Balancing life between two countries, blended cultures and life in rural Jutland.
Photographs: Visit Djursland
Text: Heather Storgaard
Having visited Denmark as a teenager, my real connection to the country started when I met a Dane in my native Scotland. Before sitting down to write, I was reflecting on the places I’ve called home. I’ve never been a city person, and, looking back, I treasure the experiences of different forms of rural life.
Home or Hame, Heim or Hjem
As a child, I lived in the Swiss village of Bellach, situated on the edge of a forest and part-way between Basel and Bern. More recently, my husband and I lived in Marquartstein, an alpine town on the German Austrian border, less than an hour from Munich or Salzburg. Currently, home is both Scotland and eastern Jutland, with our time split between the two.
My husband comes from Helgenæs, a peninsula close to the Mols Bjerge national park and half an hour from the beautiful holiday town of Ebeltoft. I am looking forward to writing about life in a traditional Danish farmhouse overlooking the Kattegat sea. The seasons feel particularly important here; I recently made over twenty jars of jam for the winter and an enormous Datschi (Southern German plum cake), and October is apple picking month… The farm is down an unpaved lane, accessible from a hamlet called Esby. Many Danes consider it very remote, thanks to the country’s small size and generally low commuting times. To me, a quiet peninsula only an hour from Aarhus is the perfect location, and I hope you will enjoy reading about it.
“To me, a quiet peninsula only an hour from Aarhus is the perfect location.”
Most internationals in Denmark talk about their first impressions upon landing at Copenhagen Airport and experiencing the Danish capital. My extensive experiences of Denmark, however, are all shaped by rural Jutland. As a teenager, on holiday on the most northernly German island of Sylt (also known as Sild in Danish, lit. Herring), I took a boat trip over to Rømø to stomp around in the Danish-German mud of the Wadden Sea, known locally as a Wattwanderung (mud-flat hike). Northern-most Germany and Southern-most Jutland are similar in landscape and language, so my arrival to Denmark didn’t mean much more than muddy feet.
My second first impression, if I can call it that, was meeting my now-husband. I was studying in Edinburgh and welcoming new students to their accommodation. Officially this started at 09:00, but I was there early so that I would have time to drink plenty of coffee before the chaotic day could start. However, as I went to get my first coffee, I was told that the first arrival was already there, two hours early. So my coffee was abandoned, and I now like to say that I was the first Scot my Dane met upon moving over the North Sea, both of us having arrived typically Germanic-ly early.
Spending time in Denmark and Scotland has given me a growing interest in cultures and the things that link and divide us. This led me to return to university in a Culture and Heritage programme at Scotland’s University of the Highlands and Islands. The classes are all remote, so it doesn’t matter where I am in the world. The degree itself is aptly based on Orkney, a chain of islands Denmark gave to Scotland upon a Danish princess marrying a Scottish King.
Apart from studies, I’m also working in translation and photography. I hope I can use my writing in The International to share the unique culture of the Jutlandic countryside and how internationals can feel a part of that and contribute to it.