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How the life of international students in Denmark has changed during the pandemic

Updated: Oct 28, 2023


In this article, we touch upon the most important areas of a student’s life (studies, job, social life and lifestyle) and how COVID-19 has affected them.

(This content is based on the COVID-19 context in Denmark until mid-March 2021. Therefore, the situation in the future might look different.)

University life

Ever since corona landed in Denmark, in the spring semester of 2020, higher-education institutions had to adjust, like the rest of the society. Teaching moved online.

oung girl saying to the other: all work is homework now

Still trying to accept the reality...

Depending on the circumstances, universities have either full-online lessons or a combination between online lectures and campus presence.

In addition, some live online lectures are recorded (and accessible to re-watch at a later point), while others are not. Usually, if you are forbidden to record certain lectures yourself, it will be mentioned in the beginning of that specific course.

Some professors choose to be more innovative and move away from the traditional (or online) lecturing in front of tens of students.

For example, some choose to send out pre-recorded videos for students to watch, while the live online sessions become a space for discussion, Q&A and solving exercises together.

Doing something else but watching the online lectures from university

No comment...

Exams became virtual as well, regardless if you have a bachelor's thesis to defend or just another semester exam, the current general rule is that you have to take it online. (special rules apply to special programs where teaching cannot be done online, e.g. if laboratory practice is needed, so stay in touch with the corona updates your university and program provide).

Studying in Denmark is not just an individual activity. Most of the programs require project work that has to be carried out in a group.

And how are you going to collaborate with your teammates and work on your projects? You guessed it- online!

Even though in the beginning it might be weird to hold video calls and work together with people you don’t know and possibly whom you haven’t seen in real life, it gets easier the more you work together.

Indeed, additional effort must be put into getting to know each other, as the good old times of chit-chatting in the canteen and grabbing a coffee together are temporarily gone. (though hopefully the COVID-19 situation will get better until you start your studies)

laptop screen with people in a video call

Working on projects virtually has become the new normal; some of these guys haven't even met in real life

For many new students who start their studies during the pandemic, it is quite hard to befriend the other classmates when all teaching takes place online.

As such, it might be more difficult to approach others, so keep in mind that getting to know your classmates and making friends requires extra effort and proactivity.

I personally feel sorry for the introverts and shy ones out there, so if you are more of a sociable kind, please step up for the quiet ones as well; no one deserves to be alone during these times and after all, you, new international students, are in this together. Support each other!

On the bright side, online lectures can have few advantages as well.

Apart from being able to sleep more in the morning and taking the morning classes from the comfort of your warm and cozy bed, online lectures can motivate (or guilt trip) some of the "lazy" students to increase their participation in classes.

Let’s be honest, not everyone attends all the lessons all the time, and when we have on-campus classes the temptation to skip them gets the best of us... but what excuse do we have when lessons are online? Almost none to be honest, as the effort to “get to class” literally consists of a couple of movements and clicks.

Students living far from their university should appreciate this even more!

Student watching online lectures on his laptop, while sitting on the toilet (dressed)

Now you have the possibility to attend uni from any place you find comfortable!

Job situation

It is not unknown that many workers lost their jobs during the pandemic. Unfortunately, corona related layoffs applied to international students as well.

While there are generally less part-time job opportunities for students, we see an increase in the demand for part-timers in food delivery services. So, in case it is difficult for you to make ends meet and need a job asap, consider becoming a replacement worker (“vikar”) or a delivery driver/bike courier, until you find something better.

This of course doesn’t mean you cannot apply for other types of jobs. The situation is not totally hopeless, as long as you put effort into finding something. 🤑

Bike delivery driver lifting up his bike

That amazing feeling when you are NOT fired from your part time job due to corona

How does being laid off affect your SU?

In case you are fired from your student job while receiving SU (student grand in Denmark), it doesn’t instantly mean that you are left alone, with no income whatsoever. If you fulfill certain requirements, you can still receive SU. Read more about it in this blog or on SU’s official website.

Social life and lifestyle

Given that nowadays university studies take place mainly online, you should expect to spend loads of time at home sitting in front of your pc.

This can take a toll on your body, e.g. worsened back condition or eyesight. There are ways to alleviate this, such as upgrading your home office, consciously taking time off of your screen, stretching etc.

Now that we spend so much time sitting, it is very important to put a conscious effort into moving our body. Depending on the country’s corona state, gyms can be totally closed or only opened with certain restrictions in place.

So, when it comes to working out, do not rely on the gyms being opened at all times and find out other methods to keep your body moving.

There are plenty of ways in which you could exercise at home or even outside, when the beautiful Danish weather allows.

Home-working and home isolating ourselves makes us feel exactly like that: isolated. This raises a red flag: mental health. Taking care of the mind/soul, alongside the body, might be more important than ever.

However, once again, I mention that no one is alone in this, so supporting each other plays a vital role, especially for us- international students -in a foreign country.

This brings me to the next point: social life.

It is indeed more difficult to meet new people nowadays, especially during a country lockdown.

Student having a video call ith other people, trying to socialize

Socializing in 2020-2021

Unlike before, you no longer have the opportunity to go out partying and/or socializing in pubs or different events. This might in particular put a strain on singles...but hey, Tinder is still an option, although more thought has to be put into dating-practicalities.

If it’s something most of the international students (and not only) miss, then it’s interacting with friends (even the ones who are not that close), partying and meeting new people.

However, the country’s restrictions don’t stop you from visiting or meeting others. In fact, many students have deepened their relationships with current friends.

On this note, talking more often with your close ones back home is also a way to fulfill your social needs, thus strengthening your bonds with them as well.

Lastly, not having to waste time travelling in between places (e.g. home, school, work) gives you the possibility to use that extra time as you see fit.

Many have started new activities, hobbies or habits that are not only a great pastime, but also keep your sanity in check.

If you have any questions, comments or additions regarding the above, let us know!

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