"Special, fulfilling, wonderful!" And a lot of cycling. These are some of the words that students described their Erasmus exchange in Copenhagen, which was overall a positive experience for them even though there is still a pandemic out there. We interviewed four students who were brave enough to make the most out of their university time by signing up for international mobility during these uncertain periods.
Maritime Engineering, Games, Danish Cinema and Marketing Management. Tobi, Jakob, Greta, and Maire, our interviewed students studied these interesting programmes respectively during their exchange semester in Copenhagen. Despite the fact that their exchange experience was affected by the national lockdown and online classes, they still found their overall Erasmus experience in Denmark above average. When we asked how they would rate their experience, an 8 out of 10 was the winning score. It is a fair assessment considering they could not do everything they wanted. Maire, for example, even decided to live in Copenhagen after her Erasmus.
The most influential moments during these students’ stay were the events organised by ESN Copenhagen. Many of the volunteers in the section put their best effort into organising in-person as well as online events, making sure they fell in line with the health and safety COVID-19 restrictions. According to the interviewees, participating in said events largely contributed to their social well-being as they could make connections with like-minded Erasmus people upon meeting them there. Making connections during the pandemic is a challenge unlike any other, and ESN hopes to provide social inclusion even when it doesn’t feel possible.
Greta said her most enjoyable experiences were during the Botanical garden and the Christiania tour due to the friendly vibe of the group, as well as the calming nature of the garden and the atmosphere of Christiania. Maire enjoyed the Buddy group events involving games in the park, or the cozy dinners together with her buddies. They made her feel warm and she liked the sense of community this program provided for them. Tobi enjoyed the events in the deer park and Bakken, which happens to be the world's oldest amusement park.
ESN Copenhagen helped Jacob during the pandemic by providing information that he needed about the country. However, for Greta, it was hard to meet new people and ESN helped her to find friends in the critical period. Even though there were a lot of online opportunities, Toby appreciated the few outdoor events ESN organised as he prefers to meet his peers in person when possible.
Remember the souvenir you brought back from your last trip? It could have been a mug, a postcard, or even a little stone, anything. It does not matter what you brought back, but it was important for you. Objects hold meanings and contain our memories. We asked the students what objects they would bring with them and what memories they cherish from their exchange in Copenhagen.
Each of the interviewees answered something very representative of Denmark. Jakob took home a glass from Carlsberg - probably the best beer in the world and the most Danish one too. He describes it as:
It is just, it has been my trusty glass for a lot of parties and good, good evenings.”
Indeed, as corona lockdown hit, Jacob found that parties and events became more of a small gathering at his dorm. That's how a glass became a symbol of fun and friends during his exchange.
Tobi brought back the Danish flag with him. It had been hanging on his bed throughout his whole exchange and he started cherishing it. Why not, right? After all, he treasures numerous memories from his period here, including parties, a Halloween in Tivoli, a road trip through Denmark with his friends, and much more.
Greta and Marie didn´t have specific objects. Greta loves photography and as she visited many places around Denmark, she brought back all the pictures she took. Maire did not mention any object but found the secret behind Denmark’s happiness – hygge.
“It means hanging out with your loved ones and feeling comfortable as you are and just enjoying the moment”
Hygge for Maire was having dinners every Sunday with her beloved ones. Not a planned or a proper dinner, but more of a spontaneous cozy time. You know, when you randomly propose to have a pizza or a drink and chill with your friends? And everything just falls in place perfectly.
As their exchange semester came to an end, most of the students agreed that they would like to carry on with their ESN experience one way or another during their homecoming. That could potentially mean volunteering at ESN, which means ‘giving back’ the experience they received through their Erasmus. Volunteering can be organising Erasmus events, but it is truly about the community, the spirit of ESN that gives you an everyday motivation, a way to cherish the values ESN holds.
Many thanks for the interviews go to Maire, Greta, Tobi and Jakob.
Photo credits are due Maire, Greta and Jakob.
Article written by ESN Copenhagen Communication Team