Despite the challenging situation around COVID-19, Ms. Anja Gerhard took the chance to do an internship abroad in Copenhagen. This was supported by an Erasmus+ grant.
There are several reasons:
On the one hand, my curiosity has always drawn me to visit places: I love to travel, to face new challenges abroad, to discover new cultures and lifestyles and to work with international teams and learn from them. Therefore, I did most of my internships abroad, even before going to Copenhagen.
On the other hand, at the beginning of my studies at MCI, I met my Danish friend in Innsbruck – and thus the decision to go for my internship to Denmark was made relatively quickly. I am convinced that a stay abroad not only improves my foreign language skills, organizational skills and my time management, but also strengthens my problem-solving skills.
I had a lot of luck. I knew from the start that I wanted to go to Denmark. However, the search for a specific internship turned out to be extremely difficult. In Denmark, most of the internships are unpaid, which is hardly compatible with the high cost of living. Language skills were a further challenge, as many companies require at least a basic knowledge of Danish. In conversation with my fellow students about our internship plans, the “Austrian National Tourist Office” was mentioned among others. By chance, while doing my online research, I discovered the internship advertisement from Austria Tourism for their office in Copenhagen and I applied immediately. After a few weeks of waiting and a telephone interview, I got a positive reply only an hour and a half later and had the internship position I had longed for.
When doing an internship abroad, there are various challenges to overcome. Often at least basic language skills in the national language are required. However, there are also many international companies in Copenhagen, where English or German is sufficient. As mentioned above, most internships in Denmark are unpaid and the costs for accommodation, food, insurance, etc. simply cannot be covered by pure Erasmus + funding. Copenhagen is a particularly expensive place and for a 10m2 room in a shared apartment in a good location you easily pay €500 - €800per month.
In addition, finding an apartment in Copenhagen is very difficult and even Danish students have problems to find one I, therefore, recommend anyone planning a stay in Copenhagen to start looking for an apartment really early. But the efforts definitely pay off - Copenhagen is a lively, international and very diverse city and has a very special charm, especially in the mild evenings in summer and autumn.
The corporate language at “Austrian National Tourist Office” in Copenhagen is German, which makes life a lot easier. Everyone in the team speaks German very well and communication with partners is usually in German / English. Nonetheless, the daily operational tasks require that you familiarize with Danish and Swedish and that you have at least a basic understanding of these two languages. This is particularly helpful when updating the market-specific homepages and when searching for relevant content. (I can now read texts in both languages without any major problems.) In everyday life I only spoke English, which is absolutely sufficient in Denmark, as almost everyone understands and in most cases speaks English.
As far as the cultural differences are concerned, they don’t seem to be much at a first glance. Nevertheless, I was very surprised by the relaxed Danish atmosphere and the flat hierarchies. However, after a few weeks you get used to the Danish “hygge” (= like cosiness, but a little more).
The best thing was definitely the experience I was able to gain. The collaboration with my Danish, Swedish, German and Austrian colleagues worked great and I am very grateful to have been warmly welcomed into the team. The easy- going attitude, the openness and the trust showen in me, especially while working from home, really surprised me in a positive way: working on your own projects in particular strengthens your own motivation and creativity! However, besides work, I was able to fully immerse into Danish life and culture. I liked the traditional Danish Christmas traditions best, such as baking Vaniljekranse and Aebleskiver (super delicious pastry) or folding Julestjerne (poinsettias).
At the beginning of my internship, I was visibly surprised to see how easily the Danish people dealt with the situation: In summer 2020 the number of infections was very low, events were allowed and there was no mask required. When I wore a mask on public transport, most people avoided me. With the increasing number of infections in autumn, however, this situation had changed: a mask requirement was introduced and, on the recommendation of the authorities, our boss asked us to work from home. Working from home actually went smoothly and I actually liked it very much, as it definitely promoted my independence and my personal responsibility. Working from home made me capable of organizing my tasks and sometimes had to deal with minor problems all by myself.
I can definitely recommend an internship abroad! An internship abroad is associated with greater organizational efforts in advance but this exactly promotes your independence, problem-solving skills, time management, etc. and often brings you to your limits. Immersing into a different culture not only promotes intercultural skills and language skills, but can also open many doors for your personal and professional future.
I recommend everyone who is interested in an internship abroad to start looking for a suitable internship and (especially in Copenhagen) also to look for an apartment early enough. In addition, you should deal with the necessary language skills and e.g. visa requirements at an early stage.
Although I spent most of my internship abroad working from home in Copenhagen, I really enjoyed the time and would definitely do it again. I was not only able to expand my professional knowledge, but I also strengthened many valuable skills, worked with a great team and grew from it. Since I have worked particularly intensively with the Danish and Swedish websites of the Austrian National Tourist Office, I was also able to improve my language skills and my knowledge of Swedish will also help me during my semester abroad in Finland, as Swedish is the second official language in Finland. In any case, I would advise everyone to just give it a try. In most cases, an internship abroad is a great adventure and if things don't go as well as you’ve imagined, then it's still a valuable experience from which you learn and grow!
Harbor Nyhaven, a typical tourist hot spot, with Christmas lights. Photo: Gerhard
In summer the canals in Copenhagen offer the ideal opportunity to cool off. Photo: Gerhard
Roskilde Cathedral, the largest church in Denmark, where the kings and queens of Denmark are buried. Photo: Gerhard
In Roskilde old Viking ships are exhibited and are still being built in that traditional way. Photo: Gerhard
There are a lot of parks and green spaces in Copenhagen and even the cemeteries are used as recreational areas. Here is one of these parks, south of the city, where you can walk for miles. Photo: Gerhard
My absolute favorite place is in the south of Denmark, the small island of Kalvø. Photo: Gerhard
Amager-Beach in Copenhagen in summer. From there you can even see as far as Sweden. Photo: Gerhard
In late summer you can not only swim in the sea but also pluck "hyben" (= rose hips). Photo: Gerhard
Breathtaking view at Møns Klint. Photo: Gerhard
Møns Klint: The cliffs are over 100m high and made of limestone. Photo: Gerhard
Study Program: BA Tourism & Business Studies
Duration of the internship: 01.08.2020 - 31.12.2020
Place of the internship: Copenhagen, Denmark
Internship company: Austrian National Tourist Office (Österreich Werbung)
Size of the company: 1-10 employees in Copenhagen
Field of professional activity: Marketing
Scholarship: Erasmus +