Intern Abroad

My master thesis in Denmark

June 22nd, 2023 | by
  • Molecular and Applied Biotechnology, M.Sc.
  • Denmark, Greater Copenhagen
  • Technical University of Denmark

    The Shakespeare caste in Helsingør, a nice destination for a day trip on the bike.
    © Rebekka Horstmann

  • 10/2022 – 05/2023

To complete my master’s in biotechnology I was looking for a master’s thesis abroad and the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability (CfB) at the Technical University of Denmark came to my attention. Denmark is well known for its thriving biotech sector and the center convinces with a strong focus on delivering more sustainable solutions for our society.

Finding accommodation in Greater Copenhagen can be challenging since not only the rent but also the deposits and prepaid rents can be a deterrent. However, student housing is in part also applicable for master thesis students at the accommodation office of DTU. While renting a studio apartment in a dorm is not necessarily the cheapest option, it makes flat hunting easier. Another common practicality is to have the moving-out date a couple of days, for example 10 working days, before the end of the lease, which is good to keep in mind.

During my stay at CfB, I was seated in an office with other master’s students, PhD students, research assistants, and a fermentation engineer which was a great chance to get very diverse input to the questions and challenges that came up along the way. In general, I experienced fairly flat hierarchies, and the openly designed workspace allowed for a lot of fruitful scientific discussions. As mandatory for an external thesis, I found examiners in Aachen before I started my project and had supervisors at the external institution. I was lucky to experience very supportive and thoughtful supervision which allowed me to develop a broad skill set. Fortunately, a Symposium was hosted at DTU on my last day, giving me the chance to present my findings on a poster and to get additional input.

Since DTU is a campus university, a lot of activities are offered in very close proximity. Therefore, it is easy to meet some other people during sports causes even with a full experimental schedule. Another part of the Danish work culture is the concept of “Friday bars”. In my center, the Friday bar was held once a month and was basically everyone gathering with a beer or soda in the canteen during the afternoon. That created a very relaxing atmosphere and gave a lot of opportunities to get to know your colleagues besides work topics as well as people from other research groups.

Skodsborg beach during the ice bathing season.
© Rebekka Horstmann

While written Danish is maybe not impossible to understand as a German-speaking person, spoken Danish can be quite tough. However, once you are registered in the civil registration system (and have a CPR number), the Danish government offers language courses in exchange for a deposit only. These courses are a great opportunity to meet other international students from different disciplines, have fun in practicing all the sounds in the Danish language, and of course, learn some basic Danish.

Regarding free time activities I can highly recommend to either bring or rent a bike. All across Zealand, there is a quite good network of bike lanes which is perfect to take a day trip to one of the many castles such as the so-called Shakespeare castle in Helsingør. It is also very convenient to explore the inner city of Copenhagen by bike and in most cases, you can even take it on public transport for free. As soon as the temperatures drop, you can see a lot of Danes going for an ice bath at one of the beaches which I can highly recommend giving a try.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *