Both a kollegium and a folkehøjskole will are living options that put you in contact with Danes and International students around the same age as you. I’ve had a few questions asking me about my experience at the folkehøjskole, and since I’ve had the unique experience of living in both a folkehøjskole (or højskole for short) and a kollegium, as a DIS blogger, I feel a responsibility to try to inform on the key similarities and differences between the two.
One of the most major differences is that højskoles are way out in the suburbs, while kollegiums are mostly in the urbanized, greater Copenhagen area. The commute to a højskole is long, but the time on the train can be used to do homework, contemplate the meaning of life, or take a nap. However, getting early classes can be a huge struggle. Also, the suburban trains and buses often stop around 1 am on weeknights, so that’s something to keep in mind if you want to be spending every night in the city. One of my favorite new experiences about living in a kollegium this semester is the fact that I can bike to class every morning, and experience Copenhagen’s rush hour bike traffic.
2. Rural vs. Urban
højskoles tend to be a bit isolated because they’re a Danish institution that is specifically tasked with helping the students “find themselves.” For the students actually attending højskoles, there’s no necessity to leave. I personally loved living in the middle of the woods, even if walking or biking through the forest in the dark was a little creepy sometimes. However, I am currently savoring the fact that I live in a city, and I can just jump on my bike or the metro when I want to go somewhere.
At a højskole you eat your meals at a set time every evening with all the students who attend the school. At a kollegium, you cook your own meals in a shared kitchen. The ease of having meals provided for you at a højskole was great, BUT it often kept me from participating in DIS activities because I was eager to be home for dinner at 6pm. If one of us was missing dinner, we would usually just ask one of the other DIS students to save us a plate to eat when we got home.
At a kollegium, DIS gives you a food stipend so if you’re a picky eater, you’ll have a lot more control over your food and the whens and wheres of your eating than you would at a højskole
4. Social Life
Personally, the unique social situation I was in while living at Krogerup Højskole was what made my experience in Denmark so fantastic, as well as giving me an awesome amount of cultural immersion (the magic of study abroad). I still spend a lot of my time with Danish friends that I met there.
That’s not to say it didn’t take effort, at the beginning, all the DIS students actively strategized on how to integrate ourselves. We always sat two Americans to a table to avoid making an “American group”, but also to have enough presence that people would speak English. Another benefit is that at a højskole, generally most people won’t know each other, so everyone will be forming social bonds as opposed to trying to integrate yourself into a group that has already been formed.
The other side of that is that I did not make many close American friends at DIS, sticking mostly with two of the other six students that I lived with. My current situation at the kollegium is much less social. Everyone who lives in my hall is friendly, but I happened to be placed on a hall that isn’t extremely social. I know that this definitely depends on chance because some people have weekly dinners with their halls and have bonded really well.
Overall, I think both experiences are extremely positive depending on what you’re looking for in your housing experience. For any potential DIS students, I hope I’ve effectively covered the major differences between the two, but feel free to ask me questions on any specifics.