Monthly Archives: October 2011

Applying for Residency (EU)

Although I am an EU citizen and should, therefore, have freedom of movement within EU countries, this doesn’t mean that I can just swan up to any country and settle there. It was, surprisingly, that easy when I moved to the UK. In Denmark I need to jump through a few more hoops however.

Border post from the election in 1920

The first on my list of things to do was applying for a registration certificate. This certificate is the piece of paper I need to be able to stay in the country for more than 3 months (or 6 months if a job seeker).

There should be three ways of applying for this certificate:

  1. at the state administration offices in Denmark,
  2. via mail or email,
  3. or at the Danish mission abroad.

As I was not yet in Denmark I tried option 3 first. I tried to call the embassy but no one seemed to know what I was talking about. I decided to try and visit the embassy in London myself, but there I was not even allowed in to speak to anyone. My final try involved getting Michael to call himself to a new number I was given, where he was told that I should apply when I get to Denmark. So option 3 was scrapped.

In the same way, it was not clear where to send the documents by email or post. I tried to call Danish Immigration but they kept on telling me that I should call somewhere else but didn’t know the number of where I should call. Also, no one seemed to know that Malta is in the EU, so that approach also didn’t work too well. I then hunted down another number online and finally got through to someone who spoke English and knew what I needed. Unfortunately it seems that although I can send them things by email, this won’t speed up the process at all as the application will only be processed once I appear in front of them in person. Therefore, I am not too sure why they list the last 2 as options.

On to my last option: waiting till I arrived in Denmark. I managed to find a list of state administration offices in Southern Denmark on the Danish Immigration Services website by going through the Danish language part using googletranslate.

Mushroom Hunting in Sønderskoven

Leigh negotiating with the weather gods

When I was living in Prague one of my Czech friends invited us on a trip to find mushrooms. I’ve never eaten mushrooms other than the ones from the supermarket so a bit reluctant I joined in on the expedition. It turns out that it’s a bit of a “National Pastime” in the Czech Republic to go mushrooms picking in autumn and most people would know which ones you can eat and which ones to leave. We found some great mushrooms and went home to eat and cook them afterwards. Nomnom!

Patti in Wonderland

Cafe International in Sonderborg (DFH) is organising a mushroom picking trip in the forest south east of the town (Sønderskoven) this Sunday with a start by the lake in the centre. To find the start time sign up to the Facebook event also so Tanja and the others know you are coming.

Play Danish Music Day

Tomorrow October 27th is the annual “Spil Dansk Dagen” (Play Danish Day) a day where Danish musicians are celebrated across the country and on the radio waves. It’s a day of celebrating music that has a Danish link either through the performer, songwriter, composer or producer.

Rev Billy

Broadcast through the radio at 11am will be communal singing across Denmark which I think is the best part of the day. People in schools, at workplaces, at home or in the car will be joining together to sing in Denmark’s biggest choir across the country. You can join whereever you are by tuning in to P2 or P4 online or on airwaves. It starts at 11.03 and lasts till 11.30. Here is the list of songs that will be sung.

In Sønderborg there are also three live events taking place:

  • Free classic concert at the main library from 4pm to 5pm with Alskvartetten. The ensemble consists of two violinists and a cellist from South Jutland Symphony Orchestra. The library is offering free coffee and presentations of the newest books and they are giving introductions to their internet services.
  • Musikorkesteret will play at 8pm. I’ve never heard of them but apparently they were quite popular in the 80s.
  • More interesting to me are Alcoholic Faith Mission and Deer Bear that will be playing at Sønderborghus at 9pm. They are both Danish bands singing in English.

UPDATE 26/10: Since we wrote this post we’ve spotted a couple more events:

  • Two of the guitar teachers from the local music school will be playing at venues around town hall. They will play from 10 to 17. In the same interval different people will play at the town hall.
  • It’s only for the 1100 employees of Sauer-Danfoss but I thought it was cool that SMUK (the regional military band) will give three concerts in the production hall for the workers. First concert is tonight at 21.30 for the night shift and then there are two more tomorrow at 13 and 15.

Upwards of 1200 musical events will take place across the country. For an updated list go to the event site at

Tomorrow is also the date of the annual Expat Dinners where Danes and expats get together for a dinner at their local library. However Sonderborg Library is not taking part so the closest Dinner is in Kolding.

