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Evgenia Zorina was just supposed to be in Denmark for four months. But she grew so fond of the little fairy tale country, that she has now lived, worked and studied here for nine years.

Nine years ago, before the Russian student, Evgenia Zorina (MSc, Finance and International Business, '08), first set foot on Danish soil, all she had to relate to the small Scandinavian country, was the poet H. C. Andersen.

And maybe it was her preference for fairy tales that made Evgenia Zorina smile at the thought, when a teacher at her University in Skt. Petersburg, where she was studying to become a civil servant, told her something unexpected.

“You know what?” the teacher said, “you’re on a list of people who might go to Denmark.”

It was never officially announced, but some Danish professors had come looking for Russians for a four month exchange program at Aarhus University. All Evgenia Zorina had to do was prepare for a test. 

- When I think about it, it was not as much I who chose Denmark. It was Denmark that chose me, Evgenia Zorina says today.

The interview that went along with the test became, as she soon came to realize, her first encounter with the Danish way of life.

No one was pushing me

- The angle on it wasn’t as much how good you are at economics, but more like how well you can adapt and integrate and talk to people, says Evgenia Zorina.

She passed the test and went to Denmark. And what she found there was intriguing, yet also scary for the 21-year-old Russian student, who was used to a school system where people tended to tell her what to do.

- Here, I had to do everything by myself. I could do whatever I wanted, as long I showed up for the exams. No one was pushing me, saying “you have to write this, you have to do that”, it was extremely independent, Evgenia Zorina remembers. 

During her four months’ exchange program, Evgenia Zorina wanted to get as much out of the stay as possible, even if she wasn’t coming back.

- I wanted to integrate myself as much as possible. I lived at Skjoldhøj Kollegiet, and I talked to a lot of Danish people. It really helped me understand the culture,” says Evgenia Zorina, who, having suddenly made a whole bunch of new Danish friends, realized she wanted to come back. 

And so she did. About a year after her first encounter with Denmark, in 2005 her application for Aarhus University had been accepted. Evgenia Zorina was now looking ahead on three years of studying Finance and International Business at the Aarhus School of Business.

- I was so happy to be back. At ASB, I learned how to manage my own time, so I had enough time to study and party. Once you’ve organized yourself that way, you can actually enjoy both, Evgenia Zorina reflects.

Free consultants

During the last year of her studies, she was supposed to do either exchange or an internship. So Evgenia Zorina moved to Copenhagen looking for a job, and quickly found herself working at Saxobank.
Evgenia Zorina - Apparently, in Copenhagen, there are a lot of companies that not only claim they have English as their main language; the employees are actually foreigners, and people speak English at the office
- Apparently, in Copenhagen, there are a lot of companies that not only claim they have English as their main language; the employees are actually foreigners, and people speak English at the office, says Evgenia Zorina. 

Her job at Saxobank came in handy, when she and her fellow student, Alina Bockhorst, who also happened to have got a job there, had to write their thesis. They simply decided to write about Saxobank, and from there they just had to figure out some technical details.

- To them, we were free consultants, and to us, it was a great opportunity to learn something new and to write the paper. The top management even helped us providing slides, Evgenia Zorina remembers.

A new step

Last year, Evgenia Zorina left Saxobank for a job at the newly started, fastly growing Danish company, Trustpilot. It was the same thirst for fairy tales and adventure, as she had felt when someone back in Russia had first talked to her about Denmark, that made her move to untested waters.

- At some point, you just want to learn something new, take a new step. I decided to change my industry. Trustpilot is a smaller setup, but I believe it has a bright future. It’s very alive, and I think what I was really longing for was a young, international crowd. I think, when you’re open minded and flexible, you always search for a matching environment, says Evgenia Zorina.

The Russian girl, who first thought she was to become a civil servant in her home country, has now lived, studied and worked in Denmark for nine years. And no encounter with a new country has yet defeated the little Scandinavian country.

- I’ve been travelling a lot, also while working at the bank. And every time I travel, I try to compare. I try to figure out if that’s a place I would like to live, and I always come to the conclusion that Denmark is the best place. It’s so easy here. Things function, says Evgenia Zorina.

Because even though she sometimes can’t believe her own ears, when Danes actually claim that the three hour trip from Aarhus to Copenhagen is quite long, and even though the Danish individualism, which she has grown so fond of, can sometimes be confused with selfishness, Evgenia Zorina has no doubt she wants to stay.

- I have come to love this comfort of life. I highly value the feeling of security and the freedom to express yourself. The freedom to act however you want. Here, everything is reachable. It’s kind of compact, it’s dynamic, and it works, says Evgenia Zorina.

Read about other international alumni from AU, who chose to stay and live in Denmark:

I Frankrig smækker de med døren (in Danish)

AU Alumni member 15,000: Denmark was my own choice