Exchange – Denmark

Denmark -> Hungary: Budapest

Hello All,

This past weekend might have been the best weekend I have had so far. I really don’t remember the last time I had as much fun as I did this long weekend.

A couple of my friends (I think 30 total) planned a trip to Budapest, Hungary…and when I say planned it was one of my good friends György who you may remember also accompanied me to the Nurburgring. He planned the whole thing to a T, and we just followed and boy am I glad we did.

Making arrangements for 5 people is hard enough, but to plan transportation, lodging, food and amusement for 4 days is hard work but luckily György is the man to do it. He loves doing it but on the trip he quietly told me it was stressful at times and I can totally understand that and I really want to thank him for all what he did and what he does for us.

We left on Friday, taking a train to Malmo, Sweden and then arrived to Budapest. We had arranged for a bus company to take us to a famous buffet restaurant in Buda(the city is divided into 2 areas), where we had excellent meal and I think the best since I have come to Europe for only $13. This included unlimited wine, beer, champagne, and freshly squeezed juices(this was my poison of choice). It’s called trófea and I highly recommend you check it out if your ever in this city.

After a that great meal, we caught a tram to Margaret Island where we could walk off our meals and sit in the shade around the trees that had already blossomed.

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As the sung was setting, we caught another subway line to our hostel where some of stayed and some of us went on a night walk. They say if you haven’t seen Budapest at night, you haven’t seen the real Budapest and they were right. The city is so lively that even at 1 am there are more people on the streets then in 1 pm in Odense, Denmark. Image

Picture of our Hostel.

Over the next few days we saw parliament building, castles, a huge church and the worlds best marketplace as rated by the CNN.

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Market place that is measured at 10K M^2, many shops here mainly meat deli’s on the bottom and souvenir shops at the top. The prices in the souvenir shop magically drop when you speak Hungarian.

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I think George was telling us that this is the largest church in eastern Europe.

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Myself standing in front of the world’s most beautiful parliament building and 3rd largest in the world. 1000 people work here it’s like a small village inside with shops, hair salons, post offices and restaurants. We got a inside tour and I can say that the inside is even more beautiful then the outside, 100 kilograms of gold was used for some of the portions.

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We also did archery.

ImageSaw Hosok Square, a tribute to the Magyar Kings who defended Hungary from invasion for over 1000 years.

ImageOn the castle.

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Basically where every you looked you would see something amazing in Budapest. The temperature was perfect, the people were nice and I was surround with friend. It really was a amazing trip. I can post the 1000 more pictures I took but I don’t want to bring this site down.

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And here’s the person that made it happen. Thank you George!

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Copenhagen – Denmark

Last week I went to Copenhagen with ESN Odense, we had a great time. Our group split in two ways, you had a choice of either visiting castles or go see the monuments in Copenhagen and I chose to see the city.

ImageThis is the largest shopping street in the world(ref: guides), it spans over 2 km and has many expensive stores like Louis Vuitton, Rolex and Gucci etc..

ImageCountless courtyards like this throughout Denmark

ImageMyself on top of the “Round Tower”, the king of Denmark had this built in the 1700’s it provides you with a 360 deg. view of the entire city.(Sorry, I know you guys always see me in this jacket and ear muffs but the weather still warrants my wardrobe.)

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The Queens palace, this is by far the best building/place I have been in Denmark thus far. We saw the changing of the guards and behind this place there is a beautiful church.

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This is the monolithic church.

ImageHand painted dome was amazing.

ImageA picture from the tour boat we booked at Nyhaven, they also have really good coffee shops here and the great thing about the city is it’s littered with tourists.

ImageTo end off the two days we had in the city my friends and I went to the Copenhagen national museum to see a few exhibits, I particularly liked the viking history of Denmark.

Thank you for reading.

-Hamza

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I Lærdansk and Kolding – Denmark

Hej,

This week I started a evening course on Thursdays at Lærdansk-Odense. These are free language courses for students, immigrants and tourists planing to stay longer then 3 months. This is another example of why I am happy that I chose Denmark, their public/social services are comprehensive. Another example is a couple of week ago I received my yellow card which is basically sin card but with this sin card I have access to services like being part of the Danish health system, job finding and other social services.

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Pictured above is the Lærdansk-Odense building

Also this weekend I went to a city in Denmark called Kolding with some friends. We saw a Danish castle called Koldinghus and we went to a modern art museum.  It was actually a big group of friends and it was all organized through Facebook which we use a lot over here for all types of events and effective communication, for example I also use Facebook to communicate with my group members for my project class and university uses Facebook for events and to send out information as well as their regular email service.

