An unforgettable experience of a lifetime

Danida Alumni, Fredrick Sikay
Fredrick Sikay, Tanzania. B.Sc. Environmental Sciences and Management, Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania. M.Sc. Agro-Environmental Management, Aarhus University, 2015-17

I would describe my experience in Denmark as an unforgettable experience of a lifetime.

When I was a child, I used to see airplanes as tiny things in the sky. So tiny, that I wondered how even a single person would fit in it. I also thought that the white stripes made by airplanes in the sky appeared because the airplanes scratched the sky just as the white stripe you would see when you scratch your skin if it is very dry.  But as I grew up and studied Physics at secondary school I began to understand why airplanes appeared tiny and that the white stripe was a vapor trail, not a scratch in the sky. 

Apart from theoretical understanding about planes and flying, I had not personally experienced travelling by plane until when I boarded a plane for Denmark in August 2015 to embark on a life-changing journey and study stay in Denmark for two years made possible by Danida Fellowship Centre (DFC) and the Danish people.

Helpful, kind but slightly reserved people 

It had been pointed out during the initial orientation that Danes are reserved people. 

That turned out to be true and it took me time to understand and accept this new person-person relationship where everyone seems to be living in their own little invisible sphere. For example, it was rare to see someone take the adjacent seat next to another commuter (unless two people already are travelling together in a bus) if there were a vacant seat somewhere in a bus. 

Or in the dorm kitchen, a mate would find you in the kitchen and not say any greetings this time but the other time they would be unexpectedly charming towards you. It took time to understand that they do not mean any disrespect, as it would feel if you were in Tanzania, but rather it was a respect of not wanting to disturb whatever is going on in your personal invisible sphere. People are nice and willing to help when you ask them. What could be better than that?

High quality learning environment in relaxed atmosphere

Academic culture was a real shock for my first week at school. How can you address your professor by not only their name but by their first name just as you address your best friend? It took some time to be accustomed to this new academic culture but later it turned out to be very comfortable and the student-teacher relationship a more rewarding experience. The learning environment was very friendly and fulfilling. Generally, from the International Centre, teachers to the university support staff, a quick and timely response was almost certainly guaranteed when you needed any help.

A home away from home

I feel Denmark is a home away from home. Danish is a difficult language. Yes. Even Danes agree it is. However, one thing which made me feel really at home is when Danes always spoke to me in Danish on first encounter (unless they knew beforehand that my Danish skills are extremely challenged). 

This made me get an impression that they did not consider or assume I am a foreigner on first sight.

Remarkable trustworthy and responsible
If you leave aside the friendly and quality-learning environment at the university, I have found Danes very trustworthy and responsible people. I felt safe all the time during my entire stay in Denmark here. I think this is a very remarkable experience!

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