Tips for international students - from an international alumnus

Mihaela Mihova, who graduated from Aarhus BSS at Aarhus University in 2014, recently published the book “How to Thrive Abroad – Life Lessons from Living in Denmark”, where she tells her own story of how she left her home country Bulgaria at the age of 18 to pursue her dream of studying at a top university and having a global career. We asked her for her Top 5 tips to internationals thinking about doing the same.

2017.12.19 | Gitte Bindzus Foldager

Photo: Private

1.       When choosing your future university and study line, many people will try to influence you, with your best interest at heart, of course. Listen to their pieces of advice, but then do what you feel is best. Trust your gut feeling and rely on your own judgement, take scary and big decisions on your own and let them change your life.

 

2.       Network is crucially important. At Aarhus University, you can find a large variety of great student organizations, sports activities and many social events, career fairs and other opportunities to meet new awesome people from Denmark and abroad. Take part! Be proactive and get to know people from very different backgrounds. You learn so much from each other´s amazing stories. Moreover, the bond that you create with your friends abroad is irreplaceable.

 

3.       Do not be afraid to be bright and different. I have experienced that international students often focus on their “limitations” of being foreigners in Denmark (lack of the local language proficiency, not having family support close by, not having a sufficient network, etc.). Change your perspective, and focus on your advantages and strengths, instead. You have so much to offer.

 

4.       Give your new home a chance to win you over. The beginning of your studies abroad is extremely exciting, but also is the most difficult stage. My first year in Denmark as an international student was wonderful, but it also felt like a clash of worlds. What I advise every new expat to do is not to jump to conclusions too fast, but to take their time to get to know the new culture.

 

5.       Do not stay too long in the comfort zone (I call this “in routine and survival mode”). Faced with the challenges of living abroad, many international students fear change. No matter how well prepared you are when moving abroad, you will likely face adversity, and this can lead to shifting your focus to seek comfort and safety instead of opportunities, progress and development. I learned that the slow pace of change can be frustrating, sometimes lonely and confusing, but without realizing it, change happens and is for the better.

 

Best decision ever made

We also asked Mihaela Mihova why she chose Aarhus University when leaving Bulgaria to study in another country. 
- I moved to Denmark in 2009, in order to pursue a Bachelor Degree at Aarhus University, which then led to graduating my Master's (MSc.) at AU as well. Choosing Aarhus University for my higher education was one of the best decisions I have ever made. The international study environment, high quality of education, the social activities, the fantastic people I have met, and the amazing opportunities that followed my graduation, remain aspects I would always for grateful for, says  Mihaela Mihova, who hopes that many internationals in Denmark and abroad will find her book “How to Thrive Abroad – Life Lessons from Living in Denmark” useful. 

Mihaela is currently working as a Project Manager in Copenhagen. 

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