What’s it like to study in Denmark?

Daniel tells us why he chose the University of Copenhagen for his master’s degree in philosophy.

Why did you choose to study in Denmark?

For a start, my department is particularly renowned for the area of research I am most interested in, which is phenomenology. What is more, Denmark seems to have a bit more of an open attitude towards philosophy than the UK, with philosophers being employed in research positions in private companies and health settings for instance. Scandinavia was an obvious choice because of their impeccable English and advanced social welfare. Copenhagen stood out as a city with a lot going on culturally.

What was the application process like?

The application process was relatively simple. The bigger administrative challenge is dealing with the state when you arrive.

How did your family and friends react to the news?

Reactions were mixed. Some people think it is great. To others, Denmark is an unusual choice.

Were you comparing Denmark with another country when you were considering your study options?

I spent a lot of time weighing up Denmark against staying in London. In the end I decided to do a masters more for the overall experience and challenge rather than the specific qualification so that counted the UK out. I would have happily gone to any Scandinavian country, all of which I think have great universities. I chose Denmark mainly for the course the University of Copenhagen offers.

How did the fees in Denmark compare to what you would have paid in the UK?

This question makes me smile. There are no fees. I probably would not have been able to afford to study in the UK. I really don’t know why more British students don’t come to Scandinavia for this reason alone.

What about the cost of living?

Overall the cost of living is fairly comparable to London. My rent, which is the cheapest you’ll find in Copenhagen at £300 a month, is a lot better than what I could find when living in London, and my room is nice. However, everything else seems to cost a bit more.

How are you finding the experience of living and studying in Denmark?

It is certainly more different to studying and living in the UK than I expected. I think the quality of education is good and certainly a lot more flexible than a degree in the UK. Copenhagen has a lot to offer, but accessing it can feel like a challenge. I feel that the network of people you are connected to is even more important in Denmark than in the UK. Whether it’s knowing about a festival, finding an apartment or getting a job, knowing people is what will make a difference.  

What do you plan to do after your course is finished?

I will likely return to an English-speaking country but I’d consider staying in Denmark or Scandinavia. That is very much dependent on where I am able to find work.

Are there any things you are finding difficult about living in Denmark?

I don’t think Denmark presents any more of a challenge than living abroad anywhere else. I couldn’t have studied here if the course was not taught in English but there is a big downside to the Danes being very good at speaking English — being a native English speaker is really of no value, which can make finding work challenging.

One difference that I think is significant between England and Denmark is that student life seems a lot better here. Danish students get paid rather well to study. Moreover, Danish companies seem to value students. Microsoft, Danske Bank, Novo Nordisk... all the top companies and even the small start-ups  in Denmark will offer part-time jobs to Danish speaking students. These are jobs that seem to help students develop and find a career, unlike plenty of the unpaid internships in the UK. If you want to do an internship here, the quality of which seems on average to be superior, you can do one as part of your studies and get academic credits for it. To me, by comparison, the UK attitude towards students is very lacking.

How do you think your experience of studying abroad will be viewed by employers and was this something that was a factor in your decision?

I hope it will be viewed positively. This was definitely a factor that motivated me to study outside the UK.

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