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From the Dane in Britain to the Brit in Denmark

Navn: Marie Schneider, 19 år

Hjemby: Louth, England

Elev på IHS: Efterår 2017 & Forår 2018

I moved to England at the age of 3, along with my twin sister, older brother and parents, as my dad got offered a job opportunity. Moving such a big family so far away, is a big ask, in relation to school, house and friends. The decision was made and we moved our lives to a small town called Louth, with the intention of living there for four years. However, after my parents got settled in well with their jobs and my siblings and I were doing well in the English school system, it was hard to move from it all. And so, we stayed in our beloved Louth. To this day on, 16 years later, we are still living in England.

23 exams in two months was a mouthful

I started at nursery school with Sofie (my twin) at the age of three, where we both couldn’t speak a word of English. Luckily for us we got along just fine because we always had each other to have a giggle with.

We attended St. Michaels's Church of England Primary School from Year 0 to Year 6. Here I met most of the people who I have been going to school with for my whole life and are my oldest friends to date. During Year 6, the time comes when you have to search after which Secondary school you wish to attend. Being the typical twins we are, Sofie and I searched the same secondary, both prioritising King Edward VI Grammar school. The thing with grammar schools is that they require an entrance exam, and so we began taking lessons to help us do so. With us both passing these exams, we had at least the next 5 years of our life sorted out. These five years at secondary school worked towards the end goal of gaining a set of GCSEs, which are a load of exam qualifications you earn in all the different subjects you have had. This meant that at the end of Year 11, I had to finish the year with taking around 23 exams within a two-month period, which to say the least was a mouthful.

For the final two years of my school life, there was the option of staying at King Edwards and starting at Sixth Form, or going to college. Staying at the current school was, for me, the best option. Sofie however, decided to go to college in another town. Her decision meant that we had to go to school without each other for the first time ever, but this just meant that we enjoyed the time we did have together, even more.

These two years turned out to be very challenging and required a lot of sacrifices, like my swimming and social activities. But spending so much time on my studies turned out to be well worthwhile and helped me end with the grades that I had wished for.

"It is understandable when you see so many children who no longer want to attend school"

From Year 0 all the way through till the end of school we had to wear a uniform. Personally, I think it was optimal due to it avoiding an array of issues. One being; not having to decide what to wear every day and another important factor of avoiding any bullying for what people wore as everyone looked exactly the same. However, when it came to the traditional school system, it could all get a little silly. For example, even if it was 30 degrees outside, then we still had to wear our shirt, tie and blazer whilst walking around outside and outside of the school premises, and if caught not doing so, you would get a ‘Comment’ which was a form of punishment as it could lead to you landing in detention. If sitting in a classroom, you had

to first ask the teacher if you could remove your blazer. All days were from 8:45 am -3:45 pm for most of my time in the school system and the programs were always filled. This of course meant that we had a set routine and we got plenty of work done, but from this, it is understandable when you see so many children who no longer want to attend school or have become stressed and therefore struggle to get through the final years of their education.

It was never the intention to become competitive

My love for sports began in primary school and my passion for it has never died since. Throughout, we learnt a large variety of sports, like rugby, athletics, rounders and my all-time favourite, netball. In the years of playing netball I had the pleasure of being my school teams’ vice-captain and then captain in a following year. I am certain this has helped shape the person I am today and the lifestyle I choose to live.

My parents are strong believers that all children should learn how to swim at a young age. So therefore, my siblings and I were, literally speaking, chucked into the deep end and were taught how to swim from almost day 1. It was never the intention that we would become competitive swimmers, and my parents have always said to us that we could stop training and competing whenever we wanted, we just had to say the word.

But one thing led to another, and my siblings and I joined the local swimming club called Louth Dolphins and we quickly became competitive swimmers quite early on. Swimming is a sport which requires a lot of time and money, so it has meant that throughout my childhood, I’ve had to prioritise what’s important to me and what I wish to have a future in. If I look back and think, then there haven’t been a lot of weekends where I haven’t either been training or spent two to three days at competitions in places far away from my hometown.

During my time with Louth Dolphins I have been offered many exciting opportunities, and the biggest being personal achievements. I have competed at county and midland level events, as well as at national level with my school swimming team. I have also been fortunate enough to be able to swim in a small competition in Germany due to having an exchange system with a local club in Worms. In later years, I joined my club twice in a yearly competition which takes place in Eindhoven.

When I reached the age of sixteen/seventeen, I was well into my last two years of secondary school, and the work load had tripled. This meant that I sadly had to cut down my swimming and say goodbye to training up to six or seven times a week and say hello to focussing more on my school work.

The thought often comes to me, what if I had never stopped swimming full time? What could I have further achieved? Even though these questions often pop up, it has been a decision I’ve had to accept and I know that it was the right choice for me to make at the time. In my last two years of swimming, I began voluntarily teaching the younger swimmers in Louth Dolphins and later moved on to teaching some of the senior members. From this I learnt that it is one thing to be good at doing a sport, but then having to use your knowledge to instruct others, is quite a challenge as you must put everything, which for me came naturally, into words.

So what am I doing now?

After finishing those stressful A-Levels, I wasn’t quite ready to continue my studies at university just yet, even though in England, it is the most common thing, to go straight from school to doing your bachelor degree. I had a place at the University of Brighton to study a four-year course in International Business, starting in summer 2017. But when I quickly found out that it wasn’t what I wanted to jump into immediately, I quickly deferred the offer to a summer 2018 start. So, having taken that big decision, then came the big question of what on earth I should spend my gap year doing.

My parents had mentioned the idea of starting at a højskole in Denmark, just so that I could try something completely new and to experience living in Denmark for the first time. We knew of a family friend who had attended IHS in previous years, and she spoke so highly about the school, which made me very curious to the idea. The original plan was to only stay until Christmas as I thought 3 ½ months would be plenty of time to attend the school. One thing led to another and I am now half way through my second semester at IHS, and I could not be happier with my decision. It is quite an experience by going from being the Dane in Britain to the Brit in Denmark. It is safe to say that I couldn’t feel more at home right here.

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