Who are you? – My name is Anders Esager and I live and study in Aarhus, Denmark. Originally, I am from a small village in Western Denmark just minutes away from the coast and about 20 minutes to the next town (which is still small). My parents had a farm there but they sold it a few years ago as soon as it turned out that my sister and I would never become farmers. I am more interested in engineering, because I want to know how things work and I value the subject’s wide field of application. So I finally decided to study Biomedical Engineering. Danes characterize us people from western Denmark as being cautious. There is also a Danish saying that we think before we act. In contrast, people from Copenhagen (and Aarhus) are said to live on the fast track, to be impulsive. There is some kind of rivalry between western Danes and people from the busy cities. All in all, I wouldn’t say I am too cautious but this mindset might have shaped me. Even more than the fact that I am from a very small village. I mostly dedicate my spare time to sports stuff and low budget traveling. Especially traveling on my own taught me a lot about myself: While exploring new places you learn to be more open and bring down some of your prejudices to other cultures and ways of living. One of the most memorable travel experiences was however my time as fruit picker at a farm in Australia. I spent 10 months in Australia and to earn some money a friend and I worked at a farm for a while. Our first task was to thin the trees for small fruits and only leave a few ones to grow big. The first day at that farm I handled 25 trees and I knew that there were 14000 trees left. 25 to 14000 was just an incredible ratio. Fortunately, even the more experienced workers had about the same amount at the end of the day and we started as only six workers for the whole farm anyways. So I could calculate, how much time it would take: A lot.
Why did you come to Norway? – First of all, I wanted to experience something new. Do you know the feeling when you are bored of studying like you almost hate it? The last semester it really felt like that to me. My first idea was to leave Europe again but there was no place left for exchange studies outside of Europe at my university. So then I decided to go to Scandinavia because I always wanted to find out about the similarities and small differences between Denmark and Norway, Sweden or Finland. But just that you know: I would never go to Sweden. There is an even bigger rivalry between Danes and Swedes than there is between west Danes and people from Copenhagen. Besides, I thought experiencing the impressive Norwegian nature would be nice. If Danes tell you about the highest mountain in Denmark, they usually refer to the 142 m high Himmelbjerget, which amusingly translates to “sky mountain” and is even some 30 m shorter than Denmark’s true highest point. That’s just not very exciting compared to what you can find here.
How do you perceive the Norwegian culture? – All in all it is very similar to the Danish culture. We even understand each other when talking in our mother tongues. The Norwegians say Danish sounds like Norwegian spoken with a potato in your mouth. And we say the Norwegians sing while they are talking. The differences lie more in the daily habits. For example, I feel like the young Norwegians are able to meet without drinking too much alcohol whereas Denmark unfortunately has one of the highest youth drinking rates in the world. And there is of course lots of food you wouldn’t find in Denmark: The other day I tried Brunost, the famous Norwegian brown cheese which doesn’t taste like cheese at all. Not bad! All in all I really feel comfortable here and I could imagine to come back one day for working.
Do you have a dream? – About half a year ago I stumbled upon this organization that sends volunteers to remote and undeveloped areas in Nepal, Africa or Central America to fix broken medical equipment. When I’m done with my studies in January 2018 I might do something like this before getting settled somewhere. It would be nice to experience another culture, to collect some hands on experience for my professional life afterwards and to contribute in some way to a good thing which really improves the lives of the people in those countries.