miercuri, 16 septembrie 2015

Culture shock, school and biiiiiiikes! #nordicadventures

 I decided to wait until after my first project presentation to write this post. So here I am, laying in the bed with my laptop, sick as fuck. Well, not that sick but still sick. The flu got me. So what can a girl do while her boyfriend cooks for her? Write on the blog, obviously haha!

 So, I'm waiting for culture shock to hit me now. A teacher told us at the beginning that for 3 months, you're a tourist here. Then you realize you're not a tourist and culture shock hits you. I usually get this stuff sooner and I've already been here for almost a month. Maybe it skips me. Obviously, there are some differences between Denmark and Romania, differences which I have to get used to. However, I wouldn't name that culture shock because I haven't felt like wanting to go home. Yet.

 I want to talk mainly about school. School is really chill here. I have 1 or 2 classes per day so I usually stay at school from 8.30 am to 3.30 pm. It's practically impossible to have classes later than that unless there's a special lecturer coming or there's some event. Even if so, participating is not mandatory so that's amazing because if you get a job, you always know how to schedule it. Now, the first class usually lasts from 8.30 am to 11.45 am and then you have a 30 minutes break and another class from 12.15 pm to 3.30 pm. Every class is divided in two: half of the time, the teacher is, well, teaching. The other half, you get to work on your project. That's another fact actually, you always have a project to work on. Group project. We got our first project on the second day of school. Group projects are something I'm still getting used to. Back home, I didn't get anything like that. On one hand, it was good because if I screwed up I knew whom to blame. In a group project you tend to be like "Ok, it's not my fault that my group is full of idiots". However, I had a good group experience and our project was pretty badass. The teachers' feedback wasn't the most positive one ever but we did well. In fact, we had the examination yesterday and we were assigned to the new groups already. That means that we will start working on the second project tomorrow. This will be more serious than the first one, as the first project was something like an "accomodation project". This time we have to build a website >.<

 One thing I love here is that teachers are very patient. We had Design class and we were working in Photoshop. The teacher literally came to every each particular student who needed help or got lost. Needless to say, we started from scratch. In Romania, most teachers will blame you for not paying attention if you can't follow up with the rest of the class. Here I am comparing again, haha. Everyone is telling me to stop comparing but I can't really help it.

 I'm still amazed of how organized these people are. Everything has its place and don't even get me started on the online platforms. We have a platform for our weekly schedule (a group of volunteers, called "Study Life", just developed a mobile app for that as well which is sooo amazing), another platform for documents containing information about each theme, groups, projects and so on.

 Now, another thing I want to mention is that I got a bike. YEY! It's really exciting, I love cycling. Back home, I used to go cycling with my boyfriend at least 8 km per day, so I'm really excited to go to school by bike. I've been doing it for a week now except today (because I'm sick). However, it's not as easy as back home. This city is practically a hill. You either go up or down. There's nothing in between. BUT, no matter whether you go up or down, the wind is against you!! It is crazy, I swear, it's like wind conspires against you. It's so easy to get anywhere by bike. There are bike lanes everywhere and the drivers are also quite patient, which amazes me. In Romania, God forbid you go downtown by bike.

 We've actually went to explore the surroundings now that we have bikes so we visited the airport (WOAAAA), a viking cemetery, a "herbal garden", a lake and so on. Fun fact about the viking graves: they are pretty much a bunch of stones BUT the stones situated in an oval shape are for women and the triangular ones for men.

 I guess this is it for now. I will attach some highly unprofessional pictures here. My parents are visiting me this weekend and I'm getting my professional camera. Then I can post decent pictures of this beautiful city :)


my bikey :D


luni, 31 august 2015

Introduction days at UCN #nordicadventures

This week I got a piece of student life. UCN held introduction days where lecturers spoke about the school, about the teaching methods (reflective practice-based learning, to be more precise) and well, Denmark. Besides that, we also got help filling in the forms for residence permit, a job seminar and a party. 

One interesting thing I've learned about UCN these days is that we will have this "Insights Profile". It is sort of a personality test. Normally it would cost about 100 euros I believe but the school will "test" us for free so that's something I'm quite excited about. The results of the test will indicate one's strengths, weaknesses, what makes you happy, mad, how people should approach you and so on. It's like an honest, objective essay of yourself. 

