Hello! My name is Cornelius and I am currently an exchange student from the National University of Singapore. My student mentor and friend, Emil, asked if I was willing to share my experiences and thoughts as an exchange student here in Copenhagen, so I hope you would enjoy this article!
How does it feel coming to Copenhagen?
I arrived in Copenhagen two weeks ago (after a long 13-hour flight) and I must say that I am settling down very nicely here. Copenhagen does indeed live up to its reputation as one of the most liveable cities in the world. While it is definitely not easy settling down into a new country and living there for 6 months, I must say my past 2 weeks in Denmark has been really pleasant and exciting. My main struggle thus far has been with the awfully cold and windy weather (given that Singapore is really warm) which I am still adapting to, but I am looking forward when the weather becomes warmer during the spring period and definitely try cycling then!
I had always intended to travel out of Asia and do my exchange programme in Europe especially since it is much easier to visit the other countries in Europe when I am already here. Copenhagen was one of the few places that appealed to me because many Singaporeans do not frequently travel here and it is nicely located within Central Europe. While I was aware that the standard of living is generally quite high in Europe, I was really caught off guard by how crazily expensive the rent can be in Copenhagen especially after asking my other friends living in other cities in Europe. Nevertheless, I still have no regrets coming here given my extremely positive experience thus far.
How is your accommodation?
Unlike many other exchange students who opted for housing under the UCPH Housing Foundation, I am currently residing in an apartment in Hellerup with 3 other Singaporean students that we found on Airbnb. Our neighbourhood is really beautiful and it only takes me less than half an hour to get from home to class, so I am really happy with this arrangement. Fun fact: my room did not have a desk so I went to IKEA Gentofte to purchase one for 199 DKK, carried it back on the bus (with the help of my friends) and built it myself!
Was it easy to get the practical stuff in order?
Applying for a Resident Permit and CPR number is actually quite straight forward even though the initial process might seem really daunting. When I visited the International House to apply for my CPR number, the Danish staffs there was really friendly and the entire process was really fast. Future international students coming to Copenhagen (or anywhere else for that matter) should not worry too much about settling the practical stuff as there is plenty of information available online. Just use a simple checklist to keep track of the necessary things to do and you should be fine.
Why did you choose Copenhagen University?
One of the main reasons why I chose Copenhagen University was because the classes that were offered here aligned to my own academic interests as an economics major and a political science minor. Many exchange students, including myself, might have felt apprehensive about attending class alone in a totally different environment especially on the first day of school. But after stepping out of my comfort zone to talk to the other students in my first week, I was eventually able to make new friends with both local and international students. The past few days of schools have been really interesting especially in my political science class on populism where I was able to hear from multiple perspectives from students who come from many different parts of the world.
How have people treated you so far?
Everyone here that I have met has been really friendly thus far regardless of whether they are local or from abroad. When I needed help finding directions, setting up a local SIM card or simply just asking about life in Copenhagen, the locals here have been really warm and welcoming to me. It also does make it better that they pride themselves on being really efficient (the UCPH IT staff replied to my email within 3 minutes). My student mentor Emil and his friend Stig (who are also Economics majors) have helped me settled down into the student life here at UCPH. Emil himself referred me to the student editorial and here I am writing my first ever article!
What do you expect from the exchange?
For me personally, I did not want to set big expectations of what I wanted to do or experience while I was in Copenhagen and Europe. I wanted to first settle down properly and sort out the necessary administrative issues before thinking about joining student events or travelling. Now that I have settled these administrative issues and into UCPH, I would definitely be more open to meeting new friends and make travel plans. Definitely looking forward to the next few months here, cheers!