Author: Mico Tiongco -
Summer - Life on wheels
Days were long and warm and I found myself outside most of the time. What will be very apparent to anyone coming to Copenhagen is that cycling really is the best way to get around the city. By the second day of moving to Copenhagen, I found myself in a sketchy bike shop just outside the centre buying a new bike. Cycling is a big part of Copenhagen culture and people cycle as if they were driving. Cruising through the streets, you catch glimpses of families cycling together with toddlers peeking out of the front car of their Christiania bikes.
However, cycling was not the deciding factor that brought me to Copenhagen, it was skateboarding. Copenhagen is very well known for having a large skateboarding culture. Most of the friends I made in Copenhagen have been through skateboarding. On the third day of living here, I took part in a skateboarding competition and this was the day I made most of my friends. Here, skateboarding is treated similar to football, tennis and rugby in the UK. I became friends with a school teacher who also taught skateboarding part of extra-curricular activities.
We mustn’t forget that this is an Erasmus after all. I attended the Technical University of Denmark (DTU). The campus is located quite far out of the centre and usually took about a 35 minute bike ride. This was always a great way to start the day. It became obvious that DTU had a very big focus on group work and computer software. Very quickly, I found myself learning Revit, Sigma, StruSoft and many other bits of software.
Autumn - Arts and Culture
As the days became shorter and colder, I found myself in art bookstores and galleries a lot more often. I ended up volunteering at an arts bookstore where I was mostly paid in books. This is how I discovered a lot more about the art scene in Copenhagen. My boss told me about many small, yet beautiful, galleries on the outskirts of Copenhagen centre. I was even lucky enough to be able to exhibit my photography work at one of the galleries. This is how I became part of the art community as well as the skateboarding community.
There is an event every few months called Copenhagen Culture Night. This has been one of the biggest highlights for me. This is a city-wide celebration of visual arts with exhibitions happening throughout the whole city. For 100kr. (approximately £12) you have access to all of the exhibitions around the city. Some exhibitions were held in your typical gallery or museum, while others were held in emptied underground reservoirs and churches. Many exhibitions would go on until 02h00. My top tip for this night is to make sure you and your friends have bikes. This allowed us to visit many more exhibitions compared to if we had taken public transport.
Around this time at DTU, work really started to ramp up. Everything would be ok as long as you planned your week effectively and you were well coordinated with your different groups.
Winter - Hygge
Days became even shorter and even colder. It became harder and harder to spend time outside. Many Danes would resort to ‘hygge’. ‘Hygge’ is a Danish word with no direct English translation, however it loosely translates to ‘that warm, cosy feeling’. Hanging out in cafes with candles lit everywhere became a very frequent weekend activity. Many places were mostly lit by candles. At this time of year, cafes looked more liked a very cosy living room with blankets and candles rather than an actual café.
With all these candles everywhere, I soon realised that fire in general was a big part of Danish culture. During the week leading up to New Years, I would quite often hear fireworks going off. However, this was nothing compared to New Years itself. During New Years Eve, you would see many people with large cardboard boxes walking around the centre. These carboard boxes were filled with fireworks. People crowded around squares in the city, and once it was 2019, people set off their fireworks. Some fireworks went off as you would expect, they would fly vertically up and explode. Some fireworks did not go as you would expect, they flew horizontally and explode very near ground level. Fireworks were going off all over the city. There was hardly any concern for health and safety and it was amazing. If it wasn’t New Years, many people would have assumed it was a riot.
Leading up to Christmas break, there really was a lot of university work to do in the form of coursework hand-ins and exam revision. This is the time where you really need to plan your days and weeks so that you can juggle of the tasks you need to do.
Tips and tricks
- Try to live close to Copenhagen rather than DTU. The areas around DTU are nowhere near as lively as the areas in and around Copenhagen.
- Try to make friends with locals. This will help you become a local yourself and discover things that tourists never will.
- Get a bike. Copenhagen has amazing infrastructure for cyclists and it really is the best way to get around. Public transport can also be a bit expensive sometimes.
- At DTU, there a lot of choices of modules you can take. Really take the time to read about what each module offers and how you will be assessed. Some modules can have similar titles, but completely different content.
- Really learn to juggle many tasks at once. Some modules are purely coursework and the hand-in is typically at the end of November while exams are around the middle of December. During November you will be expected to hand in a lot of coursework and prepare for exams.