Here are a few pictures that we took around the castle and museum, also the castle had a museum in it with very interesting historical artifacts.

ImageThe castle doesn’t look very old but it’s been burned down and restored a few times but believe me it’s old.

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I really did try to appreciate the modern art I was looking at but I just didn’t get it. There was also video art but that was in Danish and but even then I don’t think I would have got it.

One piece did make me say wow though, this picture really doesn’t do it justice. If you took a seat and looked at it for longer then 30 seconds then you would think you were there, it looks so real and for some reason made you happy. Image

Well that’s all for this week.

Hej Hej,

-Hamza

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Fastelavn and War Ships – Denmark

Hej Everyone,

One of the reasons I chose to come to Denmark is by statistics the Danes are one of the happiest people in the world. I wanted to come to see why they were so happy, I am a firm believer in “Do what makes you happy, and do it for the rest of your life” concept. I came here to see if I could take some of this happiness away with me. I asked one of my group members in a class who is Danish, why he believes the Danes are so happy. He said “I am a 46 year old man, with a wife and three small children. The reason why I am happy is because I went back to school which I am being paid for, I can still support my wife who works and children and not have to worry about making a abundance for putting my children through school if they wish to go” I basically have translated this to he can do what makes him happy and do it for the rest of his life.

I was at a shopping center the other day and I saw these children dressed up costumes hitting a barrel with a stick. The barrel contained candy, it was like a costume themed birthday party at a store also known as the Nordic Halloween. This special day is called Fastelavn in Danish and it happens 7 weeks before Easter Sunday. Traditionally, they use to have a black cat in the barrel and knock the cat out of the barrel with sticks to safeguard themselves against evil. The child who knocked the cat out was crowned “Queen of Cats” and the child who broke the entire barrel after the cat was removed was crowned “King of Cats”. Now however they use candy and this holiday is very much enjoyed by small children.

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The other day I went with my Danish friend to purchase a used microwave because my apartment didn’t have one and I finally had to get one after tirelessly cooking fresh food everyday.  On the way to the sellers house, my friend gave me a tour of the city the out skirts and it was quite nice of him but I had to tell him to pull over when I saw this.

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This is a Dutch(Royal Netherlands Navy) off-shore petrol vessel, I have never seen a operating armed ship before and the sight of those 76mm Rapid Cannons was scary but interesting at the same time. Odense has a rich history in ship building and my friend told me that every summer they have a weekend where ships like this come from all over Europe and even Russia.

 

Also here is a cool video about the University of Southern Denmark.

Thanks for reading,

Hamza

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My courses in Denmark 1/3

Hej Everyone,

Now that I’ve had my courses for a week now, I just give you guys a update on what I experienced. This will be part one of a three part report I want to do on studying here in Denmark. Part two will be for the middle of the courses and part three will be for my ending conclusions.

I guess I’ll start with what I’m doing, so from my introduction you know that I’m Mechanical Engineering in Centennial College and I am actually doing the same over here, as a semester 4 University Student but there are some courses which are 5th and 6th semester so I pretty evenly layered with what I would have been doing back home.

These are the courses I am taking

Project Management X-PMA1

What I learn in this course:

– Develop teamwork in working groups
– Behave and act as a team player.
– Do a formulation of the company’s: Mission, goals and strategy.
– Assess the basis organisation and a project organisation in a company.
– Behave and act as a project manager
– Analyse a project and its elements
– Do planning and description of a project.
– Identify and implement the four aspects of a project: The technical, the   organisational, the business and the political aspects
– Make the main plan of a project.
– Do detail planning and follow-up in Gantt, Network and PMS.
– Do the budgeting and follow up as a part of project management.
– Do project risk management
– Do successive calculation of the budget and schedule
– Use a contract concept for buying in projects

My Initial Review: Really nice teacher with a lot of industry background, we started the class by the teacher introducing himself and then we introduced ourselves, after we learned about some HR techniques about talking to employees for different situations and then we got into our groups to do some problem solving for the discussed situations.

