The land of the Danish Pastry and Lego …. (plus so many more icons!)


The University of Auckland students can study at one of four partner universities in Denmark: Aalborg University (Architecture only), Aarhus University, University of Copenhagen and the Technical University of Denmark.

Our students have given us glowing reports about the world’s happiest nation so let’s find out more!


“My first impressions of Copenhagen were great, I was so excited to finally be there after months of planning to go and anticipation. It was the depths of winter but the city still charmed me with its interesting mix of architecture, museums and amazing food culture” – Isabella Barker, The University of Copenhagen


“It’s hard not to fall in love and be charmed by the city of Copenhagen, or also fondly known as “the city of fairy tales”. There is so much that will endear you to it. I felt like I hit the jackpot in terms of an all-round amazing exchange destination. Denmark has been ranked once again the happiest nation in the world according to the UN. Copenhagen is a foodie’s heaven (well known for its great seafood, and of course wonderful pastries), has beautiful water elements with canals lined with old boats, pastel coloured houses, cafes and restaurants, and beautiful old architecture. Copenhagen is known as the city of bikes. At least one third of people cycle to work or school, and no one wears lycra. You dress as you normally would, and this being Copenhagen, you look pretty elegant. Buying a bike upon arrival and riding alongside the tall and beautiful Danes is essential to doing it right. Copenhagen has lots of green public spaces very close to the city centre and a number of the streets in the inner city are pedestrianised. Perhaps their secret to a happy city.. It has one of the most relaxed city centres I’ve ever been to. It’s not bustling with cars and banked up traffic; most people bike or catch the metro and walk.” – Anna Skeates, The University of Copenhagen


On orientation:

“The excitement of the initial weeks of exchange – and how consistently busy you are exploring and meeting new people distracted me from the truly dire weather. The exchange programme at the law school was outstanding- and provided various social networking opportunities for students to meet each other.” – Jack Stevens, The University of Copenhagen

“When I first arrived in Aarhus, I didn’t know a single person which was both daunting and exciting. However their law school had organised a mentor, who met me on arrival, and I was soon settled into my new home. Aarhus is a great student city with a vibrant cultural, social and sporting scene. I chose it because I wanted the experience of living in a smaller city after living in Auckland all my life, and it didn’t disappoint. Aarhus has a thriving nightlife, a central canal, small backstreets filled with quirky stores and cafes, and is bordered by beaches and forests. The University campus itself is truly beautiful as the main buildings are all based around a central lake and park. The University frequently ranks as one of the world’s most beautiful, and also ranks highly academically.” – Alexander Best, Aarhus University


“I met around 100 other exchange students at Copenhagen University during the orientation week, people from all over the world, and in the same position as me, having recently moved to Copenhagen. You quickly meet new people and make friends.” – Amir Ansari, The University of Copenhagen

“When I first arrived in Copenhagen I was overwhelmed by how unfamiliar the city was to me. It was bigger than I expected, the buildings were a mix of really old and really new, and of course, there were a lot more bikes than pedestrians and cars. I hit the ground running – I bought myself a bike and started exploring every inch of the city. The first two weeks were filled with orientation events organised by the law faculty at the University. This included tours of campus (also known as the ‘Latin Quarter’ in Copenhagen), guided tour of the Danish Parliament, pub quizzes, pub crawls and an international pot luck dinner. All the international students quickly bonded from the orientation events and it was also easy to make Danish friends because they were the ones showing us around.” – Lily Liu, The University of Copenhagen

“Sign up for the pre-semester Danish language course! Not only do you get to feel an amazing sense of accomplishment when you first realise you can understand what the little automatic voice says in the metro, you also are less likely to make a fool out of yourself by completely mispronouncing everything, PLUS this is probably going to be your first (and one of your best) opportunities to make new friends! Be warned, these first few weeks will be exhausting! Between the endless homework and the feeling of hopelessness that comes along with finding out that half the ‘d’s in Danish are some unpronounceable mixture of a ‘th’ and ‘l’ sound, you still need to find time to get all your paperwork in order, but after all that I got to enjoy my summer afternoons sitting along the water at Islands Brygge with amazing people from all over the world (plus that bottle of Tuborg Green)!” – Kerstin McEwan, The University of Copenhagen



On the way of life:

“Bikes, black clothes, and a bottle of Tuborg Green. These are the ingredients you need to be like a Dane! Oh, and don’t forget to wave your little ‘Dannebrog’ (Danish flag) at any occasion worthy of celebration” – Kerstin McEwan, The University of Copenhagen


