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Erasmus+ Journal (Issue 4) 2015/16

Christine K. Bernhart, UCSYD Haderslev, Denmark, Mobility for Study, PHST

Since a couple of years it was my wish to go abroad again. A dream became true! I've been four month in Denmark as an Erasmus student. These four month have been the time of my life until now. I've met amazing people from all over the world, I've been exploring a beatiful country, I've gained experiences about the Danish-HYGGE-culture and I've been talking place in intressting courses held by great teachers. I really enjoyed my time in Denmark and I hope all the people who decide to go there, will love it as much as I did. Thanks for the breathtalking, fantastic and the awesome time I could spend there!

The application process took quite a long period of time, however,  I was provided with competent and helpful advice in order to get my things done.

It was no problem to find the course programmes on the UC Syd website. I found everything quite fast (application form, different course programmes and learning agreement). The only thing which was really annying was the Europass. 

Description of the University:

UCSYD (University College South Denmark) is offering a wide range of higher education study programmes and courses at all levels, with an emphasis on first-cycle bachelor degrees in the fiels of Educational Sciences, Health Sciences, Social Sciences and Communication Sciences.

Geographically, UC South Denmark covers Southern Jutland and has more than 6.500 students and 700 members of staff.

The study programmes take place at five regional locations: two main campuses in the towns Esbjerg and Haderslev, and three smaller satellite campuses in Kolding, Aaenraa and Soendeborg. These regional dispersions are seen as a source of strength. Embracing diversity for mutual understanding and inspiration is one of their central values: the meeting of different cultures and professional traditions; cross-disciplinary and cross-professional courses; and an overall emphasis on internationalisation, research and innovation. 

Short Descriptions of the chosen Course Modules:


1 - Education and Culture in Europe (mandatory for all) 10 ECTS

A general introduction to Denmark, Danish history, culture and society and a Danish language course. Socratic dialogue - we depart our dialogues from reading the book Momo by Michael Ende. Project work - We learn from each other’s education systems and create the very best education system. School experience (two weeks): You will observe the Danish way of teaching and organizing school, and you may try out some teaching yourself as well. The module ends with a final comparative assignment on a topic chosen by you.

2 - Outdoor Learning and Living for World Citizenship (Elective module) 10 ECTS

We will move outside the classroom in this module. All classes will depart outside the University, in the nature, or at the Museum in Haderslev. You will live for three days in an Iron Age inspired village and experience how life was in year 500 (B.C.) – 850 (A.C.). We will go back to nature to learn how to take care of the nature in the theoretical light of “World Citizenship”. You will trek along the old “Hærvej” (Oxen road). The Trek is long so bring good footwear. We will learn how to cook food on a campfire in order to pass that knowledge on to kids in your home country. In this course you must be prepared to be outside most of the time – so bring warm clothes.

3 - Creative Learning in Schools and the Freedom Writers pedagogy.  (Elective module) 10 ECTS  

In Creative Learning in Schools we focus on the creative and “aesthetic” learning processes.  Be prepared to work actively with drama, storytelling and role plays.  As the only University in Europe we have a qualified teacher from the Freedom Writers Academy in the USA. This course will focus on writing as a mean to understand oneself and at times you might feel that this is getting very personal – so be prepared to get a deep understanding of yourself and the conditions of a human life in a late-modern society.  

Registration process/The contact of the universtiy and with the Erasmus office:

The registration processes either in Austria and afterwards in Denmark were not a big deal. The office in Haderslev provided us well in advance with all the required documents we will need. Most of it was done online and therefore easy. In case something was unclear, the International Office was always happy to help. The cooperation betwwen UCSYD and PH Graz is well organized. Mr Heiko Vogl (PH Graz) and Ms Anne Christine Jeppersen were very oligning when I had any questions.


The prices are generally in Denmark are pretty high. There are differnt supermarkets like Lidl, Aldi, Fakta, Fotex, Rema 1000, Kiwi, Netto a.s.o....

Netto, Lidl, Rema 1000 and Aldi are the 'low budget' supermarkets. 

