By Tom Griffiths
The Danish alphabet is pretty much like English except that it has 29 letters – though sometimes “w” is not counted because there are very few words in Danish with “w”, and they are all imported words.
However, there are three extra letters – all vowels - that come after “z” - Æ æ, Ø ø and Å å. The Å you will be familiar with because it’s the first letter of Århus. The Ø you will probably get familiar with because it’s the first letter of øl – which is Danish for beer.
Busses and bikes…
…are major forms of transport in and around Århus. Most roads have cycle paths by the side of them and Denmark is an un-hilly country (I would say flat, but that seems rude), so lots of people, not only students, use bikes for getting around. Having said that, the university is probably the highest point for miles.
The buses are efficient, clean and usually on time. They work on “zones” and you pay to go through these zones. The good thing is that if you have to get two or more busses to make your journey – for example you might need to change busses in the centre of town to get from where you live to the university – you only pay once for each two hours of traveling.
You can get info about bus timetables from http://www.midttrafik.dk/k%c3%b8replaner/bybus/%c3%a5rhus
Århus has a cafe culture to rival any city. One of the hot-spots is down by the river, where for a day’s food budget for most students you can get a cappuccino or a beer and mix with the bright young (and not so young) things. There are cheaper and equally hyggelige (see under “H”), cafes in other parts of town – so explore!
Known the world over, Danish pastries come in all shapes and sizes with lots of different fillings and they are delicious. Only problem is that if you go to a baker and ask for Danish pastries they probably will have no idea what you are talking about because in Denmark they are called wienerbrød – Vienna bread!
Most courses have an end of semester exam associated with them. There are three sorts of exam: Free choice written exam, where you agree a topic with your professor/teacher and produce a written paper by a deadline; fixed topic written exam, where you are given a topic and produce a paper by a deadline; oral exam, where you are given a topic a short time before the exam (usually half an hour or an hour), and have to prepare to talk about the topic and answer questions.
First Class is the university’s electronic communication system. You can use it as an email client but it is also where you can share information with your fellow students and where your teachers and other staff in your department are likely to put materials that you might need to read.
Download first class client: http://fc.hum.au.dk/ClientDownloads/
Create a username and password: https://humtek.hum.au.dk/admin/opretstud_uk.php
If you are not Danish it doesn’t matter how long you spend in Denmark you probably won’t really understand the concept of “hyggelig”. There is no direct translation to English, (or probably any other language), but it is very important to Danish people. Imagine it’s cold and dark outside and you are at home with people you like, there are low lights and candles, you have had some nice food and perhaps a few drinks and you are chatting and connecting with the other people and it feels nice. That’s hyggelig. But, you can also be hyggelig on your own, or in the summer at the beach with friends.
The closest English word is “cozy” – but that doesn’t really capture the full sense of it, nor the national preoccupation with trying to create it. So, don’t worry about what it means, just enjoy it!
The International Office, or to give it its proper title, The International Secretariat, has the job of making the time that international students spend in Århus run as smoothly as possible. They offer advice and information, run introduction to Danish language and culture courses (before the semester starts), and, if you are an exchange student, an international MA student of International or European Studies, an Erasmus Mundus student or an International PhD-student, will help to sort out your accommodation.
You can contact the International Secretariat by:
Jens Christian Skous Vej
This is the name of the road that runs through Nobel parken and most of the buildings will have an address on Jens Christian Skous Vej. The road is named after Jens Christian Skou, who is now a Professor Emeritus of the university. Skou was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1997 (along with Paul D. Boyer and John E. Walker) for the discovery of the sodium-potassium pump, (which is a really interesting discovery – even for humanities students).
Kantine is the Danish for canteen! There are several around the university but most people who study at Nobel parken use the one in building 1482. It’s usually known as the “psychology canteen” – but this is just because it is in the psychology building and has got nothing to do with mental states of the people using it. You can get reasonably priced hot meals, snacks, cakes and drinks and prepare the paper you have to give at tomorrow’s seminar by having a game of table football. There’s also a vending machine if you need a little something when the canteen itself is not open.
The Biblioteket for Sprog, Litteratur og Kultur is your ”local” academic library and is located in Nobel parken, in building 1461. Here you can access books, computers and study areas. Statsbiblioteket is part of the state library but also functions as the main university library. However, you can’t just go there and get a book off the shelves. The way it works is that you first have to register at the library – either in person or via the web site at:
You will need your CPR number (see under Registration Card), and it’s best to do this when you have your student number.