Now, the first thing that shocked me was how organized the events were. Well, the country itself is very well organized and that is something you can tell by the attention to details, such as the bus stations (about which I will write more in another post). Everything had its place and everything was done by the clock. In Romania, the events held by schools were chaotic. Nobody knew what's going on, where to sit down and how to react. 

The other thing that shocked me (BIG TIME) were drunk people. I understand the fact that Danes drink a lot and I don't really care. However, I was coming home by bus from a party on Friday and I was shocked by the number of drunk people. I swear, I have never seen so many drunk and stoned people ever in my life. And trust me, I've been places. I have never seen people you normally see at respected offices not being able to walk straight. Some people might say that I'm judging and so on but I believe being able to tell whom you want to be around is a sign of maturity. The people you surround yourself with define you because you choose them according to your values and principles. 

Anyway, all in all, school left me with a very good first impression. I don't think I've ever been so eager to learn as I am now and I can't wait to start the programme (which will happen tomorrow as it is the first official day). 

If you have any questions you think I could help you with regarding Denmark or education in Denmark, do not hesitate to drop me a message, I'd be glad to help :)

luni, 24 august 2015

First days in Denmark #nordicadventures

Denmark, oh, Denmark!

 Moving to another country is surely not easy. I believe the first major situation I encountered was transportation. Since I moved about 2000 km away from home and I had many luggages, a plane wasn't much of an option. In order to get a reasonable price we had to take a bus, so it took us around 32 hours to get here. Since I usually get sick on such long distances, I had to take medicine with me. However, the perk of going with the bus for such a long distance is that you get to see many cities. In fact, at night we got to see Prague (quite dissapointing, to be honest, but I guess the touristic places of the city are nicer). Even though we spent most of the journey on highways, we stopped in several cities in Denmark and got to see some of them (including Copenhagen).

 The first thing that really hit me after I arrived in Denmark was that the bus station closes at night. We arrived to our city at around 10 PM and had to meet the caretaker for our keys the next day at 10 AM. We were planning to stay in the bus station over night but this sort of ruined our plans so we had to spend 160 euros for a night at the hotel. Trust me, carrying all those luggages to the hotel was so much fun! The funny thing is that the next day I found out that the hotel where we spent the night is the cheapest in the town. Paradoxically lucky, I guess.

 The best thing so far is our apartment. We got really lucky, it's close to pretty much every supermarket and to the city center. However, until you buy a bike, commuting is hell. I bought a monthly bus pass today and it cost me 378 kroners which is about 50 euros. As far as I've heard, having a bike that doesn't have any papers can cost you a new bike (which is around 3000-5000 kroners) because if the police stops you and asks for your papers and you don't have any, you will get a fine. Needless to say, most second-hand bikes you find on sale don't have papers.

 One fun thing we did since we got here was going to IKEA. Once in a lifetime in experience. And when I say "once in a lifetime" I mean it. So, as I mentioned before, we don't have bikes yet and when we decided to go to IKEA, we didn't have the bus pass either. So, we did what any sane person would do, we walked there. 9 KILOMETERS! It was hell, I swear. The best part wasn't even the walk: we bought a book shelf (dissembled, obviously). Since our feet were almost bleeding, we took a bus back home. (NB: Taxi is not really an option here, unless you're a millionaire. We paid 200 kroners for 3 kilometers, which is around 20-25 euros). When we got into the bus, the driver quite agressively told us that "THIS IS DENMARK", as if we were outlaws. Apparently, you are not allowed to carry heavy stuff in the bus. I'm not trying to pretend that I'm like a Danish citizen or anything because I'm obviously not. However, for what I know, in order to make a country grow economically and spiritually (I guess) you must make people feel like home, not to make them want to go as far away as possible. Other than that driver, everyone is really nice and friendly. In fact, Danish people smile at you randomly on the street and that's really nice. However, that bus driver was one of the first people I encountered here and he made me feel pretty bad, he left me with a bad impression on the people here since he agressively pointed out that we'll never be "one of them". Or at least that's what I got out of what he said.

