Far from the hierarchy separating teachers and students
Alison Man, from Hong Kong, is studying astrophysics
I spent a year in Denmark as an exchange student and I wanted to stay. So I applied for a Danish grant and got it, which enabled me to do my master in astrophysics here. And this September I am going to start my PhD in Denmark.
I really appreciate studying at the University and getting to know Denmark and the Danes, who are an open minded, hospitable nation once they have opened up to strangers. There are three reasons why I wanted to see the world and leave Hong Kong to study at the University of Copenhagen: Good teachers, an international atmosphere, and the opportunity to stand on my own two feet. Back in Hong Kong family and friends are very important, but in many ways it limits your openness towards the world. And you spend most of your spare time doing homework.
In Denmark I have attained a balance between my studies and having a life as well. As for my courses, well, Denmark is famous for Niels Bohr and the knowledge of space. It is a very relaxed course where the students can communicate and discuss things with the teachers. A really good atmosphere with good supervisors and far from the hierarchy separating teachers and students. And I do a lot of group work with students from Portugal, Italy, Spain, and Poland, for example.
We also meet up in the bar at the institute and chill out on Fridays after the week's classes. My stay in Denmark has made me aware of other cultures and given me the opportunity to try lots of stuff that I would never have done back home in Hong Kong. Like, I've joined an NGO! "Energy Crossroad Denmark" works on climate and environmental issues. Via this organisation I took part in COP15 in December. It was a great personal experience which taught me a lot.
I really like Copenhagen as a city and the Danes as a people. One thing I have noticed that puzzles me is the Danish men. I have never before seen men pushing prams around and taking care of the kids. And what's more, private employers, the state and organisations actually pay them so they can go on paternity leave, as it's called here. It's a fantastic system!
If I have to say anything bad about Denmark it is that the shops aren't open round the clock like they are in Hong Kong. But then there are so many good things about Denmark. For example, I am going to summer school in Sweden, with all expenses paid! At summer school I'll have the opportunity to meet other people with the same interests and subject as mine: understanding how galaxies arose and evolved.