You might be asking yourself why I am writing one blog post that combines two topics that never end up mixing well. Other than the fact that they both start with the letter “A” which the human brain finds appealing due to the alliteration, American college students believe that alcohol and academics shouldn’t flirt with each other unless you’re looking for a bad time. When foreigners imagine American college, they think, “binge drinking with red cups, ping pong balls, and kegs.” In Denmark, however, alcohol is a comfortable presence in all settings, including school.
In Denmark, you are allowed to purchase alcohol from stores at the age of 16 and can order at bars when you turn 18. Drinking casually is an integral part of Danish culture, and the Danes take great pride in Carlsberg, the brewers that own most of the beer brands here, including Tuborg, Carlsberg, and Somersby. Tuborg even sponsors my school’s bar. Copenhagen Business School (CBS) sells beer in Café Nexus, the school bar located in our main building, and in all of our school cafeterias. It’s not unusual to see students and professors here with a beer on their desk during lecture. And when your lectures are an average of three hours long each time, I can see why you might need a pick-me-up to make it through the day.
School life in Denmark is vastly different from American college. The lectures are long, you call your professors by their first name 99% of the time, and your whole grade for a class is dependent on your one final. There is no reoccurring schedule for a class like “MW 9:30-11.” Instead, your lecture might meet on Wednesday at 8 am one week and then Friday at 2:25 the next week. The system even allows you to take classes that overlap with each other. This is probably because Danish students never come to school. And I mean it. If there are 60 students enrolled in my class, only 30 people show up. And 20 of those 30 are generally foreigners. Danes just don’t come to class. I regularly hear, “Oh, I don’t need to go to class. I just read the textbook and then take my final.” Mandatory attendance is not a concept here, and almost all Danes hold jobs at companies while they attend university.
The biggest difference between CBS and UT is, of course, the lack of campus culture here. This is something I expected coming to Denmark though as this is generally an aspect of American culture. That’s not to say that there is no campus life here. CBS holds events almost everyday. There’s always some sort of networking event, case competition, or business seminar going on. The few organizations they have are very active (CBS International Choir, CBS Sport, CBS Coffee, CBS Wine, CBS Whiskey [yes, I am not making this stuff up], etc.). And every Thursday, Café Nexus turns into a nightclub. The school hires different DJs every week, Tuborg brings in beer taps and bartenders, and the school even has bouncers. The Danes really do know how to mix work with pleasure, I suppose.
Drinking culture and academics are two things that may pop up in your mind when you think of the American college experience, but what a gem it is to discover that those two topics also come to mind for the Danish college experience – just in a completely different way.