March 03rd 2022

Bikepacking to the Erasmus semester in Denmark

The international term in the Environmental, Process and Energy Engineering study program is over and students are looking back on their experiences abroad.

Bachelor student Nicolas Soehlemann spent his semester abroad at the University of Southern Denmark. He decided to travel to Denmark in a very special way - by bicycle:

"After the past year of COVID-19 and a though 4th semester, I knew that I would need some sort of adventure. I didn’t have much planned for the summer anyway and wanted to get to Denmark where my Erasmus semester would take place. During previous travels abroad, I always admired people who travelled the world on their bicycles, a way of travelling which is decelerating from our busy everyday life while still covering a reasonable distance each day and using your own strength to move forward, arguably the most environmentally friendly method to travel. Therefore, the idea was born; my trip to Denmark would be on two wheels. The plan was to travel with as little planning as possible and a high degree of flexibility as those were the two things; I missed during the very streamlined university life. Everything I needed to survive, I packed into my trusted bags and saddled up. The journey began in my parent’s house in Landsberg am Lech where I started cycling along the Lech northwards. I had to keep close to the rivers, as my gears wouldn’t allow for many hills. At the beginning, it felt like riding an elephant with a terrible maneuverability of a truck, but I got used to it fast and started to get more comfortable riding my trusted companion.

My daily schedule would look like this: I got up around 7 a.m., cycled for a few kilometers and for took a break for breakfast. Afterwards, I would continue my trip until I took a longer midday break in the early afternoon. I used this time to discover the villages and cities, had lunch and tried to find a place to take a swim. After the worst heat had subsided, I started cycling again around 4 p.m. until it got dark. I really appreciated the possibility to stop anytime to chat with some locals, enjoy the view or simply rest on a bench. This spontaneity was exactly what I needed. When I arrived at the North Sea in Bremerhaven, I got aware of the distance I covered for the first time. It was an unreal feeling.

This project was partly an adventure for myself to get out of my comfort zone, but it was very much also an initiative to show that there are different ways to get to your exchange semester than flying. Especially, as a semester abroad in the EU should also involve the experience of how cultures and countries change toward your destination. This can be much more appreciated by travelling with alternative means of transport and not so much when taking a plane. The focus suddenly shifts from the simple task of getting from A to B, to a more journey centered approach where the people and places in between A and B are equally important as getting to your destination. Taking a bicycle is just one of many options and my way of showing what is possible. I hope to have sparked your curiosity and motivation you for such a trip and would love to see other reports like this in the future."