A unique studying experience in Denmark - Studying ICT at Via University College and working at Lego

Hi guys!
I am not that short :)

Let me introduce you to Michal who came from Slovakia to Denmark to study about 4 years ago. He graduated from Via University College, Horsens in ICT engineering and currently he is studying Computer engineering at Aarhus University.   

How did you find out about Denmark?
I came to Denmark thanks to an agency, Interstudy, that came to my high school to promote the idea of studying abroad. Out of the options they presented us, I liked Denmark the most because the education is free, the salaries are high even for student jobs, and I expected Denmark to be a safe country with reasonably high living standards. They also mentioned the problem-oriented teaching, but I was not sure what exactly that means. People that studied in Denmark said it is better than in Slovakia, so I took their word for it.

How about Slovakia, have you thought of studying there?
I did think about Slovakia or the Czech Republic before I found out about Denmark. But after the presentation, I knew I want to go to Denmark. I started to look at many Danish universities that had IT courses and at the end, I was deciding between Copenhagen and Horsens. I chose the latter because I thought it will be more expensive to study in the capital. What I didn’t know is that it is actually easier to find a job in Copenhagen.

How did you apply?
Through the agency that came to my high school. I paid about 40 euros, and they took care of all the documents needed for the application. The price also included the English language test required for the application, since I didn't have any certificate at the time. I even knew that I could apply for free, but I chose the agency because they know the process, they take care of everything for me, and If I weren't accepted, the agency would give me the money back.

When you came to Denmark, did you find accommodation quickly?
I chose to stay at the university dorms, which was at the time the simplest but also the more expensive option. As soon as I had the chance, I moved to a private apartment with two Slovak classmates because it was considerably cheaper.

What was the first impression of the university?
I had the chance to participate in the introduction days where the students from the previous semesters organized team building events for the new students. It was great because I get to know a lot of people also from other classes, which might be a bit harder from the beginning, because of the language barrier. When the classes started, I expected them to be very different from high schools, such as presentations in auditoriums and very professional relationships with the teachers. But actually the atmosphere was very relaxed in the classes, the communication with the teacher was very informal, and they were very keen on helping individual students if they had any questions.
I really liked the teaching style, because it was very focused on the practicality of what we learned. We studied just the basic theory, and as soon as possible we started to combine theory and practice to solve simple exercises and progress to more complicated topics.

What did the university provide you with?
All I needed was a laptop. The University provided us with all the necessary programs for the classes. Also, all the books were lent to us from the library for free, so we didn’t have to buy anything. Besides that, at the beginning of the first semester, we were assigned a mentor that introduced us to the university's facilities and was available for us in case we have any questions about anything.

How are the exams?
Most of the exams are oral. About 2 weeks before the exam they provide you with a series of questions, so you have time to prepare the answers. In most cases, it will be a short PowerPoint presentation, maybe with some example that you draw on the blackboard and explain. At the exam, you pick one question randomly and present your answer. We also did group projects, in which we had to write a report and present it. First as a team and then each of us answered some questions separately.

How did you maintain yourself during your studies?
In the beginning, my parents helped me a lot, and after some time I found various temporary jobs thanks to the agencies that manage temporary workers. However, not having a car was a disadvantage for me. My friends and I did all sort of jobs such as packing fruits, working in warehouses or meat factories. Before the end of the 4th semester, I found a student job related to my studies and that made me able to pay all my bills and save a bit on the side, too.       

How about your internship where did you do it?
During the 4th semester, the teacher called an ex-student that works at Lego to help us with a project. He was impressed with my idea and told me to apply for an internship in his department at Lego. The interview went well, and I started nearly immediately as a part-time student worker and proceeded with a full-time internship during the 5th semester. After that, I went back to being a part-time student worker until the end of my graduation.
I am happy for having this opportunity because I was able to apply the knowledge from the university and I had the chance to work with exciting technologies such as computer vision and virtual/augmented reality.
Overall, I think the internship as a part of the study is a fantastic thing because it gives you a real work experience, which is often what fresh graduates are lacking.

What about the master in computer engineering?
It is a bit of a long story. Aarhus University is well recognized in the world, but I am not sure if it was the right choice for me. If I found a great job opportunity, I would consider it instead of finishing the Master’s degree.

What are your job aspirations?

I would like to be a game programmer, and I am also interested in computer graphics. But I would too love to travel shortly so I would like to find a job that would give me the possibility to do both.

Hope you enjoyed reading this interview J
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