Shuai from China

Danish welfare and a great research environment

Shuai Zhang from China is studying and doing research in Nanoscience at Aarhus University. He chose Aarhus University over several others because of its good reputation, and he has not regretted his decision.

“Studying in Denmark is great and I have learnt many things. The atmosphere here is very relaxed, and it is very easy to get in touch with the professors and talk to them about your work. You can ask them anything and they will give you an answer, no matter how stupid the question is.”

Shuai Zhang is now a PhD Student on the so-called 4+4 track, which means he started his PhD studies after just one year of Master’s studies.

Shuai Zhang came to Denmark in August 2009 and in the beginning he had to get used to living in a much smaller city.

“I come from a city of six million people, so it was very different moving to Aarhus. Where I come from the streets are very crowded. Here in Denmark there is a lot more space, which is very nice if you have had a hard day or you just need time to gather your thoughts,” says Shuai and explains that he also has a great admiration for the Danish welfare system.

“For me one of the most positive things about Denmark is that you don’t have to worry about anything because there is such a great social system that takes care of you if you are sick, pays for your child’s education, etc. Instead you can just focus on your work. Maybe this is why Danes are so happy. I think Denmark is a good place to live - even though I don’t like the winter here,” he says with a smile.

Choosing Denmark over other places

Before Shuai Zhang came to Denmark he also got offered PhD positions in other countries, such as Canada, but he ended up choosing Aarhus University.

“The Interdisciplinary Nanoscience Center here is very good and has an excellent reputation. The research environment is also very good. We have a lot of great equipment and enough funding to do our projects,” he says before continuing:

“I also like to work in this very international environment with so many people from different backgrounds, where we can share very different and interesting ideas.”

First oral exam

When Shuai Zhang first began his studies in Aarhus at the Master’s level, he realized how different the educational system was compared to China. He particularly found that the exams were nothing like what he knew from home.

“You can bring everything into the exams here - your notes, your computer – everything! That is definitely not allowed in China. This was also the first time I took an oral exam. In China we only have written exams. I like the oral exams very much since it gives you a good chance to communicate with the professor about the subject and it is a lot easier to explain things and remember those you might have forgotten.”

Wants to continue with research

Even though Shuai Zhang really likes working and doing research at Aarhus University, he does not know if can stay here after he finishes his PhD.

− I still have more than two years left, so a lot can happen. But I hope to continue my research either in the public or private sector.