It's also quite expensive to visit restaurants. I can reccomend Café Kridt. It's not the cheapest (Hamburger with french fries or potatoe wedges ~ € 15,-) but the quality of the food is great. They are using only fresh and regional ingrediens. 


0,3l Beer € 4,30 - € 6,70
Housing ranges between € 300 ~ € 400
Cheapest cigarettes € 4,90
Diesel 1l ranges between € 0,94 ~ € 1,20

There is a bar directly at the University. It is called 'Fridays café' and it's open each Friday between 12:00 and 00:00 (sometimes longer). The prices there are pretty cheap because it's a students bar. Nearly everything is available for about 10 DKK (€ 1,34). 

Public transport is also much more expensive than in Austria. However, you don't need public transport because the distances are not too far to walk. If you have to stay in the accomondation Christian X'vej you have to walk 30 minutes to the University. If you live in Varbergparken you need about 25 minutes. You can also rent a bike at the University for only 50 DKK (€ 6,72) per month. 

Review on my studies abroad in academic terms:

Education and Culture in Europe: The first few weeks we had to be at the University we had to be there from Monday till Friday between 8:30 until 16:00. We had to compare the different educational systems between our different countries (Spain, Japan, Ireland, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium...). At the end we had to do a project work in groups to create our personal 'dream school' and present it to the others. 

After the course 'Education and Culture in Europe' we had to go to our elective courses. I had chosen 'Outdoor learning' and 'Freedom writers'.

Outdoor learning: We had to spend 2 nights/3 days in an Iron Age village. To 'survive' we had to grind flower, stir butter, milk the cows, kill a chicken (not each of us, only three people), make fire, a.s.o. ... 
After the Iron Age Village we were often working in the archeology museum, teeaching children there, working on projects like the 'Reneccaince Day'. We had also a huge hike at the end of the course (Day 1 ~ 10 km, Day 2 ~ 32 km) but not everybody was participating at the second day and this wasn't a problem.

Black smith family in Iron Age Village © by Christine K. Bernhart

 Preparing dinner á la Iron Age © by Christine K. Bernhart 

Freedom Writers: This is a great course based on arts, drama and writing. We had to think about our earliest childhood memories and write them down, to write a biography about our lives, to write  about our experiences and personalities. We had to draw a picture about our earliest childhood memory, were werking with materials like clay and cheese wax and took pictures. All these things have been published in an Freedomwriters Diary book 'Everybody has a story' of the Freedom Writers Foundation. We also had to watch the film "The Freedom Writers, we wrote a postcard to Erin Gruwell, the founder of the Freedom Writers, and we could skype with her. (She is an amazing person with a stong personality!) For the drama part we had to improvise theatre scenes and to do a roleplay in groups at the end of the semester.

This courses have the most educational courses I've ever had! However, I didn't had to write a single exam or anything. But they way the teachers tought us and were incouraging our motivation was great! I gained a lot of ideas of how I want to teach and what kind of teachere I'd like to be. 

The people who had chosen the subject English had to work on teaching methods and principles of teaching. They had to write an five hour exam at the end of the semester. 

Review of my fieldwork expereiences:

I had to do a two week internship in Christiansfeld Skole which was about 12 km far from Haderslev. It was a huge school for about 500 primary and secondary pupils. The most of the schools in Denmark as huge as this one or bigger. I really like the scandinavian educational system. 

Christiansfeld Skole
© by Christine K. Bernhart 

It's verey important there that the children do a lot of movement evry day. The do a lot of physical exercises during the lessons to increase the pipils motivation. In each break the pupils have to go outside ad to play in the very well equipped and huge playground.

The school in general was verey well equipped. The have for example a huge room for music lessons. In this room you can find two pianos, several guitars, benjos and e-guitars, key boards, drums, trompets a.s.o. ...

The athmosphere in the school was also very good. There was a lot of daylight, relax zones for the children, working zones for grup works and a lot more. The children in general were behaving good and working totally independend. They did a lot of group work and were pretty good in douing that.

