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"Aarhus BSS is a friendly place to be"

Aarhus BSS is an international school with researchers and students from all over the world. But what's it actually like to be an international student at Aarhus BSS? We asked two international students what they think about the school, the lecturers and the Danish students.

2018.04.30 | Sinne B. Jakobsen

Katarina Tökölyova and Petar Petrov. Photo: Private

Name: Katarina Tökölyova
From: Slovakia
Degree programme: BA MMC at MGMT, now studying Information studies at ARTS
Student job: In the International Office at Aarhus BSS

How would you describe Aarhus BSS in three words?

I would say… friendly, open… and international.

Can you elaborate on that?

There’s a really friendly atmosphere at the school. It’s a really good place to be a student with lots of possibilities for studying and relaxing. I often go to the library, not just to read, but also to hang out with other students. Especially at State Library. They also have really good cake – at student-friendly prices!

To me open means different things. First of all, the education system itself is open. It’s up to me to go to class and no one pushes you. Also the teachers are very open and helpful if you have any problems. You also have your study groups, and there’s always someone to help you.

International in the sense that I actually hear more English here than Danish when I walk around at school. I mainly socialise with Danish students from across AU and everybody speaks English. It took me a while to make friends – Danish people can be hard to get close to in the beginning. I’ve been here for four years now and live in a kollegium with lots of Danes, so now I feel at home and part of the group.

Why did you choose to study at Aarhus BSS?

I had a friend who wanted to come to Denmark and kept asking me to go with her. I didn’t know anything about Denmark and actually thought it was a really depressing and rainy country. I checked out other countries, but found that the BA MCC was one of the only programmes taught only in English.

I started checking the website and found that it actually sounded really good. I ended up applying and got accepted while my friend stayed at home! I kept imagining myself on a bike with a fresh baguette in the basket and thought “hmm… that doesn’t seem that bad”. And now it’s better than I ever expected!

How does Danish university life differ from that in Slovakia?

Well, I haven’t been to university in Slovakia, but I have many friends who have. They’re all really stressed compared to me. The system there is very different. Each semester you have seven or eight exams, and before you are allowed to take each exam, you have to take a pre-exam. This means about 14-16 exams in total. And you have to learn things by heart whereas in Denmark we learn to apply theory in practice.

What’s it like to be an international student at Aarhus BSS?

There’s the buddy programme, where you are attached to a Danish student in the beginning. Then there’s the introduction week, which was fun. But it takes a lot of effort to become part of the group of Danish students. There weren’t that many international students in my class, and the Danes all seemed to know one another. So it takes time, but it’s worth it.

Name: Petar Petrov
From: Bulgaria
Degree programme: BA MCC at MGMT. Has just applied to the MSc in strategy and organisation
Student job: Siemens Gamesa

How would you describe Aarhus BSS in three words?

Non-stressful and relaxed atmosphere, stimulating and independent.

Can you elaborate on that?

To me, Aarhus BSS a relaxed and nurturing place as there is no culture of competitiveness as you might find in other places. Of course it’s competitive in a certain way, but it’s ok to be different and less competitive. There’s also the physical aspect. You can enter the school 24/7, and it’s much more than just an educational institution. It’s a place to hang out. It can be quite crowded sometimes, but as students we have lots of possibilities and we can be flexible, independent and structure our own time. We are free, but we also have responsibility.

It’s also a stimulating environment. We read lots of academic texts and we are taught how to think and apply theory. I have a student job at Siemens Gamesa and although I might not be able to apply the theory directly, my theoretical knowledge means that I can see how the small tasks fit into in the big picture.

Why did you choose to study at Aarhus BSS?

I really liked the BA MCC programme as it focuses on business, but without being too quantitative. I also knew someone here who recommended Aarhus BSS. I really like the city of Aarhus and the campus. To me, Aarhus University is everything a campus should be. And of course, it’s a great university. I am also able to work next to my studies and be self-sufficient.

What’s it like to study at Aarhus BSS compared to a Bulgarian university?

In Denmark, there’s a lot of focus on the study group. In Bulgaria, it’s more about yourself, you have to learn things by heart and the environment is not that stimulating. Sometimes the study group can become a bit too much, however, as at times we do everything together. I like the study group, but sometimes I feel that I haven’t got enough time to contribute.

What’s it like to be an international student at Aarhus BSS?

The Danish students are kind of hard to get close to. I’ve found out that you don’t actually make friends with Danes at parties where people are drinking. The best way to make friends with Danes is through activities. There are a lot of activities and student associations at Aarhus BSS and Aarhus University, but it can be difficult to find these activities and associations and get into them if you’re an international student.

It would be so cool if there were more student activities across departments and also across the university itself – and if these activities were easier to find. By chance, I came across a political science association that was organising a trip to Moscow. I signed up, and even though I was the only international student and not even from political science, it was a great experience!

Aarhus BSS
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