Life as a foreigner

Photo (above & below): Superflex


There’s a wonderful poster in Denmark that was created in 2002 with the wording “Foreigners, please don’t leave us alone with the Danes!’.


The poster was originally put up in the streets of Denmark in response to the increasingly harsh environment which was developing in 2002 regarding immigrants and integration.  Two much loved ‘I’ words which are still used seemingly on a daily basis in Denmark.

I love the poster for two reasons.  Firstly, because it shows the Danish sense of humour at its best.  Clever and dry.

The second reason I love this sign, is that after reading yet another article in the Danish media about immigration and foreigners I can be reminded that at least 50% of the country are okay with my presence in Denmark.

However, until I become truly bilingual my ability to understand Denmark’s current affairs and ‘pulse of the nation’ is limited to just a few English-speaking news sources.  Who tend to report on the more controversial headlines.  The ones which talk about non-danes vs danes, immigrants and foreigners.  Which can make for a distorted view of reality when one is already feeling slightly vulnerable adjusting to a new country.

Last week, was another whirlwind in the hamster wheel of the life of a foreigner in Denmark with the announcement of a major change to the rules of attending Danish language schools. 

For the last 25+ years, foreigners in Denmark have been entitled to free Danish lessons for approximately 3 years each.  It is this system which I have been enrolled in for the last 18 months, diligently attending school and working hard to pass all 5 modules.  It’s a continual grind but one I’m motivated to succeed not because of any obligation to the government, but primarily due to Bilingual Backpack Baby (BBB).  Who, at two years of age now has a Danish vocabulary equal to mine.

But last week it was announced that Danish lessons will no longer be free in Denmark.  Foreigners (that’s me) will have to pay 2000kr per module in addition to a deposit when you first enrol in a school.   Of course, getting something for free is always the preferred option, but all things considered, 2000kr is still a fair price for attending such a school.  So long as the quality can be assured.  The recent announcement closed 3 of the biggest language schools in Copenhagen, while 2 largely unknown schools were announced the winners of the tender to supply this service (at the new price) after 1 August 2018.  The were presumably the cheapest tenders in the tender process and it will be interesting to see what they deliver.

Language schools.jpg

No one likes change.  So, it’s fair to say, that us 'foreigners' currently studying Danish with the very best of intentions of achieving the infamous request of ‘integrating’, were a little shocked with the news this week.  Shocked because we’d all found our happy place in our respective schools.  It had become a safe place with familiar faces in an otherwise foreign landscape.  Things that are important to us in our quest to be the best we can in our new country.

Therefore, ignoring the fact, we’ll now have to pay, what unsettles me the most is the speed of which these new rules (and many before them) have and will be implemented. That’s what I’m finding the most unnerving. I never know which way the wind is blowing. This year alone, three rule changes were made to how language schools were managed.  First a credit system and now the news that they’re closing some of the best schools in Copenhagen.  It’s going to be interesting to watch and see what the result will be.  How many will keep studying Danish and what will be the result on the ‘I’ word.  Integration.

As for me, I’ve never been a good guinea pig, so when summer comes (yes it will come) I’m considering a break from attending the government's new languages schools before I complete my final and fifth module.

Until then, perhaps I'm thinking of employing BBB as my new Danish language teacher.

p.s Thank you to IA Sprog and my teachers for the last nearly 2 years of education.  Thea, Jens & Yacinn – tak for hjælpen and held og lykke til fremtiden.