Project Supervision X-P-ME2

What I learn in this course:

– Project work, focused around automation, renewable energy, mechanical design, robotics or other areas
– Project analysis, problem formulation, idea generation, concept development, design, documentation and assessment
– Project planning/Project management
– Exercises with Pro/Engineer and Pro/Mechanica
– Exercises with Pro/PDM Link and Pro/Project Link
– Exercises with ANSYS Classic and ANSYS Workbench
– Exercises with Rapid Prototyping and Material Testing
– Evaluation of analytical results
– Study independently

My Initial Review: The first class we actually got into our groups for the semester and decided on a project, the there was 3 groups made(some people were missing that day) and there was 5 projects offered. The rule was there was only 1 international student allowed in each group so I joined a group with 4 Danes, I didn’t like any of the projects offered so one of my group members made a call to local ship engineering firm and I can’t believe how open companies are to helping students. They actually gave us a project! Our mission is to see if a curved rudder design will improve efficiency within a ship’s design. This specific firm is designing two of the largest ships in the world and we are going to be a part of that(this blows my mind). By a stroke of luck, there is a testing basin for similar design that we can use in our university and there is a 3D printer(actually two) that we can use to model the design. So I have really have high hopes for this project.

Part 2 of this class

FEA/FEM: Finite Element in Engineering, in layman’s terms: We use computer to model designs and get information. Simple example, if we push this button 1000 times, how hot will it get and when will it break. A computer can this without actually having to do it, but there is a slight margin of approximation.

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Above is some FEA stuff.

Internal Combustion Engines(ICE) X-ICE1

What I learn in this course:

– The kinematics of the ICE
– The thermodynamic basics of the ICE
– The layout of the ICE (bore and stroke)
– Ignition and controlling of the combustion within the ICE
– Injection of the fuel
– Reduction of pollution from the ICE
– The gas dynamics within the ICE
– Turbo- or supercharging of the ICE
– Dimensioning of the parts within the ICE
– Lubrication of the ICE
– Cooling of the ICE
– Vibration phenomena within the ICE

My Initial Review: If you’ve been following my posts until now, you know how much I love cars, so this course for me is AMAZING. The teacher is really cool and we were talking about Carburetors, Fuel Injection and GDI on the first day. I hope I learn everything I can from this course and apply it wherever I can, this is one course I can’t wait to have every week.

Structural Vibrations X-VIB1

What I learn in this course:

– Establish the governing differential equations of the analysed system (Newton’s second law of motion, Lagrange equation etc.)

– Stiffness and flexibility matrices
– Modal matrices
– Damping of vibrating systems
– Transverse, longitudinal and torsional vibration

My Initial Review: This is probably going to be the most challenging course I have, I actually knew that even before I came as I heard how hard it was going to be but I need this course in order to achieve a certain skill requirement so I will put as much effort and time as it requires. We received a problem the first day(two days ago) and I am still thinking about how to solve that problem, tomorrow is Sunday and I have arranged for a study group to tackle the problems our teacher has given us.

Study Customs in Denmark:

  • We refer and address the teacher by their first names and no title is given.
  • Classes here are 3.5 hours long, we take 10 minute breaks every 1 hour
  • Eating is allowed, now eating something small and drinking water may be allowed in some of your classes but over here it’s very different. I have seen students actually bring a two or three course meal to class, complete with condiments and drinks(coffee or soda)
  • There is in-class work for all classes, it could be a presentation, group assignment or individual questions but there is always some time at the end of the class to do work.

Differences I’ve seen:

These are not really customs but it’s something I’ve seen differ from education back in Canada.

  • Students here are of all age groups, it seems to be a normal trend that you don’t have to directly go to post secondary institution after completing high school, you can work for some time and then go and you can change carrier paths and go again. I guess it’s not hard if your being paid to go to school.
  • There seems to be, especially in my circle of friends that do a graduate or doctoral level in their field. I have very few friends in North America that are even considering this, I think for us it has to come with some financial reward but in Denmark I people just love to learn and can do it without any major financial difficulties.

Apologies for the long post, but this was one of the more important ones.

Take Care,

Hamza N. 

EDIT: I forgot to mention that with our team projects, we get our own room with a code that we can only open, I thought this was quite amazing to say the least. My group members are bringing things like coffee makers and a microwave so we can work productively and even live there because the whole school stays open 24/7…but I’m hoping it doesn’t come to that.

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Expenses In Denmark

Hello Everyone,

Today I want to tell you about the general expenses I’ve come across in Denmark.

*Disclaimer: Please know that your expenses may differ depending on where you are in Denmark and when you visit ie. prices of living space may go up in the future.

