VIEWS: 18 PAGES: 5 POSTED ON: 6/23/2011
Natalie Burden Exchange Report Copenhagen Business School (CBS) Summer 2003 Travel, Visas, and Immunization I found traveling around to be easy. Copenhagen‟s buses run practically all night long, and during the day buses run very frequently (i.e. the bus from Valbygardsvej to Copenhagen‟s center run every 4 minutes). After arriving back in Vancouver I wished the bus system here is good as it is in Copenhagen! The only difficulty in bussing is trying to figure out which bus to take, but once you know what bus route you want it‟s easy. Traveling around Europe by train, even if you don‟t speak Danish or German, is quite easy, especially if you have a Eurail pass which can be a big money saver. When I was on a train from Germany to Denmark, the train went right onto an awaiting ferry, which was interesting. I didn‟t need a Visa for studying in Denmark because you only need a Visa if you are staying more than 3 months. As well, when I went to France, Germany, and Norway, a Canadian passport was enough. However, if you want to go to the Czech Republic (even if it‟s only for 1 day) you need a travel Visa, which can be a hassle to obtain. Before leaving I got a few immunization needles. Some countries require you to have certain immunizations before entering, but I didn‟t find any to be required for France, Germany, Denmark or Norway. I did, however, make sure I had Hepatitis A & B and Meningitis (the combo shot for several forms) because they were recommended. Weather I‟m very glad I knew to bring an umbrella, because it can rain hard in Copenhagen. The weather there is quite strange in that it can change quickly. One minute it‟s raining, and then the next minute it‟s sunny. Overall, the weather was quite good when I was there. Some days we even went to the beach. Since Denmark is so far north, in the summer daylight lasts a long time each day. When I first got there at the end of June, there was only about 4 hours of darkness a night. At first it can seem a little strange to find it daylight out when you are leaving a club for home! And, when it is dark, the sky isn‟t black it is a beautiful deep blue. Money It‟s important to know that in Europe bank machines don‟t have letters on the key pad, so if you know your PIN number because of the word it spells, you‟re in trouble. I‟m glad I knew that before arriving. Also, if you find that your bank card doesn‟t work in a bank machine when you first get to Copenhagen, don‟t panic until you‟ve tried it in a machine belonging to a different Danish bank. Also a good thing to know in advance about money is to let your credit card company know you‟ll be overseas. I‟ve had Visa phone me because I made an “out-of-character” purchase once (it was a car windshield repair) and had they not been able to get a hold of me to confirm the purchase, they would have frozen my credit card. I can imagine how purchases in Europe would be considered “out-of-character”. Some one at my bank also recommended letting your credit card company know. Copenhagen is a very expensive city, but there are a lot of ways to be cheap! For example: shop at the cheaper grocery stores, don‟t buy pop (pop is quite expensive), don‟t eat at McDonalds or other fast food chains (also quite expensive- can cost $8cdn for a basic meal at McDonald‟s), eat at all-you-can eat buffets (there are some really good buffet prices out there!), go to the lunch buffet right before it ends (around 2:30) instead of going to the dinner one, bring a lunch to school, go to museums and the like on the 1 day a week that they are free, and drink at home with your friends before going to clubs. I spent $1300 on airfare and travel insurance (this was a huge bargain at the time- but keep in mind it was more expensive for me because I flew into Paris and out of Copenhagen and had a longer duration because I traveled first). I spent the same on a bus pass as I would have spent here buying a bus pass (approx $70). Textbook prices were also similar to Canada (spent approx $200). Tuition was $600 paid to SFU before leaving. Dorm cost was $900 (also paid before departure in a wire transfer). Arrival and Orientation Since I backpacked around Europe for a few weeks before coming to Copenhagen, I arrived at the train station, not the airport. In advance I had signed up for the Buddy Program, and my buddy met me at the train station and took me to my residence. I was really glad that I signed up for a buddy, because it made getting to my dorm really easy, and she also told me about how to get a bus pass and showed me where the grocery store nearest residence was. However, my buddy didn‟t seem to know much about my orientation on the first day, and since I didn‟t get any emails about the orientation in advance I had no idea when or where it was. It turns out that the International Office puts together a useful package of information, including the Orientation details. This package was in everyone‟s “Pigeon Holes” (mailboxes that each student has outside the international office). I met a girl in my dorm who had come to Copenhagen a week early and she everyone about orientation. I suggest attending orientation, because my orientation was quite helpful. We learned a lot of practical information, such as where to get printing cards. Accommodation and Living: I lived in Valbygardsvej residence. I had initially also listed other residences in my priority list when filling out the application forms, but I‟m really glad that I ended up in Valbygardsvej (also known as 'Valby'). Location & busing One dorm is quite close to the school, another is right downtown, and Valby is in the