One of the hardest decisions about studying abroad is the question of where to live during your semester or year abroad. I had heard from friends that they loved staying with a host family and those who didn’t stay with a host family wish that they had. But when I was considering where to live I wasn’t sure if a host family would be the best choice for me. I knew I wanted to learn as much about the Danish lifestyle as I could, but I wasn’t ready to give up the independence I had gotten accustomed to while living at college. Luckily for me DIS has so many different housing options that I was able to find the perfect fit: a kollegium.
The best way to describe a kollegium is to say its a mix between an apartment and a traditional US dorm. I live in a kollegium on the island of Amager which is about a 25 minute commute to DIS by bus, train, and an even shorter bike ride. I have an American roommate who is also in the DIS program, but we don’t share a room, only a bathroom. We live on a hallway with about 15 other Danes and international students and share a kitchen with all of these people. So in one sense its like an apartment because I’m mostly living on my own and cooking all of my meals. But it also reminds me of a dorm because I do have a roommate and share a common space with everyone on my hall where we can hangout together.
The room that I live in is bigger (by far) than any dorm I’ve had at school, plus I’m not sharing with anyone which makes it seem even larger. It’s nice to have my own space while knowing that if I ever want to talk to someone I can just knock on my roomie’s door. The bathroom is small but it has all of the necessary items: toilet, sink, shelf, mirror, and shower. It’s also a wet bathroom which means that there’s no specific shower area, you just pull a curtain and all of the water drains into a hole on the floor. This was a little weird at first, but now that I’ve gotten used to it I don’t mind it at all.
When I put kollegium as one of my housing options I knew that I wanted one with a shared kitchen so that I could get to know more people living on my hall instead of having a kitchenette in my room where I probably wouldn’t get to know people as easily. But even though I was choosing the shared kitchen I had no idea what to expect. I assumed there would be a fridge or two, a stove, sink, all of the basic kitchen elements, but besides that I didn’t have a clue. So when I first walked in to the kitchen I was pleasantly surprised! We have two stoves/ovens (though one is missing its door at the moment, LOL), two sinks, a microwave, tons of fridges, freezers, and just about every utensil you can think of. There’s also a list of ingredients and supplies that everyone shares like salt, pepper, olive oil, and most spices which makes cooking pretty easy.
Our kitchen also has a dining table where people eat dinner most nights, an area with two couches so people can hang out, a tv (with Apple TV, woohoo), and a bunch of board games and cards that people can use. Generally I eat breakfast and dinner at the kollegium and bring my lunch or get something in the city when I’m at class during the day. And for the most part I always see someone from my hallway when I go in the kitchen; people are always eating, making food, or just hanging out.
Personally, I love living in a kollegium and I think my roommate and I are really lucky to live on the hallway that we do. Why? Because the Danes we live with are super friendly and have been since the first weekend we spent in Denmark! The first few nights we spent around the kitchen table playing card games and getting to know each other and our cultures which was a great way to be introduced to Denmark. Plus, we’ve had a few dinners together as a hallway where someone will cook us a meal or where we’ll all buy a meal at the cafe downstairs and eat it together. I love getting to know Danes that are all going to a university here in Copenhagen and learning about the Danish way of life from people who are my own age!
Like the DIS website says, if you want to be independent, seek friendships with Danes and Europeans, and live in a metropolitan area living in a kollegium is probably your best housing option!
- If you’re worried about commuting: don’t be. I was uncertain at first, but the bus and train systems are really easy to navigate, especially when you use Google Maps or the Rejseplanen app which gives you the most recent time tables for all of the buses and trains in the greater Copenhagen area.
- If you’re worried about meeting Danes and the other people on your hallway: don’t be. Everyone has to eat so at some point you will meet the people on your hallway. I got lucky because my Danes are used to having Americans on their hallway, but even my friends who didn’t meet people on their hallway right away are starting to form friendships now and get to know their hallmates more!
- If you have more questions: contact me! I’d be more than happy to answer any questions you may have or put you in contact with people who know more specifics about the different housing options 🙂