Making Moves: Why Completing A PhD In Denmark Was The “Best Decision” Ever

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For Terri Peters, doing her PhD in Denmark was just one of several study abroad adventures.

After her first year of university, she moved to Japan as a homestay student. For eight months, the British Columbia native lived with a Japanese family in Tokyo and immersed herself in a new culture.

“It was very challenging and fun,” says Terri. “I realized then that I wanted to study history of art and architecture and that I loved traveling.”

That early experience kicked off a passion for adventure that has taken her all over the world, and most recently to Copenhagen, Denmark. TalentEgg had the opportunity to connect with the seasoned traveller and learn all about her Scandinavian adventure – read on!

Starting an adventure

Terri Peters
PhD in Architecture
Aarhus Architecture School, Denmark

Following a series of academic and career-related moves that took her from Asia to Europe and back again, Terri settled in London, England with her husband for several years working as architects. However, when her partner was offered a PhD position in Copenhagen, it inspired Terri to follow suit.

“The design culture [in Denmark] makes it an ideal place to study architecture,” says Terri.

The couple visited Copenhagen a lot during their time in London (one of Terri’s best friends is Danish!) and thought that the city would strike a good balance between challenging and interesting work, and time and space for when they were ready to start a family.

And so, after doing some more research, they decided to relocate. The next step? Finding accommodations. Luckily, the couple easily found a spacious apartment to rent in the beautiful neighbourhood of Frederiksberg.

“We paid about the same as we did in London, but it was a huge shock that we got more than double the size!” says Terri. They were also able to trade in their long London trek to work for a more reasonable commute via bike.

After they settled on a place to stay, all that was left to do was to pack up their London apartment and make the big move to Denmark.

Life in Denmark

While Denmark and England are relatively close to each other on a map, their cultures are worlds apart! Terri had a fair amount of travel experience under her belt by the time they moved, but she still had a lot to learn about Danish life.

“Copenhagen is totally different from London,” says Terri. “The size, the layout, the people, the buildings, the language, everything is different.”

Fortunately, her coursework was pretty similar to what she was used to. For example, she says the emphasis on independent study was exactly what she expected from a PhD program.

All in all, despite a few language barriers (certain classes were only offered in Danish), Terri says her decision to study abroad was the best she ever made. She excelled in her program and was even offered a job before graduation!

Why study abroad?
  • Challenge yourself. Getting out of your comfort zone can help you learn more about yourself, your interests, and your career goals.
  • Gain a new perspective. There is no better way to learn about a new culture than to experience it firsthand!
  • Set yourself apart. International experience shows potential employers that you’re independent and adaptable – key skills that can help you stand out from the crowd.

Lessons learned

Terri and her daughter Cora at the Copenhagen Zoo.
Terri and her daughter Cora at the Copenhagen Zoo.

Even though Terri is no longer in Denmark, there’s still a little bit of Denmark in Terri.

For example, when she moved back to Canada, she didn’t buy a car. Instead, Terri and her husband continue to bike and walk everywhere. Additionally, the couple just painted the floors of their house white, a feature she cites as being inspired by Denmark’s unique design culture. Lastly, their time abroad also taught them how to shop locally. Today, they forgo cheap and trendy purchases in favour of quality items that are designed to last.

“I learned a different attitude to family and work-life balance,” says Terri. “These small things have made a huge impact on our quality of life.

The Denmark chapter of her life may be closed for now, but her experiences have left a long-lasting impression on almost every aspect of her life. Terri’s time abroad changed her life for the better; helping her grow not only as a professional, but as a person.

Terri’s top tips for studying abroad
  1. Research student life before you go. Getting involved in campus activities is a great way to make friends with similar interests.
  2. Find a part-time job. Having a little extra spending money can help you “live like a local” and experience more of your city.
  3. Travel on your own. Do your own thing from time to time. It’s fun to be independent and you’ll meet people along the way!

Want to learn more? Check out the Study and Go Abroad Fair!

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