It was the city’s vibrant international campus life that appealed to Lithuanian Arnas Serva during an exchange visit to Sønderborg. That was two and a half years ago, and today he is in the fifth semester of the Mechatronics programme at SDU. His big goal is a career with one of Sønderborg’s leading companies when he graduates as an engineer.

Study life

Arnas Serva did not hesitate when he was given the opportunity to go on an exchange visit and experience student life in Sønderborg. He knew that Denmark was a particularly attractive country to study and work in. Some time before, he had Googled “average salary in the EU”, and Denmark had been high on his wish list of countries to study in ever since.

“Doing that Google search was probably the best decision of my life, because it led me to Sønderborg. England was also interesting, but at the time the UK was leaving the EU, so Denmark was the most attractive choice,” says Arnas.

Born in Telšiai, 21-year-old Arnas Serva was a model student throughout his school years. He was a member of a national academy for gifted students ever since he was a child. A membership that would open doors to opportunities on an international scale, and one of those doors led to Sønderborg. It was through the academy that he had the opportunity to apply for an exchange visit to Sønderborg in 2018, which was organised by Nordborg Rotary Club. He says it was a really great experience with impressive hosting by the organisers.

“During the 10 days on Als, we saw almost everything that seemed to be important for the municipality. We visited the Multicultural House and SDU Sønderborg, where we watched presentations given by the students. We even had a meeting with the mayor. We got an impression of a tightly knit city with a very strong community”, says Arnas Serva.

However, it was the international campus environment at SDU that made the biggest impression on the young Lithuanian. He found the multicultural environment to be both safe and fascinating, and he could see himself thriving at the university and in a city with people from many different countries and cultures. At the time, he was finishing his secondary education in his home town and had big ambitions for his future. In Sønderborg, he saw how those ambitions could be fulfilled with an engineering degree from SDU and a career in one of Sønderborg’s global companies that made world-class green technology.

“The University of Sønderborg has about 70 different nationalities, which I found really appealing. Sønderborg also has the advantage of being the only university in Denmark to offer the Mechatronics programme, which is unique in the engineering field. In fact at the time, my student advisor recommended Sønderborg over DTU in Copenhagen because it’s much cheaper to live here,” he says.


Busy leisure and student life

Arnas has now lived in Sønderborg for two and a half years. Living and studying here has fully lived up to his expectations and he loves his 54-sqm two-bedroom apartment in Humlehøj kollegiet where he lives with his good friend and fellow student, Marcel, who is from Poland. His means of transport is an electric scooter, which takes him to the university, the city centre with its cafés, to karate training or out into Sønderskoven forest with his camera bag slung over his shoulder. With a keen interest in photography, he is also happy to have landed in Sønderborg. He never runs out of exciting and beautiful subjects.

However, he spends most of his free time in the Ashihara Karate Sønderborg club. He trains up to six times a week with the goal of getting his black belt.

In the Mechatronics department, Arnas is currently working on a group project with eight fellow students. They are working on reducing the size of a mobile solar panel so that it can be packed and taken on e.g. hiking trips, to generate enough power for an internet router, he explains.

“It’s a super exciting project, where I’m mostly in charge of developing the engine so the panel moves with the sun’s rays. Once I have handed in and defended my project in the sixth semester, I intend to continue on to the Master’s programme,” he says.

With a special interest in heating and cooling systems, Arnas feels he has landed in the right place. His main goal for the future is a career at either Danfoss or Bitzer in Sønderborg, after he has graduated.