Four universities, three countries, five years

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Taking the plunge into studying abroad is not always easy. Lise Michaela Lodahl plucked up the courage to do it three whole times and tells us here about her experiences.

Glade dage 'downunder'  -  det var bare den første tur. Privatfoto.

Happy days as an exchange students. This picture is from her second stay in Vietnam. Private photo.

Australia

There is a unique atmosphere of wanderlust at Copenhagen Airport, and she can feel herself shaking with anticipation. She is ready now: ready to go live and study in Melbourne, Australia, for six months. At the counter, they look extra long and hard and seem concerned as they check her and her friend’s passports. Something has gone wrong, because both their visas are invalid.

“We were under some pressure at that point.” Lise Michaela Lodahl laughs, thinking back on the first time she went to study abroad as an exchange student.

“My visa was sorted, but my girlfriend had to buy a new one at the airport. We ended up making it just in time.”

The 26-year-old RUC student, who is currently writing a combined thesis in Performance Design and Business Studies, speaks at a rapid pace, and you have to pay close attention not to miss any of the exciting stories she has to tell about her studies abroad.

See also: It takes a lot of work to become an exchange student

In her fourth semester, Lise went to Melbourne instead of Trekroner and got a break from group work. Even if you’re used to forming groups and doing group assignments and taking group exams, don’t be scared off by the fact that work at most other universities involves working alone.

“It was great to discover that I can cope just fine on my own,” says the globetrotter, smiling as she adjusts her big round eyeglasses.

Perhaps that is what made Lise choose to sign up for another exchange programme in the first semester of her graduate studies. This time she went on her own, and the destination was Vietnam.

Vietnam

Outside, the electric scooters roar by fast, and the noise in hectic Ho Chi Minh City reminds her that she’s far away from home. But inside the small café, the sweet sound of French music emanates from the loudspeakers, interrupted only by the mechanical sounds of the espresso machine. There are no spring rolls or chopsticks here: she can feel at home drinking a real latte. She can breathe here.

Man er også turist, når man er på udveksling. I weekenderne selvfølgelig. Privatfoto.

As an exchange student, one is also a tourist. At the weekends, of course. Private phote.

The semester in Australia was what made Lise Michaela Lodahl want to go on another trip, but this time it had to be something completely different. It had to be Vietnam. The university was Australian, but that was the only thing that was familiar to her. She was the only white person in her class.

Just like at RUC, the focus was on group work in Vietnam, but it turned out to be something Vietnamese students found somewhat difficult:

“They only thought about how they could get out of it the easiest. In most cases, their solution was to be in a group with that white girl who was good at English. So I was fairly popular there,” she laughs.

When you go to stay in a country where your whole life is turned upside down, you sometimes miss – believe it or not  –  the squeezing and hugging games at RUC:

Of course, I have had days when I just hated Vietnam. But most of the time I loved it. It was really great to be out there, and I learned so much.”

Copenhagen

The old university building is looming large in front of her. She holds her bag tightly to her. It is her first day at yet another new university, and she has no idea where she should go. The introduction day was cancelled, so it is now up to her to find her way through the maze of corridors and rooms, hoping to come across the canteen or the library.

Of course, I had days when I just hated Vietnam. But most of the time I loved it. It is really great to be out there, and I learned so much.

“I remember thinking to myself: Wow, this is really hard.” Lise tells me about her first weeks at Copenhagen University, where she attended her third exchange programme:

“I didn’t even know how to log into the system or print documents. They just assume that you know.”

Even though this cool globetrotter settled in easily at the universities in Australia and Vietnam, she actually found it harder to start at the University of Copenhagen. Abroad, she never stopped to think about how difficult it was, and that makes her wonder just how well new international students are actually received in Denmark.

Eskil Juul Elling blogged for RUSK during his stay in Paris

Apart from the fact that it can be difficult to start studies in a new place, you usually encounter various hurdles during the application process itself, according to Lise. It sometimes feels as though either the Danish or the foreign university is putting obstacles in your way, and her best advice is not to give up.

All of her advice is based on her own first-hand experiences and, after three different application processes in three different countries, one could call her something of an expert in being an exchange student. For this reason, she was simply perfect for her current student job at EDU, where she helps other students who want to study abroad.

Perhaps you are the next one to go?

Facts

Would you like to study abroad?

Has your appetite been wetted? Are you longing to get away from the grey barracks and perpetually windy weather of Trekroner? Read more about RUC’s exchange agreements here

Or check out your options in organising your own stay abroad here:

www.edu-danmark.dk

You can also go to the EDU Day event in Copenhagen this afternoon 

Lise’s five tips on studying abroad

  1. Find out when your programme recommends its students go abroad.
  2. Decide whether the exchange should be through one of RUC’s agreements or whether you’d rather be a “free-mover”.
  3. Don’t give up, even though the application process can be a long one.
  4. Remember that not only can you take your Danish student grant with you; you can also apply for an international scholarship or stipend to fund your stay abroad.
  5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or ask stupid questions.

 

På tur i Vietnam. Privatfoto.

On a trip in Vietnam. Private photo.

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