Once you are registered you order books via the web site:
If you order before 12 noon the book should be available for collection after 4.00 pm the same day, if you order after noon the book should be ready for collection after noon the following day.
There is a 7 point grading scale in operation across the whole country. It goes from 12 for an excellent performance, 10 for a very good performance, 7 for a good performance, 4 for a fair performance, 02 for a performance meeting only the minimum requirements, 00 for a performance which does not meet the minimum requirements and -3 for a performance which is unacceptable in all respects.
In short, 02 and above is a pass – 00 and below isn’t.
Nobel parken is that bit of the university located at the corner of Nordre Ringgade and Randersvej and houses a number of humanistic disciplines, languages psychology and social work, as well as some university accommodation and some private commercial offices.
If you are not an EU or Nordic citizen you will need to apply for a residence permit, (note, this is different from being registered – everyone needs to register but EU and Nordic citizens are free to reside in Denmark and don’t need to apply for a residence permit). Normally you would apply for a residence permit at the Danish Embassy or Consulate in your home country, before coming to Denmark. However, if you need to apply for residence once you are here, or need to extend your residence permit, then outside Copenhagen this is the responsibility of the police, who you can contact at:
“Sygesikringskort” in Danish (it means health insurance card).
This is probably the most important piece of plastic you will ever own. Almost everyone who comes to live in Denmark is required to register with the authorities and your “sygesikringskort” is evidence that you have done that. There is not much you can do without it – opening a bank account, getting a part-time job, hiring a car – all impossible without it.
In fact it’s not the card itself but the CPR number which is on the card that’s the really important thing - though the card itself is also used for taking books out of the library. Once you have a CPR number the world (or, at least, Denmark), is your oyster!
This is your student identity card, and just like your “sygsikringskort” is proof that you exist in Denmark, your studiekort is proof that you exist at the university. Not only is it an ID card but it also lets you use computers, get through locked doors (only the ones you should be getting through) and get discounts on things like cinema tickets.
You will also find your student number on you studiekort, which you will need to get access to computers and to First Class (see above). In order to make your card open doors so that you can get into buildings you need to have it activated at the information desk on floor 2 of building 1467 (between 09.00 and 12.30).
If you get a job or you are getting a scholarship you will need to get a tax card from the Danish tax authorities – SKAT. The SKAT office is out to the south of town at Lyseng Alle 1, 8270 Højbjerg, - bus number 10 will take you there. Some people have managed to sort the whole thing out by telephone, and you can contact them on 7222 1818.
University of Århus – a bit of history
Until recently the University of Århus was Århus University, but following something of a makeover it has a new name, a new logo and a whole new corporate style. Established in 1928, it is by many standards a “new” university. However, it is the second oldest in Denmark, after Copenhagen. During its first semester the university had a total of 78 students registered studying Philosophy, Danish, English, German and French, currently it has about 34,000 students registered studying a range of approximately 75 bachelor degrees and about 90 masters degrees. The university is organized into eight faculties:
There are many famous (in Denmark!) alumni and staff, not least of whom is Queen Margrethe II, the current Queen of Denmark
Perhaps it is a universal truth that the weather is what people talk about when they don’t have anything else to say. Generally there are longish, warmish, (25º C would be considered “hot”), temperate summers with nothing too extreme – and you are never very far from the sea in Denmark. Winters tend to be fairly chilly and pretty damp and dark – which is when hyggelig (see above) really comes into play.
You can get forecasts at http://www.dmi.dk/eng/index/forecasts.htm
And if you have a Google account you can have a gadget on your homepage that will give you a three day forecast for Århus.
By which we mean photocopying, but we’ve already used “C” and “P”. There are copiers and printers at The Biblioteket for Sprog, Litteratur og Kultur. You can get a pre-pay card from the main desk in the library. This you load up with money and then use it for paying for copying and printing as you need it. You don’t have to have a card – the copiers and printers have a slot machine that you can use coins with – but then you have to make sure you have enough cash with you.
Århus (yes, it comes at the end because Å is the last letter of the alphabet)
Århus takes its name from two words, “Å” which means river and “oss”, which means mouth. So, the name of the city means something like mouth of the river. The river in question, which runs through town and has lots of trendy cafés along its banks, is just called Åen – the river. Eventually the name changed to Aros (which is where the art gallery in town gets its name), and later to Århus.
The history of Århus as a city can be traced back to before 770 CE, making it the oldest city not just in Denmark but in the whole of Scandinavia. By global standards it is not a big city – just over 300,000 people – but it is the second largest in Denmark after Copenhagen.
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Updated September 14, 2009 by jpt. © Center for Semiotics. All rights reserved.