A Danish boy reveals what life is like as a folkeskole student in Svenstrup (including thoughts about the ‘school reform’)
[The following post was written by Christian Borg, who has been working the past week in the International House North Denmark’s administration office to fulfill his ‘erhvervspraktik’ (‘work experience’) requirement, which is part of the 9th grade Danish folkeskole curriculum. I have not edited his text because I wanted my readers to see the level at which a Danish 14 or 15-year-old, who has been studying English since he was 10, writes in this language. I will be following up this post next week with a story based on an interview with a student of the same age who studies at Aalborg’s Skipper Clement International School. Stay tuned!]
My name is Christian. I go to a school called “Svenstrup Skole” in a city, named Svenstrup, just outside Aalborg. I usually get up around 7:00, because I have to be at the school at 8:00. When I have done my breakfast, I take my bike and ride it to school. Last summer a new thing, called “Skolereformen”, or in English “The school reform” was made. The politicians here in Denmark decided that, we should have a longer school day, which both the student and the teachers were pretty mad about. They also decided that our teachers should stay at the school for a longer time. Before the school reform I had a day from 8:00 to 13:30. Now I everyday have to go to school from 8:00 to 15:00. We also had a little change in our subjects because of the new reform. I go to 9th grade so I am not so marked much by it, except the longer days of course, but my little brother in 7th grade, for example, has to live with a pretty new school system for a long time.
We have also had a new thing called “USU”, which stand for “Understøtende undervisning” and in English, “Supporting lesson” which is kind of like a subject without a real course, like math and history has. The USU lessons is 45 min. where we normally do something related to the other subjects, for example, go out of the school to look for plants of some kind, or maybe just reading about the topic that we are working with in history. One of my teachers uses these USU lessons for a little different purpose. She uses them to make some social activities, to unite us a bit more as a class.
One of the other new big things in the school reform is the physical activities. The plan about it is that my fellow students and I has to do these activities in one class for 30 minutes every day. For example, could we be doing these so called “Walk and talk,” where we go outside to take a walk during English class, and then at the same time talk about our current lesson.
As a new thing we have also gotten these new “Homework cafés” included in our weekly schedule. I have my homework cafés every Wednesday and Thursday. These cafes is made so students have time to do the most of their homework at the school, so we do not have to do them when we get home around 15:00. I must say that I sometimes, even though we have these cafés, have homework to do in the evenings. Must of the time I do my homework in the weekends, because I actually don’t have the time during the week. The reason why my homework has to be done in the weekend is because of my part-time job at a Grill in Svenstrup, and because of my hobby, football. Even though we go to school A LOT, if you ask me, I still have time to do all kind of stuff, like doing my job or playing football, in my spare time. When we get homework, is it not like having day-to-day stuff anymore. Nowadays we only get major essays or assignments. We normally get around 2-3 weeks to finish them. It is tough to be in school for that long, but I think I am getting used to it now.
After the new school reform, the chairman at our school decided to cut our breaks a little shorter. That might be that most frustrating thing about the new system. I think that more lessons and fewer breaks sounds like a bit crazy distribution. In the breaks that there is left, me and my friends normally go out and play football in the schoolyard. Some of my classmates also like to stay inside and talk or hear some music. When it is bad weather we sometimes, even though we are not allowed to, play with a ball inside the classroom or in the hall. Sometimes it goes a bit wrong, and somethings end up smashed on the floor, but we quickly but it back in place, and carry on with our game.
My life in Svenstrup is great. I do not think that I have too much on my plate, even though some of my friends think I do. The school does not take as much time as I expected this year, but it is still at the school that I spend most of my time. I am happy with my class, and I think that is very important. In my class we have a lot of different nationalities, or at least I think it is a lot. We have a German guy who came to Denmark as 7-year-old, and then went on to a special class in Copenhagen I think, so he could learn the Danish language better, and then later on joined our class. We also have a half Greek lad in our class. He has been here since we began in school, and I think he has lived here his entire life. I am not sure, but I think his farther came I a couple of years before my half-Greek classmate was born. The second half Danish guy in my class has a German mom. I also think that she came to Denmark a couple of years before my friend was born. All of these lads play football with me 2 or 3 times a week. The last half Danish person in my class, which I can think of, is a half Armenian girl. Or at least I think it is half Armenian. I do not talk to her a lot, but she seems nice, and has also been in my class since the beginning. I think it is great to see so many different nationalities at my school, not only in my class, but also at the rest of the school. I know some schools have a lot more different nationalities. That might be because Svenstrup is not the most popular city to move in to if you are not a Danish person. I do not know of course, but that is just my guess.
As said I enjoy my life in Svenstrup. Playing football, doing the dish washing at the Grill and hanging out with my friends is just great. Even if it is in the school, or in the spare time we always find something exciting to do. It is, of cause, sometimes difficult making the lessons exciting but, we are doing our best. In my class for example we have made a coffee and tea table, where we can go to and have a cup of coffee during class. That is just some of the things we do in school to get through those long days that we have gotten after the new reform. I think the school reform will be great in some way, we just have to adapt in to the new kind of school. That is also why I think we are on the verge of making the Danish school a great place to be.
My job at “P-Grillen” is basically about washing the dishes after the customers have left. I also do a lot of different stuff though. When we are about to close, I help by putting some of the food in our big fridge, or cleaning all the stuff that have been in use throughout the day. I am not the only in my class there has a job. I think around half of the class has got a job by now, which I think is quite normal for a 9th grader. The most of my classmates work at the local grocery shop called “Brugsen”. The reason why so many of my fellow students work there is because, they take so many young workers to do the cleaning, putting stuff on the shelfs and sitting in the check-out. It is a pretty big business with a post-office, a baker and a butcher, so they can have a lot of employees. Of course not all of my classmates work in Brugsen. One of my classmates, for example, works as a waiter, on some restaurant somewhere. I work 4-12 hours a week. My job comes in shifts of 4 hours (17:00-21:00), with one shift per day throughout the week. Even though on Saturday and Sunday it is 5 hours (16:00-21:00). We have just gotten a new guy, so we are now 4 lads who have this job called “Dish Washer”. We are all under 18 years, so we also work with to other employees who cook the food. Every now and then we have a, so called, “shift meeting” where we meet and talk about who there is available to take the upcoming shifts. When we have come to an agreement we write it down on a paper, and usually meet a month or so later to plan again. My pay is 75 kr. pr. hour which is almost the same as 10 euros. In a good month I can make around 3000 kr. This is almost the same as 400 euros.
In about one year I will be finished with school and then I have to move on. My current plan is to go to a high school, aka upper secondary school, with a special purpose which is commerce, business, and so on. This kind of high school is called HHX. The one that I prefer going to, has its building in the street called Saxogade in Aalborg. There is two of this kind of high school in Aalborg, but I think this one in Saxogade looks best. I want to go to this school because I think the main subjects and lessons sounds exciting. I have visited the place once to hear about it, and I think that it is the place for me to carry on with my studies. Of course I feel a little sad about leaving school and my old class, which I have been with for almost 10 years now, but I am also really looking forward to go to this High School, and to meet new people. When the time comes and I have to go to the high school, I am going to take bus every morning. That might be the most annoying part about it, but I think I can cope with that part as well. My job suits my upcoming high school studies well. Many of my co-workers go to the high school, and they need the salary as well as I do. For me I think the future is looking bright. In the near future I am about to join a high school, I have a great job with a nice salary and I have some nice friends to play football and have fun with. Could it be any better?