I have seen a lot of articles from students who have studied and are studying in different countries, their experiences helped me and gave me a little glimpse of what I should expect, and I am grateful for that. I would like to add my own experiences to the pool of resources available to future student and I hope you all (future students) benefit from it.
As an African who had never been out of my lovely continent before, it was an experience I looked forward to. I always had the desire to study abroad ever since I knew that was an option. My parents were not ready to allow their only daughter leave their protection at an earlier age so I settled for a graduate program at which time I would be more matured and able to cope with the shock of a different society.
I got offered admission at two different universities. Syddansk University in Denmark and University of Cork, Ireland, but I made the decision to come to Denmark for reasons best known to me. I remember the hassle that came with meeting the deadline to pay my fees (I wasn’t lucky enough to get a scholarship and I was given two weeks to do that), I knew that studying abroad was expensive in the first place but I did not know it would be as expensive as it turned out to be. Thanks to God and my parents I was able to cross that bridge at least for the first year.
Then came accommodation, I was asked to apply for accommodation through the school which I did and I was offered an expensive accommodation(for me) with 14 days in which to reject it, otherwise it becomes contractually binding. Having never been to Denmark before, I grabbed the offer with both hands and feet.
Looking back and knowing what I do now, I would like to say that if I happen to be in the same position again, I would reject the offer because when I came I found out that there was even cheaper and better student accommodation which could be gotten directly from the housing agencies with lesser deposits and notice time. And when I asked repeatedly for a change from the school after arrival I was initially told to wait if they got a one they would give me but later they out rightly refused. But you wouldn’t blame me, neither will I blame you if you choose to accept, no one likes the idea of being homeless. Also some of my friends were really lucky and got cheaper and nicer accommodation also from the school, so you can be lucky.
Accommodation settled, school fees paid, flight booked I was Denmark Bound, but first I had to take a bridging course which as the name entailed was to bridge the course between what I had studied at my Bachelor level and what I was to study at the Master level. We had lectures and exercise done online and the course was to be completed the week before the semester starts.
I applied to be given a buddy and I would say that was the best decision ever. I was placed in a buddy group of 6 lovely girls, but due to location I was only able to meet few of them. There was a sweet South African/German lady in my group who I became close pals with. She was/is the best buddy one could ask for. Before I came she sent me a message asking what I would like to have for dinner :).
After a long flight of about 16 hrs, I finally arrived at Copenhagen and I was meet with a big banner at the Airport portraying Denmark as the happiest country in the world (that’s debatable). Fast forward Passport check, currency change etc, I still hadn’t arrived at my study city Esbjerg. It is about 3hrs of train ride from Copenhagen. My train ticket was initially booked back in my home country, but unfortunately I came a day after it was valid for, due to some flight problems (story for another day). Therefore, I had to buy another train ticket at the Airport, standard train ticket cost about 385kr then. I remember asking a lady at the ticket sale point that I needed to get a ticket to Esbjerg, she looked at me with the “what on earth are saying face”. Later on, I discovered it may have been because of the way I had pronounced Esbjerg, the ‘j’ was silent. I had to write it on a piece of paper and then she smiled, helped me buy the correct ticket and showed me where to take the train.
I come from a very warm country and personally, I am someone who doesn’t like to complain about the weather, because there is nothing you can do about it. But the cold that greeted me on the train ride was “wonderful’’, I lack vocabulary to describe it. I was wearing flip flops because I wanted to be comfortable on the long flight and so my legs were almost freezing on the train.I wasn’t feeling that I had legs anymore. I never prayed so much to reach a destination faster as I did on that train ride.
Someone would say but you knew Denmark would be cold, yes but I didn’t think it would be cold in August, and I was hoping to buy all I needed for the cold when I arrived in Denmark, now I know better.
On arrival at Esbjerg train station, I called the pickup service from a pay phone, and I was taken to my room. Tired, hungry, cold and in strange land with no one that I knew, I slept that evening till the next day.
(To be continued 🙂 …