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My choice

As I was graduating from upper secondary school, I found it really difficult to choose one study program that could incorporate all of my very different interests. The thought of ending up with a wrong program that would determine the path of the rest of my life made the selection harder. After contemplating a lot of different options, I narrowed my demands down to the three most important ones: my education needed to have a political gist to it, be international in its perspective, and provide me with flexible and different career opportunities. International Business and Politics (IBP) has absolutely lived up to all of that! To me, being exposed to a variety of classes was in fact a great gift, because I unexpectedly grew to loving the economic part of the IBP program.

You will be disappointed, if you think that IBP is either just an international version of political science (statskundskab) or a business program with that fancy “politics” word randomly thrown in to jazz it up. In fact, the value of IBP is in making you see the world through the combined lenses of business, economics, and politics that are crucial to understanding contemporary politics and navigate business interests in a global world. And once I got that IBP is not just a hybrid business OR politics program, or the university equivalent of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (which is whom, really depends on who you are), but that it is within the intersection of the fields that everything starts making sense, I soon began appreciating the ability to shuffle back and forth between complex, political abstractions and hardcore mathematical calculations, whenever I would grow weary of either one of them.

You do have to know that you should be quite comfortable with math, as you will be deriving and integrating from your first semester. In Danish terms, an A-level math is not a bad idea, or at least the willingness to build further upon a set of confident math skills is a necessity if you are a Danish B-level math student.

My programme

Because of the high GPA requirement, it was hard for most to adapt from being one of the best students in their class to suddenly being average among a sea of bright minds and top grades. However, in my experience, the competitive and ambitious study environment has been a motivation that made me strive for improvement. The drive of the program is contagious in the best way possible, and encourages you to work hard and help each other. It is not without reason that the IBP intro weeks are spent baptizing all new students by a “sharing is caring” chant.

Being surrounded by ambitious, dynamic, and smart people on a daily basis has been an inspiration, as it has broadened my horizon and introduced me to areas, interests, and career opportunities, I had never thought of before. I absolutely love the flexibility in academic areas of interests and different opportunities studying IBP has given me, which can be seen in the very diverse careers represented by IBP alumni.

That said, studying International Business and Politics can be challenging because of the at times excessively high expectations rooted in many of your peers. The exams can be physically exhausting, with e.g. 24 hour and 48 hour exams – if you do not already drink coffee, it is just a matter of time before your new, loyal companion is that acrid flavour, only the blackest of coffee can offer. You will probably dislike a couple of courses and might understand them only a few weeks after the exam is over. At least once during your studies you will feel like you are asked to row a boat with a pair of chopsticks directed by a map in Kiswahili. And it is also very likely that you have gained at least five kilos by the time you receive your well-deserved bachelor of science diploma after three years.

Quite frankly, I had no idea what I was studying the first year; it seemed like the program suffered from severe academic schizophrenia. Was I studying business, was I studying politics, was I being trained to be an investment banker, or was I studying for public administration? Did EU theories have any relevance to managerial economics? It was not until my second year that I got a sense of cohesion and interconnection between the courses. So do be patient, the pieces will eventually fall into place, as the first year is spent on building a foundation.

Yet, once you experience that first aha-epiphany when business, politics, and economics transition from completely separated buzzwords into a meaningful and (practical!) trinity, you will also realize that it is worth the struggles. You will bond even with that annoying guy over statistics, when you realize that you have developed a certain IBP-jargon that your other friends roll their eyes at. And you will gain lifelong friendships that remain intact when you call each other from different time zones, with one of you nailing mergers and acquisitions at Goldman Sachs, and the other one saving soon-to-be-extinct species somewhere in Caucasia. The skills that you develop at IBP will open so many different doors for you, and give you the best tools to paving that exact way that you wish to embark on.

My advice

Get into a good study group. You’ll save each other when you are on your 34th sleepless-caffeine-overloaded-you-have-forgotten-your-own-name hour into your 72 hour exam. Make sure you find people who complement you academically and who you enjoy spending time with. You’ll definitely be seeing them quite a lot.

Don’t skip the exercise classes. If you miss out on lectures, you can still do well, but showing up to exercise classes will give you an actual idea of how to handle the exams.

Do everything at your own pace. There really is no reason to be caught up in a race of getting the perfect grades, the best student jobs, and be in every student organization possible from the very beginning. Rather, focus on getting a good and comfortable take-off and developing good habits. You are not supposed to have everything figured out by first semester - you will have plenty of time over the years!