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My experience in Denmark as a foreigner....

Reader comment on item: Something Rotten in Denmark?

Submitted by A foreign student in Denmark (Denmark), Dec 4, 2004 at 00:39

My name is Ales. I am a MSc. student in Denmark. I am a Slovene citizen, but have lived in Munich, Germany, most of my life. Now that I have been living for more than one year in Denmark, I believe that I can offer the following observations with regards to this article by Daniel Pipes.

The word "integration" implies that the foreign-originating population should strive to become increasingly a part of the host population. This means sharing language, employment and study opportunities, as well as having immigrants (and their descendants) represented in academia, public sector jobs and culture.

The other side of the coin is the willingness of the host population to accept the immigrants.

In this context, I believe that my stay in Denmark as an exchange student (at the Technical University of Denmark, known as the DTU) enables me to make the following observations -

It is virtually impossible for a foreigner (even if possessing the permit to work in Demark) to find a job here. Foreigners are seen in very few occupations outside cleaning, catering or newspaper distribution. This applies even to highly-qualified foreigners (engineers, for example). People who possess the permission to live in Denmark (EU nationals or foreigners married to Danes) who are qualified as engineers even from the DTU, the leading technical university in the country, have not even been called for interviews! This situation exists despite the fact that there is a shortage of skilled professionals in Denmark. Despite the fact that I have had a high average of grades, and relevant work experience from my home country, and possessing the right to work in Denmark (now that Slovenia, my country, is in the EU) , I have not been called for a single interview. Danish students who attended the same classes as me, at the DTU, had no problems finding a job within one month after graduating.

In a country that has acute shortage of doctors, there are medical graduates from countries like Pakistan or Lebanon driving taxis here!

In certain clubs and discos in Copenhagen (ie. the well-knwon Rosy MacGees), foreigners who don't have a Nordic appearance are routine excluded. Sometimes the bouncers do not conceal the reason for that! My appearance could be mistaken for Nordic because I have light hair, but on at least 3 occasions where I had been accompanied by friends from Pakistan, Israel or Greece (studying with me), we have all been denied entry.

Anti-foreigner sentiments are wide-spread in Denmark. Foreigners are blamed for usurpation of the social security system, for the increase in crime, and for simply being alien to the country. Even educated Danes do not attempt to disguise their opinions that foreigners should be made to leave the country. On a number of occasions, I have heard remarks such as "Hey, you Yugoslav! Don't bring your Balkan to our country".

Having dated a Danish girl for a short period, we have been subjected to insults when it appeared that I was not Danish. For example, if we were speaking English on a bus or train, we would be the focus of hostile stares and occasionally an insult.

Rules here make it virtually impossible for foreigners married to Danish people to come to Denmark. Such couples are encouraged to settle in the foreign partner's land. Often on senseless grounds that "their collective connection to the foreign land is greater than to Denmark". The authorities claim this on the strength of the Danish partner's foreign origin and sometimes even extended visits to the foreign land, is used by the Danish authorities as a ground to deny permission for family re-unification.

There is usually zero interaction, in the university where I study (Technical University of Demark) between Danes and foreigners. This is so despite the fact that most foreign exchange students s are quite eager, during their stay here, to meet local people and many make the effort to learn a bit of Danish. There are certain gatherings of foreigners. The Danes make it clear that to those who attempt to show up at "their" parties that their presence is undesired.

These have been my observations about Denmark. I have been living here. I think it is only fair that Daniel Pipes' article be read in the light of my own personal experience. And I am not even an immigrant! I have to say that I was not expecting this.

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