Mia Valimaki - Copenhagen

My Erasmus in Copenhagen turned out to be wonderful though it started off less promisingly. As I didn't apply for a personal mentor, a Danish student to guide me through stuff, I was apparently dropped out of the information list of some sort so I didn't know when to attend the introduction meetings.

It was a bit comical to arrive to Copenhagen on the day I was told to be there and then not know where to go. Luckily a few emails with the school's Erasmus coordinator cleared things out.

Generally the first month was just about getting to know the city, the routines etc. I stepped on the train going to the wrong direction so many times that in the end I wasn't even embarrassed to ask the Danish people on the platform for directions.

Everybody there did speak English, part of the reason why I chose Copenhagen to begin with but a lot of my fellow students had chosen to do the pre-semester Danish course. I on the other hand - knowing some Swedish - didn't want to confuse the little Swedish I know with another Scandinavian language. But where ever you spoke a bit of Swedish/Danish the people would only reply back in Danish which I learned to understand only a bit after I'd been in the country for 3 months.

The mentors (Danish students who are meant to guide international students) organised a cabin trip for all the exchange students in October and it was the best decision ever. You got to know all the fellow politics students and the Danish mentors in wholly different way than just greeting them in class rooms. After the cabin trip the whole exchange felt like a holiday/party with so many people you knew and so many parties to attend.

The university was excellent. The courses were Masters Level and you could tell that from the emphasis they put on theory. It was really useful for my dissertation as well to get really insightful knowledge of the theories as well. My seminar leader was probably the best I've had and she was only a few years older than the rest of, she'd completed a Masters in LSE and was doing a second one in Copenhagen. The quality of the seminars was just amazing; I never wanted to skip class.

Copenhagen University also had a theme year dedicated for the EU which is my main research interest so they also had a lot of extra lectures on it. I also attended open lecture series on the EU and this combined with the course I was taking at the university really deepened my knowledge of the EU.

So in the end I felt sad to leave Copenhagen because of the people I'd gotten to know there, it was the best place for networking, the people there were so driven in politics that I know they will future decision makers across the world. I've already planned to meet a few of them later this year in different politics simulations across Europe and we're also planning on travelling to Beijing for the Olympics as one of my friend's in from there.

The negative things I can say is that you don't get a lot of contact with the actual lecturers and the staff at the politics department in general is rather difficult to hold off. It is also a really expensive city, everything from housing to public transport to cinema is almost double the price in Newcastle so student life isn't too glamorous and you learn to save the plastic bags because they cost money and recycle all the bottles because you get money back when you return them.
All in all, I would recommend Copenhagen for anyone really interested in networking and politics, most definitely.