Tom Whitney

Date: SP2, 2013
Degree Program: Bachelor of Construction Management & Economics (IBCN)
Host University: Roskilde University
Host Country: Denmark

Why did you choose your host university?

I was fascinated by the country and was looking for a unique exchange rather then just in the U.K. or U.S.A. I was also looking for a non-English speaking country to further the challenge.  

Tom WhitneyWhat was the university like?

Roskilde University is located in Trekroner, 3kms from the town of Roskilde itself. As a university they pride themselves as an alternative university that specialises in student initiated learning. Classes were all taught in English. My classes were with international exchange students only. However most other exchange students got the chance to participate in classes with Danish students but these were still taught in English. Class sizes were much smaller than here at UNISA, generally 10-20 students although I did have one subject with only 3 others. Each subject had 10 lectures which were very interactive and student centred. At the end of the 10 lectures there was a 5-6 page essay to write. Throughout the entire semester together with your subjects everyone is also required to work on a group project, which includes an oral exam once finished. A relatively contemporary University with buildings  set around a large lake it had a modern resource centre, and student facilities included a cinema, gymnasium, a well-catered cafeteria and bar .

What did you gain from your exchange experience and has it changed the way you think or altered your approach to life?

Spending 7 months away from home, living independently was always going to be a challenge but it was a challenge that has great personal benefits. I have also gained a much broader knowledge of many countries, cultures and practices around Europe and an extended worldwide view. The other residents came from many European countries as this exchange (Erasmus) is a compulsory part of their degrees. I was the only Australian on campus as well as a University of South Australia Malayan student. As well this has created life long connections and networks from all over Europe.


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

There are 3 ‘on-campus’ accommodations offered by the University.

• Korallen: a student apartment building on campus with 100 individual rooms. At roughly $800 a month each room includes a private bathroom and kitchenette. There is also 12 common rooms / common kitchens and Korallen plays the host to nearly every party! If you’re looking for time filled with parties and social events, then Korallen is the place to stay.

• Kolibrian: 40 private rooms with private bathrooms but no kitchenette, Instead common kitchens and a large common room. It is however somewhat cheaper then Korallen.

 • Rockwool: a maximum of 16 rooms, you share your bathroom and kitchens but it is the cheapest form of on campus accommodation and tends to be a bit more quiet when compared to the other two.

Alternatively you can look for your own accommodation either in Roskilde or Copenhagen but however I must warn this won’t be an easy process.

I stayed at Korallen and overall I highly recommend it, or if not I definitely recommend on campus accommodation.

There are two supermarkets located next to the University. It is only 20 minutes by train to the centre of Copenhagen and only 5 minutess by train into Roskilde.  The ease of travel and proximity to the University makes it a great location, and not to mention the social benefits of living with fellow international exchange students from across the world. 

Tom Whitney 3Describe your travel experiences; did you travel locally or to neighbouring countries? 

Another benefit of studying in Denmark is that it is quite a central location within Europe. I had visited UK and Spain before taking up residence in Denmark. Throughout the University semester I went on a numerous weekend/ short trips with fellow exchange students I was living with to nearby countries:  Iceland (10 days), Sweden (4 days), England (2 weekend visits), Finland (Lapland) (10 days with a large party of fellow University students) and Amsterdam (3 days). After the semester had finished I made my way around Europe visiting 15 different countries in just over 2 months.  

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

Living in ‘on-campus’ accommodation gave you the ability to meet many other fellow international students. There were plenty of parties and activities, trips into Copenhagen for visits to palaces, museums, the famous Tivoli Gardens.

From day one we were taking turns cooking meals and doing communal cleaning (laundry). I had to email mum for favourite easy meals to cook for the group and introduced them to 'stir-fry' dishes. They were all very interested in Australia, seeming a far away exotic country. 

Tom Whitney 2Can you see any benefits from this exchange to your future career?

Not only will it look great on ones future CV after having spent 6 months studying in a non-English speaking country, and hopefully give me an edge in forging a career but it has also expanded my outlook on the ‘real world’, the big picture of life and its real possibilities.

Also in travelling I visited and saw many of the new buildings; those under construction and contemporary building methods. This has furthered my interest in being involved at the cutting edge of construction. Seeing the number of  cranes on the London skyline was amazing and the contemporary buildings of Barcelona.

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

Don’t hold back as it is a guaranteed life changing experience. It will strengthen your personality and help create life long memories. 

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