Aarhus University Seal / Aarhus Universitets segl

Marzieh Katibeh

PhD student
Department of Public Health, Aarhus University.

I clearly remember my first visit to the Aarhus University Campus around 3 years ago. It was Autumn 2015, just 2 months after my arrival to Denmark. I had already applied for a few jobs and positions, yet this was my first visit to the Aarhus University. The lake and the park surrounding it looked stunning. I was wandering around to find the building where I had an appointment, so I asked a student to help me. She stopped and searched in her phone and asked a classmate who were walking by and both kindly spent time to guide me. This was not the first time that I found how people in Denmark are nice and friendly. I remember how I admired people’s behaviour and kindness in many different occasions. For me it is the most important attraction of Denmark. I have observed that Danes are educated, smart, punctual, direct, friendly and fair but most importantly humble and kind. 

During the interview, I was supposed to explain about my motivations, background, and future plans.

Although it was my first contact, the conversation went on very well and I got a positive impression of great capacity to make a scientific and independent piece of work. The former PhD students also informed me that I would definitely be in good hands. I wanted to apply for the next round of the PhD position, which was in 2 weeks. However, my supervisor told me it is impossible to make a PhD application at Aarhus University in such a short time. Therefore, it was the beginning of 6 months of informal cooperation and efforts until I finally could start my PhD in July 2016. This portrays a feature of Denmark where people spend time to make anticipated plans and smart choices.

I travelled to Denmark in order to study and work. Upon my arrival, the situation was tensed, as the whole Europe, including Denmark had sheltered a high number of refugees. This could potentially create various discussions and tension about the foreigners. Nevertheless, the friendly environment in Denmark has conveyed various comfortable feelings to the extent which  I perceive that I am already at home despite the large differences between here and the places that I used to live, study and work before coming to Denmark.

It is quite acceptable in Denmark and even positive to keep the individual aspects of other cultures like cuisine, costumes, music, traditional events etc. However, it is also important to learn Danish language and culture particularly interpersonal interactions and rights, otherwise, the chance of becoming integrated in and ultimately finding a job decreases.

All in all for me arguably this period has been the best part of my life and I always say to my friends: “I have been given the opportunity to live not only in a different place, but in a different world”.