This is a guest post from Fredrick Awino, an expat living in Denmark. We are proud to publish his experiences, views and advise for newcomers to Denmark and possibly also Scandinavia. Enjoy…
Thinking about moving to Europe-Scandinavia
Growing up in the Suburban village in Kenya, I always entertained this peculiar desire to have a taste of advanced Western education. Being a good reader, I knew that the education system in Europe and America are comparatively more advanced than what we had at home in Kenya.
So, when I got an admission to take my Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies at Kenyatta University in Kenya, I just set my first foot forward to this dream journey towards Europe. I had to post good grades, hone skills in my majors, and sharpen my interests in scientific research. This sheer hard work eventually paid off as it made me compete favourably for admission at the European universities
Having studied Environmental Studies, it was even clearer to me now that I needed to take my postgraduate studies in Europe where countries lead in environmental action areas of green energy, waste management, green business, and the entire green revolution. To me, such studies would significantly help me in honing advanced knowledge in the field.
My desire to study in Europe was also a natural response to the insatiable human desire to just explore the world, learn as much from it as possible, and use that knowledge in leading societal change. Instinctively people have the weird thoughts of seeking new experiences, visiting new places, and just interacting with people of different creed, races, cultures, and perspectives of life. So, I was no exception. I had for many years had this longing to just take a flight from my homeland, Kenya, and visit the rest of the world. I lived in the hopes that someday, though not sure of the timing, I would actualize this dream.
Application for Master’s Study in the Scandinavia
After the completion of my bachelor’s in environmental studies in Kenya (Kenyatta University to be precise), I made a series of applications to take a master’s program in European Universities Including Lund, Upsala, Jönköping, Arhus, and university of Copenhagen but never made it to the admission list. The best I can recall is when I was ranked the first person in the reserve list (Reserve list are for those who are seen to qualify for admission but due to the restricted number of students for the specific course, they are put on this waiting list. In case another student who has admission does not show up then you can be lucky to be taken in as a replacement).
After the several failed attempts at getting a direct admission which also meant that I could not be granted any scholarship (scholarships are only afforded to the students who already have a proven direct admission to a course), I embarked on a final test of fate. I submitted my application to Aarhus University (Msc. Agro-Environmental Management), and the University of Southern Denmark (MSc. Environmental and Resource management. This time, luck was on my side as I got admitted for my course of choice at the University of Southern Denmark.
Admission to the University of Southern Denmark at Esbjerg
The admission brought me a sense of relief since it was an affirmation that my academic background is good enough to match the standards of European universities. You know, after failing to secure an admission multiple times, I thought that maybe the transcripts I submitted did not convince the admission boards in the specific universities that I could cope with the rigor and complexity of study there.
So when this admission for MSc. Environmental and Resources Management at the University of Southern Denmark finally came, I was relieved of self-doubt but had to face a new wave of challenges. I had to do so much to process my travel documents, residence permit, and arrange for accommodation in Denmark. Luckily my sister lives in Denmark so upkeep and accommodation were sorted. The primarily stumbling block now was to pay my first semester fees and buy my air ticket. Any student who has made applications to universities abroad can confirm how laborious and demanding it is to get through with documentation, proof of academic ability, English language proficiency tests, travel documents, and the hardest part of it is paying tuition fees for the first Semester can be.
My Financial needs as a Student in Denmark
Unlike other countries such as Sweden where a student is required to document financial ability to meet daily upkeep, pay rent and tuition fees, Denmark is lenient. They only required that I pay the first semester fees and be personally responsible for the other needs during the study.
Without being unnecessarily detailed, I must confess that the time and resources I used to get to take up my study chance at the University of Southern Denmark was humongous, at least for someone who had just finished his undergraduate without enough savings to go by.
If there is anything I would advise someone intending to move abroad for whatever reasons not to compromise is on planning finances. Nobody will whatsoever offer you any financial support if there was no such prior agreement. They cannot even vary the financial requirements to suit your situation.
It is important to always have excess money before starting the process of moving out of your country because you may realize midway that the financial demand is just too high and end up losing what is already spent. I was lucky to have my siblings’ support without which I could have abandoned the whole thing altogether.