Time to write about something that’s a key component to my study abroad experience: housing!
DIS offers four different options: Homestay, Kollegium, Residential Community, and Living Learning Community. I remembered being so confused when reading about each one, so let me give you an inside scoop. Each housing option is different and I really feel like it shapes the type of experience you get. Even within each option, the placements you get differs from another student living in the same category.
Students living in homestays get an in-depth cultural experience as they get to live with Danish families. Each family is different so you could end up living with a single parent or two parents with a number of children.
- Get the real Danish experience and indulge in “hygge”.
- Immerse yourself into the culture and receive first-hand insights from a local Dane.
- Meet lots of Danes – you will probably get to meet your family’s extended family and friends.
- Home-cooked meals! Your family cooks for you every day of the week so you won’t have to cook and it’s free.
- Possibility of siblings and pets if you’re into these familial components.
- Highly likely to have your own room.
- They might take you out on excursions and spoil you – I know one of my friend’s host family took him on a weekend cruise!
- Have a long lasting connection with your Danish family for the rest of your life.
- Many of the homestays tend to be far out from Copenhagen – therefore, far from other students and your classes. Homestays tend to be at least 40 minutes out and some of them are even as far as 1 and a half hours (I wish DIS was more transparent about this!)
- Hard to participate in night life because of how far it is – definitely still possible though.
- Could be hard to make friends since you live far apart whereas some other students live with another DIS student or near the city center.
- Difficult to find a balance between spending time with your host family and friends.
- Could be a hit or miss depending on the family you get – really dependent on compatibility and can be said about all housing options.
*Some insights are from my friends who are living in homestays: Dejie Zhen and Lily O’Neil.
So what is a Kollegium? I didn’t know what the term was when I first heard about it, so let me tell you about it! Kollegiums are where DIS students get to live with Danish / local residents. To my knowledge, the Kollegiums at DIS are Nimbusparken, Stads, and Mønten – however, each one is different.
Nimbusparken and Stads
I live in Nimbus and I’m really happy about it (Kollegium was my first choice). Nimbus is located in Frederiskberg and a 20-minute commute (10 min walk to metro, 10 min metro ride) to DIS. I share a room with another DIS student and I have 3 other flatmates who are local residents (most locals are Danish but you might have international students like me – German and Norwegian). We have two bathrooms, a living room, and a full kitchen. I have 4 roommates but even within Nimbus, other people may have up to 5-7 roommates. Stads has a similar set up which is why I put them together, however it’s located in Amagerbro which is about a 15-minute commute to DIS.
Although Mønten is also in Amagerbro and a 5 minute walk from Stads, it’s a bit different compared to the other Kollegiums. Students don’t actually live with local residents, instead their neighbors are either locals or DIS students. Their apartment tends to be a studio type apartment and it’s either a single or a double. I’ve seen a couple of people’s apartments in Mønten and it seems like each one is different. It’s a bit smaller since it’s for 1-2 people and most residents have a kitchenette instead of a full kitchen.
- Live with locals! I’ve enjoyed living with locals and asking them for advice. You also live with a DIS student so you get the best of both worlds.
- Sense of independence. Personally, I feel like I’m more independent and a “real adult”. Nimbus is a bit farther out so I have to plan ahead more. I cook for myself most of the time and I live with a couple of roommates — feels like how post-undergrad would be like.
- Location near Copenhagen city center for the most part.
- The amenities are nicer / newer compared to most residential communities.
- Personally, it was hard for me to make friends at first since everyone lived far away. I was used to making friends who were easily accessible to me. I don’t really know anyone in my building so it would’ve been nice to be friends who live closer to coordinate plans easier. Nimbus especially is a bit more isolated from other housing options – even though Mønten and Stads are next to each other, it’s still a similar situation.
- Finding a balance between spending time with your local roommates vs. DIS students. It’s really fun to know locals but it’s also very comforting to have DIS friends since we’re all sharing this experience together and very likely to be at the same stage in our lives.
