Discover Odense: A fairy tale student city

There once was a young student who longed for adventure. She dreamt of travelling the world and experiencing new cultures, of gaining knowledge and experience that would help her go on and achieve future success….

During her travels the girl found herself in place where the landscapes were enchanting, the cities were clean and modern, and the people were the epitome of friendliness…

To wander the streets of Odense’s Historical Quarter is, at times, like being inside a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale. The spirit of the Middle Ages lives on here, and it’s easy to feel the inspiration behind some of the world’s most-loved and timeless stories.

Centuries-old homes line cobbled streets, while the castle, cathedral and the quaint windmills of the surrounding countryside feel like they were plucked straight from stories like ‘The Ugly Duckling’, ‘The Little Mermaid or ‘The Snow Queen’.


However, this old-world charm belies the efficiency and modernity that places Odense, and indeed all of Denmark, among the most liveable places in the world.

Denmark’s third-largest city is a forward-thinking municipality, with a firm focus on modern urban design that places bikes over buses, and pedestrians over the petrol engine. Fifty percent of trips in the city centre are made by bike, while 81 percent of children cycle to school.

These efforts to inject the tranquillity of days gone by into a modern setting are at the heart of Odense’s vision. It’s little surprise then that Denmark consistently ranks among the top 10 most liveable countries in the world, thanks to one of the best health and welfare systems around, a friendly and safe environment, and an excellent public transport system.

But it wasn’t just the location that stopped this girl in her tracks. Indeed, the more the girl explored the more she found what she had been looking for. Not only could she experience life in a new country, but she knew that she could satisfy her thirst for knowledge…

Denmark’s mixture of history, modernity, and a choice of world-class universities, attracts thousands of international students to its cities each year. More than 700 degree programmes are taught in English, with excellent opportunities for further research, particularly in areas such as engineering, life sciences, social sciences and IT.


On top of the high academic standards, many international students are attracted to Odense and Denmark’s other education destinations by the relative ease of getting visas, competitive tuition fees, and the ability for students to work part-time as they study.

As world leaders in science, innovation and human rights, Denmark’s universities place students and graduates on the global stage. Danish universities also place a strong focus on industry links, so graduates can back up theoretical knowledge with vital real-world experience.

“I work at… the local biotech research centre. It is very inspiring to get a combination between study and real work. I have the chance to get introduced to the most advanced technology in my field,” says Irina Antonescu, a Romanian student studying science at the University of Southern Denmark (SDU) in Odense.

As with many Danish universities, SDU places a firm focus on developing students’ problem solving skills and encouraging them to think for themselves – an exciting prospect for those accustomed to more rigid education systems.

“In Denmark you have to search for your own way of doing things, and this system makes you be creative,” says Irina. “I love it here because people allow you to make mistakes. The relationship between students and professors is much more equal.”


#internationalstudents from all over the world come to #universityofsoutherndenmark #SDUDK

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This progressive approach to learning is backed up by an impressive range of English-language undergraduate, postgraduate and research options, covering engineering, humanities, business, science and health.

The girl had always dreamt of exploring other cultures and studying abroad, but had always struggled to find her path. But this time everything was falling in to place – she knew that she could finally fulfil her dream and become masterful in her passions…

While SDU has a strong reputation for its offerings across all levels, it really excels at the postgraduate level. It offers more than 60 Masters programmes across its departments, making it one of Denmark’s leading institutions for postgraduate education.

Like many Danish universities, SDU places a strong emphasis on the STEM subjects, with its highly regarded Faculty of Science leading the way. The MSC in Mathematics degree, for example, offers students a chance to further develop their knowledge of mathematical theories and methods while preparing them for exciting careers in private or public organisations.

Programmes like the MSc in Chemistry, the MSc in Medical Chemistry, the MSc in Physics and the MSc in Computational Biomedicine give students to chance to work alongside some of the world’s leading scientists in state-of-the-art labratories. The faculty’s forward-thinking MSc in Computer Science, meanwhile, combines a mix of theory and practice to give students a wide knowledge of information technology.


Talent programme på #Naturvidenskab fra næste år. De klogeste og mest engagerede studerende skal have ekstra undervisning på #Syddansk Universitet

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Many graduates of SDU’s Masters programmes go on to conduct cutting-edge research in a variety of fields, or secure top positions in public and private institutions in Denmark and around the world.

Safe in the knowledge that through her studies she would receive the best helping hand towards a successful future, the girl looked around and realised she had found her new home-away-from home…

Aside from the world-class education, excellent employment prospects, and enviable quality of life, it is the friendly atmosphere and the warm welcome international students receive at Danish universities that keep so many coming back for more.

“The University of Southern Denmark offers a lot of programmes to integrate foreign students into Danish life,” says Irina. “We have free Danish courses and even networking meetings with local companies.  I feel they say ‘you are wanted here’, and that’s awesome, to be welcomed.”


As it continues to balance its forward-thinking vision with its unique history, Odense is emerging as an increasingly attractive study destination for international students. For anyone looking for a world-class education in a fairy tale setting, it is definitely worth a look.

And with that, the girl realised her dream had become a reality. She had travelled far and learnt so much. But just as her journey to this point was ending, a new story was unfolding, as a whole new world of opportunities opened before her eyes…

This article is sponsored by the University of Southern Denmark (SDU). Established in 1998, this young, forward-thinking university is home to 32,000 students, with more than 15 percent of those coming from abroad. SDU offers more than 100 English-language study programmes in the fields of the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, health sciences and engineering, making it a top choice among international students looking to take advantage of Denmark’s excellent standard of education and high quality of life.

Feature image via Nigel Swales – Flickr