Inspired by her friend’s student exchange experience, Asude Ayvaci, a fifth-year student at UTM, decided to embark on a similar journey. Ayvaci is currently spending her winter semester at University of Copenhagen in Denmark.
Living in a studio apartment in downtown Copenhagen, Ayvaci describes her exchange experience as phenomenal and surreal. In an interview with The Medium, she explains that she loves the cute and cozy local cafes, the constant jazz music, the candle-lit streets, and the rainy season that this European city has to offer.
Ayvaci is currently taking two courses, Social Psychology and Danish Culture which will both be counted for a credit to fulfill her degree requirements. She notes that University of Copenhagen’s educational system is quite different from University of Toronto as most courses and their assessment are heavily based on reading. Most importantly, Danish students don’t receive a grade mark, but only get to know if they have passed or failed a course. With a light course load, she finds it manageable to do the readings, explore the city with her other exchange friends and also make time for hobbies like free yoga classes at Folklets Hus.
Ayvaci is also fascinated by the magnificent history and prestige of University of Copenhagen, and how some famous Danish poets, writers, and artists have also graduated from there. She speaks highly of the campus design and the medieval-historic feeling it offers. Like any exchange student, Ayvaci first felt nervous about this experience, but with the support that the International Center offers, she has been able to gain confidence to find her way in this new city.
The Danish Culture course really helped Ayvaci learn, understand and connect with the Danish history, culture, and allowed her to put things in perspective. This course hasn’t only helped Ayvaci navigate her way through in Denmark but also in Sweden as the cultures of these countries are very similar.
For Ayvaci, she finds that Danish people are quite reserved but are welcoming once you approach them for help. She also loves how ecofriendly the city is, and how Copenhagen is making strides towards reducing their carbon footprint by making it accessible for people to bike as much as they can instead of driving, which is a rare sight.
Ayvaci hopes to make the most of this experience and intends to extend her stay in Denmark once the semester finishes to make some time to travel to different cities in Europe. According to Ayvaci, it is very cheap and easy to travel to other cities, for example a round trip to Vienna is only $60.
She also advises students to go on an exchange program once to experience a completely different culture, live in a new place, meet new people and learn to be independent. In order to do this, she advised students to have high grades (above 3.0), have a plan, create a budget, and take OSAP and grants wherever possible to cover the expenses.
Ayvaci describes her student exchange experience to be one of the highlights of her undergrad, as it helped broaden her horizon and exposure to a completely new place and culture.