The Nordic Movement has a great post with some cool Current Nordic music – not all artists in the list are Danish but quite a few are.

Photo by Sina Basila.

Sonderborg Castle #2/99

This review is based on our visit to Sonderborg Castle when we were in the area for my interview in early September. 

Fortifications in the Sonderborg Castle area have been around since the 12th century. The site, a piece of land jutting out from the island of Als into Als Fjord was excellently located to protect this area of Denmark from attacks from the south. This also puts the castle in a very picturesque location.

May 11/10 Sunset on the slot

Over time, what started out as a tower within a much larger system of fortifications developed through numerous transformations into the castle we see today. Nowadays, the castle houses the Southern Jutland Museum.

The museum covers the history of the castle on the ground floor, and the history of Southern Denmark from the middle ages to today on the upper floors. There are also exhibits of historical collections from the local area, such as of textiles and ceramics.

The museum packs quite a lot into the space without making the place feel crowded. Unfortunately, the information panels are only sporadically in English. This made it quite difficult to follow the story of any one section. I was, however, told that they are working on English translations at the moment, which is positive.

I have always loved museums, and my current studies and experiences have put me in close contact with quite a lot. So I must admit that I really appreciate having a national museum in Sonderborg. Maybe I should get more involved with it? Would love to find a way!

Photo by Judith Doyle

The Wonders of Danish Taxes

Now that the reality of moving to Denmark is slowly sinking in my sights are turning towards practicalities. I have heard that taxes in Denmark are eye-wateringly high so I decided to check things out for myself.


First of all I needed to figure out the details. In Malta, where I come from, it is relatively easy. As I haven’t lived there for a while now I asked a friend for help, and she immediately directed me towards the relevant government website which explains all the tax brackets quite clearly. The website also offers a tax calculator.

I tried to find a similar easy-to-understand description of the Danish system. However, even the google skills I have honed over years at university, including 3 years of doing a PhD, didn’t help! Most of the information I could find indicated that I would pay around 40-50% of my income in tax, but where within that range would it be?

With some help from Michael I, finally, came across a tax calculator by a fellow expat in Denmark, Paul Day. The spreadsheet is not the most user friendly application, but then that’s no fault of Paul I am sure! He also provides step-by-step information on how tax would have been calculated in 2009. (Printed the step-by-step guide takes up whopping 9 pages!)

It would be great if the information was updated as the calculator is every year. However, in the midst of a dearth of resources elsewhere this spreadsheet is the best resource I could find and does the job sufficiently. Do you know of any better resources? I would love to know!

Photo by

Photo from

Celebrating diversity and cross cultural inspiration

As Sønderborg and the rest of Denmark gets into a Christmas frenzy, Alsion Concert Hall will host a celebration of other cultures on November 20th.

Photo from

The day will be hosted by Singh & Goldschmidt, a duo with roots in the Middle East Peace Orchestra. They will bring with them a childrens choir, Mizgin Özdemir as a soloist and a 5-man strong backing band. The tunes will be an warm, eclectic mix of klezmer, Middle-eastern and Arabian music that cross borders, religion and cultures.

The concert starts at 4pm but there is also a bazaar before the concert in the lobby at Alsion thanks to the multicultural communities in Sønderborg. The place will be sizzling with food, dance and music from India, Africa, Middle-east and Denmark from 3pm.

Henrik Goldschmidt is the principal oboist of The Royal Danish Orchestra and a very active performer of traditional jewish klezmer music.

Anders Singh has Indian roots and is playing Balkan and gypsy music. He has won the title “Accordion Champion of the World”.

Mizgin Özdemir was born in Kurdistan. She plays the saz and sings, and leads a cross cultural band with members from four countries.

The children’s choir from Singh & Goldschmidt’s academy is a new choir from Copenhagen that sings in Arabic, Hebrew, Danish, English and a couple other languages.

Tickets are DKK130 for adults and DKK70 for kids and can be bought online or at the door.

UPDATE 21/11/11: We went to the show and you can read the review here.

Photo from Singh & Gildschmidt. (Via Sonderborg Kommune)

Explore Danfoss Universe #1/99

This is the first item of our 99 Things To Do in Sonderborg challenge. We went to Danfoss Univers in July 2010 during a trip to the region. This review is based on that trip. This is where I first heard of Danfoss…and in a few days I will start working there!

