Copenhagen Day II

Today we woke up before 7 a.m. We all met on the ground floor of the hotel and we went to eat breakfast.  There was a vast selection of local delights: fresh eggs and scrambled eggs, sausages, omeletes, fried bacon, pancakes, all sorts of sandwiches, crunchy croissants, cinnamon buns, muffins and different type of bread, fruit, juice, as well as tea and coffee. At 7.30 we left the hotel and headed to the metro station. Over there we got on a train and went to the center, where we changed for the train leading to a small town- Lyngby.

One of the interesting things, which you can notice in Denmark, is that people love to bike around. In the city there is plenty of them, you can basically stumble on bicycles (or get run over by one) and the bicycle lanes are wider than pavements. On the trains there are even wagons specially devoted for bikes. It is also very common to transport bicycles by public transport. 

We got off at Lyngby station. Then we met with Enija who was going to accompany us during the visit at a Danish school. Together we went to a bus stop. After we got a bus, another interesting thing struck me – Danes are very attached to their national flag. Some of the buses have it even attached to the windshield.

We got off just in front of the KNORD – Business high school

After crossing the doorstep of the building, we were welcomed by the director of education – Julie Secher. Julie took us to her office, where some refreshments for us had already been prepared.  We sat by a round table and started an interesting conversation about education in Denmark. We received illustrated brochures and then we discussed a chart, included in it, which showed stages of learning and studying. While drinking hot tea and coffee and eating delicious croissants, we also talked about our future plans and the direction in which we would like to go.

After the conversation we met Mie, an English teacher. Together we went to the teacher room. At first, I didn’t know where I was and I had to ask to be sure. That place was different than teacher rooms in Polish schools! It was a spacious room with a fully equipped kitchenette and rows of tables.  Another very interesting thing was a large couch standing in the corner, on which teachers were sitting and relaxing, making notes, filing documents and reading.

We got some water to drink and went to a classroom, where we were going to take part in an English lesson. We were introduced by the teacher and then we sat down by the desk among other students. The first thing that caught my eye were laptops standing on the tables – almost everyone had one. I thought: „Good, perhaps they need it to study”. But when I noticed that some of them were playing games or looking at social media, I wondered how the teachers could let it be this way? However, it turned out later on that the same students were also actively taking part in the class – they were answering questions and working on the tasks they were given. They didn’t ignore the teacher. For me personally, idle sitting in the class and listening to the lecture can be tiresome – sometimes I simply try do draw – it helps me concentrate on what I am listening to.  

The lesson was about life in Denmark. We watched two short videos which described Danish life from a positive and a negative point of view. Next, we talked about how media can manipulate us and sometimes present fake information. We also discussed the presented facts and compared them to the situation in Poland. In this way, I have learnt some interesting things, e.g. getting married and starting a family are not so important in Denmark and many Danish people prefer to wait long time before they do so. What is more, maternity leave in Denmark lasts one year, taking care of the environment is very important there, education is free, and contrary to appearances, there are a lot of poor people.

Next, we formed groups and each participant of our trip had to tell the students how we got there and what we though about the city in which we were in. That was the first situation, in which I was the centre of attention and I had to talk English. I must admit I was a bit stressed, which caused some of my words go away and it was hard for me to understand what others were talking to me. 

The first lesson was over and the students could go for a break. It was surprising for me that I didn’t hear any bell or other kind of signal. The teacher just announced that it was all for the day. I asked later, how the students know when a lesson begins and ends. The answer was that the students just know and that’s natural for them.

Then we went to another classroom, where we had a lesson about the culture. After a short introduction, the students were divided into groups and each of us was assigned to one of them. I found myself in a group of five girls. We introduced ourselves to each other and then they introduced me to the topic. We prepared a short presentation about the Danish culture. It was based on Hofstede’s chart which is called „ Cultural Onion”.  

The presentation was focused on different traditions practiced in Denmark. Thanks to that I learned:

  • Danes are very attached to their national flag. They even have special rules determining how it should be handled.

  • Hans Christian Andersen is a very important and appreciated figure in Denmark. His work is very popular there and he has his own monument in Copenhagen. 

  • Danish traditional dish is smorrebrød, which is an open sandwich made of dark bread with different types of toppings.

  • The Danish practice hygge – this is kind of state when they can feel comfortable, warm and safe. E.g. they gather together with family in one room, put on warm socks, light a fire in the fireplace, drink tea and spend time together. It is also popular to take “family naps”.

