At the moment of departure all I could imagine was my return, the six months was a blank canvas in which to direct and follow my ambitions. Going on exchange was something that I had always wanted to do during studying and going to Denmark was a perfect chance to see wind turbines and beautiful nordic girls, in that order. After the initial excitement of meeting the people I would live around and discovering what the campus had to offer the realities of study reminded me of the reason of the trip. As always the golden period of the semester passed quickly, a flurry of nights at the 6 on-campus bars and late nights in the library with group mates. Workload caused the mood of the semester to shift, with more serious focus on assignments and extra learning.
The changing of the seasons affected the mood of the stay as well. Balmy summer days of dusk at 9:30PM, barbecues in the sun and early morning runs shifted gradually to colder weather where inside of any type was preferred. Comfortable couches, hot bevvies used to warm hands and traditional danish foods added to the ‘hyggelige’, something like cosiness, familiarity and joy rolled into a single word.
Living on the campus at DTU had me sharing a kitchen with 15 other Danish students in a campus college with more than 200 students. There were party animals, geeks, gym lads and gamers coming from all over Denmark. All thoughtful, inquisitive and studying engineering. It was like a tiny heaven. Habitually we would discuss concepts that related to our fields of interest and study. This would often result in chemical equations, infinite sums, stress or wiring diagrams filling the whiteboard in the kitchen as we proposed solutions to the problems of the world. They were my little family on campus and introduced me to traditional danish cuisine and culture.
Getting out of Australia always offers the chance to try things you didn’t think about, I had the opportunity to spend Christmas with some friends and there parents. It wasn’t skydiving, but it made it possible to meet with a family in their home and meet older people. We danced around the christmas tree singing Danish carols, saw the traditional Disney show, and ate an extraordinary amount of delicious food. Traditional Danish faire consisted of pork, duck, potatoes, cabbage, and some nice wine. Punctuated by the Danish sense of humour, I learned about the values we all shared.
Australia and Denmark are similar in so many ways, but while it’s cliché, it’s the differences and seeing all of the cultural areas Australia doesn’t focus on that extends horizons. To make the most of time spent on exchange I made it my goal to ask all the questions I could and to discover the ways that Denmark could better my education and challenge my views. Along the way I happened upon great friends, projects available for students at any time and so much inspiration for my final year project. Ultimately there’s so much to gain, ask all the questions, get all the answers, go on an exchange!