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Here you can read different internationals exsperiences with different Danish clubs and associations. 

Joining a club gave me a sense of belongingness

 Holly is from Staffordshire, England but has lived in both London and Sydney, before finding here way to Denmark in July 2013. She teaches at Aarhus Academy for Global Education and works as a running coach in the evenings. Holly plays football on the side at FFD Kralupy which she got involved in through a friend of her girlfriend.
When asked about her primary motivations to join the club, Holly responded:
“I have lived and breathed football all of my life and knew that joining a team would constitute a large part of my social life and, as a result, happiness in my new venture in Denmark. I started playing football for FFD Kralupy before I had found a place to live or had opened a bank account!”

Socializing means a lot – be aware of unwritten rules

Being a member of a club or association is mainly socially motivated for many Danes. This corresponds with Holly’s experiences at FFD Kralupy where they value social activities as much as football. An example is the season start up party, where, according to Holly, singing and party games brought everyone together.
Although experienced in a sport or other club activities in ones home country, you will most likely still encounter cultural differences or unwritten rules, when joining a club or associations in Denmark.
“Having played for football teams in England and Australia I can say that the Danish teams are just as good, if only a little quieter! Previously I had never really stood out on the pitch, playing for Kralupy though my Danish companions regard me as somewhat of a foghorn!
“There are a few ‘cultural’ differences when it comes down to the rules. In the Danish game, receiving a yellow card means 10 minutes on the sidelines, in the UK yellow simply means warning. During my first season I courteously acknowledged a yellow card then promptly sprinted off to make haste with the game. It took almost 5 minutes to get me off the pitch as I had no idea what was going on and why everybody was yelling at me!”

Join a club and meet like-minded people

When asked if she would recommend other internationals to join a Danish club or association – and why, Holly responded:
“Getting involved in a Danish club or association should be your number one priority when moving to Denmark. I even prioritized it before finding somewhere to live! Meeting like-minded people and being a part of something positive gives you a sense of belongingness. It is the best way to find out about your new home before you begin making all those big decisions, such as which bank should I join? Where should I live? And where are the best restaurants in town?”

'Take up a hobby’

Background: from the Netherlands, moved to Denmark in 2010
Professional profile: journalist

A social life is the seedbed for friendships, as I found out. A frequent mistake by internationals in Denmark is to try to make friends at work. That may be the rule all over the world, but not in Denmark (although there are exceptions). I asked a Danish woman who had spent many years of her adult life outside Denmark where Danes made friends, if not at work.  ‘Well,’ she said, ‘Danes make friends at school. From the age of six to sixteen they are in a class with the same people. These will turn out to be the people that you have, almost literally, known all your life. That is a powerful bond.’
That was quite an eye-opener for me, but it also made me sad. Did this mean that the window of opportunity for meaningful friendships slammed shut at the tender age of sixteen? Doesn’t anybody older than that stand a chance of being friends with a Dane? Well, Yes and No. Yes, because the ideal of friendship as described above is one way of looking at it. It goes together with the life people lead when they stay put in one place all their lives, and that excludes us internationals. But also, No. There are many Danes who move away from home for school, university, work, love or divorce, and so they will find themselves in need of making friends in a new place. So let’s take the Danish friendship ideal with a grain of salt.
The same woman who told me about Danish friendship also gave me a recipe for finding Danish friends: ‘Join a club. Take up a hobby and you will end up making friends.’ That, without knowing it, was just what I had been doing, and I found that my social life was (a) thriving and (b) Danish, to a large extent.



​My Running Club Adventure

 I had been running for a year with this club and it seemed that my body had finally adapted to the pace and the training programme. I was not afraid of being left dead on the side of the road any more. I was able to understand the instructions: "Pas på, hold til højre, lige ud..." I knew everybody's names in our inspiring running community. And I knew the Marselis forest like the back of my hand. 
The weather that day was absolutely gorgeous. One of these sunny summer days that make Aarhus feel like a paradise place. I had bought a small gift for the coach to thank him for his good advice and his kind support at the last race the weekend before (Aarhus city half marathon). The coach had run alongside me the whole time, had cheered me up when my legs had started shaking and together we had improved my "PR" (Personal Record) by seven minutes! Which is a big thing in running.
My intention was to give the gift to the coach at the end of the training. While we were running up and down the trails of Marselis forest, as we usually do on our Saturday workouts, the coach ran by me and told me to stay after the training. His tone sounded rough and I got a bit nervous. What did that mean? That was very unusual. 

As I was waiting for the coach after the training I realised that another girl of the club was also waiting for him: the coach came to us and explained that the club needed two more trainers. Therefore he wanted both of us to become trainers. He wanted to acknowledge our enthusiasm, constancy and motivation. Me? Really!? The foreign girl who used to need a week to restitute from a 3km-run! I felt overwhelmed with joy and honour. For the first time I felt truly integrated in the Danish society. I handed over the gift to the coach and it was his turn to look very surprised and emotional.
I accepted the offer and I have been a trainer in this running club ever since. I keep making Danish friends, discovering new running routes around Aarhus and improving my race-times. And guess what? I even got engaged to a Danish runner.   
Chloé, from France

​It is important to be part of something that you feel strong about

This week’s ”Join the Club!” features Mina. Mina originates from New York City, but has lived in China, before moving to Denmark in November last year. Mina´s main occupation here in Denmark is participating in Danish classes as part her introduction to Denmark, beside this she sends out applications for work and is a volunteer at Aarhus 2017. Aarhus and the rest of Jutland have been chosen to be the cultural capital of Europe in 2017, in which preparations for this have already started. A big part of the preparations are carried out by a team of volunteers.  If you want to read more about Aarhus 2017 click here.

When asked  ”How did you find out about the volunteer work at 2017?” Mina responded:
“Well it is funny because a couple of years ago I was living in China and I worked in China for the World Expo, that is now happening in Milan. So Aarhus 2017 is almost the same as the World Expo, a cultural event but with a different theme. But both events that takes place in a city and takes over the city. So I searched what I might possibly do in Aarhus, in terms of work, I thought this was one of the best organizations, in that it is similar to what I have already done in the past”
As part of the volunteering team, Mina uses her experiences from the world expo to help the coordinator Ulla with material in English, translating and idea generation.  
Working life in Denmark
Working culture may differentiate in different countries, in Denmark one may experiences a very informal atmosphere and often a flat hierarchy. Mina finds being a volunteer a great way to ease into Danish work life. Examples being how meetings are held, how people interact and just everyday office life.

Volunteering helped me easing into the culture
When asked if she would recommended other internationals to volunteer? She responded:
“Yes if you can allow your self the liberty to volunteer. Because, sometimes you need a job, you know? I am so fortunate that I can take my time to ease into the culture. So if you have that privilege, then yes. I think it is a nice way to kind of slow into something.  It would have been beautiful if I moved here and two weeks later I started to work, but I think that would have been just that faster pace. This is nice because I can do it in my pace. So it also depends what you like to do”    

Do you want be a Volunteer in Aarhus? offers many other possibilities for volunteering in Aarhus, all places where they welcome non-danish speaking volunteers. 

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