  • The hallmark of Copenhagen is the little mermaid which is located by the sea. It comes from one of the Andersen’s fairy-tales

  • The most important Danish holiday is Christmas. They prepare a festive meal, where the most important dish is salmon and duck.

    After the presentation, the girls asked me to tell them something about my country. I told them about our beloved, Polish „pierogi”, folk culture, the biggest cities, our mermaid in Warsaw, our patriotism, national heroes and ideals, and how we celebrate the most important holidays. 

    We had some time left for a casual conversation. We exchanged some interesting information. I was asked if our Polish school was different from the Danish one. The answer was: yes, a lot! In Denmark, there is no bells, the students get time to prepare for presentations, when they can leave the classroom and go wherever they feel comfortable, the teachers don’t mind students chewing gums, drinking beverages or using mobile phones in the classroom. I also asked about using laptops because that was really interesting to me. The girls were surprised. They asked: „How come? You don’t use them? You make notes on paper?” I answered that for every subject we need to have separate notebooks and books. For the Danish students that was very surprising. They said that we should go with the times. And since we have available technology, why not use it?

    The time for group work was over and in my opinion it was very fruitful – what is better to understand a national culture than by talking to its inhabitants? In return we prepared a presentation about Poland. Before leaving Poland, we prepared some interesting information and pictures about our country. These included the location, most interesting cities, a little bit about our city – Radom, economy, folk culture and national holidays.

    Our presentation was very well received and we were happy that the exchange of the information let us got to know the places, which we come from.

    After the lesson, we were invited for lunch in the teacher room. We were accompanied by the director, the English teacher and other teachers. We could taste delicious sandwiches and local beverages, as well as, talk about the idea of the FEP workshops, our thought on the Danish school and the Danish education system.

    Our visit at the school came to an end, so we said goodbye to everyone and enriched with a new knowledge and experience, we left the school and headed to another, extraordinary place.

    We went straight to the military unit. At the place, we met with Natalia. We went in, we got name tags and we met Malene – one of the officers. She told us shortly about the place and her job. Then she took us for a tour. All of the doors in the hall were open, so we could see how the workplace looked like. We were also showed a large conference room and a room, where the employees could rest by playing table football, billiards or take a walk in a beautiful garden (in Denmark it is very common, since every employee needs a place to clear their mind, right?). Then we went to a small conference room, where some refreshments were awaiting us. Malene prepared a presentation for us, in which she told us her story, a little bit about a soldier job and about inspiration for overcoming own weaknesses. We could ask her questions. I admired her, her strength and persistence. We could also listen to a story of another officer, who presented a story about her life full of obstacles and how she overcame them.

    Finally, we posed for a group picture in front of the building.

    The next point of the day was Right to Dream Academy. That is a place where young, talented footballers are trained. They can grow there not only physically but also mentally and it often happens that the place „produces” a lot of professional athletes. At the place, we were welcomed by Søren Kristensen -CEO at FC Nordsjælland. Søren told us about the idea of the place, his job and a little bit about himself. He showed us around – we could see a meeting room, a huge stadium where training take place, stands, locker rooms, strategic room and all the cups, trophies and awards. After taking a photo together on the field, we got back to the building, where we went to a small conference room.

    We got cold drinks and we listened to a lecture about the stadium, the academy,  the local sports club FC Nordsjælland and how big passion football it is for the young sportsmen. We also watched some short videos promoting the academy and we met a couple of inspiring footballers. 

    After a short lecture, we said goodbye to everyone and after taking a few photos we went to the centre of Copenhagen. Over there, walking in charming streets, we got to a restaurant, where we had dinner and we met with Claudia Szubryt who was our mentor during the FEP workshops.

    We were very hungry, therefore we gladly grabbed the plates and proceeded to the buffet where we could find plenty of interesting dishes, e.g. tiny falafels, warm goulash, baked potatoes with rosemary, grilled vegetables and lasagne with spinach. I especially liked a drink which is very popular in Denmark – eldeflower soda –  black elderberry drink. It is one of the things that I am going to miss back home…

    After the dinner, Claudia showed as a presentation about studying in Denmark – expectations vs. reality. We didn’t know much about it beforehand, so I think that it was very beneficial for us. We learned what studying at a university is connected with, how to be accepted to a school, how to prepare financially, how to encourage parents and if it is profitable. Claudia, Marta and Natalia told us about their experiences connected with studying abroad and answered all our questions. To me that was an eye-opening and I realised that it is not impossible and I am definitely going to consider this option.

    Our full of excitement day came to an end. We went down the main street to the metro station, and from there we went straight to the hotel to get some rest.