Thomas den Heeten
Industrial Design Engineering
Minor ‘Study abroad’
Kongens Lyngby, Denmark
Danmarks Tekniske Universitet
31 july 2011 - 31 januari 2012
I learned a lot from studying abroad. You are really on your own, and you have to
make new friends. That was a lot of fun. For DTU university itself, you don’t really
have to go. I found out that for me the TU Delft is better and more creative than
DTU. Learning to work with other nationalities though is very useful. Get a grip on a
foreign language is nice and for me as Industrial Designer, get to learn other design
methods is good.
I think I will only go back to Denmark for holidays, and not especially for a job.
Denmark is not much different from Holland, although jobs are better paid, but the
living standard is the same. Some people, from Asia or Italy for example, came
there because they could find jobs in wind energy or bio engineering which they
could not find in their home land. For me, I would consider jobs foreign countries,
but the Netherlands has a good position in the world. An internship abroad would
be nice for the experience. It is good on you C.V., as well is this Erasmus period.
If you’re a doubting, just go! Do as much as you can to make it the best. Denmark is
a perfect place for Erasmus, since there is a lot to do and there are is an
international environment, you will get the chance to make a lot new friends and
do nice activities.
The opportunity to study abroad was not the first thing that came up my mind. It
somehow did attract me, but I also had my doubts. After half a year Erasmus I can
say that it really was the best decision I made. It does not take a lot of preparation,
and what you get in return is really worth it.
I studied for 4 months at the DTU. It is a technical university in Denmark, situated
near Copenhagen. Since bachelor courses are all in Danish, I had to take master
courses, but this was not a problem for me, the level is the same as in Delft.
Before going to Denmark, I found most of the information at the website of the
DTU. They provide good information about the university, courses, and the life in
Denmark. Luckily, the organization of DTU is pretty good, and the international
office of IO Delft did not put too much emphasize on the requirements and chosen
courses. I still have to wait for the full recognition of my grades, but I expect there
will be no problem.
There is a change you get placed in a house in Copenhagen, but most students will live in the suburbs
of Copenhagen. This is not a problem, since public transport is good but expensive. Lyngby itself is
not special; the city center is small. Since there are not so many societies, bars or sports clubs in
Lyngby, most of the social life is at the university campus or in Copenhagen. Lyngby has a train
station and a lot of busses coming from and going to Copenhagen.
Copenhagen is a nice city. It has some similarities with Amsterdam and has a nice old town center.
There some nice towers which give you the view on Copenhagen, and Sweden is even visible if the
weather is clear. Copenhagen is a nice city to bike or walk around, there are not that much cars. The
large amount of bike lanes give you the feeling of being in the Netherlands. Copenhagen is quite
small for a capital, almost everything is within walking distance.
Language and Culture
The Danish culture is very similar to the Dutch society. Of course they have their own habits, but it is
an western society with high living standards. It was therefore not hard to adjust to the Danish
society. I did not integrate that much in Danish daily life, since I had enough fun with internationals.
Most Danes I met where in courses. They were really nice, but they had different schedules and
friends. It is way more easy to make friends amongst the international students.
Since all my lectures were in English, I did not necessarily had to speak Danish. Basically everyone in
Denmark speaks English on a very high level, so even on the streets you can speak English. You don’t
even have to ask whether someone speaks English or not.
EILC Language course
I like to learn languages, and therefore I applied for this course. It was 700 euro for 3 weeks and you
get 5 ECTS, but since you get more Erasmus and Study Funds (government), it actually is not really
expensive. The 700 euro is to cover your stay. We were accommodated in Kystvejens Hotel in Grenå,
which is a conference center of the government. You share a room, and you get good food 3 times a
day. The hotel was build for 600 persons, but most of the time we were the only group with 60
people. There was a nice lobby with free drinks, and a big room were lectures where given. We
turned that room into a cinema several times, and there was also billiards room and a gym. In the
morning we got 3 hours of Danish lessons, and in the afternoon there was +-2 hours of cultural
lessons. Most of the evenings there was some activity. In the afternoon you had about 1 hour of
homework, which we often did on the beach. The sea was on the other side of the road, where you
could enjoy the sun or play volleyball.
The teachers were nice, and they made sure we didn’t have to study that much to create a nice
atmosphere. Their goal was more to enjoy us than to teach us. We had a lot of trips, workshops and
sports activities. This made a perfect situation to meet new people. Most of my friends I made in
Denmark are from the same course. There were maybe 20 nationalities and everyone was open
minded. Most of the conversations was about differences in culture. For Dutch people, it is not hard
to learn Danish, and our level of English is also sufficient. I improved my English a lot, but my very low
level of English before going to Denmark was even good enough.
