Monthly Archives: March 2012

Dybbøl – Denmarks Killing Fields

In 1864 Denmark was massively defeated by the Austrian/Prussian armies on a hill just outside today’s Sønderborg around Dybbøl, a village on top of a hill. The politicians in Copenhagen had little knowledge of what the conditions were on the ground and called on the army to defend the fortification by any means. The Danes were outmanned one to nine and once the Prussians attacked they completely overran the Danish defense.

In two years time the biggest TV production ever made in Denmark will tell the story of the people of the battle of Dybbøl. We will write more about that when we hear it.

For now you can see a music video recently released by the Danish country singer Lars Lilholt where he sings about the battle and calls it Denmark’s Killing Fields. Parts of the video is shot in hills in Dybbøl with old cannons etc.

If you want to learn more about the battle, the Dybbøl History Centre will open for the 2012 season on April 1st.

Danfoss Orchestra Spring Concert

Danfoss Orkestret is a 38-man brass band linked to Danfoss. Despite the amateur status it is known for the high-quality, and entertaining, concerts it puts on.

One of the highlights of the Danfoss Orchestra season is its spring concert. This year the concert will be held at Alsion on the 17th of April at 20:00. Another important thing about this concert is that it is free!

Tickets can be picked up at Sonderborg Tourist Office tomorrow (Friday 30th March) at 3pm. You might think that this means that it is easy to get tickets. Unfortunately not! Since it is a very sought-after concert, we are told that people often queue for hours to get tickets. So if you want those tickets don’t leave it too late!

Danfoss Universe Opening 2012

My first experience of Als was Danfoss Universe on a trip to Denmark around two and a half years ago. It was a great first taste of what the area has to offer, and in fact was the first ‘thing‘ to make it onto our 99 things to do in Sonderborg list.

Danfoss Universe is closed during the winter months, so we haven’t been able to visit since moving here in November. However, this can soon change as the park will open again on the 1st of April.

To entice you into visiting on this first day a full-day programme has been put on, consisting of events ranging from a treasure hunt in the morning (be there by 9:50 if you want to participate), a free workshop to build the day’s fastest car, and a Science show battle between Aalborg and Aarhus universities.

If you have already been to the park, besides the day’s activities, there is also a new attraction at the park this year: a 5D simulator that will let you experience the human body – from the veins to the immune system.

If that isn’t enough of an incentive, if you arrive between 9:00 and 9:50 you will also get free entry into the park for the day! Free tickets for the day are also being given out at a number of events around town, including during the weekend’s motorway activities ;).

Superliga Football Match

Ann works at Danfoss and they are one of the main sponsors of the local professional sports club so once in a while they get tickets offered for games. Ann was lucky to get tickets for last Sunday’s football game, where the local club SønderjyskE hosted the team from Silkeborg.


The full name of the club is Sønderjysk Elitesport (Southern Jutlandic Elite Sport) and the club was founded as a regional sports club in 2004 when it was decided that city based teams in the region needed better support from fans and sponsors in order to make it in the professional leagues. The club consists of two professional football teams (male and female) based in Haderslev, two handball teams (male in Sønderborg and female in Aabenraa) and an ice hockey team (male) in Vojens.

The football club has over the past decade hovered at the top of the Danish 1st division and bottom of Superligaen, the Danish version of Premier League, with 5 seasons in each league.

This year SønderjyskE is trying to stay clear of the bottom of Superligaen where the bottom two will get relegated. So far it’s succeeding – barely.


We went to see the game against SIF from Silkeborg. A win or a draw would mean that SønderjyskE had a buffer from the two teams getting relegated.

The game didn’t start out too well, with SIF getting a two goal lead before half-time so things looked pretty bleak. The local fans were not deterred though and kept singing and drumming.


Soon after the second half started SønderjyskE made a surprising comeback with two goals in quick succession!


The score was 2-2 and the atmosphere was great, the local team was in the game again. But as SønderjyskE caught up it was as if the team let down their guards or the air ran out of the balloon. SIF scored two more goals and the final result was a disappointing 2-4.

Although it was a cold, grey day to spend a couple of hours standing around we really enjoyed the day at the stadium. We hope to get to see the other teams sometime soon, hopefully in slightly warmer conditions!

A First Jaunt on Motorvej M51

So far, Sonderborg has not been connected to the E-road network connecting Europe with a motorway. This situation will be improved in a week’s time when Motorway M51 opens (PDF), reducing the transport time from Sonderborg by around 20 minutes.

The new motorway will connect Sonderborg to road E45, which goes from Sweden in the north, through Denmark, and south to Sicily, at Kliplev. However, before the cars get the benefit of the road, people by their own power have been let lose onto the road to experience it while they can.

