Christoffer Frederiksen was born in Kokkedal, Denmark. He began to learn English at an early age through video games and created friendships through online interactions. He remembers having a lack of motivation to do homework but recalls interacting with other gamers online from around the world. Ultimately, Chris realized that bad grades would not get him anywhere. This motivated him to study hard and get good enough grades to attend a university taught in English, whether in Cophenhagen or abroad.
The girlfriend of one of his online friends informed him of several competitive universities in the UK. When he heard about the competitive market for higher education in the UK, he decided to buckle down during his second year in high school to earn good grades. He then went on to Nottingham University for his bachelor’s, which was preceded by his master’s at the London School of Economics. Studying abroad helped shape Chris into the open-minded individual he is today.
Chris and I met in Medellin, Colombia during the summer of 2015. He had just completed his undergraduate studies and was about to start his internship at a Colombian start-up. Since then, he graduated from the London School of Economics and is currently working in Copenhagen, Denmark. He travels for work and leisure. It seems like he is always going somewhere with his group of international friends that he sought after and met while studying abroad. I see him traveling at least once a quarter via his social media updates. How else would we stay in touch — he’s six hours ahead of the eastern time zone!
What was it like growing up in Denmark? For example, what is your education system like? Did you go to a primary school and a secondary school?
“Growing up in Denmark meant a little less pressure to perform from an early age vis-a-vis my friends from other countries. The system is uniquely supportive of individual choice and the public schools do not divide people into groups based on academic levels. I went to school and then high school before I left to study abroad. I got horrible grades and didn’t take school seriously, until the last two years of high school. In Denmark, even if you get bad grades, you’re still likely to make a decent living. In many ways, the social policies are what enable freedom.”
Did you take a gap year? Or did you go straight to the university?
“I took a gap year after high school. I worked in a laboratory as a logistics assistant. After that, I went abroad to teach English at a school in Indonesia.”
Where did you study after secondary school? How long did it take to get a diploma for your undergraduate studies?
“I received my bachelor’s degree from the University of Nottingham, UK. My bachelor’s degree took three years. For one of those years, I studied at McGill University in Canada, on exchange.”
Why did you decide to go to the London School of Economics? Why did you choose to study abroad out of Denmark?
“I had been playing video games my whole life with people from all over Europe. I came to love English as a language. It presented opportunities for traveling and making friends from all over. I wanted to study business at Nottingham because it was a broad degree that allowed me to keep my options open geographically and professionally. Also, I was interested in meeting people with different backgrounds; I felt like I needed to get out of the bubble that surrounds Denmark.
I chose LSE for my master’s because it was the best university that was still well-regarded in Denmark and elsewhere. Since I chose such a good school, I knew that I could study whatever I wanted and still be able to get the job I want as long as I went to LSE. I studied Political Economy even though I ended up in a business role. Studying abroad also allowed me to stand out from the multitude of students graduating with the same degree in Denmark, competing for the same roles.”
What sparked your dream to study abroad?
“I talked to a friend from the UK who went to the University of Nottingham. She wanted to study in Denmark on an exchange. She told me about her time at the university, and I knew it was for me. I started reading on different forums online, and every day I was confirmed in my belief that it would be a fantastic idea.”
What were your expectations before you left? How did they change once you arrived to the location and what changed after having completed the program?
“I don’t remember what I expected to be honest. It was very exciting to find out everything I could about it. I found it difficult to feel at home at first, but once you make friends who are in the same situation as you, it becomes a walk in the park. Then, the real journey starts as you hear about their lives and compare their stories to your own, broadening your perspective every day.”
What did you not expect?
“That I would come to be great friends with a group of people from many different countries. Your country of origin does not matter as much as you think in how easy it is to become friends. For example, I made close friends from Russia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Jordan, Spain, and India. I travel to visit them whenever possible. It’s amazing to see where they come from and the culture they grew up with.”
What have you done since you studied abroad?
“Since then, I’ve worked at home and abroad as part of a graduate program for recent graduates. The program is called Global Business Processes Graduate Programme at Novo Nordisk, a pharmaceutical company headquartered in Denmark. I’ve worked in five different teams over the last two years ranging from sustainability to commercial to medical affairs. Generally, the work has entailed lots of project and stakeholder management.”
What advice would you give to someone who wants to study abroad?
Consider these following tips to find your college match:
- Location of the university
- Ranking of the university
- Course structure
- Cost of studying at the university and living in the city
- Read online forums to get insights from those who know the pros and cons of the place/degree
- Get in touch with people studying at the university (reach out to as many as you need on LinkedIn or you can e-mail the program administrator to get in touch with a current student)
- The biggest barrier is usually financing and leaving your family and friends for many years. Studying in the UK it was easy and cheap to visit home three times a year.
Online Friendships Is Where It Begins
After speaking with Chris, I could tell that he has specific goals ahead for this upcoming year. He still keeps up with many of his online friendships and friendships he made from his studies. He no longer has the time to play video games like he did when he was growing up. Looking back, he now realizes the importance of a good education. Chris will continue to work in Denmark and enjoy the work-life balance of the overall European way of life. Stay tuned for more on Chris and his outlook of Danish culture.