My name is Natalia and I am 21 years old, I am originally from Barcelona but I had the amazing opportunity to study for my bachelor’s degree in Denmark. This year I graduated from Southern Denmark University with a degree of science in European studies, an experience I would like to share with you.
How did you decide to study abroad?
When I was in the last year of high school I had to decide what my next step in life was going to be. I knew I wanted to study international relations or politics since I was very interested in international issues, human security, and related topics because I had been participating in MUN debates for some time, which I kept doing during my university years. Unfortunately, Spanish public education did not offer me that opportunity at that time and the only options I had were private universities with high tuition fees or degrees that were related such as “politics and public policy”. I had been researching universities abroad since the first year of high school because studying abroad was something that was very appealing to me and I submitted my application to several universities including the Aalborg University, Southern Denmark University, and the University of Amsterdam among others, all of those with programs such as International Relations or European studies.
As I have mentioned before I applied to different universities across Europe and when the decisions came out I had to choose between studying in the Netherlands, Denmark, and Spain. The tuition fees in the Netherlands were reasonable but the living costs in Amsterdam were too high for a student without a job so I decided not to accept the offer even though it was a very good university. Staying in Spain and studying politics was more of a backup plan for me and therefore I accepted the offer to study in Denmark. I need to say that I had lived in Denmark before back in 2014-2015 when I was there for a year as part of a youth exchange program with AFS and therefore the idea of going back for some time had been around my thoughts since the day I left.
What were your initial thoughts?
Before going to Denmark, I was scared, and doubting my choices as any 18-year-old girl would have been. The thought of living away from my family for three years at least at such a young age was scary and overwhelming but as soon as I stepped a foot in the building all those doubts disappeared. The first day I met amazing people who were there in the exact same situation as me and I felt comforted. As much as I thought I would be alone in my thought of fear, all those new students felt the same no matter how far away they were coming from. I had the advantage comparing to the other international students that I spoke the language and therefore adapting was easier as well as finding a student job to finance me living there. Education in Denmark is free and therefore I did not have to worry about tuition fees which was a relief, but I still had to take care of the cost of the apartment, utilities, food, and other expenses. I was able to join student organizations such as the MUN group or Intro team, a group of students who organize events at university which was such a positive thing for my time in Denmark.
What are your thoughts on Danish education?
Danish education is free of charge as I have already mentioned which does not mean it is not good. Often Danes start a degree and leave it unfinished because of that, but at the same time, the fact that they don’t have to pay for it lets them explore different options if they need to without spending thousands of euros. Danish public education is of high quality and the methods used both in lectures and when it comes to the evaluation of what the students have learned were very positive towards the achievement of my degree.
Furthermore, there is an economic aid given to all Danish students over 18 which allows them to study without having to work full time at the same time, which aims to ensure all young people in Denmark have the opportunity to pursue higher education instead of going directly to the labor market. As a foreign student from an EU member state I also had the chance to opt for that economic aid. This was available to me in exchange for working 15 hours a week. I was lucky enough to find a job in a restaurant that allowed me to work enough hours to receive this financial aid without having to sacrifice my studies to do so. I graduated last June with a degree of science in European Studies from Southern Denmark University and I would strongly advise anyone to study abroad if they had the chance because this opportunity shaped who I am today and provided so many opportunities for the future.
Zovem se Natalia i imam 21 godinu. Dolazim iz Barcelone, ali sam imala neizmjernu priliku studiranja u Danskoj. Ove sam godine završila preddiplomski studij na sveučilištu Southern Danmark, a ovo je moja priča:
Kako si se odlučila na studiranje u inozemstvu?
Kao maturantica morala sam odlučiti koji je moj idući potez u životu. Ono što sam znala je da želim studirati nešto što je povezano sa međunarodnim odnosima ili vanjskom politikom. U srednjoj sam školi bila dio debatnog time te sam se tako zainteresirala za teme poput državnih odnosa, sigurnosti i slično. Nažalost, španjolski sustav visokog obrazovanja nudio je ovu opciju isključivo na privatnim sveučilištima gdje je studiranje jako skupo. To me navelo da počnem proučavati sveučilišta u inozemstvu poput Aalborg University, Southern Denmark University i University of Amsterdam. Svi su oni nudili programe međunarodnih odnosa i europskih studija.
Zašto baš Danska?
Prijavila sam se na nekoliko različitih sveučilišta diljem Europe, u Nizozemskoj, Danskoj i Španjolskoj. Iako su troškovi studiranja u Nizozemskoj bili prihvatljivi, život u Amsterdamu ipak bi bio malo prevelik zalogaj za studenticu bez posla. Studiranje u Španjolskoj u kojoj je moguća isključivo opcija „politike“ općenito bio je samo rezervni plan, te je stoga jedina preostala opcija bila Danska. Sa Danskom sam se već bila susrela kroz program razmjene te ondje boravila godinu dana tijekom 2014. i 2015. godine.
Koja su bila tvoja očekivanja?
Kao i svaka 18- godišnjakinja, u početku sam se bojala odlaska u drugu zemlju i premišljala o svojoj odluci. Sama pomisao da ću tako mlada naredne tri godine provesti u drugoj zemlji, daleko od svoje obitelji bila je zastrašujuća. Međutim, svi su ti strahovi nestali u vrlo kratkom roku, jer sam odmah pri dolasku upoznala ljude sa istom situacijom poput moje što me umirilo. Ja sam čak bila u prednosti jer sam kroz razmjenu uspjela naučiti jezik za razliku od većine drugih studenata. To mi je olakšalo adaptaciju, komunikaciju i pronalazak studentskog posla. Studiranje u Danskoj je besplatno, ali trebalo je pokriti životne troškove – smještaj, režije, hranu i ostalo. Učlanila sam se u nekoliko studentskih organizacija poput MUN grupe i Intro team-a te sam upravo radeći za njih stekla iskustvo organiziranja društvenih događanja na sveučilištu.
Što misliš o danskom sustavu visokog obrazovanja?
Kao što sam već spomenula, u Danskoj je obrazovanje potpuno besplatno. Upravo je to razlog što mnogi Danci počnu studirati, ali ubrzo odustanu. S druge strane, to im omogućava proučavanje različitih programa bez ikakvog dodatnog troška. Iako besplatan, danski sustav obrazovanja vrlo je kvalitetan, a metode koje se koriste pri učenju i evaluaciji daju jako dobar rezultat.
Također, sve mlade osobe kada napune 18 godina, a još uvijek su u sustavu obrazovanja, dobivaju financijsku pomoć čime im se omogućava nesmetano studiranje, odnosno svima se daje šansa za nastavak obrazovanja, a ne odlazak na tržište rada. Meni kao stranoj studentici ta je pomoć također bila omogućena, ali uz rad od 15 sati tjedno. Imala sam sreće po tom pitanju jer sam uspjela pronaći posao u restoranu gdje su mi vlasnici izašli u susret te sam mogla svoje radno vrijeme prilagođavati predavanjima.
Diplomirala sam u lipnju 2020 te bih svakome preporučila, ukoliko imaju tu mogućnost, da isprobaju studiranje u inozemstvu. Ovo me iskustvo oblikovalo kao osobu, pružilo mnoge mogućnosti te otvorilo vrata za budućnost.
Ovaj članak dio je aktivnosti “Mobilni ambasadori” u sklopu projekta Centar za mobilnost Labin odobrenog od strane Ministarstva za demografiju, obitelj, mlade i socijalnu politiku. Mobilni ambasadori će u svojim pričama podijeliti vlastita iskustva na projektima i programima međunarodne mobilnosti.