The International Writers Magazine: Denmark

Aarhus – the city of smiles
Marianne de Nazareth

It’s been just over five months since I began my course in Aarhus, Denmark, with the Erasmus Mundus Masters in Journalism and Media within Globalization: The European Perspective and its already so fulfilling. 36 journalists from 19 different countries have come together to study for two years, far away from their home countries for the European experience.

It was as I got off my ‘plane in Copenhagen from Bangalore, India, and took the train to Aarhus that I realized how warm and welcoming the Danes as a race are. Helpful hands just scooped up my packed suitcases and helped me get in and off the train in minutes.

We began the course in August 2006 and now it is December and it feels we have always lived here in Aarhus. It’s a great little city with a character quite unlike any other city in Europe. We have mastered the art of taking buses to any part of the city we need to. Buying a bus pass gives us the freedom to hop on and hop off and ride anywhere we please. It’s also a great way to see the city and get familiar with all the landmarks around like the City Centre, Nobel Parken, Statsbiblioteket and of course the Journalisthojskolen where we attend class three times a week.

The Journalism School is situated in a stylish ‘70’s concrete building on Olafe Palme Alle, a pretty tree lined boulevard. And our course about Globalization in Media cannot be held in a more perfect setting with a class full of international students. Our classes are interesting as we are learning to define globalization in a global setting so understanding the concept it easy for us journos. Infact the very first assignment we did was to focus on the Mohammed cartoons and the furore it created all across the world dragging Denmark into the limelight which it prefers not to be in.

We write our assignments in the quiet of our kolligiet rooms or in the snazzy up-to-date computer rooms in the Journalism School. Aarhus is a city conducive to study and the University should have a lot more courses in English to enable international students to enjoy studying in Denmark rather than the more favoured US and UK. The City is green and clean and has the correct eclectic mix of fashion and fun, pubs and libraries, to give a student an all round education. The fact that it is not as expensive as getting an education in the US or UK is also an added advantage.

I am doubly lucky as I have cousins here I never knew existed, in Aarhus. They have given me a deeper insight into the Danish way of life and Marie Ann (who is Danish) and Danny have taught me how to cook Frikadellers from scratch and enjoy them with potatoes and sauce like a true Dane. I think most Danes are great cooks and my room mate who is Danish whips up cakes for 25 people like it was the easiest thing on earth. Marianne is just a 20 year old medical student! We Indians could learn a lot from Danes who seem to be hard working and lead a simple traditional family life.

As I sit writing this on my laptop in my kolligiet I see mothers teaching their little ones to cycle quite fearlessly on the road. I see Dads taking their little babies out for a stroll to buy groceries. I see grandparents indulging their grandchildren in the malls. A warm family life seems to be high on a Danes wish list which a lot of the world should learn from. Plus cycling is good for the environment and if more people cycled we would have less environmental pollution and fresh air like in Aarhus, back in India.
This is an old civilization like mine in India and so Denmark is a place to be savoured. Besides students, travelers should be more informed and aware about the beauty and the history of the place. Before I came here I just thought Denmark was a cold and dark place and am so pleasantly surprised by the warmth or what I am told is a particularly long summer. In Aarhus, ‘Den Gamle By’ is definitely a place to visit, to see first hand how old and prosperous a civilization it is.

And don’t be perturbed when you first encounter the big built, blue eyed, blonde Dane. Like Hagar the Horrible the much loved comic strip hero, the Vikings are a gentle peace loving race and you will enjoy every minute of your visit here.
© Marianne de Nazareth December 2006

Erasmus Mundus Masters in Journalism and Media within Globalization:
The European Perspective
University of Aarhus, Denmark
Danish School of Journalism

Kurumba by the Indian Ocean
Marianne de Nazareth

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