Lisa van Wersch, 26, student of B.A. in Accessory Design at Pforzheim University is doing a study abroad in Kolding at Designskolen Kolding, Denmark
Since I am writing this nearly at the end of my semester, which actually was exactly 6 months long, I can already see this as a kind of retroperspective and maybe as a love letter to my danish class.
When you go to Kolding I assume you chose this city because of the amazing school you will visit in the beginning. That’s at least what I did. But do not underestimate Kolding - and never underestimate Denmark! Wherever you are, you will never need longer than 60 minutes to the next beach or cliff. And actually from the school in Kolding itself, you just need 10 minutes by foot to the sea (when you are walking very, very slow)! So if you expect to visit a lot of nature, a lot of water, and a lot of amazing people Kolding (or at least Denmark) is your destination! Talking about amazing people..
After one week at school, you start to understand that it is absolutely normal that everyone is smiling at you, whenever they see you (yes, no matter if you know them). You will understand that it is absolutely normal, that people help you with your stuff, or at least open doors for you every day. You will understand that everyone is called with their first names, otherwise you are so rude! And you will slowly understand that it is not fake that everyone really wants to get to know you and that everyone is honestly helping each other.
In my class we are 8 people, and it is not like the „random mixture“ of classmates I knew before. It is like a group of friends who accidentally study together and who are there for each other whenever they can. Today I feel like „one of them“, because they made it so easy for me to fit in and just become honest mates. I think one important reason why people are the way they are here is Janteloven. It means no one is worth more than the other, a unwritten law everyone keeps in mind when treating one another.
But about basic school features I am going to miss so badly: The workshops are not defined by bachelor courses. As soon as you got an introduction with the workshop manager you are allowed to work there. 24 hours. 7 days a week. Whenever you want, how long you want! (Maybe that is why I even learned how to turn wood, or to do letterpress, or play around with Swarovski Stones, or.., or…). Some of the workshops are sponsored by companies, for example like the leather workshop, I worked a lot in. It is sponsored by Ecco Shoes, and provides all students with free leather for the school projects.
Actually the school system is very well situated in Denmark, there are no study fees and at Designschool most of the materials are free for the students. Everything you miss, you can get in the „Architegn“ Shop in school, a little shop where you can loose a lot of time and money while you find everything your heart desires. We spent a lot of time in school because every (!) student has there own workspace where we can leave our projects and work whenever we want to. But when I say „a lot of time“ in school, it might be time to talk about
The work life balance I came to know here is definitely new for me. School starts at 9.00 and courses are over at 14.15. At least at the days you have courses, because most of the days are selfstudy days. When you are in school after 16.00 you can be nearly sure you are alone! (Heavenly situation when you test out all the workshops!). People are enjoying life. Outside, with friends, cooking and definitely drinking (even with having the most expensive grocery expenses I have ever experienced).
You learn to listen to yourself again, get the time to realize what it is that makes you truly happy, and where you want to invest your time in. Without any pressure.
DON’T FORGET THE WEATHER
Yes, please do not expect endless snowy days, or the hottest days of your life. Since Denmark is surrounded by a lot of (sea) water, you might get to fall in love with very functional rain clothes! But as you will see, no one cares about the „liquid sunshine“ you might experience, because 20 minutes later you are rewarded with the bluest sky you can imagine.
And rainy days are the best time to understand the true meaning of Hygge! Being comfortable, with friends, or alone, a lot of atmosphere, with whatever makes you happy. And do not forget „hygge“ can be a noun, a verb and an adjective. Everything and everyone can be hygge. And you should at least hygge once a day! (The golden rule!)
ALL IN ALL
This was probably the fastest six months of my life. But also the most intense, the most hygge, the most productive, the most defining and the most cheerful times of my student life. I feel like I learned so much, professional-wise and personally. I am especially thankful for the amazing people I met who made this time unforgettable.