University Post
University of Copenhagen
Independent of management


Chaotic, frantic and boisterous: The line of students outside the International House

At the beginning of the semester, close to a hundred international students gather in line in front of the International House to hand in their CPR registration documents, creating a unique and chaotic atmosphere. We stopped by and talked to some of them.

Close to a hundred students gather in front of the International House as the clock strikes four in the afternoon. They all line up perfectly in an organized straight line that completely betrays the chaotic nature of the atmosphere surrounding them.

According to their website, the International House is a public-private partnership specializing in the reception and retention of international talent.

The people standing in line are mostly international students who have arrived at the International House to register for their CPR number or seek help with other issues related to their stay in Denmark, with housing being the chief among them.

One of the students is Claudia Yeap, a law student from the University of Sydney who has come to Copenhagen to take Masters Courses. “My own personal experience with them has been really good. The International House were really helpful. They handled everything really well and they did not take too long,” she says.

Organized chaos

The already seemingly endless line grows longer with each passing minute as more people gather to wait their turn. Volunteers from the International House, hand out forms, leaflets and other paperwork, while simultaneously asking people to stand closer together and keep the shape of line nice and straight.

The atmosphere is noisy. A loud continues chatter fills the street. A myriad of different accents and languages can be heard, which are as diverse as the many nationalities and ethnicities present.

They are filling out forms, looking through leaflets, frantically checking and rechecking their paperwork, showing it to their friends and asking the volunteers for advice. Everybody seems in a rush, but everything seems strangely organized. The atmosphere may be loud, rushed and chaotic, but it there is a form of organized chaos at play.

A challenging process

The hectic atmosphere makes it difficult to ask questions or talk to people without feeling like you are imposing, but once the ice is broken people have a lot to say, although not everybody is willing to go on the record and be quoted.

A recurring theme of the comments from students is about how confusing the whole process of registering or finding housing is, and how long it takes.

The line grows larger with each passing minute as more people gather to wait their turn. Photo: Dennis Christiansen.

Mahinder Singh is a student from Punjab, India. When learning that I can speak his language he does not hold back in his criticism. “I find the whole process extremely frustrating. I don’t feel like we are getting the help we need at the International House. It can be quite confusing to know what to do and even when you do it you are not sure of whether you have done it correctly”, he says.

The opinions vary greatly depending on who you talk to. “I do not have any complaints whatsoever. I think they did a great job and handled everything pretty smoothly,” says law student, Claudia Yeap.

The line moves along steadily, the volunteers are hard at work telling people how to fill out their forms and repeatedly stating the exact order in which documents should be organized when they are handed over, so as to insure that everything is handled quickly.

As I leave, I take one final look at the line which seems to only have grown longer since I first arrived. But the students and volunteers are still as busy and boisterous as when the first students gathered to form the line.