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5 things to start doing from your first day in Denmark

Updated: Jan 29

There are so many new things you need to settle when you first arrive in Denmark: getting your documents in order, looking for a job, getting by in your area and so on. In this video, Michael presents 5 things you should take into account in the beginning of your Danish journey. You can also read about these points down below.

1. Save empty bottles and cans

I guess this is one of the first things new students should remember, given that you might spend quite a considerable portion of your time on getting to know others in parties, bars or just drinking together on the street (yes, in Denmark it is allowed to consume alcohol in public places). After all, this is a great way to break the ice with the random people you meet from all over the world...and your parents aren’t here to nag you about it.

However, make sure you save those cans, plastic and glass bottles. Why? Well, when you buy them in the first place, you also pay a small fee for the containers (typically between 1-3 DKK). You can receive this fee back by returning the bottles in the designated places. The cans and bottles on which you can get money back can be recognized by a small symbol (Pant A, B or C).

Supermarkets usually have special machines where you can return the “pants”. You can find these either at the entrance or as a separate room further away from the entrance.

When you add all your bottles you have the option of donating the resulting money to charity or taking it out as a receipt. The receipt can be then used to pay for groceries or you can even cash out the value on the receipt, at the cashiers’.

If you run really low on money and cannot yet find a job, you can start walking around and gathering the “pants” people throw away. It’s not necessarily a pleasant thing to do, but hey, desperate times call for desperate measures!

empty beer dose thrown out in the grass

If you are low on money you can collect bottles and doses thrown away. Return them to the recycling machines and get few kroner on each container.

There are actually lots of people in Denmark that make a living out of collecting the bottles others throw away in the party hot spot zones. And oh boy, how much money you can make on the weekends!

2. Sign Up For A-kasse

You remember when your dad told you that money does not grow on a tree? Well, technically money is made out of trees so he was wrong. Also, Denmark is willing to give you some money for free, after you finish university.

That's right, you can get money for up to 2 years after finishing university in Denmark.

That is a part of the social welfare system, that they have spent years (and millions in taxpayer money) building up.

The only requirement to get up to $2.075 every months (14.200DKK) is that you need to sign up at least a year before you end university. Therefore, if you have your CPR number and 4 minutes of time, sign up right now! It is free to be a member while you are student.

If you want to know more, please check out this blog where I write more about a-kasse in Denmark.

3. Sign Up For a Public Housing

It’s great if you have already found permanent accommodation for the whole duration of your studies. But what about afterwards? If you have student housing, then you will need to search for a new place once you start working full time (considering you will remain in Denmark after studies, of course). This also applies to time-limited rentals.

Hence, if you want to be prepared for the future or simply want to get as good an offer as possible, then sign up for public housing portals as early as you can. The offers on these sites are usually cheaper in rent than the rentals offered by private landlords. Plus you don’t risk being scammed.

An example of such a portal for the Aarhus area is Aarhus Bolig.

block of flats seen from a ground perspective

Sign up for housing portals as soon as you can. It will be a life-saver when you have to/want to change your accommodation.

Such sites usually work with a system of seniority, meaning that the longer your membership, the higher chances you have to get the preferred offers. When you sign up, you don’t have to start applying for places right away, and still gain seniority as the months pass. This will help you get a better spot in the waiting lists for the housings you apply for later on.

4. Start Danish classes

After a period in which learning Danish was free… then paid… now it is free again! The only fee you need to pay is a deposit fee, which is refundable once you decide to stop learning Danish.

While it isn’t compulsory to take Danish classes, it is definitely a huuuuuge advantage to learn the language as early as you can, especially if you consider staying in Denmark after your studies finish.

When you know Danish, so many new opportunities suddenly open up before you, both when it comes to jobs and different activities. Not only will you increase your chances of getting a cool job that otherwise you wouldn’t be considered for, but you can also feel better integrated in the Danish society.

Danish flag in the wind

Learning Danish is always worth it!

In the beginning of your studies it might not necessarily feel worth it to go for Danish lessons. And that is understandable: you have your studies, maybe a part-time job on the side or even prefer to join some other extra-curricular activities. But if you just consider the possibility to live here longer than your studies, it is a better idea to put that effort into learning Danish right in the beginning.

Otherwise, after a few years when you are already busier, you might end up realizing how limited you are as just an English speaker. Not to mention that your right to free Danish lessons expires after a few years, and when you make up your mind to finally learn Danish, chances are you will have to pay for the classes yourself... and like everything in Denmark, they are not cheap!

As for where you can actually take the lessons, some universities offer the possibility to take them on campus. Otherwise, there are language centers/schools where you can enrol. It doesn’t matter whether you take your Danish education on campus or in a language school, as you will still have the right to free lessons

5. Sign up for activities in your university

Joining student activities is always a good idea. They can even be a blessing when you move here totally alone and you don’t know anyone. Fortunately many universities organise different activities and events for their students, international or not, especially in the beginning of the semester. Some even offer certain extra courses, sports facilities or clubs on campus.

Otherwise, there are always plenty of student NGOs you can join. The important thing is to be willing to actually take part in such fun activities. 😅

I don’t think it’s necessary to mention the advantage of you having fun with others, but I will anyway, to convince the less social ones out there.

Joining student activities will make it easier for you to make friends and fulfil your humanly social needs. Chances are that you will also meet students who have been in Denmark for longer, so they can give you some guidance when you don’t know how to deal with certain things.

activities in your university

Being a part of Student Survival Guide is definitely fun!

Every person you meet on the way will become part of your network, which is extremely useful to have. If you wonder why, then maybe look through our blog about how to find a student job in Denmark.

Did I leave anything out? Oh, that’s right, YOU WILL HAVE FUN!

6. Open a savings account

One of the priorities of many international students when they come to Denmark is getting a job ASAP. Once you also start receiving SU (student grant) next to your salary, then it might be a good idea to open a savings account.

Unless you are the kind of person to spend all the money you get and live off from one salary to the other, chances are that you will have some extra money.

Spending it or not is entirely up to you but with the risk of sounding nagging, maybe you should consider saving some. It would for sure come in handy in times when you have more or bigger expenses than usual. One of probably the most common examples is when you move into a new place and you have to pay thousands of kroner as deposit or prepaid rent, and no, this cannot be paid in instalments.

Open a savings account

Saving money is a future proof strategy: less stress and more security over time

Basically, whenever you need to splash out lots of money as a lump sum, then you can easily transfer them from your savings account to your normal account, using your bank’s mobile app. Transferring money between your accounts is super fast and easy.

A savings account is easy and quick to set up. You just need to go to the bank and talk to them. Some banks even have special offers for their student customers, so do some research before, to find out the most attractive ones.

There is, however, a downside to having a savings account. Unlike in many other countries where you can get some interest on your savings, in Denmark, the interest rate is negative, which means you have to pay money to store them in the bank. This only applies if you have deposited large sums, most of the time higher than 100.000 DKK. But of course, to be entirely sure of this, ask your bank for the rates and when these apply.

Thanks for reading! We hope these suggestions were useful to you! If you have anything to add, just let us know.

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