After the language course, there is the possibility to go on for free at DTU. If you really want to learn
the language it can be quite fun, but the lessons at DTU are far more boring than at the intensive
language course. I passed modules 1 & 2 out of 6 in this half year, and it was quite easy, but in daily
life it was useless. In the beginning, I tried to speak Danish in the shops, bars and with some friends,
but after a while you notice that there is not much progression if you are not surrounded with Danes.
Danish is a hard language with some
strange pronunciation rules, and that
made it that I even had problems with
easy lines in the supermarket after half a
year. Reading though is very similar to
Dutch, and grammar is also easy.
Listening is just almost impossible to
master in 6 months. If you really want, I
recommend you to speak as much Danish
as possible in the shops, read the
newspaper and listen to Danish radio. If
you learn a bit of Danish, it is also quite
easy to read Norwegian and Swedish
since these languages are very similar.
With my study programme I had enough free time. Especially in the beginning there were a lot of
social activities, so make use of that! After the EILC language course, the introduction week started.
You are placed in a group of different nationalities and do some nice activities and parties. You get to
learn Copenhagen and do some sightseeing. The introduction week is a nice place to meet new
people from all over the world. With 700 internationals there is really a nice atmosphere.
In this week you get to know this introduction group, with whom you meet a lot during the semester.
Parties and dinners are popular social activities. DTU has a couple of bars, and sometimes they throw
big parties. There is an international students bar on Tuesdays, but since most people have long days
at school on Wednesday it is in the end of the semester not very crowded. Beer is cheap in these
university bars and the people are friendly. They often broadcast football, invite music bands or have
theme parties like at Halloween or Christmas. Every night of the week another bar is open around
DTU, but you don’t have time to go every night. There is enough fun to do, but if you go to DTU, you
also get a good university.
Most of the social life is during the weekend, which started for me at Thursday night. This is a night
to go to clubs in Copenhagen like Kulørbar, Penthouse or Sukkerbageren. Copenhagen has an active
night life with a lot of different bars and clubs. International students go often to the same bars and
clubs. This is mainly because drinks are cheap. In a couple of bars, there is free beers (or more
variety) during happy hours. You pay about 80 Kr (11 euro) entrance and don’t have to buy any
drinks. Since drinks are expensive in other bars, this is the cheapest option. Parties are often on
Thursdays and Fridays, and sometimes also Saturdays. On Wednesdays you can go to the
Studentsbar in Copenhagen. Copenhagen has besides some ‘standard’ clubs also some more
interesting party areas, like Nørrebro or Meatpacking District. You’ll meet more Danes over here and
have some more variety in the music styles.
On Sundays, it was often time for some culture. There are nice museums around Copenhagen and a
couple of castles. Hillerød has a nice castle with way too much paintings, and ‘Hamlet’s Castle’ in
Helsingør is also worth a visit. In Aarhus you can visit Aros, the art museum. Louisiana is a nice
modern art museum and in Roskilde you can visit the Viking museum, which is quite small compared
to the price. Since public transport is good and sometimes have discount offers, it is worth making
use of it. ESN, Erasmus Student Network, often organized trips and visits, and also game nights and
sports activities. I never joined them, but this is also a good place to meet internationals from other
universities as København University and Copenhagen Business School.
I like to sport, but it was quite hard to go on with it in Copenhagen. Simply because I didn’t have
much time for it, and there was no amateur football club around. There is a gym where you can do
sports, and this is quite cheap. Since there were a lot of guys that wanted to play football, we
decided to play together on some Fridays. This was also a good place to meet people. I know that
there was an active basketball team on a high level, and volleyball was popular.
To get a circle of friends, you have to be open to everyone and willing to learn from different
cultures. There were some big groups of Polish or French or Germans or Spanish people hanging
around together, but it is way more nice to have a mixed
group. Try to speak English as much as possible, also if
you are with other Dutch people. Then others can mingle
in the conversation and don’t feel like they are excluded.
A mixed group is also nice to learn some ‘handy’ words
in Chinese, or improve your German. A good tip is to
invite people for dinners in your house, you will get
invited too. Try to make as much friends as possible in
the beginning and get to know them. It is very nice to
have friends all over the world.