 One thing I can tell you for sure now that I'm an international student on the other side of the continent: Denmark is expensive. Food prices are crazy, not to mention the furniture. You can't even get close to new furniture. Expect to buy everything second-hand. Also, if you don't like rain, just give up. Go to Spain or some place warm, stay away from Denmark. I swear, one minute it's sunny and nice and the other there's a storm coming with crazy speed. As someone recently told me: THE WEATHER IS A LIE!!!

 I'm hoping to have better experiences from now on. I will start school tomorrow so I'm looking forward to that :)

joi, 30 iulie 2015

Student in Denmark #nordicadventures

Photo source: Buzfeed

 Long time, no blog! 
 I will start by justifying my absence. You probably know that I have recently graduated high school so this has been quite a stressful year for me. Studying for my final exams, deciding where to go to college, applying to college.. you know, the usual stuff :) 

 I've dreamed about studying abroad since I was in the 8th of 9th grade. However, back in the day, my ambitions were different. I used to dream about studying in a prestigious university in England. Utopian! I remember dreaming about studying something geeky like forensic psychology.. then I grew up, haha. I was in the 11th grade when I decided that I'm definitely not going to study in Romania. I brought my parents to my Edmundo counselor so that they could understand that my intentions were real. They obviously thought it through and eventually supported me with my decision. And for that, I am deeply grateful. Back then I still had to decide where to go. I was weighing the advantages and disadvantages of studying in England, Netherlands and Denmark (aaand Australia but that was not only on the other side of the world but also very expensive). Since I really wanted to study journalism, I could pretty much only study in England. My plans were cancelled when I realized it is just too expensive and even if I could find a part-time job, that will never fully cover my monthly expenses. That left me with the Netherlands and Denmark. The problem with Denmark is that there are not many programs taught in English. Yey! You can pretty much choose between a large variety of IT programs, Architecture, Tourism and Hospitality Management and Finances. 

 Yesterday, the 29th of July, I received my final admission to the University College of Northern Denmark :) I first got a conditional acceptance. I was accepted on the condition that I pass my final exams and that my grades will not change significantly to the worse. So today I'm officially a student of UCN, Denmark. 

 Now, if you are thinking of studying in Denmark beware that it is not cheap! The most amazing thing is that for the citizens of the European Union, education is FREE! Yes, totally free. You only pay for your books. However, living in Denmark is expensive. I first wanted to study in Copenhagen but I don't want to put my parents through that so I will study in Aalborg which is the 3rd or 4th city as size and population in Denmark. I will be leaving on the 18th of August. 

 There are so many amazing things about Denmark. For instance, Danes are rated as the most happy people in the world. Also, Danes are super eco-friendly, most of them go to school or work by bike. I am so excited about cycling because it is not only a great exercise but it is also cheap to get around the town. There are only 2 obvious disadvantages of moving to Denmark: the Danish language which is like 3 times worse than German and German is no easy language to learn and then there's also the weather (for those who love summer and are all about shorts and crop-tops). I personally don't think I will have a problem with the weather since I prefer chilly weather to hot weather and regarding the language, I will do my best to learn it. That leads me to another great thing: as far as I know, by being an international student in Denmark you are granted 2 years of Danish language study for free. How amazing is that? :) 

 I don't imagine it will be easy to adjust to living there since I lived with my parents for my entire life. Besides that, I will encounter a whole different culture than mine. However, I am so looking forward to that. If I wasn't, my "get out of your comfort zone" tattoo wouldn't make sense. It's funny now that I think of all the AIESEC projects I participated to when I used to say "hey, there are some internationals coming to our city". Now I'm going to be the international going to their city :) 

 A classmate of mine wrote in my album something like "have fun with your nordic adventure" (there's a tradition in Romania, you pay for this album full of pictures of your classmates when you finish high school and you just write things like "I'm glad I got to meet you, have fun in college, lots of success" to each other). That sort of inspired my #, haha. I look forward to discover the Danish culture and tell you all about my nordic adventure :) 

 If you have any questions regarding studying in Denmark, feel free to send me a message here or on facebook. Also, maybe share this post as I might be able to help someone who can't decide whether to choose Denmark or another country :) 

P.S Buzfeed has this amazing article about Denmark. Check it out if you're interested: http://www.buzzfeed.com/marietelling/37-reasons-why-demark-will-ruin-you-for-life