Studying in Denmark
Studying in Denmark might be somewhat similar to studying in your home country, or it might be totally different. Either way, there are a few things you should know to make sure you can make the most out of your time studying in the City of Smiles 😊
Most of the time, attendance isn’t mandatory in your classes. Attendance sure helps you do well in class, but if you are feeling under the weather then your professors will most definitely prefer that you stay home rather than drag yourself to class feeling dreadful. It is always courteous to send your lecturers an email to let them know you aren’t coming due to illness, and they can usually keep you up to date on what’s due next time in class better than your friends can! The Danish education system really emphasises independence and responsibility for your own learning, so it’s highly unlikely that your teacher is going to beg you to come to class if you don’t feel well (and also if you aren’t making the effort to normally).
*Note*: when emailing your lecturers, it is commonplace in Denmark to call them by their first name. I generally start with a “Hi *first name*”, but you can switch the hi for a good morning/afternoon if you want to err on the side of caution with formality 😊
On the other hand, one group who really are counting on you coming to class are your study group (but again if you’re sick, stay home!). In your first semester, you may get put into study groups by the teacher (save awkwardly trying to choose them on the first day when you don’t really know anyone yet), but in later semesters you are more likely to choose your own. You will work in these groups both inside and outside the classroom, and they will usually consist of 3-6 people depending on the class size. You might have graded assignments to work on together, or it may be that your study group is just there for you to discuss readings with or to go to the library with when you need some more motivation to study.
I was pretty concerned about the idea of study groups when I first came to Denmark, as group work in my home country often resulted in 1 or 2 people doing the work while the rest were uninterested. This hasn’t been the case for me at all here thankfully! Of course, it is natural for people to be varyingly motivated, but generally most group work here has been fairly evenly distributed in my experience 😊
Preparing for Class
A large number of classes at AU depend on your active participation as well as listening to the teacher. In Denmark, there are a lot of small group and whole class discussions of readings or tasks for the week, and you get the most out of these discussions if you come prepared by doing the work asked for by the teacher. You don’t have to understand everything – I’m a native English speaker but even I was struggling with some of the fancy words in the readings for my course (and don’t even get me started on when authors seem to think it necessary to insert a quote in Latin!). But that’s what the discussions are for – helping you understand the concepts and terminology that you are confused by!
Sometimes it can be scary to speak up in class at the beginning if you are from a culture where you aren’t used to it, or maybe you’re shy, or maybe you’re just worried about giving the wrong answer. Teachers are usually very understanding of this and don’t tend to make anyone speak unless they feel comfortable, but it is worth trying to speak up and take part because you will gain so much more from the class if you are an active participant. I for one have said ludicrously wrong answers with unwavering confidence many times in class, and after 10 seconds of awkwardness, I got over it and was better off for having learned from my mistakes 😊
Studying in Denmark might be exactly what you expect or something totally different, but all international students are in the same boat of trying something totally new - figuring it out together is what makes it so much fun! :D