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April 28, 2024

How I spent two years in an international school in Denmark as a French student


Theodora from France 🇫🇷

Campus Image of Grenaa Gymnasium
How I spent two years in an international school in Denmark as a French student

Personal background and primary school

My name is Théodora and I'm French. I've studied in France for most of my life, however, I went to England once, for a year, when I was in the 6th form of secondary school. I was a boarder, so I was on my own, without my parents, and that was my first experience. Then I came back to France and finished my secondary education in France. Then, in high school l, I went to Bordeaux for 6 months, to the Sommeture Saint-Claude Hild, where there was also an international section, so we had English classes, English literature, (for example we studied Shakespeare just to improve our English) and then we had history and geography classes in French and English. I lived at the boarding school. It was a boarding school for girls, but it wasn't really for me because it was a private Catholic school. There were so many restrictions, you couldn't go out, that it suffocated me. I just couldn't do it.

I wanted to enroll at the UWC (United World Colleges) because my brother had gone to Mostar. So I thought, "Why not give it a go? But I wasn't accepted. But I went to the selection weekend, which wasn't too bad. And then, when I wasn't accepted, we tried to find another solution.

High school in France

 I got good marks, except when I came back from England. Because it's true that I was lost. At collège, I think my average was between 16 and 17. And at high school, my GPA has been around 15 or 16. I think that's really the French way of studying, it's catastrophic. Well, especially at high school, you start at 8am, finish at 6pm and when you're very late, that's exactly it, with the tests you have during the week, it's just not possible. Moreover, the relationship between you and the teacher is really bad.

High school admissions in Denmark

I applied to Denmark because I already knew someone who had taken their A-levels here in 2019. So I thought why not apply, and here I am for a while now. To apply, you had to write a covering letter explaining why you wanted to come here, what your motivations were and what you could bring to the table. Then you had to provide information about your personal life and interests. Letters of recommendation were also required. I think I asked my French teacher and my English teacher for a letter of recommendation. Because at the time, my French teacher was the principal of the college. Secondly, it's also for the parents, when you're under 18, they're going to look at the expenses, the living expenses. Boarding is not at all expensive. Really, if you compare it to the boarding school I went to in Bordeaux, it was more expensive than the boarding school here. And it was 5 days a week, with weekends at home.

Living at a Danish boarding school

There are a few rules, but they're not very serious. But at the same time, the good thing is that it gives you the freedom to explore who you are. My mother, the one who kind of initiated this idea, moved to Germany when she was 13. Then she continued to live there for over 20 years. I think it really depends on people whether they have a balance between school and private life. It also takes time to settle in personally. I've had my ups and downs. Last year, at the beginning, I was very sociable and didn't study much. Then really, I studied a lot and stopped socializing. But this year I've managed to strike a bit of a balance, because I've realized that this standard of living isn't stable, because if all you do is study, you're going to burn out at some point. If you socialize too much, you won't find the time to rest or study. So you won't be in balance. I think I've learnt from my mistakes last year and now I know my limits too.

High school in Denmark

At  higher level, I have Spanish B, history and art. And in SL, I have Maths AI, English, and science (ESS).

The teachers are so closed-minded too, I mean, but actually it's true. Like here, in comparison, they're so open-minded, you call them by their first name. Very good, yeah. Everyone here is so open-minded. Honestly, as soon as you arrive in August, everyone's in the same boat as you in fact. So you're kind of forced to make friends. Because everyone's in the same situation. You're going to meet people. You'll make friends, but you don't have to be friends with them all the time. Everyone is nice, everyone will help you. The tutors do activities on purpose to make you feel good and comfortable, and to get you doing things. I think the level of education is good. If I compare it to the UWC, the level will be lower. Quite simply because of the timetable. I know that at UWC, classes start at around 8am. And they also finish around 5pm. So those are also long days. You start at 8.45am and finish at 3.40pm. At the same time, you have time to rest, study and eat. Yes, in France, school is intense. There's no time to rest, no time to work, but no time to study hard. If you have any problems, you can go and talk to the teachers. They're really good listeners here, so it's really easy to get in touch. I'm also on the student council. And, for example, it's easy to have discussions about what can be improved.

My passions and plans for the future

I draw a lot, I paint and make art. It's something that relaxes me a lot, because I'm a person who stresses easily. And just taking the time to paint anything, to draw anything, really helps me to channel everything I'm feeling, that's why I chose art. But sometimes it's annoying. But sometimes it really helps me relax, you know, because it's something I like to do. I also like to read sometimes.

I do theater. I've been doing it since I was 10. And I've continued until now. I was accepted at Bordeaux. And in Bordeaux, I also took acting classes. And then I applied for Acting in the Grange in Paris, at the Cours Florent. And I was accepted. I did a week's acting course in Bordeaux last summer.

I'd like to study acting, but not in Paris. Not in France, in fact. I'd like to try and apply to Dublin, because there's a good programme there. But the problem is that I would have gone to Paris. I'd love to apply to the UK or the US, but it's just a question of money. I'd love to study Korean as well.So we'll see, but I'm trying to keep my options open.

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from France 🇫🇷

Duration of Study

Aug 2022 — Apr 2024


IB Student

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Grenaa Gymnasium

Grenaa Gymnasium

Grenaa, Denmark🇩🇰


✍️ Interview by

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Natalia from Poland 🇵🇱

IB senior & social activist

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