You can apply for an accomodation through DTU, although they cannot guarantee you one. Look for
your own accomodation while you’re waiting from response of them. Some of my friends there got a
very late reaction or they even had to stay with others during the first week(s) while looking for a
DTU has a campus with a couple of Kollegiums (student dorms) and a container campus (Campus
Village). They also provide some host families, and Kollegiums a bit further away. For the best
Erasmus student life I would recommend you the place where I stayed, Campus Village. In this place
you stay with only international students, which is really a lot of fun. Everybody was very open to
each other and everyone spoke English. It does depend on which people are living in your container
though. There are about 20 containers of each +- 10 people. You have your own room, but you share
a crappy toilet, shower and kitchen. There are two types of container; the older ones have 10
bedrooms and 1 shower and 1 toilet, the newer ones have 9 bedrooms and 2 showers and 2 toilets,
further they are the same. It is just random if you get a newer or an older, you pay just a little more
in the newer ones. I was situated an old container, and for my laundry I had to go to a shared
container were there were 2 dryers and 2 washing machines. The shared container also had 2 shower
and 2 toilets. The new containers had their own laundry facilities. In the summer you can make use
of the BBQ in the middle of Campus Village.
Living standards are not very high in Campus Village. The containers where meant to stay temporarily
and are old fashioned. When I got in my room the first time it was really dirty, and so was the
kitchen. Kitchen has sufficient equipment, but the shower and toilet are just the minimum. Quite
often something was broken. But since the atmosphere was very good, nobody cared. I stayed with 8
different nationalities and we had a good relation. We often had common dinners, and friends stayed
around a lot, because a lot of internationals were placed there. It was fun to make notice of the
different ways of life in other cultures.
To be honest, it was a little bit harsh to pick the right courses for me. Most of the technical courses
had prerequisites, which made it hard to decide if I had the right skills. I chose courses which I
thought would complement on my bachelor, courses that would be challenging, but also which
should be fun and leave me enough time.
I started with the EILC language courses, which was credited with 5 ECTS. I learned Danish over there,
but moreover it was a lot of fun. It was on the other side of Denmark, in Grenå, in a comfortable
hotel. There were 60 students from all over the world, and everyone was open to meet new friends.
The 5 ECTS were the easiest points I ever got, and besides the learning of Danish language and
culture, we also did a lot of fun activities.
After these 3 weeks I started with courses at DTU. A bit of a deception came when I found out that of
5 of my chosen courses, I had to swap 3. These 3 courses where overbooked, and DTU has a postenrolment period till half October. Before the start of the semester, I had new courses.
The semester starts at the end of August, till the end of November. Then comes a 3-week exam
period. In the 13-week period you can take as much ECTS as you want. In January there is a 3-week
period in which you follow one topic fulltime, for 5 credits.
Courses in DTU have a clear schedule, but you have to take into account that a lot of nice courses are
given on the same time. Courses are also divided into E (Efterår = fall (najaar)) and F (Forår=spring
Every part of a day is worth 5 credits, so in total you can get 50 credits in the 13-week period. DTU
and her teachers expect from you that you work as much time on your own as the time that is
scheduled at school. In practice this is not necessary. The course I took on Wednesday maybe was 8
hours at school and 5 hours after, but the other courses I could basically finish in the time that was
given at university. Only the beginning exam period was more busy.
I mainly chose courses from the Management Department. Their website provides you with
information about different study lines, and at kurser.dtu.dk you can find all the courses.
DTU is famous for its Wind Energy Programme and Acoustics/audio department. These are on a high
level. Maybe less of relevance for Industrial Designers, and they will also be a bit harder for beginners
since there is a lot of specific technology involved.
The courses I chose had the right level for me, although I expected them a bit harder. I now had
plenty of time to do other nice things. The courses where master level, but in the last week I found
out that 1 of them was a newly set-up bachelor course, in co-operation with DIS (exchange
“university” for Americans). This course was of a really low level, although the cases were interesting.
DTU has a lot of international students, and therefore you’re not the only one. Teacher don’t make
exceptions for you and Danish students do speak English most of the time.
Holistic Design (Master Final level, 10 ECTS)
Design Project which comprizes all aspects of designing. You can choose an interesting subject out of
10 topics, work in a team of 4, make your own goals, planning and requirements. Half an hour of
teaching approximately per week. Teacher expects a lot of indepent work, and a high level of end
results, including a prototype. Good course.
Knowledge-Based Entrepeneurship (Master, 5 ECTS)
Each week 3 hours lecture. Pretty boring, but sometimes nice guest lectures. Besides that, setting up a
business model in a group of 4/5. Doesn’t take much time, you can work a lot on your own, depends
on your team of course. Mediocre teacher, course really depends on your group.
Sociotechnical Design (Master, 10 ECTS)
A more philosophical design courses, where design theories as SCOT and Actor-Network are
explained. A lot of reading work is involved, not mandatory, but the cases & work based on the
literature are interesting. In the end, your grade is just based on the teacher’s impression of you and a
10 minute exam. Teacher uses a high level of English and creates a lot interaction in the class, which
is nice. Good course.