Arts class selfie ;) 
© by Christine K. Bernhart 

The teacher was more like a coach, a supporter and friend instead of a typically teacher with all his/her sterotypes. I really liked that.

The pupils are for example pretty good at English. Much better than Austrian pupils, but I have to say that all the films and series produced in America or the UK are not synchronised. So they are watching a lot of English speaking films and series on TV.

Denmark is also in school totally trust based, and it works. I really enjoyed my time in Christiansfeld Skole and I gained a lot of experiences. Our teacher there, her name was Susanne, was a great person and invited us on our last day for dinner in her hous together with her three daughters. I was a nice evening. 

Music class (Christiansfeld Skole)
© by Christine K. Bernhart 

Social and cultural review on my study abroad:

The Danes are really nice, open minded and realaxed. It's not for nothing that they are called the most happies citizens in Europe. There are not that much differences between the Austrian and Danish culture. But I want to tell you a few I've noticed: 

The Danes love their liquorice.
Sometimes you can see baby buggies in front of restaurants. It's normal that the parents go into the restaurant to have their lunch or dinner and the babies have to sleep in the mean time outside in their buggies, even though if it's raining.
The Danes are really trust full and they would never expect that somebody is 'bad' or a liar. 
The most of the Danes are very sporty and love healthy food. You can't find a lot of oversized people.
The service in restaurants is mostly very bad. In a lot of restaurants you have to go to go to the bar and order ther. Sometimes it's totally self service.
A lot of joung women and men are married and have children. I think it could be a religous or traditional thing that a lot of young people are married by the age of 21~22. 
The Danes have a good sense of humour.
The sterotype Dane is huge and blonde.

Dinner with friends
© by Christine K. Bernhart 


The Danes call it the 'ghetto' of Haderslev (Varbergparken) where I was living. But I sounds really hard. It's true, the buildings doesn't look pretty fom the outside and I don't know if there were also living Danish citizens, however, I'm neither a born Dane. In Denmark I was also a 'Immigrand' like all the others which were living there. The neighbors were extremely friendly when I met them in the park and the children loved it to play with us. The appartment was basic but ok. I got the biggest room of the three and had my own balcony. All together we were three flat mates (two otheer Erasmus students) and the flat was about 75 squaremeters. Each of us had a bed, a blanket and a pillow, a desk, a chair and a wandrobe in the room. In front of the buildings is a huge park which is really neet and nice to relax in the sun. The University bought for each flat new kitchen untensils (only the basic basics) like plates, pots, cutlery, glasses, mugs and chopping boards. It was not really lokated in the center so we had to walk to the University 25 minutes each way, on the other hand, I really loved it there! The view from my balcony in the 3rd floor was great! There were a lot of other Erasmus students which were living in the buildings next to us. One of the other flats (the 'Spanish flat') was our party flat. The most of the pople in Varbergparken became like family and if you were boring you just had to go into another building (doesn't matter if you were wering your pyjamas) and go into the flat of the people you'd like to visit. Non of us was ever locking the door (except nobody was at home) because Denmark is so save. I had to pay €320 per month for my room. My flat mates had to pay € 310 each. But I have to say, that my room was double the size that their rooms and I had a balcony. There were also free parking lots for the people who were living in Varbergparken. The prize for the rent was including everything (rent, montly costs like elektricity..., laundry key and WiFi). We had a lot of furniture because we could see the bins from our window in the kitchen. And the people had thrown away a lot of stuff each week. We got a lot of nice cahirs and shelves which made the flat more comfortable. Our accomondatin was organized by the University. I would reccoment everybody who want's to go to Haderslev that you tell Anne (the International coordiantor there) that you want to live in Varbergparken. It's really social there!

Movie night in my room 
© by Christine K. Bernhart 

Temperature and Climate:

The weather in Denmarkk is extremely crazy! You have to be prepared for each season per day! I'm not kidding! We had days which began cold, then they were getting sunny and warm, suddenly it began to rain and it was getting cold again, then the rain tured into snow and it was stormy, and afterwards it stared to hail and at the end of the day it was foggy. 4 seasons - 1 day! For a long period of time it was really cold but in the end of April/ beginning of May it was getting sunny and warm. I had all together 5 horrrible sunburns! 