middle. The other dorm (the cheapest one) seemed quite far away to me. Valby is in Frederiksberg which is an area outlying from downtown, the area where the school is located. I thought that it was a great location because it was a short (and direct) bus ride from both downtown and school. Valby is in a residential neighborhood. About the building: Having lived in dorms at SFU, I was pleasantly surprised about the size of the rooms in Valby. The building is L-shaped and 3 stories (the bottom 2 stories were for us). There‟s a small patio in the back. On each floor there‟s laundry (it‟s free!), bathrooms, and a kitchen. After I left they put all new dishes, etc in them. There‟s also a common room on the bottom floor. Phone/Internet in the dorm The dorm had high speed internet for free and also phone lines. However, to make a call you needed a phone card. In this dorm you need a specific phone card – the TDC card with the PIN number that you scratch. Any other card won‟t work and is a waste of money. TDC is the Danish phone company, and you buy the card in their stores: there‟s one store on Stroget (the main pedestrian street) and there‟s another a few blocks away from Frederiksberg Center (a mall across the street from school). One trick with the phone cards: buy the TDC card and since it doesn‟t have the greatest per minute rate (about 90 minutes for $20cdn if I recall correctly) use the TDC card to call a Go Bananas card (sold at 7-11 and has a much better per minute rate). This will save you a lot of money in long distance calling and is worth it even though you have to dial many, many digits while dialing home. I used the computers at school for the internet. Academic Details I was in Global Marketing and Leadership. Leadership was interesting, but not hugely challenging. Global Marketing reading could pile up quickly because of the condensed semester, but it wasn‟t too tough. What was difficult about Global Marketing was that it was the only class on Fridays, so everyone else‟s weekend started Thursday night. Also, the class ran for 6 hours, which is something I‟m not used to. There were no midterms because of the condensed semester. Text books and School Supplies At CBS summer school, you have to buy your texts in your first week or two because the bookstore closes for the rest of the summer. Text prices are similar to SFU. You can also buy some school supplies there, but I recommend going somewhere cheaper. I bought all my school supplies (I had no school stuff when I arrived) at Tiger, which is like a Danish dollar store. There are Tiger stores around the city, but the one I went to is across from Radhuspladsen on the same side of the road as Tivoli (Radhuspladsen and Tivoli are really easy to find). Food and Grocery Shopping Grocery shopping is a bit challenging because almost all products have no English on the label. Prices can really vary between grocery store chains. Netto is the cheapest by far, but they often have little selection. Nettos are all around the city. Also cheap, but with more selection, is Prima. The only Prima I saw is close to Valbysgardsvej residence. Fotex is also common (and very close to school) but is more expensive. At these grocery stores you bag your own groceries and if you don‟t bring bags, you have to pay for them. At Prima, you have to weigh some of the produce and print out a sticker for it (like the stickers you see in a deli department here) before going to the checkout. Also important to know about grocery shopping, and definitely different from Canada, is that you have to pay in cash (no debit or credit cards are accepted). Social and extra-curricular activities organized by CBS I‟m glad that the school arranged many social activities. It was a great chance to meet people that I didn‟t have class or live with. We had to sign up for these activities and pay for them in advance. Some of these activities included a walking tour, a boat tour, going to the harbor and jazz festivals, international potluck night, tour of Christiania, sailing on a Viking ship (in nearby town of Roskilde), a trip to Berlin, and a trip to Oslo. Having just been in Berlin before coming to Copenhagen, I didn‟t sign up for that trip, but I heard that it was fun. I did go on the Oslo trip, and am glad that I did even though I missed the tour bus in Oslo. The ship we took was quite nice- it even had a movie theater. The dinner buffets that we were signed up for on the ship were the most amazing buffets I have ever seen. However, on the way back to Copenhagen the water was really rough, so a few others and myself got really sea sick. I recommend packing Gravol just in case. Things to see & do in Copenhagen Copenhagen has a lot to see and do. The pedestrian street, called Stroget, is fun to walk along because you never know what you‟ll see and it has some good shopping. At one end of Stroget is Radhuspladsen (the town hall square) next to Tivoli and near the other end is Nyhavn, a nice place to sit along the water. There‟s also Tivoli, one of my favorite places. It‟s like an amusement park, but without the Disney element. There are rides, gardens, bars, cafes and restaurants (more expensive than those not in Tivoli, fireworks once a week and a laser light show each night. Also, every Friday Tivoli has something different going on, for example a Kool and the Gang or Tony Bennett concert. I‟m glad that I got a season‟s pass to Tivoli; it‟s defiantly worth the money and being able to skip the lineup at the entrance. I liked the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek. It‟s my favorite art gallery in all of Europe, and even people who don‟t usually like art