days are long in the summer with plenty of glorious sunshine. However, the weather is much the same as it is in England. As the autumn term gets under way, there’s no shortage of wet, grey weather and that sideways rain that I’ve grown so fond of. Don’t get caught out in the rain.
Get some waterproof, breathable walking shoes. If you intend to cycle everywhere come rain or shine as I did, it’s a good idea to wear something more robust than plimsolls. If you’re fashion-conscious, consider that sodden squelching shoes probably aren’t a great look.
Sad Keanu’s shoes would be good for the Danish winters.
I’ve noticed a fair few girls wearing the tan-coloured workman shoes. Those would be fine, too.
As for a winter jacket, it’s not necessary to go out and spend a fortune. I just used my quality waterproof jacket and a system of layers. The problem with a large, heavy jacket is that you’ll most likely be hot after cycling to uni, and cold when you get in to your lectures with your jacket off. It’s easier to regulate your temperature with layers. But if you can afford to splash out and you want to look like a Dane in the process, I recommend the Canada Goose puffer jacket.
Apply for an Erasmus Intensive Language Course (EILC). These courses are free and you just have to pay for the essentials — accommodation, food and beer. The accommodation is normally quite affordable. To get a flavour of what I got up to on my two-week summer EILC in Odense, take a look at one of my first blog posts here.
This course was a great way to ease my transition into Denmark. Not only did I make some friends straight away, but I learnt about the language and the culture through lessons, fun social events and excursions.
Accommodation in the cities can be expensive and hard to come by, especially in Copenhagen. There are a range of different types of housing to choose from, such as dormitories and flat shares in private accommodation. I recommend that you apply in good time through your host university.
Unlike the Accommodation Office at the University of Leicester, CBS couldn’t guarantee that it would be able to provide housing for all of its students, even if you were to apply before the deadline. Students were told through multiple emails to look for their own accommodation and not to rely solely on being given a room. This is because of the difficult housing situation in Copenhagen. I remember that all of the places in the student dorms had sold out within two days.
If you find yourself in this situation, my advice is to stay positive and to be persistent. Had I not sent so many emails, my housing situation could well have turned into an ordeal. One of my friends at the beginning of the year had to stay in a hostel for weeks before she found a room.
Should you not have any luck in being provided with a room through your host university, relevant groups on Facebook might be a good place to look. It would be wise to try to involve the host university’s accommodation office in any agreement that you might be tempted to enter into. This would deter any would-be scammers. An honest person has nothing to hide. And the University would be able to tell you if it’s a known scam. There are unfortunately unscrupulous people out there who will try to exploit your good faith and sense of urgency. As a rule of thumb, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Pouneh, one of my fellow bloggers, was unfortunately affected by this in the beginning of the year. She put together an excellent article on how to avoid this from happening.