Being a student in South Schleswig

Main article can be found here.

By Karoline V. M. Hansen, Michael Huguenin and Bart de Bruijn

Studying in the border region between Germany and Denmark brings some challenges but also great opportunities. Ole Köhler and Jonas Knickmeier know first-hand what this can mean.

Ole finished his Danish high school education a while ago and is now studying medicine in Århus. Jonas is still living in South Schleswig and studies at A. P. Møller Skolen in the town of Schleswig.

The majority of the students at the two Danish high schools in South Schleswig are German. Like Ole and Jonas, most pupils have a German family and speak German at home.

Mixed language

Aside from the Germans there were Danish students and a few Swedes at Ole’s school, so it was quite a mixed school. Even though everybody had a different background and came from a different culture, everybody kept their own identity.

Ole and his Danish and Swedish friends developed their own language. It was a mix between German and Danish and a little bit of Swedish. Most of the teachers didn’t understand much of it, which bound the students together. Ole never encountered any problems being a German in a Danish school.

The German students had to adapt themselves to the Danish schools and Danish culture. While attending this school made Ole more Danish then he was, he says he will always be German.

Jonas isn’t completely sure if this big focus on Denmark is good.

“The school association tries to teach its students so much ‘Danishness’,” the 20 year old points out.

“It’s there where the confusion for most comes from.

“I’m neither Danish nor German, so what am I?”

Future in Denmark

After high school Ole went to Århus to study medicine. Jonas wants to continue his education in Denmark as well.

“I want to study in Denmark because I want to be a primary school teacher in the South Schleswigan Danish school system and the required education is only available in Denmark,” he explains.

“On top of that I’m looking forward to finally being a part of the ‘real’ Danish society, which is different to the South Schleswigan.”

Danish money

Because of their education at Danish high schools Ole and Jonas are eligible to receive the Danish perks like free education and the government allowance (SU). Ole thinks it’s nice to get SU even though he is not Danish. Plus he’s never heard any Danish students complain about it.

He thinks that it’s because Danish people know their history. When Denmark lost South Schleswig to Germany the Danish king said the Danes in that region will always be Danes.

This has spilled over to the current situation where students in the Danish school system in South Schleswig can get free Danish education and SU.
Ole thinks this arrangement is good for Denmark, because most of the Germans studying in Denmark will stay in Denmark and by doing so contribute to the Danish society.

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