*Some insights are from my friends who are living in kollegiums: Christina Sherpa.
This housing option is only filled with DIS students. Similar to Kollegiums, each building has their own set up so there are students who live in an apartment with 12 people, and others with one other roommate. Some RCs are located smack in the middle of the city center so they don’t receive a commuter card / bike option, but many of them are located in Christianshavn or Amagerbro.
- Make friends easily! Living in a 12-person apartment, you’re very likely to get a community immediately and since you see them so often, it’s much easier to become closer over time and initially. *Even if you’re not living with them, most RCs are near other DIS students so it’s easy to bond with them.
- Have communal dinners with your flat and / or people from your building! Very hygge and save money.
- Location near Copenhagen city center.
- Lack of contact with locals and Danes. Many of my friends who don’t live in Kollegiums or Homestays have told me that they’ve hardly interacted with locals who weren’t their professors.
- Depending on the location, amenities could be more run down and less modern. *Doesn’t apply to all because I’ve seen some really nice RCs, but also bad ones as well.
- Living in a 12-person apartment could be hectic – difficult to arrange cleaning schedules and not everyone contributes (totally dependent on who you live with). Could also get messy / dirty easily since there’s a lot of people living in one space.
*Some insights are from friends living in residential communities: Grace Lin and Luci Jones.
Living Learning Community
There are three different LLCs: cooking, sustainability, and outdoor. This is themed housing and this year they were located in Basecamp Lyngby (I’ve heard that they alternate locations every year — this year, it’s about 40-mins from Copenhagen but last year it was in the city center). LLCs are filled with DIS students but there are also international students attending Denmark’s Technological University living there as well. Each week, students participate in an extracurricular activity paid and provided by DIS.
- Participate in weekly activities with a group community! It’s a fun way to build community and to have friends who share at least one common interest with you. The activities are also free: my friend went to a sauna for one of their events! You sometimes get a free meal which is a double whammy.
- You get a single room. The rooms are hella big and it’s basically your own studio apartment with a kitchenette and bathroom. The amenities are super nice and modern. Living in a single could seem isolating, but since everyone lives in a single, it’s really up to you to decide the amount of time that you want to spend with yourself and others!
- The entire building is very new and modern. There’s many common spaces for students to hang out or study at. There’s also communal kitchens and living spaces as well so people sometimes have communal dinners.
- Built in gym. There’s also a rooftop track / running loop. Nice to have because I have many friends who bought gym memberships on their own but only LLCs have this luxury.
- Live in Danish / international housing. You’re able to meet people from all over the world!
- If it’s in Lyngby, it’s really far away (similar to home stays – 40 minute commute) and it could be hard to make friends outside of your LLC. Also could pose challenges to exploring nightlife, but that still doesn’t stop people! But, this also means that you have to be more aware of time (ie. leaving at 7:30 AM to make it to your 8:05 AM). There are also times where the S train stops working at night, so it’s an even longer trek home.
- Since Lyngby is located in Zone 5 (people have different numbers of zones depending on where they live), it’s difficult to coordinate with friends who don’t have that many zones since they would have to purchase their own ticket to hang out at Basecamp ($15!) That means that people in the LLC usually have to travel to the friend’s location.
- 3 hour commitment during the week (mandatory meetings). This could be during an unfavorable time and it’s a huge chunk of time during the week. It could pose a challenge if you had other plans / things you wanted to do. They also don’t always provide a meal so you may have to eat dinner really late / early.
- If you miss too many meetings, you may be removed from the LLC.
*Some insights are from friends living in living learning communities: Lily Byer.
Everyone of course has their own experience with their housing situation so I can’t speak for everyone, but these are some observations I have made and perspectives I’ve received from friends living in these varying options. I tried to be as objective as I can but I hope the pros and cons list was helpful! Good luck with your search for housing 😁