Social Sustainability in Global Supply Chain Management (Bachelor, 7,5 ECTS)
This course focusses on social issues in the production chain, as child labour or workers’ health
conditions. A couple of cases is given and some theories, but the theories are not really applied. There
were a couple of company visits, which were interesting. This was the first time the course was given,
and there is definitely some potential in it, but the teacher is not motivating and the theory/practice
relation is on a very low level. No exam, just 2 easy reports.
EILC Danish Language and Culture (5 ECTS)
Summer course in August. Recommendable. You learn a lot and have a lot of fun on the same time.
Denmark is not that far away, Copenhagen is just 1 hour flying. Since I started at the language
courses in the middle of nowhere, it was comfortable that my parents could bring me by car. You can
go by plane, train or car. I tried all of them, and the train is not recommendable. But if you have a lot
of stuff, which you probably do, it is very expensive by plane. You can then also choose to send some
stuff by mail.
Danish public transport is very good, trains run about every 5 minutes to Copenhagen from Lyngby
and it takes about 25 minutes. In Copenhagen you can take the bus or metro, but almost everything
is within walking distance. In most trains you can take your bike, and it is a good way to explore a
little bit more of Copenhagen.
Since I never was in Scandinavia before, I decided to travel around while I was there. It is easy to go
to cities in Sweden like Malmö and Stockholm is also just 6 hours away by train.
With friends I met there I did a trip during autumn break. We went to Stockholm, Tallinn and
Helsinki. A lot of Erasmus people liked to travel, and you can always find a cheap way of travelling.
Ferries go from Stockholm to Tallinn and these are not that expensive. Just make sure you save some
money before you go on Erasmus. If you subscribe to DFDS seaways (cruise company) newsletter,
you will get a lot of good offers for short cruise trips. We went on a trip to Oslo, 2 days for just 30
Euros. Most of the time we spend on the boat, just 8 hours in Oslo, and it was a lot of fun.
Because I took enough ECTS credits in the 13 week semester, I was free in January. I went back to
Copenhagen for fun, and in the last week of January we made a trip to Swedish Lapland by train. It
was wonderful. In Camp Alta, Kiruna, we stayed in a hut and did nice trips with dog sledges and snow
scooters at -30 Celsius. Definitely worth the money and 30 hour train ride!
I only applied for the Erasmus scholarship. There were no other possibilities I could find. It is pretty
easy to get the money (220 euro). Don’t forget to get a ‘uitwonende beurs’ from the Dutch
government as well as public transport fund in return for your OV-card (80 euro a month).
It is quite though to find a job whilst studying at DTU. If you stay for just half a year, you don’t want
to spend your time working. Jobs are well paid, but for a foreign student it is hard to find a job. Save
some money before you get there.
Costs of living are higher than in the Netherlands. Cheap housing is at least 300 euro’s, up to 500
euro a month. Food is also a bit more expensive, but there is always an Aldi around. It is not usual to
go to a restaurant or snackbar, most people cook together. This is more fun and cheaper.
Regular supermarkets are about 25% more expensive. A beer is from 1-3 euro (university) to 5-6
euro’s in a bar in Copenhagen. Public transport is expensive; with a klippekort (stempelkaart, 10-time
card) it is about 7 euro for a return Lyngby-Copenhagen. Get a bike, or take your Dutch one! They are
quite crappy there and still expensive.
Health care is very good in Scandinavia, but also expensive (dentists etc.). You can get a European
card at your Dutch insurance company, but in Denmark you need to request a CPR-registration
number as well. I think that your European Card can give you emergency health care, and for a
regular doctor you need the CPR-number. Other insurance I got was the continous travel insurance
for longer abroad students, at the ABN AMRO bank (lang in het buitenland verzekering). It covers a
I had to pay my rent with creditcard to DTU, which was kind of a hassle since we didn’t have one at
home. It takes about 3 weeks to get one, so be on time for your first payment. Also to get the public
transport card I had to pay with creditcard, since my regular debitcard (pinpas) did not work. The
normal debitcards do work in most shops. If you want you can open a Nordea account, which I guess
still is for free (some banks charge 60 euro for opening an account). For that you need a CPR-number,
which can take time, and you have to pay a fee to convert your euros to Danish Kroner.
The list below is really just an estimation, my admistration is still a mess.
Local travelling costs
Dutch Tuition Fee
Health Insurance Holland
€ for free, 700 euro to cover your stay in August