With the start of a new semester, hundreds of international students are arriving in Aarhus. Spending a semester abroad can be a rich experience, but living expenses can cause students a load of stress.
By Roosa Welling, Denicia Dixon and Magne Kaae
Spanish student Maria Alarcon Alcaraz studies at Aarhus BSS and works a part-time job to support herself economically. Without the finances from her job, she wouldn’t have the opportunities to live and study in Aarhus.
As an EU-student Alcaraz receives SU, the Danish student grants and loan scheme. Although this scholarship helps fund her tuition, Alcaraz still has to work 15 to 20 hours a week as a social media manager for a kids clothing company.
“My flexible work schedule makes it possible for me to work and study at the same time, although I don’t have a lot of spare time,” she said.
Alcaraz is succeeding at balancing her work and school life but according to her, that is not the case for everyone.
“I have a lot of non EU-friends who don’t get the scholarship and also have to pay for school. Some have worked two jobs cleaning a high school at night barely getting enough sleep.”
Struggles of finding a job
Finding a job as an international student can be easier said than done.
There are many different obstacles foreigners can face when job hunting. For example, not knowing the Danish language.
“In my experience there are not enough resources in Aarhus to teach foreigners Danish. I attended a Danish course for three months and sometimes the teacher wouldn’t even show up,” Alcaraz said.
Language is not the only challenge internationals face according to American job consultant Kate Dahl. She has helped many foreign students find jobs in Denmark.
“I had a Kenyan master’s student who spoke Danish but couldn’t get a job interview for months. She reached out to me and I suggested that she should take off her profile picture and nationality from her applications,” Dahl said.
“After that, she immediately scored an interview.”
According to Dahl, some foreign students even had to move back to their home countries because they couldn’t find a job in Aarhus to support their studies.
Work in Denmark?
The Danish government institution Work In Denmark provides resources for Danish companies seeking international employees.
“Our impression is, that the Danish companies want Danish employees, but when this is not possible, they open their eyes for other opportunities”, said Kirstine Lindved, Head of Western Department.
According to Lindved, the Danish government prioritizes jobs for the Danish natives.
“Our worst nightmare is to recruit foreigners, if there are Danes with the same qualifications available.”