During my years as an undergraduate and graduate student, I have participated in the Erasmus program already three times. This last time I went to Aarhus, Denmark, to do some research for my master’s thesis in a laboratory specialized in polyextremophiles and high-pressure microbial cultivation. For six months I lived in the coastal city of Aarhus. There, the people were nice, the food was delicious, the streets and buildings were beautiful, and the winter was, surprisingly, not as harsh as I imagined.
Aarhus University is a great place to study. The university seems designed to give students all the freedom and commodities to enjoy their time there. There is plenty of time (and spaces!) to socialize, study, and even party. The campus is lovely, with green spaces, a beautiful lake, and very cute plant-covered buildings. The relationship between students and teachers is close and friendly, which makes the students comfortable enough to ask questions, try their best with no fear to fail, and reach for help when needed. In the lab, the atmosphere is relaxed. There is often music and people chatting while working, and everyone is willing to spend some time helping others. You can always feel the well-known “hygge”, which makes work easier and people happier, something appreciated by all.
Regarding my work in the lab, all my tasks and responsibilities during the traineeship were pretty much up to me. I was given the freedom to design my own project (with some constraints and guidance) and I received the support to bring my ideas to life. The lab work was intense and challenging at times, but it was also interesting and pushed me to do my best. As a master student, I was able to attend the department weekly meetingsand all the talks and presentations by internal and external researchers, which I found to be highly inspiring and educational. I was assigned a desk in an office I shared with other Ph.D. and master’s students, and I was invited to participate in all sort of events, ranging from activities for the students to traditional Danish parties that brought me close to the Danish culture and traditions.
Overall, my internship and my time in Denmark were very positive and I am glad I got to experience all of this. I always felt welcomed and appreciated, and part of a small community consisting of Danish and international people that had the love for Science in common and that was open to anyone. Not only I learned a lot about Denmark and the Danish people, but I am also sure my career will be benefited from this experience. New scientific knowledge and skills, and a much broader network are just some of the things I gained during these six months in Aarhus. I highly recommend the ERASMUS+ Internship, and specially Aarhus University as a destination, to anyone that wants to get immersed in a new culture and to kickstart their careers in a highly competitive (but also welcoming) university.