Nguyen Hoang Anh Tran

Date: Study Period 2 2013
Degree Program: Master of Management
Host University: Aarhus University
Host Country: Denmark

Nguyen Hoang

Why did you choose your host university?

In a way, I was forced to choose Aarhus University since it was the only University that offered one course that was similar to my core subject that I still needed to take. Nevertheless, it was my second preference university because it was a very high-ranking and prestigious university in Denmark.   

What was the university like?

It was a small, multi-lingual business school. The students are a mix of Danes, full degree International students and exchange students. I took Macroeconomics of Development and Corporate Finance and Governance.  Macroeconomics was a great course since the material is simple enough to understand but complicated enough to challenge yourself. The teacher was great as well even though it was his first semester at Aarhus. On the other hand, Corporate Finance is extremely challenging. My advice for other students is that if your major is Finance/ Economics then you should not go to Denmark. The way they teach is completely different from Australia. In Australia, we focus on knowing the equation and use it to solve a problem. Nevertheless, in Denmark, you have to understand why you came up with that equation. In Denmark, when you read an article, it is essential to fully understand the models discussed. In short, it was a heavy mathematic-based environment. My major during my bachelor degree was Corporate Finance and I had a really hard time understanding Corporate Finance and Governance. Moreover, we did not have any assessment during the semester so the exam weighted 100%. Besides, I had oral exam for Corporate Finance-YES! Oral exam!

The library is pretty good but quite far from Business school campus (it is near the main campus) but you will be still able to walk there. It is a closed library which means you could not go into the library and look for the book. You need to know which book you want to borrow first, reserve it online then go to the library to pick it up. There is no printing quota so you have to pay for the printing yourself. It would get quite expensive if you have classes that have a lot of required readings - the lecturers will not print out the reading for you like in Australia. However the internet is unlimited.

The introduction week the International Office ran was fabulous and the events they held throughout the year were good. During Introduction week (way back in Feb) they went through all the practical things with us- bus schedules, finding a doctor, taxi numbers etc. You would also be divided into groups and assigned a tutor. They will help to get you around for the 1st couple of week. Beyond that the International office weren't much use-the office is only open 10-2 each day (closed for a lunch  break in the middle). The student helpers don't know enough or have enough power to help much. My advice to you is to go straight to the office and ask, sending email is the least effective communication. 

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

I faced a lot of difficulties before I came to Denmark since I had one core subject to complete. I was able to find a course in Aarhus that was similar in content to that subject but that course was cancelled one week before my flight.  The courses I took were challenging as well which left me no time to travel and explore the country. Hence, the biggest lesson I have learned through my exchange experience is that you have to be determined and persistent to be able to achieve your goal.

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

Just letting the school organize a dorm took all the hassle out of it. I suppose you could organize your own apartment but getting a 6 month rental would be challenging and it would be quite expensive as well. The school arranged for me a furnished room in a student residence. It was 1825Dkk/month which was pretty cheap compared to what I had to pay in Australia. It took me around 10 minutes by bus or 30 minutes by bike to get to the business school and it was also near the city centre. To be honest, even the cheap residence/ dorms in Denmark have pretty good facilities. 

Photo from student exchange

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

The busses are pretty good. For example, from my dorm there were about 2 different busses I could take downtown (more if I felt like walking a few blocks). There was a bus every 15 minutes throughout the day, and then every half hour at night right up until 12:30. There are also night busses for getting home on Friday and Saturday nights. The downside is that it was pretty expensive compared to Australia. You had to pay 140DKK (26 AUD) for a 10-pass ticket. They do not take into account off-peak or on-peak or the fact that you are a student so you have to pay the same rate throughout the day. Some of my friends never bothered buying tickets but I always did as there are lots of inspectors who hand out hefty fines- 750 DKK. If you want to save money and exercise at the same time, get yourself a bike. It was very safe in Denmark and they also have separate bike lane. Besides, it is pretty easy to sell the bike at the end of your stay. Nevertheless, Aarhus is a very hilly city so if you are not use to exercising, your legs will be in pain for the first couple of weeks. Taxis are lovely (BMW’s with heated seats) but expensive. You'll probably have a heart attack just looking at the meter.

Trains to other cities were quite expensive (I think +200 to Copenhagen). If you bought a Wildcard, they were half price. Nevertheless, if you only travel to Copenhagen once in a while then I recommend taking the bus. The prices are pretty reasonable - 150 DKK if you are a student.

I went to London, Birmingham, Venice and Milan. I could not travel much since I found the course challenging. I usually booked a cheap Ryan Air flight from Arhus or Billund. Check out Ryan Air since they usually have ticket sales. You can utilise your trip to Copenhagen to fly to other countries by Easy Jet, Ryan Air or SAS.

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

To be honest, I did not have to adjust since I think Denmark and Australia are pretty much the same. The only thing I had some difficulties with is that they use Danish in the super market. Nevertheless, once you know Mel= flour, sucker=sugar, brod=bread, smor=butter, Oksekod=beef, Svinekod=pork, kylling=chicken, your life will be easier.

If you live in a student residence, try to talk and make friend with everyone there. Go to Klubben once in a while and talk to people. 

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

Business today is all about diversity. A lot of companies want candidates to have international experiences so it is very valuable to go on exchange. If you have never studied or worked in another country, it is even more essential to go. You will be able to discover yourself and realise your true capability. It is also nice to put the scholarship I got in the CV.

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

No advice really. Overcome your fear / worry (or whatever it is) and apply now. It is a very nice (and important) experience to have.

Top Tips:
  • Be persistent
  • Be open-minded
  • Even if you are busy, try to travel and explore the country and Europe.

Areas of study and research

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