Skip to main content
  1. blog/

Denmark Diaries: After the First Week

As I was sitting on the S-Bahn today, it occurred to me that I’ve now been in Copenhagen for a week (almost to the hour). The next moment I was shocked: it feels much longer. Not as if I’ve already spent my whole life here - there are still too many small construction sites and too many new things every day for that - but more like two or three weeks.

On the one hand, a lot of things are still provisional: I won’t apply for my CPR number until next week (and thus officially register as a resident and benefit from the Danish welfare state), I still have to send important papers to Germany (thanks to the Erasmus bureaucracy), I don’t have a bike yet, etc. On the other hand, I feel like I’ve only been here for a short time.

On the other hand, I feel at home in my little flat here after just a short time, I no longer constantly look at the map in the metro but often know the next stop by heart, I have a local SIM card and speak Danish at the bakery (and get answers in Danish - hell yeah!).

I’m currently attending the daily intensive language course offered by the university. Because I had already learnt some Danish basics in Germany, I signed up for the “Beginner 2 - Lower Intermediate” level and really put my ears to the ground in the first few days. With eight participants, our course is quite small and I quickly had the feeling that everyone could speak Danish much better than me. Our teacher spoke a lot of Danish with us, I mostly understood the station and when it became clear on the second day that the next day would be “just a refresher” on past tenses, which I had only partially heard of and hadn’t learnt systematically, I seriously considered switching to one of the “Beginner 1” courses, where everyone sits without any previous knowledge. After talking to the teacher, I gave myself a day to decide, to see how easy or difficult I would find the unfamiliar grammar that the others already knew. And this particular day went much better than all the previous days - although I still make a lot of mistakes (mainly because I haven’t learnt irregular verbs systematically, because you don’t need them in the present tense), I learn a lot and quickly. (And over the course of the week I’ve realised that everyone in the course has gaps somewhere, but always someone else: times, pronunciation, the number system, etc.).

Not going back into my own “comfort zone” was the right decision! Since then, things have been going much better and I understand almost everything our teacher says to us in Danish. Even though it’s still far from fluent and error-free, I didn’t expect my Danish progress to be so noticeable within a week.