This week everyone went on a short study tour with their core course within Denmark or a neighboring country for a few days. My section of Globalization and European Economies headed to Jutland and Aarhus, a city to the northwest of Copenhagen, for a total of 3 days and 2 nights. After a slightly painful 4:30am wakeup, I made it to the bus stop where we all met and headed to the ferry to cross over into western Denmark.
After our ferry ride and a nap on the bus, we made it to the Danfoss headquarters in Nordborg, about 4 hours from Copenhagen. Danfoss is an energy efficiency company that engineers sustainable heating and cooling systems, compressors, and more. We got a tour around their building, which is beautiful and has great views of the surrounding Danish countryside. In addition, we heard from two Danfoss executives there. We heard one presentation on Danfoss’s initiatives to meet global ‘mega trends’ including digitalization, electrification, and climate change. They emphasize how living in an increasingly globalized and changing world requires innovative engineering solutions across industries and how different people from different sectors and specialties have to work together to create these types of solutions. Danfoss is currently bringing new technologies to market by working with universities, engineers, and others. Collaboration and communication is an integral part of Danfoss’s company and we learned about how everyone, even economists, can work together towards sustainability goals.
Danish Economic Council
We then spent about two more hours on the bus and headed north to visit the Danish Economic Councils and hear from about what they do. They are an independent advisory body that provides analysis and advice to Danish policy makers. They are made up of two councils: The Chairmanship, which acts as a sort of fiscal watchdog and monitors national productivity, and an Environmental Council. It was interesting to hear about how the council functions outside of politics but often makes recommendations that politicians take, and also to hear how they keep the environment a priority in Danish policy. This was very much in line with what we heard from Danfoss and what I’ve observed about Danish society already, which is that sustainability is an important part of daily life here.
Exhausted, we finally arrived at our hostel near Skanderborg. Located on a scenic lake, we spent the evening around a bonfire together after a great homemade meal. We learned how to make danish ‘s’mores’, which is actually just wrapping dough around a stick, cooking it over the fire, and then eating it with Nutella. Since this Danish camp specialty is glutenous, I opted for a marshmallow, but they were very fun to make!
The next morning we had coffee and breakfast before heading outside to the lake for our canoeing adventure. The technique took some practice, but we managed to zigzag our way across the lake to explore the nearby town and islands. It was beautiful, and the elusive Danish sun even came out. After returning to shore and having a light lunch, we said goodbye to Danhostel, taking with us our new canoe skills and the smell of bonfire.
Our destination for the second night was the city of Aarhus on the east coast of the Jutland Peninsula. It is smaller than Copenhagen, but it’s know for being a big college town because the University of Aarhus is located there. Like Copenhagen, it also has lots of canals, cobblestone streets, red roofs, and cafes. We checked into our hotel there mid-afternoon and then headed out to explore.
We walked to ARoS museum, one of Aarhus’s most famous attractions. This art museum attracts visitors from all over and is most famous for a rainbow walkway around the top of the building with 360 degree views of the city. We checked that out as well as several other exhibits including classical landscape paintings, interactive installations, and ‘The Boy’ which is a huge sculpture that the museum is also famous for. This spot was definitely a highlight for me!
A Night in Aarhus
For dinner, our class went to a great Italian restaurant by the canal called Grappa where we ate lots of mozzarella, fresh tomatoes, and pizza. I got a gluten free pizza topped with prosciutto, pesto, and arugula that was delicious. After dinner, we got to check out Aarhus at night. It’s a great place to go out with friends and we had fun exploring the town with our core course mates.
On our last day we visited Aarhus University to hear Christian Bjornskov speak. A professor of political economies, Christian specializes in research on the effects of social trust on economies and societies. He talked about how Scandinavians are generally very trusting people, which is part of why Nordic countries consistently rank as the happiest countries and have such effective welfare states. He explained how Denmark is both a socialist country but also has liberalist, capitalist policies which allow the private sector to prosper. It was interesting to learn about the connections he made between culture/behavior and the economy, and it was fun to visit a Danish university.
Our last event of the study tour was a trip to the Momu, or the Moesgaard Museum just outside Aarhus. We went on a guided tour and got to explore exhibits about prehistoric people, the Vikings, and most memorable–‘Grauballe Man’ who was found in Jutland after being preserved, hair and all, since the Iron Age. We also wandered through rooms of Roman weapons, jewelry from the Bronze Age, and many relics that have been found in and around Denmark. My favorite part was learning about Queen Margaret, who ruled Norway, Sweden, and Denmark in the 1380s, making her the most powerful woman in the world. Denmark has a lot of very cool history that I didn’t know about, and the expansive museum made me wish we had more time to explore, but we had to catch our ferry back to Copenhagen at the end of the day.
During this trip I really got to bond with my classmates, which was great because we’ll be leaving for Paris with each other in just over a month. Before this, pretty much all we knew about each other was where we sat in class, since an 8:30 econ course isn’t usually when people are their happiest, brightest selves. Getting to know everyone in a different context and staying together was super fun–nothing will bring you together quite like a long bus ride after canoeing. It was also really great to see some other parts of Denmark and spend some time outdoors as well, and I am really looking forward to Paris now 🙂