We’re starting a new series on the blog called “Where I Lived”. Today, our Outreach Coordinator will be giving us a tour of where she lived when she studied in Denmark in 2006.
Melody studied abroad through an ISEP-exchange. As an English major, she took all her classes in English. One of the best parts of her experience was living in a Danish kollegium.
Here were our questions:
What is a kollegium?
Kollegiums vary based on where you are in Denmark and what you are looking for, but in general they are sort of like American-style dorms except each person has a (small) individual apartment. I had a kitchenette and my own bathroom, but most kollegiums have a large shared kitchen. I made most of my meals in the shared kitchen with friends I made and we usually ate together. I lived in the Aalborg International Kollegium (pictured above). At the time, it had to be half Danish students and half international students. It was a wonderful opportunity to meet locals and international students at the same time.
What did you like best?
I think the AIK defined my study abroad experience. Most of the friends I made lived there. I traveled with them, hung out with them, shopped with them, and ate with them. It felt really authentic to Denmark–I was with local students my age so I saw what it was like to be a college student in DK. I think living with a host family would be really cool, but this was kind of like living with host friends. Also, our building was VERY Danish in design, so it was cool to live in a place that really reflected the country where I was living. In the photo above, you can see the inside of the building. Natural light is really important in Denmark, and there was a lot of it in the AIK.
What was the worst part?
Well, I loved having my own space, but I opted to buy linens from the housing to make my life easier, and I didn’t really like them. It was hard to make the space feel like me. I recommend taking some lightweight items to decorate a bit, or buying a few cheap things there. In the end I hung up postcards and photos, but the space always felt a little temporary. Another small thing that bugged me was the noise–sometimes the shared social space could get a little loud, and it was right outside of my door. Usually, I’d just go and join in the fun, so it wasn’t a big deal.
Give us a tour… what are we looking at?
Above you’ll see my closet. That was all the closet/storage space I had for my clothes and most of my food. It was okay for a semester.
This is my desk/table. My apartment was furnished, I think with IKEA furniture, but I had limited seating if I wanted to “host” people in my place. Luckily, I usually just hung out with them in the shared social area in the kollegium.
That’s my little tiny kitchenette. I didn’t have an oven, microwave, or “real” American style stove–just those hot burners, a little tiny fridge below, and a small sink. I cooked most of my meals in the much larger shared kitchen that was fully equipped. All those dishes were provided, though, so that was really helpful!
This is the shared kitchen. Loved it! Some of my best memories happened there…. like when the American students cooked Thanksgiving Dinner for everyone:
Below is the view of my apartment from the front door. It was small but cozy. That window caused me one problem–I loved to leave it open, and one time someone broke into my apartment and took a few things because I had left it open. Learn from my mistake! Keep your windows locked if you aren’t home!
The curtains, bookshelf, and pillows were all provided. The green space outside was great, and my window overlooked a bike/walking path that took me either straight to campus or straight to the bus stop to get downtown.
What advice do you have for students who are trying to decide where to live?
Unless you are trying to learn a foreign language (in which case, living with a host family is your best option), figure out what local students your age are doing for housing. Living with people my age was a great learning experience and I can’t recommend it enough. Also, be social wherever you live. Make friends. Invite people over. Cook your new friends food from home, or cook together. It’s such a great part of the whole experience! My best memories aren’t traveling or seeing the Eiffel Tower. They are of bonfires (below) with French students playing live music while the Americans tried to recreate s’mores using Danish ingredients…
I also loved decorating our entire building for Christmas. We handmade most of the decorations the traditional Danish way and had a live Christmas tree from one of the Danish’s student’s parents’ camp ground!
Have questions about Melody’s experience? Send her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!