Danish Diaries – Aarhus
When I chose to study in Denmark, I only knew that it was one of the Scandinavian countries. Little did I know that my world of knowledge was going to blossom. Arriving at Aarhus was just the beginning!
Aarhus is the second largest city in Denmark with a population of around 6,00,000 people. To me, as an Indian, it always feels like a calm town rather than a city. The city Aarhus derives its name from the word ‘Aros’ which means the mouth of a river in old Danish. The city was established historically in one of the naturally formed fjords of the coastline and soon became an important trade hub of Scandinavia (Scandinavia consists majorly of the modern-day Denmark, Norway, and Sweden). The history of this city is well represented in its people, buildings, and culture.
Anyone with a little idea about this region immediately associates them with the legendary Vikings. True to this, Aarhus was a strong Viking port and I get to see their influence in the houses, churches and even modern architecture with remarkable towers and brick buildings with sloping roofs. A section of the city called the Den Gamle By (the old town) has buildings from different centuries where people dress up as individuals from that particular period. You can ask questions and talk to them to learn more about everyday life from the past. Walking down by the river front, I always see buildings with red or yellow bricks that were built to last centuries while protecting people from the icy weather outside. Formidable and resilient just like the remarkable Vikings!
Church at Aarhus
For an individual like me, who is used to hot and humid weather with constant sweating, the arctic temperature was something to get used to. The winters can be cruel and painfully cold to a person like me but it is just part of life for a Dane. The temperatures through the year can range from minus 4 to plus 20 degree Celsius with ample rain, fierce winds from the sea and occasional snowfall. The most important lesson that I learnt was to only accept the definition of spring from a person who lives in the country you intend to go to. Almost no amount of applying moisturiser and oil seems to be enough when battling the winds of Aarhus.
Snow covered Aarhus
Snow filled campus
The city is home to knowledge and service based economy. The university of Aarhus, the largest university in the Scandinavian region plays a huge role in it. With a sprawling campus and extensive departments, the university makes up for a chunk of the city. Being a public university, it is also a well-known fact that the current Queen of Denmark, Margrethe II and the crown prince Frederik also studied at this University. It was exciting to know that a royal could have stayed in the student residence where I am currently lodged!
With all this history, the city is also moving ahead with time. Other than being environment-friendly in their initiatives and power production, the city boasts magnificent modern architecture and an amazing modern art museum called ARoS. A trip to ARoS is filled with paintings, interactive installations and a 360-degree view of Aarhus from the rainbow on top the museum. Being selected as the Cultural Capital of Europe 2017, an extensive and beautiful music house consisting of multiple auditoriums is the place to be to catch the best of music, theatre, dance, and comedy.
Any free evening that I can find, I drop into the music house and I can be a spectator of a performance for free. Finally, Dokk1 situated on the harbour is a place where you not only get amazing views of the sea but it is also multiutility centre with a public library, work area, group meeting place, play area and houses a section of the local governmental offices. It also happens to be the place where I am typing out this article!
Aarhus is a gem waiting to be discovered and it is a place I would love to come again. Visesnaeste gang!
About the Author:
Athmika Ramachandra is currently continuing her post-graduation studies at Aarhus University, Denmark under student exchange programme of Manipal University Media and Communication Department. Athmika is Gold Medallist in BA from Mangalore University, enjoys photography, listening to music, reading novels and trying out new food. A bitten travel bug Athmika cherishes writing and poetry and she is the granddaughter of Late Padyana Gopalakishna (Pa.Go), Veteran Journalist & Kannada Columnist of yesteryears from Mangalore.