Okay so here is the break down. For comparisons reasons I will be using the exchange rate of 5 DKK to $1 CAD

Rent(all inclusive): ~2250 DKK = $450, this is my room in a 4 room apartment, shared with 3 other students…The Danes don’t have school residences but instead have apartments off-campus where many students live. The school still has a accommodations office which advocates and finds these apartments for you and gives you the keys.

*They also provided free linens and kitchen box for me which set me up with dishes, cookware, towels, blanket, pillow and bed lining so I didn’t have to worry about it when I arrived. This may not be the same for your situation. 

Monthly Bus Pass: 300 DKK = $60, Single Ride 22 DKK = $4.40. You may be eligible for a reduced student rate which will bring the monthly cost down to 250 DKK = $50, single ride 10 DKK = $2 but it requires a 185 DKK  = $37 sign up fee which is then valid for one year. The prices are for the FYN bus company, which operates in and around Odense, Denmark.

Bike-cycle: A pre-owned one will cost you 300~500 DKK and a new one starts at 1000 DKK, Denmark is one of the most bike friendly countries in Europe and a bike-cycle is a preferred method of transportation for many Danes. Cycling is taken very seriously over here, riders are privileged by having their own lanes and intersection signals but they are many rules over here and like I have said previously bikes are like cars, you cannot be intoxicated, you cannot be on your mobile device, you must have a blinking front and back lights, you have to signal lane and direction changes and if your slower keep to the right, the left lane is only for passing.

Food: 800 DKK =  $160 for me, this totally depending on how and what you eat. I’ve heard the cities that neighbor Germany usually drive down to pick up bi-weekly groceries. Image

So this is actually my flat mates bill as I forgot to ask for mine but I’ll note down the few essentials.

  • 15 Large Eggs for 23 DKK = $4.60
  • 1 Litre Milk 6 DKK = $1.20
  • Loaf of bread 9 DKK = $1.80
  • A beer at a pub goes from 15~30 DKK = $3 ~ 6, bartenders usually don’t get tipped here. I don’t drink alcohol so I pay 25DKK($5) for juice and 20DKK($4) for Coke(500mL)
  • Ice burg lettuce 11 DKK = $2.20
  • 1 kg beef ~ 2.2 lbs 100 DKK = $20, this is a for raw steaks. Fancy sausages can got for more but I don’t eat much meat.

These prices are okay for Canadians for the most part, I’ve noticed a lot of Asian and other European students complain about the prices as these prices are double what they pay.

Going out to eat here to socialize with friends is for the most part non-existent, like I’ve posted before students here usually host Potlucks and in apartment activities which I find is a refreshing change to the North American culture of eating out every weekend(The food is of better quality).

If you do want to go out and eat for a special occasion then there are a variety of price ranges and restaurants you can go to.

  • A slice of Pizza will be 20 DKK = $4, add a drink(350mL) for 10 DKK($2)
  • A 7/11(yes, they have those here) pastry will go for 20 DKK = $4, add a coffee for 15 DKK ($3)
  • A Shawarma(chicken) goes for 50 DKK($10) with a drink included
  • A nice meal at restaurant will go for 200 DKK = $40, which isn’t too bad for us but again usually more then what other students are used to pay.

What you have to know is the minimum wage here is 110 DKK = $22 per hour, the costs are proportional to the living expenses here…actually it might even be considered as *cheap* but the personal income rate ~45% so it’s a little more then what we pay but I think it works out here. At least as far I can see.

Thank you reading!

I’ll keep the updates coming just as long as something interesting comes up.

Take Care,

Hamza N.

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Why would someone participate in a exchange program

Hello,

For the people that are reading this and are wondering why someone would actually participate in a exchange program better yet a global exchange program when they could have successfully completed their studies at their home institution, to them I would like explain why I did it.

Firstly, it was the challenge

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” 
― Winston Churchill

I have never been away from my family, not for a long period of time and not a long distance away. Culturally I am very family oriented, we act as a single entity that appreciate each other for everything and I believe it was hard for both me and my family to do this exchange but this will give me a chance to learn to be independent in case I need to do this in the future for professional or other reasons. I believe my family will cope with it as well.

I will also have to adjust to place I am in (Odense, Denmark), the social customs and school will be different and since I have never been to Europe before this will surely be a new experience but being in Toronto for most of life will help because I have adapted myself to multiple cultures and it probably isn’t going to be too different here.