Amazing view at Rømø beach
© by Christine K. Bernhart 

Did you gain any learning experiences you would not have gained without staying abroad?

To sum it up, an exchange semester not only gives you rich experiences, better language skills, an insight into a new culture, educationals system and a country and its people, no, you meet wonderful people which are alike and gain friends for life. I would suggest to be a little bit brave, sign up for this adventure and make the best out of it.

Road trip through Denmark
© by Laura Kleinheinz 

Do you think staying abroad provided benefits for your future job (as a teacher)?

I definitely think that the experience of seeing another educational institution and its ways of working broadens one's mind and is a big plus in one's curriculum vitae. Furthermore, the experience of visiting schools in a foreign country is very precious and maybe also an inspiration which can be used when teaching in the future.

Did this stay abroad affect or change your personality?

Going abroad always affects or even changes a personality. You have to step out of your comfort zone, leave your bubble and sometimes do things you would have never imagined to do. It is a good way of growing, of becoming who you really are.

Advice for you:

Go to Denmark! I didn't expect that it would be such a amazing experience! 
If you go to Denmark: Be nice to Jette, Anne, Sam and Lars! They'll be always there for you if you need something! Travelling in Denmark: There is a really cheap bus from Kolding to Copenhagen. The name is Rute 1000 (http://rute1000.dk/) and the ticket is only € 7,- for students.
There is also another bus to Copenhagen starting in Haderslev, however, it's a bit more expensive. One way is € 20 for students (http://xn--rdbillet-54a.dk/). 
There is a nice Island not far from Haderslev called Aaro. It's really beautiful and a visit worth. You can go ther by bus, car or bike. It's only 12 km far from Haderslev. You have to go to the island by ferry. The prize for the ferry is I think € 5,40 to go there and back. 
There is another Island called Romo where you can find the biggest beach you've ever seen I guess. If you have time you can collect there thousands of seashells. Mando is also a nice Island but keep attention and check the times of low tide and high tide first.  Ribe is the oldest city of Denmark and really nice and beautiful. You can enjoy this cosy scity best if the weather is nice. 
Skagen is the very noth of Denmark and also really beautiful. If you are lucky you can see weher the nothern sea and the baltic sea are collapsing and observe seals. 
Aabenra and Aarhus are not really spectacular in my opinion. But people told me that this cities are great if you go there when there is a big event like the colour run for example.  
If you visit Copenhagen (and I'm sure you will) take one or two days more and travel to Malmö in Sweden. There is a train going to Malmö directly from the Airport in Copenhagen. Malmö is a fantastic, small nice and cozy city. You will not regret it to go there!

Ok, I think that's it. The only thing I have to add: If you are in Denmark you MUST GO to Legoland! Lego is a Danish product. I know Legoland is for kids but if you go with ESN and a lot of your colleagues you will not regret it. It's quitee expensive but a lot of fun with the right people! 

© by Lluis Castillo

Hygge means the Danish lifestyle. There are many ways to describe hygge, we see it simply as the Danish ritual of enjoying life’s simple pleasures. Friends. Family. Graciousness. Contentment. Good feelings. A warm glow. Certainly, hygge is intrinsic to the Danish lifestyle, but this feeling of well-being, so deeply satisfying and cozy, is something we all experience, each in our own way.

The beautiful lake in the city center of Haderslev.
© by Christine K. Bernhart 

Amazing Aarø beach.
© by Christine K. Bernhart 

Men at Sea: Esbjerg next to Sædding Beach on the southwest coast of Denmark.
© by Christine K. Bernhart 

Iron Age Village
© by Christine K. Bernhart 

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me. ;) chrsitine.bernhart@gmail.com

Author: Christine Karoline Bernhart 

Proof reader:  Nina Ulrich (03.09.2016)


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