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Outgoing students back at the University of Liechtenstein – Copenhagen

Fascinated by Nordic architecture, Matthias Wehinger, an Austrian student in the Master’s degree programme in Architecture, chose the Danish city of Copenhagen as the destination for his Erasmus semester. In this interview, he talks about the challenges and highlights, and about what he gained from this time abroad.

Fascinated by Nordic architecture, Matthias Wehinger, an Austrian student in the Master’s degree programme in Architecture, chose the Danish city of Copenhagen as the destination for his Erasmus semester. In this interview, he talks about the challenges and highlights, and about what he gained from this time abroad – both personally and in relation to his studies.



Why did you choose this country and this university for your exchange? In what language were the classes held?

As I am very interested in Nordic architecture – from Arne Jacobsen to Alvar Aalto and Sigurd Lewerentz – I was drawn to the north of Europe. When I found out which partner universities the University of Liechtenstein had in that region, I decided to apply to The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Architecture (KADK). I already knew some of the KADK’s students form earlier summer workshops. As a city with such royal charm, Copenhagen was a very interesting prospect for me.

It was also important to me to be able to stay in a country where I could improve my English. And as Denmark is a place where most people are fluent in English, it was at the top of my list. The classes were held in English – which is not surprising as there was only one Danish student in our department. 
 


At the Nyhavn in Copenhagen


How did you prepare yourself for your Erasmus semester? How did the International Office team assist you in your preparations?

In addition to all the paperwork you need to get through, finding accommodation in Copenhagen turned out to be the most difficult challenge. Although I had asked for assistance regarding accommodation on the application form, I didn’t receive any final confirmation at first and had to look for a place to stay myself. From Liechtenstein, it was very difficult to find a flat. Our International Office encouraged me and said that everything would work out, and that I could always stay at a hostel at the beginning. However, after the International Office had made several enquiries to its colleagues in Copenhagen, I was able to find a room.


What did you look forward to the most? What was the greatest challenge?

I looked forward to discovering new things, new approaches, different people and their perspectives. That was what fascinated me. I was interested in finding out how I would overcome a challenge where I didn’t know from the start with whom I’d be working, where I’d find things and how I’d find a solution. 

Here in the Principality, the foundations have been laid; I am familiar with the structures and can plan well in advance. When you’re abroad, you first need to identify and understand the structures before you can pursue your work in the usual way. As it turned out, I managed to master these unfamiliar situations (as a novice) quite easily. A semester abroad also makes you focus on the situation at home, and you start to value things that you previously took for granted.


At the Museum of Modern Art in Aarhus


How were you received at the partner university, and how were you assisted during your studies?

The exchange students were well received at the partner university. At the information day, everything was explained to us, and we could contact the International Office and the department’s administration any time if we had specific queries. The lecturers were also very supportive throughout the semester. 

As we were a group of 30 students supervised by two professors, we often had the opportunity to discuss our projects with them. The atmosphere among the students was great too, so we regularly exchanged our views on each other’s projects.



Out and about with friends in Lökken: Matthias Wehinger (bottom right)


What was the highlight for you? What can you take with you from this time abroad that can help you personally or in your studies?

As there were many foreign students in my department who completed the entire Master’s degree programme at the KADK, I was able to establish new contacts with people from the Netherlands, Lithuania, China, New Zealand and Australia, for example, who all extended invitations to visit them in their home countries.

This international mix of students made me realize that when you’re in a rut at a certain stage of your project, other people’s views can open up new perspectives. You focus on new aspects and receive fresh input on how your project can be improved. I noticed that it can sometimes be useful to put some distance between yourself and your project in order to breathe new life into it.


What recommendations would you offer to students at the University of Liechtenstein who are planning an Erasmus semester?

I would recommend a semester abroad to every student, as this provides the opportunity to get to know a new culture and thus to learn more about yourself in various situations. I strongly recommend to travel the country while you are there and to make enough time for excursions.



Grundtvig’s Church in Bispebjerg, Copenhagen


PROFILE: Matthias Wehinger
  • Home country: Austria
  • Resident of: Götzis
  • University of Liechtenstein degree programme: Master’s degree programme in Architecture
  • Semester: third 
Erasmus semester
  • Country: Denmark
  • Partner university: The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Architecture (KADK)
  • Number of semesters: one
  • Type of accommodation: shared flat