This experience will help me

“The only source of knowledge is experience” – Albert Einstein

 

I am sure this experience will help me in many ways, I first saw the Global Experience Office flyer the first day of the Winter 2012 semester and completely ignored it until a week passed and I had nothing better to do then to read it. After I found out what it was for and where I could get more information I searched the college to find Global Experience Office. Why you ask? Well that summer one of my best friends just came back from a exchange trip to Singapore and I could tell he was different. He saw and experienced things he just would not in Canada, it changed his prospective on a lot of things and I wanted just the same.

Our world is very globalized, we can constantly access information for all over the world and it is a necessity to be able to communicate with others from different continents. This experience will not only help me u

nderstand how to do that but also master it which will not only in my profession as a engineer but also in social situations.
Thank you for reading this, hopefully this will answer some of your questions on the opinions I expressed as I am sure there are many other wonderful reasons to participate in a program like this.I will meet people and see places that I may have never done if it wasn’t for the push of this exchange. Sure I could have traveled but how many times do you really get to experience living in a country you may not permanently reside in? And in my program you usually do not get this opportunity often so I took it while I could and I don’t regret it.

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Take Care,

Hamza N.

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First few days in Denmark

Hej,

Well I’ve been in Denmark for two days now so I thought I would share a little about my first impressions in this country. So I arrived in Copenhagen on Friday around 3 am (Toronto time) and I took a 1.5 hour train ride from there to Odense, the train had large windows which would have allowed me to see much of the country but sadly due to having a overnight flight and not sleeping a wink I had to make up for it on the train.

As soon as I arrived I was met by a buddy’s team member, my buddy is assigned from the university to show me around the city and the university but she is currently away on business so her team member met me, gave me the keys for my apartment and showed me how to get there.

At my apartment I greeted by my flat mate who helped me take in my luggage and poured hot tea and home made bread. I believe him to be the nicest guy ever, not only did he do the above when I was finished catching up with my sleep which wasn’t until the morning of the next day he made omelette, later his wife who is also a student at the university made lunch and dinner.

Until today I was cooped up in the comfort of my room because I didn’t have a bike, a bike in Denmark is a Car in Canada. You can’t go anywhere without one, well you can but not far and not within a reasonable time. I found a second hand bike I wanted to buy and my awesome flat mate took me to the city center where I was to meet the seller.

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My “new to me” bike, only 7 previous owners. I shall call her “Little Pippa”

ImageI’ve heard the Danish queen resides here during one of the months in SummerImageLittle street, I love the artitecture here, you can have a 200~300 year old builing attached to brand spanking new one. The contrast is amazingImageThis is a little danish bakery I found at the city centerImage

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My awesome flat mate

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I also made some friend at a social gathering the other night and one of them hosted a international dinner part in his apartment. We had foods from all over the Europe, Danish, Italian, Greek, German, Romanian and even Libya…being Canadian I didn’t know what dish was uniquely Canadian so I brought a Tuna Salad, to those of you that are saying that I should have brought Poutine, I didn’t want to embarrass our fair nation by showing our fatty food off, I’ll remember to order Maple Syrup next time my mom asks me if I want anything.

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Introduction: Hamza N.

Hello everyone!

My name is Hamza N. and I will be travelling to Odense, Denmark to attend the University of Southern Denmark(www.sdu.dk/en), to finish up my Mechanical Engineering Technologist Diploma. I leave in the last week of January and should be back by the first week of July.

I’ve already made contact with a number of people in Odense, especially my roommate (Timur S.) and my buddy from the international office (basically someone who helps me settle in and answers questions that I may have) both of them seem very nice and helpful.

My interests include anything to do about cars and watching a good science fiction movie or TV show. I could talk about, read about and write about cars all day, everyday for the rest of my life but I’ll spare you guys the pain, going to Europe I should see vehicles I wouldn’t normally in North America. For a year now, I’ve owned and operated my own part time detailing business specializing in the technical side of detailing (Paint Correction and Paint Coatings <- It’s a niche thing) but what the really means is sometimes I get to drive and work on cars like this.

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From what I’ve been reading I’ve learned most Danish and International students in Denmark do work during the school year, I’ve been in contact with a potential employer who owns a detailing studio in Odense and is looking for some help (I have a type D student permit which permits me work up to 15 hours per week)

So I guess I should start packing, I just want to thank everyone who made this happen Pearl, Yana and Everyone from GEO office.

Adios,

Hamza N.

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