From Denmark to Deakin: Redefining the Deakin student

Study Abroad and Exchange students who study at Deakin are not often thought of as Deakin students. After all, they are only with us for one or two trimesters, they officially belong to another university and they will receive their degree from that university.

But students like Anne Hansen will make you think otherwise.

Anne and I recently met at a café in Copenhagen, Denmark, just around the corner from the University of Copenhagen, where she’s working as a research student while completing her Master in Public Health Science. I was greeted with a big hug, which took me by surprise, as the Danes tend to stick to a handshake with a first encounter. We quickly fell into discussion around Australians and Danes and cultural differences.

‘I love the openness in Australia and the fact that you receive greetings in the supermarket. You wouldn’t do that here! I also appreciate that Australians aren’t bound by Jantelov [a Danish set of principles based around modesty and not thinking you are better than anyone else], and you can freely discuss your hopes and ambitions without judgement.’

When asked about her experience at Deakin, Anne was enthusiastic:

‘Deakin was my number one choice when I applied to study abroad, and I was so excited when I found out I’d got in.’

To meet the English language requirements of her exchange trimester, Anne had to undertake five weeks at Deakin University’s English Language Institute (DUELI).

‘It was tough in the beginning as I was put into EAP 4 [the highest level of English for Academic Purposes], and I worked harder than I’d ever worked before. I spent all of my weekends in the computer lab and left Deakin at 6.30 pm every day, very tired a long day of learning. The teachers and staff at DUELI were really helpful.’

The hard work however was worth it with Anne being one of only three to receive top marks.

‘It was such a confidence boost to know I could achieve that result and really motivated me going forward with my study at Deakin.’

Anne’s positive experience at DUELI led her to apply for a role as a DUELI student leader. Her enthusiasm and appreciation for the role was clear:

‘I felt it would be a great chance to help out and make sure other students got a great start at DUELI. The DUELI leadership role opened me up to new friendships, and I had so much fun. It was one of the most valuable aspects of my time at Deakin.’

Anne talked positively about the academic experience at Deakin and appreciated the opportunity to take a range of interesting units.

‘I really appreciated the assessment, which is very different to my home university. It’s very transparent and you can see what needs to be done to get a higher mark. The feedback and one-to-one time with lecturers was great.’

Towards the end of her exchange at Deakin, Anne wanted to pursue another dream, an internship in the United States. Having previously interned at the Ministry of Health in Bangladesh, where she gained a lot of practical experience, she was keen to gain research experience and try living in the US.

‘Jobshop at Deakin were so helpful,’ she said. ‘They suggested how she could structure her cover letter, internship proposal and CV.’

Anne was accepted into a three-month internship as a research student in the Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology at the University of South Carolina. This experience developed in her a passion for research, and led to her landing a role as a research student at the University of Copenhagen.

When asked whether she’ll go on to pursue a PhD, she wasn’t yet sure. “As you can probably see, I loved my time at Deakin, and I love Australia! I’m sure I will get back there at some stage, in some way!”

So it may very well be that you will see Anne at Deakin in the future.

Written by Ursula Lorentzen. Ursula is the Deakin University International Manager for Europe and is currently based in Copenhagen.

For further information about studying at Deakin and to view the many degrees on offer, visit our international student page.

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