Andreas Østergaard Madsen


Nanoscience, University of Copenhagen


Research Assistant, University of Copenhagen


Why did you choose your specific programme at SDC?

I always wanted to travel on my Master and SDC provided a great opportunity to go beyond “traveling” and actually live in a different country with a very different culture from the Danish one.

What are the most important academic skills/knowledge you have acquired during your master’s?

It is very hard to make a list of this since the Nanotechnology degree gets around a vast amount of different topics and scientific fields.

As a nano student, the most important thing you learn is the ability to build a bridge between the different areas of science allowing you to get a better overview of the systems you work with.

What have you otherwise learned?

Professionally I have learned to work with a broad variety of different personalities, which have helped me a lot with my current job.

Culturally I have learned how to embrace a very different culture and adapt to my surroundings.

Personally, I have learned to make the “jump” and try new things, for example, a scooter trip to Bali during one of the free weeks.

What is the study environment like?

The study environment is great. Since we have our “own” building for SDC students only, there is a space that is always available for studying and relaxing with the other students.

What is it like to live in China?

Living in China is a very interesting experience. In short, then the things I was most surprised about was:

How shy people from China are when you approach them in English, as well as how they don’t like to hug “strangers” as we do in Denmark (Pre-Covid).

I was happily surprised about how helpful people were when you talked to them. They would seem reserved, but as soon as you asked, they openedupand helped the best they could.

What do you think about the physical environment of SDC?

The dorm rooms themself were smaller than expected, but it was sufficient. Especially since you do not use much time in the room itself but more time in the common area or at the SDC building.

When I was there the SDC building had some minor issues with the internal climate when the temperature got too high or too low outside. (EDIT: These issues have since been fixed) But most of the year it was a great place to study and to get a beer or other refreshments with the other students after a day of studying.

In my case, we were a larger group who usually played computer in the evening in one of the larger meeting rooms.

The campus itself is huge (compared to Danish standard) and you could just stay there since it got everything from restaurants to sport facilities. Just outside the campus is a larger lake and The Great Wall of China is only a 10 min drive away.

What is the social life like?

Since SDC offers so many different educations there are a lot of different people (in terms of mindsets etc.), as such there was a place for nearly everyone, and depending on what you wanted to do there was in my case always one or more people that wanted to join. That being going out partying, studying late, or just watching a movie.

What did you do in your spare time?

In my spare time during school weeks, I enjoyed the activities at the campus (swimming, playing different sports, and walking to the nearby part of the Great Wall of China) or picking up extra courses. On the weekends I normally went to Beijing to see the city and to party.

Where did you work on your thesis project and what did you gain from it?

My master thesis was a collaboration between the Department of Chemistry at the University of Copenhagen and with a similar department at UCAS.

Since I spent the last year in Denmark it was only through the mail that I collaborated with UCAS, but it ended up giving me a lot of experience with a different mindset in my field.

How has your time at SDC/your MSc programme impacted your career?

SDC offered me the possibility to jump from living in the safe environment of your home to living abroad in a country with a radically different culture.

This has provided me with a skill set that allows me to better navigate when working with different cultures. Since SDC has several very different educations, I also learned to live and study with people that I would never have talked to if I just stayed back in Copenhagen.

What would you wish you had known before applying to an SDC programme?

Since the dorms rooms size came as a surprise more pictures would have been nice to have, not that it had any impact on my decision to go. More information on the level of Chinese you need to learn would have been nice to have.

Would you recommend others to choose the programme?

I have and do still recommend people that have a bachelor’s degree aligned with one of SDC’s master’s degrees to go there. The main points that I normally use are:

- It is a great way to get to see another part of the world.

- The party life in Beijing is way ahead of Denmark.

- It is an affordable way to see China and other countries nearby since you can get scholarships and SU.

- You get a lot of new connections and friends.