One of the undeniably great things about this course is it diversity. Students from the Nordic countries and further afield join together: studying together and socialising together. As international student myself, this is by far one of the best elements of the course. I asked Fritz, a 3rd cycle RRE student from the US and studying in Århus, his thoughts and feelings on life as an International student!
I started with all the good intentions of a question-answer style interview, but probably not to the surprise of anyone who knows us, this turned into a general and long chat about life as International student; swapping anecdotes, thoughts and opinions (and not often agreeing, I must add! Again, probably not a surprise!)
Lets not deny that for some of us, doing a Masters does give us the opportunity to carry on studying and put off our grand entrance into the real world somewhat, whilst warding off that daunting question asked by parents, “So what are you going to do after University”. But in all seriousness, this course is a great way to adjust to a future in Academia. It poses as a bridge between undergraduate studies and PHD level, as well as being a great course to take to satisfy your interests. So, initially I asked Fritz why he wanted to apply for the course and where he wanted to take it. Fritz, being from America was able to apply for a Scholarship (something to think about for those of you who are thinking of coming from further afield), which naturally gave him an inclination towards this avenue.
On keeping with the academic note, we both agreed that the comparative element of interpretation this course offers is interesting to say the least. It is something that as a previous Religious Studies student, Fritz had not really addressed and the chance to do so proved exciting and innovating. Amongst this it means you get to learn about religions and religious practices you may not have studied before.
After some general chitchat, and perhaps a debate or two, we approached the subject of the course’s diversity. Both of us agreed that this is our favourite part. Not only have we met some great people but we have also had an opportunity to learn about different academic and religious disciplines. On an academic level (because its not all about the late night drinking sessions, grabbing coffee and lunch, or continuously getting lost together in Rome!), Fritz commented, and I agreed, that the diversity of his peers and their ideas mean that his own are challenged. To better explain this I will use the analogy of a production line in a chocolate factory. The process starts as a trickle of chocolate and eventually forms into something more solid. There are several stages to this and at each stage they go through a standards check, if they do not survive it they are dropped, but if they do ‘fit the bill’ they add another layer of chocolate, until finally out comes a beautifully wrapped chocolate bar for all to enjoy! So if you hadn’t have guess, the trickle of chocolate is your initial idea and the stages are the opinions of others. If your argument is not strong enough to survive the standards check you can reject but if it does survive, you have an argument that is formed and strengthened by the differentiating opinions of your other peers. This is a challenge, but a fun one!
So, we both agreed that although moving abroad and studying as an International student is undeniably challenging, this course has been a great experience so far, both socially and academically. Now ask us again next year, come thesis time…