Moving to the ‘Wild West’ – clarifying the first-hand experiences and second-hand perceptions of a Danish university town on the periphery

Annette Aagaard Thuesen, Eva Mærsk, Helle Rotbøll Randlev

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review


A country’s internal migration is often explained using a life-course perspective. When a new academic year begins, study cities hope to attract a good portion of new students. In Denmark, the major trend is that young people leave the western part of the country to study in larger cities in the eastern part. This paper examines a much less extensive reverse flow of students who move to Esbjerg in western Denmark to study. Using interviews with 30 students, this paper analyses how this counter-movement is experienced by young students themselves and perceived by their friends. Based on the literature on the transformation of places and regional representation and attractiveness, this study shows the concurrent presence of opposing trends. On the one hand, the interviewees describe Esbjerg as a great town with friendly people, good study opportunities, etc.; i.e. they experience the city positively. On the other hand, their friends disagree and criticize Esbjerg without having much substantive knowledge on which to base their negative perceptions. These findings are discussed in relation to value attached to places, views on the size of towns connected to life modes among students, and opportunities for places to transform their identity.

TidsskriftEuropean Planning Studies
StatusUdgivet - 2020



  • Counter-stream movements
  • Representation
  • Youth
  • Transformation of place
  • Higher-education cities
  • Periphery