Deja vu

2:00 PM / Posted by Marcus /

Are U about to embark on studies abroad? If U are considering taking the leap to another country (just like me), U are facing the great challenge of your life.
Nobody will tell U that making the decision, getting everything ready, saying goodbye to family and friends, taking off and settling in isn't a daunting prospect.
Because it is. It's scary, it's confusing and the feeling of just wanting to give up and stay at home like everybody else is likely to hit U like a sledgehammer between the eyes more than once.
Having said all that studying abroad can be one of the most rewarding experience of your life.
But it is very much your own responsibility. Sitting back and waiting 4 problems to be sorted out for you won't get U anywhere. Be active, curious and interested in surroundings and don't give up at the first sign of trouble or things not going your way. U can't expect your new classmates or neighbours to take initiative 4U (especially the Danish ones). So join in all the social activities U can, be extrovert and open, join sports clubs, organisations and go to classes :))
All this will help U make friends quickly and that is almost more important than anything else to make U feel at home in your new surroundings.
To get the full experience out of studying abroad it's essential to meet the people who live in your chosen country. They are the ones who can provide you with important contacts and knowledge 4 the future.
One of the initial big shocks students abroad are faced with is the language barrier. Even if U have chosen an English speaking education and have excellent skills - U are bound to feel out of U'r league once the academic talk begins. It's only natural and will pass. Give it few weeks and U'll hardly remember, why U worried in the first place.

"No way!" I exclaimed, "If U fail a class here, it doesn't even show up on your transcript?!"
The surprises continued: choose when U would like to write your exam, show up, look at the questions, and if you don't know the answers, don't worry, just leave and try again next time. Due date are rarely enforced. Nothing counts until U pass.
Slowly, the logic of this began to dawn on me - who really cares if U fail or don't complete a class. That is what U didn't learn, and what U should really matter is what U did learn. Right ?
Having completed my studies in Romania, I expected a lot of differences coming to the University of Vitus Bering, in Horsens (Denmark), a town of roughly the same size as my alma mater.
Smaller classes, more personal contact, and of course, a different culture all promised an exciting and new experience. What I did not expect were such major differences in the education system itself.
After navigating 12 years of schooling in Romania, I was used to rigid registration deadlines for adding a dropping classes; maximum security, maximum stress exam periods where dire illness was your only chance for reprieve; and big penalties for failing or failing to complete classes that marred your record permanently.
Arriving in Denmark I found myself in an education system well matched to the practical, calm, down-to-earth nature of the Danes themselves.
Rather than consisting of countless bureaucratic hoops to jump through, forms, deadlines and fines, it seemed structured to actually prioritize ... learning!
What I came to value most while leaving in Denmark is the sense of calm I have found here. It is not just the reality of living in a smaller city, where forested hills are visible at the end of every street, and spectacular sea view are a 5 minute walk from my front door.
It is the mental space that the self-structured system allows me: space to really think things through in their own time, rather than in the hurried small scraps of time that I managed to squeeze into my schedule in Romania.
There is so much more freedom for creativity and finding my own rhythm here. For me, the greatest challenge in this self-motivated system is not cutting myself so much slack that I hang myself. But I strongly believe that my periods of seemingly "low productivity" have been far from a waste of time. How could thinking be a waste of time for a student? And yet, at times I have felt uncomfortable, and guilty about this: saddening and significant testament to how we are taught to view school at home. Shouldn't thinking be one of the most important things we do?
When forced to rush forward in a frenzy of deadlines and stress, we can end up somewhere we never really wanted to go. But while Romanian universities set up a high pressure system with little time for contemplation, the alternative format for Danish education has helped me to finally figure out exactly what direction I want to go with my education and my life.
Amid the snowy fells of Denmark, I have found a confidence and peace that I know will stay with me long after I RETURN HOME.

These are just a few tips and hints to make the start of your study-abroad-experience a little more pleasant. Ultimately U will find your own way trough the challenge and return home more confident and mature.

Have a great time.


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