Explore the Danish education system with Kelley Jiang as she studies on Fisher’s Student Exchange Program at Copenhagen Business School (CBS) – Denmark. Learn about the institution and what classroom life is like from Kelley’s perspective, comparing initial observations during her first week along with what she has learned/adapted to several months after.
First and foremost, I attend a school where the whole university is dedicated to business education whereas most students in America will attend universities in America that have business colleges within the system as well as a college of arts and science, education, and so on. The first thing I learned within the first couple days of being here is a little taste of how casual business etiquette when it comes to communication/dress in the classroom. The first thing the welcome speaker informed all the exchange students is that we should address our professors at CBS in a email or face to face using their first names and specifically said not to use Professor “last name” or Dr. “last name”. He said it makes them feel old. That was a total shock to me since most professors at Ohio State take how you address them very seriously and might not even respond to an email if they were addressed in the wrong way. Also, I have noticed that communication via email is generally slower than what is accepted in the United States. We learn from Fisher that the typical response time to an email is about two business days whereas here professors take anywhere from five days to two weeks to respond. Therefore, if you have a question I would recommend asking a peer first and then going directly to the professor in class or during drop in hours if you need a quick response.
Now that I have dove into the classroom setting a little, I want to continue to talk a bit more about what it’s like during an every day class in terms of lectures, accepted behavior in class, and learning styles. CBS had previously informed us that the teaching style in Denmark has many differences than what we are used to in America, during the first week of class I was pretty interested to go to class and see what this “different” way of teaching was. I found, however, that the classes are surprisingly very similar to what I am used to at OSU. The professor lectures during most of class and asks if there are any questions at the end, where maybe one or two students will raise their hand only to ask a technical question about the schedule or a certain due date. But as I began going to more and more classes I noticed more and more differences.
To begin, whereas Powerpoint presentations in America are normally used as a supplement to a lecture, normally containing some sort of outline or key terms (minimal words), the Powerpoint presentations that the professors use here contain the majority of the information also presented verbally (full paragraphs). Also, because the Danes are more casual and simplistic, you will rarely see professors dressed up for lectures, wearing business casual at most. This dress code contrasts to the many suits you would see daily on Fisher’s campus. As a result, I did not have to dress up for a presentation in class at CBS, but most likely would have had to if I were presenting for a class back at Fisher. Although I expected myself to feel relieved at not having to dress up for a presentation, I surprisingly felt a little uncomfortable and yearning for my blazer. Because I have been trained to accept this dress code for presentations, I felt as though my credibility as a professional was lowered when I was giving my presentation even though it probably was not. As I reflect back to my presentation, I also felt like I personally was not taking the presentation as seriously because of the lax classroom atmosphere. Never thought I would miss my pantsuit.
In terms of accepted behavior in class, I noticed after a few weeks that many times Danish students will challenge one or many of the points that professors make in class, almost to the point where I feel like the students are challenging the instructor’s creditability. But I realized that this is common in the classroom and even encouraged. I find this difference exhilarating and academically stimulating not only for personal growth but to create a positive learning environment in the classroom.
For learning styles, it is a test of self- discipline. Class lectures are ultimately a supplement to the majority of learning students do on their own mainly through reading and outlining text. Lectures are only once a week on average per class and attendance is also completely optional. You will find, however, that the Danish students will attend most of the classes regardless of the attendance policy. I would also highly recommend going to as many classes as possible because there will be ungraded exercises and assignments that will prepare you for the final exam, the classes will keep you accountable with staying up with the content of the class, and most of the professors are extremely friendly and helpful if you need help with anything or just want the opportunity to network. Technically speaking, there is virtually no homework and the only assessment is done at the end of the semester usually in some form of oral/written presentation. So you have one shot to defend what you have learned which will determine your final grade. As a result, students must learn to organize their studies efficiently, attend classes even if attendance isn’t taken, and also have to be disciplined in keeping up with class material on their own.
I will end with some basic knowledge and tips to fellow students who are interested in doing an exchange at CBS or even in applying to the university’s bachelor/master’s programs:
- You must be very self-disciplined in your learning habits in order to do well in classes.
- Most classes last the whole semester while there are also some half semester classes similar to ones at Ohio State with an exam at the “end” falling normally in the middle of October—therefore don’t take a Q1 (first half) course if you are planning on traveling during October break because you might have an exam during that time.
- Although most lectures are in English, most professors have a strong Danish accent and you have to pay a little bit more attention in class sometimes.
- You will probably find that your weekly schedule varies from week to week—classroom locations/times change all the time and you must check a virtual calendar constantly to make sure you show up in the right place and time.
- Also give yourself A LOT of time to find your class because the buildings can be very confusing to navigate.
- It is normal to have a couple days where two or more of your classes overlap in time—most people will either attend the most important class or go to part of each class.
- The food at the canteen is good and relatively cheap (I eat lunch at CBS during the weekdays).
- CBS has three main buildings that are each located conveniently next to a metro stop but also can be reached by a bike path that connects all the buildings.
That’s it for now. Hope you found this helpful!
Relaxing on the lawn in front of Solbjerg Plads Academic Building.
About the Author: Kelley Jiang, Junior, Marketing, Student Exchange Program- Denmark