University Post
University of Copenhagen
Independent of management


Expensive Copenhagen means hard lifestyle choices

Copenhagen is one of the priciest cities in Europe. But instead of avoiding it, international students adapt

Copenhagen is one of the most expensive cities in the world. According to a 2009 report from statistics agency Eurostat, Danish food prices are 42 per cent higher than the EU average.

This forces international students to change their usual lifestyle. As Halya Borysyuk, a Ukrainian studying Applied Culture Analysis, puts it:

»When I came here for the first time, I was still shocked to find out that one euro was worth almost nothing«.

Forced to cook at home

It is primarily housing, public transport, food and books that are the budget-breakers. In general, students find prices to be between one-and-a-half to two times higher than their home countries. Take restaurants, for example, says Shunt Taslakian, a law student from San Francisco.

»I was used to eat out almost every day, but now I have to cook at home,« he says.

Three hours a day commuting

Copenhagen is so expensive, that some students, internationals and Danes as well, choose to live in Malmoe, Sweden, and commute several days a week to study in Copenhagen. One of them is Polish-Canadian student Vic Kocula.

»Even after paying a monthly train ticket for students of about DKK 930, I can still find a more spacious apartment in Malmoe for me and my wife, something that is almost impossible if we live in Copenhagen,« he says.

He spends 3 hours a day going back and forth from Copenhagen, and will therefore not recommend all students to do the same thing.

Parents help out

Most have at least thought about working part time when they come to Copenhagen, but it is not easy to find a job, explains Matthieu Floret, an Urban Studies student from France.

»It is sometimes too complicated with the short period I am here, the very dense schedule, and of course the simple fact that I don’t speak Danish,« he says.

As a result, most students still have to use additional financial support – either their own money or their parents’ – despite their getting a grant or scholarship to study in Copenhagen.

Still loving it

One trick some international students is not actually a trick, but an exercise in self-discipline: Postpone the fun until you go home.

»I’ve had to sacrifice many things, such as buying organic local products, going out for meals in restaurants, or drinking alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. I haven’t had any carbonated drinks since I came to Copenhagen!!« says Nicola Wintersen, a sociology student from Britain.

Cyndie Segui, a psychology student from France has cut down on cinemas and shopping. But she finds her stay in the city worthwhile, and calls on her fellow international students to be creative in finding ways to survive:

»I love the way of life people have here. I feel more relaxed. I think that this place is one of the best«.