On the semester abroad: “Roskilde is just small and sleepy”

FHWS student Magdalena Trauth on her experiences during her semester abroad

 © Magdalena Trauth

A stay abroad is good for more than just your CV. It provides valuable experiences for the future and professional life. Magdalena Trauth, Brand and Media Management, opted for precisely this in the 2019/20 winter semester. The now 26-year-old tells us about her experiences in Roskilde, Denmark, in an interview.

Why did you decide on Denmark?

Truthfully, I initially decided on England not Denmark. But that didn’t work out because of Brexit. But I definitely wanted to go to an English-speaking country, so I decided on Denmark in Scandinavia. I have always been interested in the country and it's not very far from my homeland. Since it was my first stay abroad, I didn’t want to go too far away.

How did you then settle on the Zealand Institute of Business and Technology in Roskilde?

It was the only partner institution in Denmark which also offered a marketing degree programme. I wanted to attend exactly that. It is called “AP degree Marketing”. Denmark has a completely different education system. AP means that it is four semesters. But to be comparable with the German bachelor's degree, you also have to do a “top-up” there for two to four semesters. I was there roughly in the third bachelor's semester.

How were the courses at the higher education institution?

I had my modules which I was able to choose in advance. However, as an M.A. student, I had to attend some other courses as well, unlike most people who study abroad during their bachelor's programme. For that reason, I was able to start in the third semester. I could also attend a few optional courses. In total, I had uni approx. three to four times a week. They were all in-person sessions too. But the sessions there are very practical. In principle, everything was divided into two parts: a bit of lecture time and predominantly practical project work.

The Zealand Institute of Business and Technology is one of the many FHWS partner institutions. (© Magdalena Trauth)

You have now experienced studies at FHWS and in Denmark. What was the biggest difference to studying in Germany?

Studying in Denmark is much more relaxed. Everyone addresses each other informally. Even the professors don't want to be addressed formally. But personally I like a more formal form of addressing people. Probably because I’m so used to it in Germany. But something else very positive was: I picked up an incredible amount of practical knowledge. It was very important to the lecturers for us to gain a practical understanding. That's why we also had a lot of group work.

Magdalena (left) with her buddy Emma (right). (© Magdalena Trauth)
In her free time, Magdalena did a lot with her fellow students. The photo here is from a farewell evening. (© Magdalena Trauth)

On the topic of accommodation: How did you find accommodation in Roskilde?

The Danish higher education institution booked a room for me at some sort of hostel. It was right on the same street as a butchery school. It really was slightly absurd. I also met several German girls there and they were a bit shocked too. There is a large food hall below the hostel where you can get something to eat from Monday to Friday. The butchery started behind the food hall. It was often the case that people came out from there with blood-smeared coats and you thought: Okay, is everything all right?

But the Danes are known for eating a lot of meat.

That was also very noticeable there. There really was a lot of meat and potatoes. They drink milk with everything. Because there was a butchery school there, though, the meat aspect was significantly more extreme. But advanced training for chefs was also offered there. The food was also sometimes burnt or not cooked through as a result. We were guinea pigs, so to speak, which was better some times than others. I also got to know Emma here. She was an international student too, but from France. I always went for breakfast with her.

The food in the food hall at the hostel was always plentiful, as Magdalena Trauth recounts. (© Magdalena Trauth)

Did you have much to do with the locals there?

I was assigned a so-called buddy at the beginning. They help you during the first few days in a new country and show you the area. My buddy was a Dane. But because I was in the international classes and not the Danish ones, I sadly didn't have much contact with Danish students. There were maybe two Danes in my class. In general, I did a lot with international students on my course and from my accommodation.

Did you travel a lot there, then?

I travelled by train a lot with Emma, the French Erasmus student. We went to Aarhus, for example, or even to Sweden. Malmö is just across the border. It's simply something else, being in other cities – away from the uni and really getting to know people there. Those were my highlights.

How would you describe the Danes?

Friendly, open – really very cosmopolitan. Everyone really does speak English there. I even spoke to a 70-year-old woman and her English was great. In comparison to Germany, I found it fantastic.

So you were also ‘forced’ to speak English?

That was really my problem in Germany. I never trusted myself there because I was scared of getting things wrong. But now my English has really improved. But what I have taken away from it are the friendships which I made there. I am still in close contact with many of them. It really was a great experience for me which I would highly recommend to anyone.

What would you recommend to other people if they are planning a semester abroad?

Stay relaxed and don’t get too attached to plan A. Take everything as it comes and simply make the best of it. 

Foto von Alicia Weigel

An article by
Alicia Weigel

Interview with 
Magdalena Trauth