“The biking, and the ease of it, was truly a highlight of exchange. It allowed you to integrate into the Danish culture – and truly explore the very accessible city. The Danish way of life is truly unique – and the Danish people are warm hearted, stylish and speak impeccable English. The central location of Copenhagen allowed me to travel to other places within Denmark – and Europe itself.” – Jack Stevens, The University of Copenhagen

On housing:


“I actually switched accommodation after one month when I had become more familiar with the geography of Copenhagen and I was lucky enough to get to live in one of the more popular hostels. The hostel I lived in was called Signalhuset Kollegium and it was set up as large apartments. I had a really nice big and clean room and shared a bathroom with one other girl and a kitchen and living room with two others which was really well equipped. I found it really nice to live with Danish people my age and we became life-long friends. My Danish friends showed me parts of the city that I would not have known about otherwise, it was so cool to go out to cute little cafes, restaurants and bars to experience the real Copenhagen cool. Danes themselves are really friendly when you get to know them and it pays to be outgoing and confident yourself to integrate well. The cost of living was shockingly high, even though I self-catered and was relatively careful about expenses. I tried to do as much of the same activities as my flatmates, such as joining the gym and having ‘Hygge’ nights in. I also bought a bike and cycled to University and in the parks near where I lived. I started to feel really Danish!” – Isabella Barker, The University of Copenhagen


“Although the Housing Foundation system was definitely a nightmare, involving a crazy rush and waiting up from 10pm til 5pm to snatch up a room (make sure you are online at exactly the time they tell you to be, the queue is long and places run out quickly!), I could not be happier that I ended up on the 9th floor of Signalhuset. Being a bit outside of the city centre, I did have a bit of a bike ride before me every day, but this was more than made up for by the amazing community at this student accommodation building. Not only did we have a view across to Sweden from our apartment, I was lucky enough to end up with three amazing flatmates, as well as a network of friends throughout the building. Most of the students living here are also on exchange, so I quickly lost count of the times I had to exclaim, ‘Oh, you live at Signalhuset too?!’ This created many great opportunities for parties, shared dinners and casual afternoons lazing around the apartment.” – Kerstin McEwan, The University of Copenhagen

“I was living in a dorm-style residence with one other international student and about 10 Danes. This really added to my exchange because not only did I have a group of international friends, but the Danes we lived with went out of their way to include us and make sure we learnt all about Danish culture. ” – Alexander Best, Aarhus University

On courses:

“Courses are often taught in one three hour block per week, which means that if structured correctly, you can be limited to two days of classes per week. The days off gives plenty of opportunity to catch cheap flights in and around Europe. The style of teaching was also extremely interactive, which meant I was often called upon in classes to provide answers to questions regarding the information that was to be read for that class. I managed to visit 9 other countries during my exchange in Copenhagen, and have to say that the travelling was one of the highlights of my trip.” – Amir Ansari, The University of Copenhagen


“The courses were different to the lecture environment back home. Classes were small and intimate and involved lots of discussions and debates. Most surprising of all were that our exams were oral! The exams were conducted like interviews which lead on to more in depth discussions, which lasted for around 20 minutes and you get told your mark before you head out the door.” – Lily Liu, The University of Copenhagen

“I found that the Humanities Faculty courses themselves couldn’t have been more different to the University of Auckland, as it required a lot of self-study and was more suited to Masters level students. Apparently this is not the case at other faculties such as Economics, Law and Politics; other people I knew had a lot of support from these subject areas and found their papers really interesting. I would highly reccomend that Arts students consider courses designed for exchange students only to avoid this issue. I think my papers made me really appreciate the quality of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Auckland!” – Isabella Barker, The University of Copenhagen


On travel:

“I made many weekend trips with ease across Europe – and found Copenhagen a great place to base myself.”- Jack Stevens, The University of Copenhagen

“The highlight of my exchange was to be able to travel to other parts of Europe so easily and to make such amazing friends. There are so many special memories of exciting adventures that I will never forget.” – Isabella Barker, The University of Copenhagen


 Top tips:

  • Say yes to as much as you can!
  • Do everything that is free e.g. museums, castles, galleries, student events etc.
  • Read some local literature
  • Visit Studenterhuset (student house)
  • Danish hot dogs and beers are a must try, as are smørrebrød, grød and lakrids
  • Have a good sense of humour
  • Consider budgeting so that you can do all the things you want to
  • Pack warm and versatile clothes (black is a good option!)
  • Buy a secondhand bike

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s