Line learned to stand on her own feet in Romania

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22 year old Line Holdgaard Nielsen studies BA of Social Education in Holstebro, VIA University College. She has been in Romania to study for a year. It is the best thing she has done - both personally and professionally.

"I always knew that I wanted to study abroad. So when our teacher Trine Holck Grundahl, told us about the possibility of coming to Romania and get a Double Degree programme, I was completely ready. There was nothing that could hold me back. I signed up right away," says Line Holdgaard Nielsen, student at BA of Social Education in Holstebro, VIA University College. 

Along with two fellow students, she spent a year studying in Bucharest, Romania. Firstly with six months of practical training at a community center for the homeless and then a further half year studying at Bucharest University. 

"During the practical training, we worked with homeless people who came to us directly from the street. Drug users or young people who grew up in very congested environments. The place served as a residential institution where young people could get help with basic things like having a bath and getting food and clean clothing. They were able to talk to adults who had a social workers perspective," says Line. 

Life-affirming experience

The studies in Romania have expanded Lines education, so she has obtained a Double Degree - both a Danish bachelor and a Romanian university degree. 

And she thinks that the stay in Romania is one of the most important things she has done for herself, both professionally and personally. She's had educational experiences that have pushed her academically. And she has made friends for life. 

"I have never met people who have lived such a full and hard life, even though they have been close to retiring from life. All the joy, all the faith. It was great. I spent Christmas in Romania with the homeless. We made food and Santa Claus came with sponsored gifts. It was an indescribable feeling and I found it hard to hold back the tears. It is the greatest experience I've had and the best thing I have done for myself," says Line. 

It's all up to you 

According to Line studying abroad is the biggest challenge she's ever met. There is no one to reach out to, if you don’t know what to do. 

"If you are doing the practical education in Denmark, you can always call a teacher and say that it is a little hard. Then they will come and rescue you. But down here, when you are standing in dung up to your neck and feel like giving up, there won’t be anyone but yourself to pick you up and get you going again. It's easy to fall over, so you learn to stand on your own feet," says Line. 

Someone to guide and help 

As part of the exchange the students become helpers for other students studying in their country. This means they take care of each other when they live in the other country. Along with a fellow student, who was also in Romania, Line is helper for the four Romanian girls studying at the education in Holstebro this year. 

"I want to help them. And I know how cool it is that you’ve got someone to help you when you arrive in a new country. Someone who knows how to do things. This may be in relation to paperwork, or to show them round Holstebro and the rest of Denmark. We prepare food for each other in turn, we just made meatballs with stewed cabbage for them and they have to make Romanian food for us," says Line, who dreams of working with addicts. Perhaps abroad. Alternatively, she would like to study as a consultant specialising in abuse at a University in London. 

And there is no doubt about it.... she will go back to Romania. "It is my second home," says Line. 

Translated by James Doherty, Cambridge