At blive dansk

I have been weighing up whether or not to apply for Danish citizenship for sometime, on the one hand I am happily settled here, my kids think they are Danish, I have a good life, a house and a job here. My danish language is ever improving and I am starting to participate in Danish life to a much fuller extent. I even have a danish newspaper now!

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My Danish newspaper is the excellent Information, highly recommend it, thoguh the language is not simple, it’s taken me at least 5 years to get good enough to read this, Politiken is a better choice if you’re still a beginner – I had a subscription to politiken when I was on parental leavel

On the other hand I still feel pretty British, I listen to the BBC, read the Guardian and the Financial Times and vote in UK parliament elections. I admit to feeling pretty repelled from British politics though right now – what is going on in the EU Referendum campaign is pretty abhorrent, even before the terribly terribly sad assassination of the MP Jo Cox.

I am a fervent European, which makes more sense to me as a common identity given we are a dual national household living in a third country and I very much feel part of a pan- European tradition in terms of the values, traditions and cultures we share. In the event of a leave vote, my status in Denmark would probably be fine as I have already got Danish permanent residence (I decided to apply for this largely because of the referendum, it doesn’t make much difference to EU citizens otherwise).  However I am (perfectly happily!) contributing a large amount of tax to the Danish state and feel that I would like rather more say in how it is spent. In other words I would like to participate in public and political life on an equal footing. Recently the government allowed for dual citizenship, so becoming Danish would not mean giving up on my British citizenship but I would be able to retain an EU passport even in the event of a Brexit. While I was running around Copenhagen for the marathon this year I realised how much it just felt like home. Both the Union flag (there were one or two) and the Dannebrog elicit some emotional feeling, though I can’t exclude that was not the result of the endorphins released by the marathon running. In much the same way I recall feeling a surge of pride upon seeing a notice in the Phillippines with the EU flag on it. The sign was advertising the reconstruction money poured into the islands by the EU to rebuild infrastructure after a particularly devastating hurricane. The point is that identity is fluid, and taking on a new one, particularly where the culture is similar and the language has common roots, is an additive process, it does not mean I reject the old one but that I hope both can complement each other.

So, I have decided to go for it. It’s a long process and there are a number of things I need to achieve. I think it’s fair to say that becoming a Dane is not trivial in many ways.

The requirements (here) are, for now at least, 9 years of residence, no serious criminal convictions, a certificate in danish language at a minimum level 2 (if completely “selv-forsørgende” for 9 years or danish level 3 if state support has been received for more than a year of this time. The passing of a citizenship test, the “indfødsretsprøve“.

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There was some controversy over the “infødtsretsprøve” recently. This is the test that all applicants have to pass if they want to become danish citizens. I had previously tried one some years ago and got almost a perfect score, but it seems the (somewhat Orwellian sounding) Integration Minister, Inger Støjberg felt it was too easy and this year introduced a newer stricter test. As the newspapers quickly found, it’s not so easy also for the true-born Danes to answer.

I was curious so took the test (you can also try it here). I had already downloaded the material provided by the ministry (link to pdf) and I have read about a third of it so I did better than I’d expected.

I got 33 out of 40. This is just enough, the minimum pass mark is 32. On the other hand, as the newer stricter test only came in on the 7th June, I have no way of knowing how accurate a representation of the test this one on tv2 is. So  it looks like I will need to do quite some revision, and of course continue to read the newspapers.  Next week I will go to get my Danish tested so I can see how much extra study I need to do.  I will post my updates. It’s likely to be a long process though, a friend of mine who had passed all the tests was just informed there is a waiting list of 14-16 months to actually get the citizenship awarded after application!

The Referendum and a Firm Commitment

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So. The disaster of the Referendum has come to pass. It will henceforth always be The Referendum in my mind. And all the ensuing chaos after it. I once hoped that the fall of the Berlin Wall, the release and election of Nelson Mandela, the signing of the Paris Agreement, may yet end up being the most significant events in my life, but no it seems it will be defined by 9/11, the disastrous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and The Brexit Referendum. My husband hardly trusts himself to speak about it (and he’s not even British).

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I nabbed this image of a t-shirt advert (here), I guess this is maybe how my kids feel…

I had already decided that I would like to become Danish as well as British (see above) and so today I have been to sign up for the indfødsretsprøve. I had also hoped to get my Danish tested to see if I could go direct to danish level 2 or 3. Unfortunately I was too late and with holidays looming it will not be until August before I get chance again.

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On the way to work from all these shenanigans, I biked past the Europahus in central Copenhagen. The Blue and Yellow stars were flying proud still in spite of it all…

The woman I spoke to (in Danish!) did however say that I could just do the exam without having to attend. In fact she was very encouraging, possibly as we did the whole exchange in danish. There are some test papers as well as some old exams  on the internet here, so I have downloaded the guidance notes and after our holiday I will start to revise. I may need to get some classes but from a cursory look at the notes, I think I may be able to get through it ok. I actually only need 2 points and oral communication (probably my strongest element) is weighted highest. We’ll see. The written exam is the 15th November, with the oral exams from the 2nd to the 15th December, so it looks like I will have a very Danish Autumn. Hopefully it gives me enough time to get through everything. I may also ring up my old Danish teacher and see if she can give me some intensive one-to-one type lessons to check some of my consistent errors.

Having discussed my plans with my very nice colleagues (who have been very sympathetic, though distinctly bemused by The Referendum), they have already started to speak danish with me more and more. This can only be a good thing as the exam for level 3 requires nuanced understanding of danish in complex settings, pretty much the definition of my (or any) workplace. I also discovered that a Chinese colleague is also interested in applying for Danish citizenship. This would be a big deal for her as she would need to give up her passport, on the other hand for the sake of her child, she would like him to get a European passport. I had to read through the application form to confirm that this is indeed possible. It is actually something of a factor for me too. I will certainly apply to add my children as Danes at the same time. They certainly feel, act and speak more danish than either of their birth nationalities so it seems only fair.

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A rather blurry photo taken a year ago from the back of my bike of the Dannebrog flying over Frederiksberg Slot

Onwards and upwards, it’s the start of a long journey, but an exciting one nevertheless…