Pursuing adult education in Denmark
Photographs: Unsplash / Kelly Kristensen
Text: Skyler Bentley Hall
Kelly Kristensen is from the American Midwest, but she spent most of her life in Northern Illinois working as an English and German high school teacher before settling in Midtjylland. Married to a Dane, Kelly and her two boys moved to Denmark in 2016 so they could try something new, and for Kelly, that meant reinventing herself personally and professionally. Kelly shares her courageous story of entrepreneurial efforts and academic pursuits in Denmark.
Why did you choose to pursue further education in Denmark?
I had my teaching license approved by the Danish government and worked for two and a half years at an international school before exploring other interests. After starting a blog and YouTube channel called My New Danish Life, I soon discovered I had to gain more marketing knowledge. I found the International Marketing Management course at Dania Academy offered in English. Getting a Danish education had a lot of positives. Not only would it help me in what I was doing on my own blog, but it could lead to something more. I was happy to do an internship in Denmark as part of my programme. This gave me experience in my field at a Danish company before applying for jobs. It helped me get to where I am today, and I feel fortunate to have found a great job only three months after graduating.
"It was scary to go back to school to be in a room full of 19/20-year-olds while having a family life at home, but I knew that if I was ever going to make something new happen for me, I would have to do something new."
How have you reinvented yourself?
The language barrier can make you seem less intelligent than you really are, as you struggle to communicate in the new language. English isn’t widely used where I live, so I had to change a lot about myself to fit the Danish mould. My small-town, Danish surroundings have affected my behaviour, way of thinking, parenting style, and social life. I really had to become a new person, but it took me many years of fighting this feeling before I accepted it. It has now been six years in Denmark, and though I still struggle to understand some things, I feel that I have more of a connection to the country and its people through my blog and YouTube channel. I can experience Denmark and share these experiences with other expats and Danes who are curious to know more about foreigners. It has helped me transition from being a teacher who constantly communicated and educated others in the classroom to share it online with the blog and YouTube.
Would you like to share some words of encouragement for newcomers in Denmark?
I often heard from other expats when I told them that I was going back to school over the age of 40, “that is so awesome. I wish I could do that!” For many of them, reinventing themselves seems like a faraway idea that is only for the selected few, but from those conversations, it always seemed that many have thought about it. It was scary to go back to school to be in a room full of 19/20-year-olds while having a family life at home, but I knew that if I was ever going to make something new happen for me, I would have to do something new. I would love to encourage other people to do the thing that they feel only happens to other people. Face it - many people back home would probably love to live abroad but never do it. We did it, and there are many more things we can do. Denmark is a great place to do that if you want to change careers since education is part of the culture. No matter the age. Don’t feel that you have to keep doing the same thing, because it is all you. Now is the time to start something new and see where it takes you.