Danfoss Universe is a hands-on science theme park where both children and adults play their way to a knowledge of science. Here you can romp from one experiment and fun-filled natural phenomenon to the next.

Lift a car

As the blurb explains, Danfoss Univers is an interactive experience about science. It is divided into different areas where activities and displays on topics from water to energydigital technology to the origins of the Danfoss company are available.

One of my favourite areas was probably the Explorama attraction. This zone concerned concepts of creativity and intelligence. There were over 50 activities to try your hands at, from trying to mimic sentences in other languages, to mathematical and logical activities and activities testing your interpersonal intelligence.

The other attraction I enjoy was the Segway track. They apparently have Europe’s first Segway track which you can try out in the form of a sort of obstacle course which gets progressively more difficult as you learn new skills. The eye-wateringly high entrance fee could probably be excused for this experience together with the extent of hand’s on possibilities in the park.

Professor Danfoss

However it wasn’t just hands’ on exhibits that were available. There was also a science show organised once a day that I wanted to experience. Even though the 30 minute show was conducted in Danish, I found I could easily follow what was going on. I liked the fact that the show seemed to be structured in a progressive manner such that each demo built on a previous one. My quibble however? The demonstrator was dressed in a lab coat and wore a grey messed up wig. I guess this only helps to reinforce the traditional image of a scientist. But is that all scientists are? Mad, eccentric people? Identifying myself with being a scientist I would guess (or hope!) not.

Free classic concert at Alsion 31/10/2011

As part of the Classical Orchestral programme at The Royal Academy of Music the students get to work with professional ensembles. And this year the people of Sonderborg get to benefit from this.

The students will be performing together with the renowned Århus Sinfonietta and conductor Douglas Bostock. The theme will be Paris 1920 which includes work by a music collective called Le Six. Maybe this is what it will sound like:

The concert is on 31st October at 8pm in the Alsion Concert Hall. Entrance is free.

Temporary Accommodation in Sonderborg

We were offered a flat in Sonderborg through one of the housing associations. However, the place is available from the 1st of December and I start work on the 15th of November. Therefore, we have to find a place to stay in for around two weeks. This is what we found.


We found two hostels in Sonderborg. The first, Sonderborg City, is in the north-west of the city. The second, Sonderborg-Vollerup is on the city outskirts within the Vollerup neighbourhood. Both are part of the Danhostel organisation. This is a Denmark-wide chain of private and public hostels that is a member of Hostelling International, indicating that certain standards of service are met.

Let me dream


Sonderborg being an area that is quite popular with tourists, there are quite a number of B&B options. The options vary from places in the city centre, to places with views of the harbour to places with views of the forest. Luckily for us this was the off season, meaning that we could find a place at a reduced price. Here are the ones we found in Sonderborg:

Éole Airlines


We are typically more of a B&B/hostel kind of people, depending on the reason for the trip. Also, we were hoping to find a place where we had access to a kitchen, which is typically not available in hotels. Therefore, we didn’t investigate this option too deeply. However, these are the ones we found in Sonderborg city:

Time to go to bed

Of course, so far we haven’t stayed in any of these places so we cannot really provide recommendations at this point. At the moment we are leaning towards a B&B. However, we will let you know how the decision turned out once we’re in Sonderborg.

All photos in this posts are bedjumpings made by Éole Wind.

Enjoy Autumn Outdoors

The leaves are turning red and brown, it’s getting cold and windy and the Danish schools are getting close to the Potato Holiday – autumn is here.

Intense autumn

Monday October 17th the municipality in Sonderborg is celebrating the end of a project called Naturnet Als and the inauguration of a new set of walking guides (pamphlets and info boards) on nature paths on the island of Als.

After a speech by the vice-mayor a number of activities are provided by local organisations:

  • Crab catching from the bridge
  • Know your Danish trees
  • Bird spotting with the help of a guide at the bird tower
  • Plant spotting
  • Learn about fish and animals from the lake from biologist and fishermen.
  • Presentation of the new folders.
  • Pancake making over fire
  • There is pumpkin soup and bread + a beer/soft drink for each visitor
  • A character called Chapper from a kids TV show will sing nature-rap-songs(?!)

Read more in Danish

UPDATE 12/10/2011: You are encouraged to take bike or bus to the event as parking will be an issue on the small roads. For parking opportunities (and a one way street introduced for this day to help traffic flow) see the map here.