Student perspectives

Nate Ober, Fulbright Student Grantee 2014-15, United States of America

At Aarhus University, the biggest social event of the year takes place on a Friday in April by the lakes in the middle of campus. The Danes call the event “Kapsejlads” (the Spring Regatta), and it’s a full day of drinking, hanging out with friends, listening to music, a naked run for tickets to the Roskilde Festival and not least a boat race between students representing some of the university’s different faculty student groups. You’ve never been to a party like this before, so make sure you don’t miss it!

Besides the Kapsejlads, social life at Aarhus University’s Department of Political Science (Institut for Statskundskab or IFSK) mainly revolves around the “Fredagsbar,” or the Friday bar. It’s a Danish tradition to end a week of studying or working by having a beer with classmates or colleagues on Friday afternoon. Most departments’ student organisations run their own Friday bar, so it’s fun to meet classmates at IFSK’s Friday bar and to visit the Friday bars at other departments and faculties. The Danes have a reputation for being reserved and difficult to meet, but they tend to become much more open and talkative at Friday bars. In September, there’s also a huge back-to-school party called “Denmark’s Largest Friday Bar”, which is a lot of fun.

IFSK’s student organisation, PF, also regularly hosts parties on Friday nights, as do other faculties' student organisations. Sometimes the parties are free, and sometimes you have to buy tickets in advance. IFSK’s “Julefest,”, or Christmas Party, in December is not to be missed!

IFSK also has an international student mentor group. This group is led by Danish IFSK students who volunteer as mentors for IFSK’s international students and plan fun, informal social events attended by both mentors and international students. These events include dinner parties, a Tour de Friday Bar, a trip to the ARoS Aarhus Art Museum, and a traditional Danish “Julefrokost” or Christmas lunch.

I had a blast studying and partying at IFSK, and I hope you will too!

Sabrina Fricke, exchange student from Georg-August-University Göttingen, Autumn semester 2014

Thanks to the existence of study groups, which are formed at the beginning of the semester, life as a student in Denmark is far more interactive and social than what I am used from my home country. Instead of simply reading the compendium at home by yourself, you meet up with your study group every week to talk about the texts and solve exercises. This really gets you in contact with Danes and supports a continuous learning process during the whole semester. Since everyone, even the professors, is addressed by their first name, the atmosphere in class is really relaxed but also very productive thanks to the preparation in the study groups.

Another Danish tradition which I enjoyed is the Friday Bars, which take place every Friday from early afternoon until around midnight. Most departments have their own Friday Bars and try to surpass each other with crazy themed parties guaranteed to bring you lots of fun and variety throughout the year.

Furthermore, I loved the life at a Danish kollegium (dormitory) since there are so many different traditions which focus on having a cosy time (or rather hygge) with your flatmates. I highly recommend that you take part in events like an authentic Danish Christmas Dinner (but watch out for the Snaps ;)), Tour de Chambres or a real Danish birthday celebration with lots of Danish flags.

All in all, studying at AU and especially at IFSK was an enriching experience for me – both academically and socially – and I can highly recommend this opportunity to everyone.