Elena Kreutzer from Germany is studying Mathematics
"In February 2012, I decided to study abroad for one semester and chose Denmark as a destination
because it is a country with a very long and interesting history. In addition, Danes are according to
several studies the happiest people in the world. From a more practical point of view, Denmark also
seemed to be a reasonable choice because Danish people are known to speak a very good English,
which made it easier for me to get through daily life during the first weeks.
When the Erasmus coordinator of my University told me about our Erasmus agreement with AAU,
I looked at the webpages of both Aalborg University and the city of Aalborg and I was soon
convinced that this was the right place for me to spend my exchange semester.
First of all, Aalborg University has a teaching concept which is based on projects written by small
groups of students. This sounded really interesting to me, as it is completely different from the
traditional teaching of my university. Second, I also expected the group work to help me finding
friends at my host university. In addition, the city of Aalborg itself seemed very suitable, being not
as huge as Copenhagen, but also big enough to provide a lot of different possibilities for activities
and social life.
I applied according to the rules of the Erasmus program with a form and a motivation letter, which I
had to address to my home university. The Erasmus coordinator then nominated me for the erasmus
program and sent my information to the university in Aalborg. To prove that my English skills were
sufficient to follow the classes and get along in daily life, the AAU also required either a TOEFL- or
an IELTS-certificate. There was not enough time for me to take one of these tests before the
application deadline, but I got conditionally accepted and was allowed to hand in the test results
The Erasmus coordinator of the mathematics department, Mr Raussen was very friendly and helped
me both with the application process and picking the right classes.
Once I was accepted as exchange student, I could also apply for accommodation at the
International Accommodation Office of AAU. This was very convenient, as they already before my
arrival found a room in a shared flat for me. Apart from the forms for the accommodation, I
received a lot of information about the “arrival days” for international students. That are the days
when the international office and the international accommodation office of AAU are welcoming
the new international students in the so called student house. It is a meeting point for the students in
the city centre both hosting a cafe with student friendly prices and several service points such as the
International Accommodation Office.
When I arrived in Aalborg, I directly went to the student house, where I picked up my keys and my
rental agreement. In addition, the International Office provided me with a lot of useful advice
concerning practical things and also information about social activities.
Before the semester started, I went to university to meet Mr Raussen, and he showed me around and
explained me the group work system. During each semester the students form groups of usually 3-6
people,where each group is assigned their own group room. The curriculum consists of a certain
amount of classes, where each subject is taught usually two times a week for four hours, of which
first two hours are lectures. The remaining two hours consist of exercises the students solve and
discuss in the groups, while the teacher is visiting the different group rooms to help if problems
The second big part of the curriculum is the semester project, where the students do research on a
given or self chosen topic and write a report about it. This requires a lot of discipline and selforganisation
in the groups and I learned not only a lot about the subject itself, but also gathered
other important skills like organising and teamwork.
During my first semester in Aalborg, the project was about statistical modelling and analysis, and as
classes I chose Statistical inference for generalized linear models, Geometry, and Differential
Geometry as it is needed in engineering and science, a class offered by the PhD-school of Aalborg
University. Apart from that I also took an introduction class to the computer program R and a
Danish language course, which was offered by AAU. In the second semester, I had classes in
Spatial Statistics, Bayesian Inference, Continuous Time Finance and an overview course about the
different fields of mathematics. Apart from that, I also worked as a help teacher for the younger
The semester started on the first of september and when I arrived at AAU, I was welcomed by the
department secretary Lisbeth Grubbe Nielsen, who not only then, but during the whole year always
had an open ear for me and helped me whenever I had problems. After this nice reception, I went to
the group formation meeting. Mr Raussen and me decided that I should take part at the project of
the sixth semester, as I chose most of their classes. Despite my fear that nobody would want me in
their group, as all the other students knew each other before, I was immediately asked by one group
if I wanted to join them. I was really happy about that and we soon became a good team. The only
other girl in the group even became one of my closest friends.
It turned out that the with the group work it was indeed very easy to socialise with my classmates.
First I got to know only the people of my group, but they soon started to take me to the gatherings
with the other classmates. All of them were really friendly and included me directly. I soon felt as a
part of the group and we had a lot of fun together. My classmates made much effort to show me as
many Danish traditions as possible, e.g. the Danish christmas dinner “Julefrokost”, and they taught
me a lot of Danish as well. I am grateful that I had such great classmates and they were certainly
one of the reasons for which my time in Aalborg was so amazing.
I also really liked the city of Aalborg. It is situated in the north of the Danish half-island Jutland,
directly on the Limfjord, which is a connection between North Sea and Baltic Sea. The city centre is
cosy, with two pedestrian streets, a beautiful beach promenade and several parks. One can also find
a lot of art galleries, a sophisticated old villa called Jens Bange Stenhus, the ancient Budolfi church
from the 14th century, and the so called Aalborg tower, from where it is possible to see the whole
city. In addition there is also the Jomfru Ane Gade, a street with a lot of bars, where most of
Aalborg's nightlife takes place.
My apartment was located in Boulevarden, one of the main streets. I shared it with three other girls
and in the rest of the house there were seven more flats all inhabited by international students.
This made it very easy for me to find friends and living in this building contributed a lot to that I
felt so comfortable in Aalborg. Because there were many events for the foreign students, e.g. the
international night every wednesday in the student house, it was also easy to get in touch with other
Not only Aalborg has a lot to offer, but also the rest of Denmark. Skagen, the place where North Sea
and Baltic Sea meet, is not very far from Aalborg and the city Aarhus is only a two hour train ride
away. The capital Copenhagen on the island Zealand and the city Odense, where the famous Danish
writer H.C. Andersen was born, are a bit further away, but definitely worth a visit. These are only
some of the many nice places in Denmark and I can only recommend to take some Danish language
classes as well to also enjoy conversations with the Danes . I took several Danish classes, one at
home and one at AAU, and then I continued at the language school of the city of Aalborg, which is
free for foreigners for three years. However, a lot of my language skills I got from conversations
with Danish people as well, e.g. with my classmates or at grocery shopping.
My year in Aalborg was a really amazing and valuable time for me. I learned a lot in this year, both
at university and from living and studying together with people from another country, and I found
friends I don't want to miss anymore. I am really grateful that I had the chance to take part in this
exchange and I will certainly visit Aalborg again."