museums that much liked it. It has a great collection and the building itself is beautiful inside. Admission is free 2 days a week. Another thing to do is a free tour of the Carlsberg Brewery (not far from Valbygardsvej residence), which ends with free samples. There are also beaches, parks, and palaces. If you‟re into doing the tourist thing there are several beautiful churches to look at and the Round Tower to climb. There‟s also good shopping in Copenhagen, I liked H&M and the Fisketorvet shopping mall. Fisketorvet is on the bus ride between Valbygardsvej residence and central Copenhagen, and also has a movie theater. Additionally, there are many open air cafes and great restaurants, as well as festivals such as the harbor and jazz festivals. Of course there are also the clubs and bars. A few of my favorites were The Dubliner (an Irish pub), The Australian Bar (really cheap drinks on Thursdays), Vega (several stories with multiple dance floors and bars), and Papa Hotel (clubbing on a beach). Lastly, Copenhagen is a good transportation point for getting to other cities. For example Malmo, Sweden is a 45 minute train ride away. My favorite and worst experiences One of my favorite experiences was going to a Kool and the Gang concert in Tivoli. It was so much fun! Tivoli was a really fun place- a great experience every time I went. I also really liked walking around Copenhagen, it‟s a beautiful city with lots to see and do. For two reasons, my least favorite experience was leaving. First, I couldn‟t really think of anything else that I could say is my least favorite experience (except for maybe getting up for Friday morning class after partying Thursday night and the time I got really sea sick on the way home from Oslo). Secondly, I put leaving as my least favorite experience because it was difficult to leave the good friends and city of Copenhagen itself behind. You form friendships really quickly because you know no one else, you spend all your time with these people, and also because most of the people who go on exchange have similar to you (similar attitudes, and are outgoing and friendly). Every day I had a lot of fun and it‟s hard to be bored when you live with so many friends in such a fun city. Advice for other students/ what I wish I knew beforehand: Travel insurance! I can‟t recommend this strongly enough. I knew 3 people this summer that didn‟t have it and needed it: one guy was sick, one girls‟ family member died, and another girl accidentally booked her return ticket for a few days after our final exam. My travel insurance (purchased at Travel Cuts at the time I bought my plane ticket) would have covered all of these situations. Buy the insurance because you never know! Keep a journal. It‟s a bit of a hassle, but it‟s worth it. Having been several days behind in my travel journal when backpacking beforehand, I decided not keep a journal when in Copenhagen. Now I can look back and remember funny things and stuff that happened when backpacking that I‟ve already forgotten about, so I regret not keeping a journal in Copenhagen. Bring a photo with you of yourself (the photo-booth kind). You have to have one to get a bus pass (it gets attached to the pass). When you use your credit card, you may be asked to enter your PIN number in an Interac-type fashion. Your credit card PIN number probably won‟t work in Denmark, so if you are asked to enter the credit card PIN number tell them you don‟t have one and they will process your credit card differently so that you sign instead. In some stores, (such as the TDC phone stores where you buy phone cards to use in Valbygardsvej residence), you have to take a slip of paper with a number on it out of a machine in order to be served because they serve everyone by number. Most places to shop are closed on Sundays. Get your groceries before Sunday or you may have to go hungry (or eat take out). What you've learned most and challenges you faced Aside from finding grocery shopping more difficult than it is at home, I didn‟t really face many other challenges. Not knowing anyone, and having to make an entirely new set of friends, wasn‟t challenging. It was fun getting to know the other exchange students. It seems like all exchange students are similar in that they are friendly, outgoing, and wanting to try something new. I‟ve met some amazing people and learned a lot more about their countries and cultures. It is a bit challenging at first to figure out what busses go where, but after a few days I was fine. Danish people are very friendly, and they speak English, so you can find help if you need it. One challenge party related to the exchange was the surprisingly harsh jet lag that I got once I returned back to Canada. I didn‟t have any jet lag when going to Europe (but I was really short on sleep at the time, so maybe my body probably didn‟t care when it slept). Having only been away for a few months, I didn‟t expect it to take so long for me to get over the jet lag (it took about 10 days- 10 long days). When I was wandering around Canada so tired, I found myself in a bit of culture shock- doing things like accidentally saying „thank you‟ in Danish or looking for the bus number that I used to ride in Copenhagen while at the bus loop here and being surprised when it didn‟t come. So, I‟ve learned that even though going to CBS summer school isn‟t the longest exchange available, you can still face jet lag and culture shock coming home. To conclude, I would definitely recommend the summer exchange program at Copenhagen Business School. My exchange was a great experience, and a lot of fun.
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