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Anita from Croatia – Civil and Architectural Engineering

Anita Renic is 25 years old and she comes from Split in Croatia. She is on the MSc programme in civil and architectural engineering at Aarhus University (AU), she is interested in sustainability and sustainable energy, and she has learned what ‘hygge’ means.

Why did you come to Denmark to study?

"There’s a very different culture in Denmark and in the whole of Scandinavia. And they say that Danes are the happiest people in the world. So naturally, I had to experience that for myself. I thought about both the UK and Denmark when I had to decide where I wanted to study my Master's degree, but the choice fell on Denmark because of the pronounced political interest in sustainability and the green transition, which I’m very interested in myself. I decided to study engineering, since it’s a great opportunity to contribute in solving some of the world's major problems – so Denmark was the obvious choice," she says.

Why did you choose Aarhus University?

"I'm interested in both architectural and technical aspects, and that's why it was a great for me that the Master's degree programme includes both civil and architectural engineering. That’s what probably swung it for me."

Arrival and the first days

"It was weird to live here at first. You had to get used to so many new things. But there were a lot of social events, especially during the first week, and everything was organised for us. I met a lot of Danish and international students, and even some from my own country. It was great, and it helped in the beginning, when you feel that you’re completely alone with so many things."

What is special about Aarhus?

“I like Aarhus. It's a big city, but it’s also a small town. It’s exactly the right size, I think, to feel at home and comfortable and yet to have all the opportunities you need and want. And I really like the fact that the university is right in the middle of the city. One of my favourite places is DOKK1, where I love to sit and read. There’s a fantastic view of the harbour and the city, and I love sitting there and studying or just hanging out," she says.

What surprised you most?

"The weather!" she laughs and continues:

"I'm used to very hot summers at home in Croatia, and I thought it was very cold in Denmark, even in the summer. But the weather has actually surprised me in a good way. It’s actually possible to go out and swim in the sea in the summer, and I’ve really enjoyed the weeks with good weather."

What’s your favourite Danish thing?

"’Hygge’ is definitely my favourite. Everyone talked about how Danes are closed and reserved, and that they didn’t make any friends when they came here to study, etc. But my experience is that Danes are super friendly and welcoming, and I’m very fond of them. When I started here, I went to a party held by three of my Danish fellow students. I was the only one who wasn’t a Dane, and I learned the importance of 'hygge'. It was wonderful, and I think it's important to remember to enjoy life, just like the Danes."

What’s the teaching like at AU?

"The lecturers are very welcoming and friendly. Of course there are a few exceptions that prove the rule, but the vast majority are very friendly, accommodating and easy to talk to. They really want to help, and it seems almost as if they’re making an extra effort to take care of international students. And then there’s a sense of helping each other – also between students. You don't leave each other in the lurch, but you help each other. It's really cool, and working in teams means that everyone strives to do their best for their own sake and for everyone else," says Anita.

What has been worst about your stay?

"Corona has definitely not made things any easier. I miss the active social life that the corona crisis has put a stop to. But coming to another country is a huge experience. You learn a lot of things about a new culture and other people, but you also learn a great deal about yourself. That’s really something that helped me strengthen my character. Studying abroad is probably the best way to start adult life, I think. And even though lockdown and corona have been terrible, I know that it will strengthen me in the end. I know that I’ll manage the situation; I’ll cope for sure. That means a lot," she says.

Anita was born and grew up near Croatia's second-largest city, Split, on the eastern coast of the Adriatic.

She took her Bachelor's degree at the University of Split, and came to Denmark in 2019 to continue her studies.

She believes that it is very important to seek challenges abroad, because you learn a lot about yourself.