Hannah Stephens

Date: SP5, 2013
Degree Program: Bachelor of Management (Marketing)
Host University: Aarhus University
Host Country: Denmark


Why did you choose your host university?

I have been interested in Scandinavian people and culture for some time. I have many friends and connections in Sweden so initially I applied for Linköping University in Sweden however only engineering and computer science students were eligible. Aarhus was my next choice because it was close to Sweden. 

What was the university like?

The business and social sciences campus was about 2 km from the main campus (as it used to be an independent business school before it merged with Aarhus University). The campus was small therefore it was easy to familiarize yourself with the facilities. I don’t have any complaints with the resources/facilities, I had everything I needed. The courses run a little differently compared to UniSA. Rather than always having a 2 hour lecture and 1 hour tutorial, the delivery of courses were varied. For example one of my classes had a weekly 4-hour lecture, one a 3-hour tutorial style class, and one only a small 2-hour lecture. The classes are also not set to the same time each week, they vary which can be a little confusing. Also your times may clash with other classes so be prepared that you may not be able to do all of the subjects you have chosen due to clashes. The assessments are generally all only in the form of either a written, oral or home exam. All of my written exams were about 3 hours and open book, this included your laptop and use of the internet. The oral exams involve selecting a random course topic, speaking about it to your lecture and another  examiner in a private room for around 7 minutes, and then answering questions for a further 7 minutes. Home exams are basically an assignment that you have a given amount of time to complete – anything from 2 days to 2/3 weeks.

Student Hannah Stephens - DenmarkWhat did you gain from your exchange experience and has it changed the way you think or altered your approach to life?

Independence – you learn that you are solely responsible for your own life. Tolerance – of other people, cultures, language barriers, difficult or stressful situations.  You learn to be more open-minded and accepting of new experiences and situations. 

What accommodation options were available to you?  How affordable was accommodation and would you recommend the same option to others?

There are many options ranging from self-contained apartments to corridor/dorms, and you are guaranteed accommodation by the university. Before you go you are given the option to make preference of what kind of accommodation you would like. I would highly recommend selecting shared facilities and close proximity to the university. I stayed in a self-contained apartment about 4km from the university. It frustrating to take 2 buses to get to university, and at times could get lonely as I was living on my own. Shared facilities means you share a common area and kitchen with anywhere from 1 to 10 other people. Its much more social and you will have a better opportunity to meet Danes. My rent was just under AU $600 per month, this is generally the norm although you may pay slightly more or less.

Describe your travel experiences; did you travel locally or to neighbouring countries? 

I travelled to Montenegro and Serbia with my boyfriend before I began exchange. We flew to Belgrade and drove down to the coast of Montenegro. During my semester breaks and after my exchange I only travelled to Sweden to see my boyfriend (he is Swedish). You will have plenty of opportunities to see many different places. Almost everyone went on small trips, its quite affordable and easy to get around Europe. 

Describe how you adjusted to life in a different country and how you met new people.

The university ran a great introduction week in which we were divided into smaller “tutorial” groups of about 20 people. The people you meet in your group are likely to be the ones you remain close with throughout your exchange. Because every other person has come alone it is very easy to make friends. Danes are really open and friendly and will go out of their way to help you. They also speak English with near-native fluency, which is a helpful bonus.  Aarhus itself is a small, un-intimidating city that is full of students. It has an alternative/quirky vibe and you will quickly get your bearings. The bus service is excellent and you can also buy a bike to ride around, but organise this as quickly as you can if you arrive in summer, as it can be difficult to find a decent second hand bike as they are in high demand at this time. There is always something social happening on the weekend and a few weeknights, either events organised by the university (Danes LOVE to party) or by your friends. 

Can you see any benefits from this exchange to your future career?

Absolutely. It looks great on your resume and intercultural communication and international experience is a valuable skill to employers.

What advice would you give to a student who was hesitant or considering joining the exchange program?

Do not hesitate. It is one of the best experiences you will ever have, and one that is surprisingly affordable as you may be eligible for grants and/or centrelink support.  The time flies by and there is always action, so you don’t have a moment to get homesick. There’s virtually no reason why you shouldn’t go!

Top Tips:
Again, to select shared facilities and close proximity to the university.  And to simply make the most of it!                             

Areas of study and research

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