Four Years

Wow, you really do get less for murder. I have been living in Denmark for four years to the day.

I remember arriving, it rained and soaked everything I had. I brought only two bags and lived out of them for the first few months. My first impressions were so positive and everything was going to be wonderful.

You know what, the only thing that really consistently upset me in those early days was sprogskole. Poor teaching, shonky “hidden” agenda and crappy learning priorities. If I had had a Danish partner in those early stages or if I had a better school, maybe things would have looked very differently around here.

Being an unaccompanied foreigner in Denmark is a nightmare. Honestly. It is a total nightmare. Put that unaccompanied foreigner in a small town in the middle of nowhere and it’s a wonder I made it at all.

There’s a blog out there about learning languages in three months and the guy says that all you need to do is get out there and practice! No one will make fun of you! People will be helpful! It’s easy to make friends using social networks! He is working his way around the world and I really hope he comes to Denmark. Not because I want him to fail  (I want him to succeed), but because I want him to acknowledge that Denmark throws up challenges that Holland or France does not. I guess he will never see that a lot of what he says only really applies to males. Just showing up at parties where I do not know anyone, this can be dangerous or at least highly provocative as a single woman.

The guys who came over around the same time as me had girlfriends and liked sport. They were also guys, so hanging around the pub on their own wasn’t seen in the same way my hanging around in the pub on my own is seen.

In spite of all that, I have got pretty good at Danish. I’m not world class but I can communicate. I have learned how to make myself understood. I have learned how to make networks of friends from nothing. I have learned how to keep my head above water.

Honestly, if I knew then what I know now, would I have done it?

My social life is not enough. There’s not enough random shit going on. There are not enough opportunities to meet people. F-town is dead. Maybe if I had started in a bigger city, with more random shit, more opportunities, better language tuition, maybe it would have been different.

Who can tell? I feel ready to move on, either to a big Danish city (to accommodate the boyfriend I met after a couple of years of playing Nightmare Mode in the Danish dungeon of F-town) or back to the UK… or maybe even a country with people who let you practise on them.

Here’s a video I shot at my Mum’s house, inspired by the blogger’s comments on learning a language. I don’t think my accent has changed since I made my last Danish vlog…

18 thoughts on “Four Years

  1. Crikey! You are doing rigtig godt with the Danish :) My Danish has got a long way to go and am struggling to find an easy way to learn it. I gave up with the sprogskole after passing my 2nd exam (which in my mind should never have happened as I completely screwed it up, was absolutely rubbish and not even prepared for it!) I have read about the learn Danish in 3 months thing and thought – absolute poppycock! I am now using the speakdanish website, which didn’t cost too much but it’s just not cutting it. And so many times my Danish boyfriend and I have agreed to read/speak it – but it never lasts more than a day or 2. We need a kick up the proverbial I guess.

    Four years sounds a life time to me (never mind 8 years) but I guess there are others out there who are enjoying it here, somewhere…..


    1. The only thing that worked for me was speaking to children. I was lucky a friend from sprogskole had a little kid of just the right age to be a good ego-less Danish teacher. Otherwise, I have no idea.


  2. Yiayah kann igga fuhstwoaowah vah du seeargh.

    Are you from Canada?

    Only yoking, hun. That’s wery wery good. What else can I say? You do deserve a medal. For service to Danes, but mostly for getting through a true test. Life in Denmark! And when you began as a sentient being. and still are!!!! And you are not full of bitchy bullshit. LIKE SOME PEOPLE I COULD MENTION. Yeehah! lol.

    Plus…You are now near mastering the most important language in the world.

    But…Erm…I hate to say this, but 4 years isn’t very long in Denmark. In expat in Denmark years you are now a toddler. You have to remember that toddlers are dumbed down in Denmark, so you shouldn’t feel bad about that. You might have expected to be at least along the same lines as a four year old child in ooh, for example, England, who on average aces same age kids in Denmark in every intellectual and social area.

    Footnote: it has to be said that while most Danish infants under 5 lag behind their more stimulated anglo counterparts, they do however excell in independence from their parents and spending 50% of each weekday playing in the freezing cold with snot freezing on their faces while some bored no hoper on ‘AKTIVERING’ hunches in the corner of the borne haven yard counting the hours till the next joint. HURRAH FOR DANISH LEARNING! The best in THE WORLD.


  3. I did not last more than a year and a half in Denmark..
    After few lessons at VUF Fredriksberg Sprogskole they decided to change it from me attending an overcrowded class to going to language lab and a study group because I “did not speak enough in class”..
    In July Skat stole a massive amount of kronor from my bank account even though my accountant submitted paperwork in May. When I phoned for an explanation Skat gave me the told me “not to raise my voice because in Denmark that causes people to shut their ears”
    They may as well have said “Dirty Immigrant Know Your Place”
    Next time I will record the calls and put it on youtube..


  4. Your sprog is super! You needn’t get to advanced, because you’ll run the same risk as you did as a novice, no one will be able to understand, everything functions on a rather simplified verbal level, and some things are positively archaic when translated into UKese, in fact some things are quite hilarious.Confronted by people who seem to think it is their godgiven prerogative to piss on those of us without the proper pedigree is a real crap experience, and it is a duty to respond in a similar tone, all else is lost on most of them.


  5. Omg your blog petrifies me. I’m about to move to Syddanmark with my husband and kids, for his work. Neither of us speaks a word of Danish but his job is in English, so he’s golden. But wtf am I supposed to be doing all day, knowing no one and trying to keep my poor non-Danish four year old from bolting from Danish bornehave…? Please tell me it’s not as bad as you make it out to be!!


    1. Dude, it is this bad… for me.

      A lot of people end up getting really into cooking/baking. You’ll get Danish classes, that’s a good way to meet people. You’ll have your husband (and your kid) to keep you company. You’re in a better position than most. There are also meetup groups, are you going to be anywhere near Vejle?

      A lot of people who move to Copenhagen for their spouse’s work are quite happy but then they tend to be very rich too, so they can do lunch and travel. I am not sure how “trailing spouses” do in the sticks. Just don’t expect to make any Danish friends or have any choice in the shops and you’ll be fine.


  6. The main problem with your danish is it sounds too pretty. But it’s perfectly understandable — TILLYKKE! Maybe you should try Swedish or Norwegian if you prefer musicality to guttural sounds, ikke også?


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