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A day in the life: Bristol vs Copenhagen

Jake Whitaker writes about a number of issues including: living in Copenhagen; studying at CBS; and yes, Brexit (unfortunately). (Photo: Mette Koors)

Blog |   18. Feb 2019

Jake Whitaker


Considering there are thousands of universities around the world, it would seem reasonable to assume that they’re similar. Yet coming on exchange to CBS has proved this theory wrong. While there’s only an hour’s flight between my home university in Bristol and CBS, they are poles apart. Nothing illustrates this more than comparing a typical day at CBS vs. Bristol.

At CBS, my day begins early. Far too early, due to the poor hand I have been dealt in the timetable department. This means I am usually up at 7am for an 8am lecture.

This is very different to Bristol, where my idea of an early start is 10am; 8am’s don’t exist and 9am’s are irregular due to the poor attendance that follows. Then, in Bristol, I’d have a cup of tea (excuse the stereotype). However, I have found tea to be something of folklore in Copenhagen, with proper brews few and far between (I even received green tea with milk once, quite a change to my English Breakfast brew!). With my tea dreams dashed, I settle for a Copenhagen coffee. Yet settling may be the wrong term. The coffee is so amazing here, I hardly miss the comfort of my morning cuppa.

Even at 8am the lectures are packed at CBS and everyone, somehow, is bright-eyed and bushy-tailed

Then comes the commute. In Bristol, cycling is near suicide at rush hour with cyclists holding fast at the bottom of the traffic food chain. This means I walk 20 minutes to university from my house in Bristol. However, cycling in Copenhagen is a far cry from that in Bristol. It’s a breeze and cyclists rule the road by far. So, every morning I excitedly join the Copenhagen commute and cycle to CBS, enjoying my 10-minute journey from Nørrebro.

Now for the lectures. Even at 8am the lectures are packed at CBS and everyone, somehow, is bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Inevitably in the lectures, there are keen and insightful questions from students, as well as raucous applause as it finishes (even after a three-hour stint beginning at 8am!).

This is not quite the case in Bristol; 9am’s are subdued to say the least, and I’m pretty sure applause is unheard of. I’m not saying that Bristol students are lazy, far from it. It’s just that we take some time to warm up in the morning. At CBS everyone is in full throttle learning mode 24/7. It’s quite refreshing really.

I was amazed that a party could happen in the corridors of the university and the next day you come in at 8am and the place is spotless

I’d always go to the library after lectures to study for a few hours. In Bristol this involves battling for a seat at peak times and often having to walk around looking for a space. But, at CBS, it’s actually possible to reserve seats, eliminating the need for endless wandering. At CBS the workload is slightly lighter than at Bristol, meaning there’s time to explore the city in the evenings (maybe not in the winter when it’s dark by 3pm) before cycling home.

In Bristol there could never be something like the Café Nexus parties; I was amazed that a party could happen in the corridors of the university and the next day you come in at 8am and the place is spotless. If this happened in the UK I don’t think the university would ever recover! The days end the same in Bristol and Copenhagen – cooking with friends and relaxing.

If there’s one thing that exchange has taught me, it’s that each university around the world is its own ecosystem; each has its own way of doing things. That’s not to say one way is the best. But I feel as though Bristol and CBS both have much to learn from and each other, and I will no doubt go back to Bristol with a new perspective.

My day in the life will never be quite the same.


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