Being Dansk

Henry Miller summed It up nicely when he said, “One’s destination is never a place but a new way of seeing things”. Having spent close to a year in Denmark, any international student, myself included, can regale in warm and cold stories about DTU along-with Danish weather, people, culture, and food; enough to make the evening hyggeligt.

Ever since the first hour in Introduction week, we were part of a group having a multi-cultural background being bonded by a common buddy. During the week, we were introduced to academic, social and cultural aspects of the university and country via various activities, quizzes and a tour of the city. The delicate balance between academic work and social activities which is prized by the locals was shown, which came in handy when trying to adjust to the coursework expected at this level of study with the endless exploring opportunities available here.

While I had read about the effects of moving to another country and the culture shocks associated, it was apparently not nearly enough. Getting new friends was hard as people are very formal and initially cold in terms of communication. The weather did not help either as the dark clouds in the sky and swift winds blowing through flat plains percolated down to people wearing shades of black and grey and freezing out in their conversations. But, since the academic work was rolling on at full steam, it was not given attention to. Friends made during initial weeks were the source of warmth throughout the Danish winter supplemented by spices brought from home.

DTU is true to its description of the academic lifestyle. The high level of education imparted by professors is polished by the available resources at the library. Constructive criticism and emphasis on group work is an added benefit. You are put through various tests and trials to advance your ability while providing enough flexibility to decide your course structure. This resulted in an overall development of my learning abilities while my weaknesses were pointed out me, in plain sight, to be improved upon.

Life outside DTU will depend a lot on your outlook on life in general. Ever since January, the weather started to get better, which has resulted in people thawing mentally. The colors of the city are now in competition with the colorful mentality of the local and international mix. I suppose the sun brings out the best in people, makes you more inclined to enjoy the precious warmth, knowing that another winter lays ahead. No other city in the world is preferable to Copenhagen for cycling, especially in the warmer months, seen by crowded bike-lanes and empty roads for cars.

I can say this to anyone who has been here and to those who plan on coming here. The work will be hard but rewarding. The days will get short and when the long nights arrive, learning the practice of hygge is a must. To summarize my experience of Denmark, I say that the food is a bit bland, and the weather very cold, but the warmth of people here more than compensates for it.

 Binoy H Shah MSc in Chemical and Biochemical Engineering, India