Studies in Agricultural and Veterinary College (KUL)

I walked into Professor Fogs lecture in mathematics where they were using letters instead of numbers. I was flabbergasted! And then to chemistry. I must here record that the professors in chemistry, one of whom was Touborg-Jensen, were excellent. They made what could have been a boring subject thrilling and alive. My feeling was that since they were so enthused by it I should be too and I worked hard to understand it. I developed a useful technique. We were given homework to do I did this soon  and other students often came to ask me how I was doing it. Having  to explain it sometimes several times made me understand it even better and I came to like chemistry. In fact I attended lectures for the Vet students as well when I could though it was not something we were expected to do. At the end of the first year my first oral exam was mathematics. I was nervous, I got a pass delivered just after a team of 4 had been examined. No more than a good pass. Then there were 2 weeks with no exams. I went home to Fjelstervang to hoe the beets and returned to face the chemistry exam.Here I felt more confident. In the 3 chemistry subjects, out of a possible score of 8 I got 7.9. For all the 7 subjects I got an average of 7.45 in spite of my poor showing in maths. During the next summer I had to do survey work in the Animal Gardens on Amager.and passed no problem despite having little ability in drawing. In fact the architect who was teaching drawing of land borders etc. was quite worried about my abilities and he told me that generally if students were poor at drawing they were usually poor at other things as well. I turned out to be an exception. I cannot be sure but I must have been among the top 5 of the 90 students who started the course which boosted my confidence but I did not relax! This was much higher than Oves score the year before! I also learned a little about how to handle an oral examination, namely never to answer directly but to appear to reason yourself to the answer, this impressed the professor!

The second year was undoubtedly the hardest year with a lot of difficult subjects to cover, such as botany, biochemistry, and the physiology of animals and plants. The year was also shorter as the exams were in March rather than June. It was a tough year but to my surprise I passed the exams with an average of 7.8 out of a possible 8. Maybe I was lucky in the questions I got but I had worked hard. I recall the botany

oral where I was reasonably sure the professor could not catch me out. He then came with a branch from a fig tree. I correctly told him it was from a fig tree. He then cut the green fruit in half and asked what I saw. I said “seeds” but it was the flower.! The flower of a fig is on the inside of the bottom of the fruit which has grown around the flower which is subsequently fertilized with assistance of small insects. I had forgotten that and this cut my oral score from 8 to 7.8!

In microbiology Professor Pedersen (nickname Micro Peder) who almost deaf told me at the green table that he expected a lot from a name like mine. It so happens that the director of the Serum Laboratory in Copenhagen was a Jesper Ørskov. His family came from the same district as my grandfather but my grandfather who was baptised Ørskov Christensen got permission to drop Christensen. As a result the other family had to obtain permission from my father’s family to use the name since we were not related. I do not know how but I explained some of his questions on biochemistry which he had not taught us. He was very impressed and I got my top mark of 8!

After those exams I went home for a couple of days, hardly believing what had happened.

The third study year in Copenhagen was relatively easy and relaxed. There were more practical subjects which did not require the same level of concentration, since the basic underlying subjects had been understood. There were about 17 separate exams. There was a lot to read but it was easy to understand. It was practical animal and plant production, and had no problems in the final exams so my final average 7.57 And my average for the three years was 7.55 giving me a BSc first class honours which had to be 7.5 or above. I think there were 5 of us out of 90 in that category.

So here I was with a first class honours degree in agriculture - now I had to think about what to do with it!

 As mentioned before, the credit must go in part  to my chemistry professors who knew how to turn an apparently dead subject to something alive. I was motivated by them and from then on it was plain sailing. After all, agriculture is chemistry and biochemistry at work in the real world. The Professors in botany, zoology, plant pathology and physiology were also excellent but still not on a  par with the chemistry professor