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Student review: Why study computer science in Aarhus

Computer Science at Aarhus University from the eyes of three International Students

Denmark’s second largest city prides itself as being the world’s smallest big city – it’s large enough to have everything one looks for in a big city but small enough to retain a cosy small town vibe. The city is home to Aarhus University, the largest research university in the country which is a prestigious world top 100 institution surrounded by lush green parks and pristine blue lakes.

Meet three international students studying Computer Science at Aarhus University to get their perspective: Patrick Lewandowski from Germany (Masters), Maximilian Scheid from Germany (Masters) and Joao Belo from Portugal (Masters and PhD). The trio concur that the strong academic reputation of the Computer Science department is the main reason they chose to study at Aarhus University.

“I attended an Open Day at the university prior to applying for a Masters which gave me a feel of the city, the university, and the department” Joao reveals “I liked how the department is research-oriented, has world-class professors, and gives students the freedom to choose what to specialise in”. Now pursuing a PhD in Augmented Reality, Joao explains that he looks at how the field can improve human procedure in industry.

In addition to the freedom to choose from a range of different modules, Maximilian believes that there is a good mix of both practical and theoretical aspects. “There’s a big focus on actually doing stuff”. He adds that the department is very much in tune with the students demands “As some of us wanted to do something related to Machine Learning, which the department didn’t have at that point, they created something for the summer intake”.

Not only is the department strong, but also the fact that Danish universities are tuition-free (for EU/EEA students) and the possibility to apply for a state grant (SU) to help with living costs was another incentive for the students to at Aarhus University. Patrick says that the prospects for international students is furthermore made easier as they have a special international advisor at the university who can help with any issue they may have.

However, adapting to a different study and exam culture is bound to bring challenges. The consensus among the trio is that there have been more oral exams than they were used to. “I only had an oral presentation for my Bachelor thesis back at home, but here they are much more common,” Maximilian says. Joao agrees and advises that, “Maybe the first oral exam will be a big difference, but then you get used to it”.

Working in Denmark

The department has many connections to the industry, and is happy to help set up connections for those interested in a student job. Joao, Maximilian and Patrick quickly found relevant student jobs at interesting companies. Patrick, who is working as a Data Engineer at Danske Bank, adds that there is very little hierarchy in the office. “Everyone is really friendly and you can talk directly to your boss” he says, and continues, “They also expect you to be direct because that means you’re honest”.

Regarding staying in Denmark post-graduation, all three feel that it would be beneficial to learn Danish even though Danes speak excellent English. Maximilian, currently learning the language, says “As a German, Danish is not hard to learn but the speaking definitely is a bit more challenging”. To stay in Denmark after graduation, Maximilian also adds that Computer Science graduates are in shortage so many opportunities come by.

Indeed the students believe that studying Computer Science at Aarhus University makes them well sought after by employers. Furthermore, there are numerous company events and workshops at the university. “You really see the interest of companies to get into the university to get in contact talents. This makes networking easier, and in Denmark, it is key.” Patrick says.

From adjusting to a new study culture to experiencing a new living environment, moving abroad can definitely be challenging, but the trio agree that their transition to Aarhus University has been seamless and the experience has been fulfilling. For all three, the prospects of staying on and working in Denmark is very much a possibility.