Just before the start of the race

Today was the first such possibility, with the motorway races at 5km, 10km, half marathon and marathon distances. Around 9300 runner took part (including your Hej Sonderborg authors!). This being my first organised 5km race I am happy that I finished… though my body feels quite stiff at the moment!

Me the happy runner

However, if you didn’t get to experience the road today, don’t despair. The second such event is tomorrow, when it is possible to ride your bike and walk on the motorway. Unfortunately, if you haven’t signed up already, the registration has closed. Nevertheless, if you are in the area do drop by. If it is anything like today you can look around at the different stands, munch your way through a sausage from the Lions Club, cheer on the participants, and even ride a Segway thanks to Danfoss Universe (who were also giving away free tickets for next week’s opening of the park!).

Update: Short observations from my first race

  • Surprised at the number of women ‘athletes’ with heavy make-up
  • Impressed at the organisation
  • Very clear that most of the kids had no concept of pacing themselves. They just alternated sprinting a short distance and walked a good chunk more.

Update 2:

Here is a cool time-lapsed video by Mikkel0305 from the day:

Fastest and cheapest from Copenhagen to Sonderborg?

Just a quick post for those you are looking for a quick answer. Prices are updated March 2014.


Train 571

  • Duration: 4 hours and 6 minutes
  • Regular Price: 399DKK (54EUR)
  • Book with DSB

The train leaves every two hours you need to change at Copenhagen Main Trainstation (København H) where you have about 14 minutes to change. There are escalators and elevators in case you have a lot of luggages.

Discount tickets know as “Orange tickets” are available if you book long time in advance and for a specific train departure. Orange tickets for the Copenhagen Airport – Sønderborg route is typically 149DKK or 257DKK.


Looks like Baloo's plane

On weekdays there are flights leaving Copenhagen at 8.30, 14.30, 18.30 and 21.45. Saturdays and sundays there are one flight each way. The flight leaves from the domestic airport. The taxi ride from Sønderborg airport to city center takes 8 minutes and cost about 150DKK.

UPDATE March 2014: Now it is Alsie Express that flies the Copenhagen – Sønderborg route. Prices and times are updated.

Hail the Start of a New Movement

Hail ‘The Movement’! All hail ‘The Movement’! What movement?

The Movement of Doing Something About It.

Huh? Come again?

The movement of doing something about it‘ (I will call it TMODSAI from now on – I’m a scientist after all…I love abbreviations) emerged out of the Sonderborg 2017 bid currently vying to make Sonderborg and the border region European Cultural Capital in 2017. It is one of the ways that the people of Sonderborg are showing that even though Sonderborg may not have the resources of a big city, if we want something to happen we are willing to work to make it happen.

TMODSAI was launched on the 6th of March at Alsion. As was clearly explained during the launch, this is not a movement where your only role is that of a spectator. As the following video shows, a movement is all about participating and being part of what is going on.

I was at first slightly apprehensive at moving to Sonderborg from London. However, seeing all the energy that the people have I have been impressed. So what are you waiting for? Become part of the movement… organise an event… be a follower for others’ events… do something about it!

Sports shooting in Sønderborg #12/99

Shooting Target

At a Newcomers Network meeting recently we met an Icelandic/Guatemalan couple that told us about the local indoor shooting range. They used to go there regularly but had not been for a while. So we all agreed that all four of us should try to go together.

The local sports shooting club has an outdoor range that is used during summer but in winter they get their kicks in the basement of Humlehøj-hallen.

We met up outside Humlehøj-Hallen and entered deep into the ‘vaults’ in search of the shooting range. (Really you just need to follow the signs but there were quite a number of doors in the basement, so you might not get it right the first time).

Ann getting instructed by Birkir

Once inside the shooting range we were met by a couple of gentlemen who gave us the equipment we needed (two air guns, 4 targets each and bullets) and showed us into the range. Birkir is an experienced shooter so he showed us how the mechanics worked and how to load and aim the guns and we were ready to shoot.

Ann shooting

We shot one trial and three regular rounds of ten shots and by then our arms were getting tired.

Checking results

The cost per person was a meager 8DKK and we were entertained for about an hour which makes this one of the cheapest activities around.

To try it out just show up on Mondays or Wednesdays in summer or Tuesdays or Thursdays in winter. More detail on the website of Sønderborg Skyttekreds.

Getting acclimatised: A new city. A new country.

For the first 20 years or so of my life I pretty much lived in the same country, same town, same house. Living in such a small community as Malta has undoubtedly given me characteristics that are Maltese through and through: an urge to speak loudly, talk with my hands, have an opinion about everything (sometimes just for the sake of it, or to play the devil’s advocate). This doesn’t really go down well with people up north!

Colourful houses in Sonderborg

Sonderborg is the 6th city I have lived in for more than a month (after Zurrieq-MT, Konstanz-DE, Prague-CZ, London-GB & Pisa-IT). So I didn’t jump into the experience of moving to a new country with my eyes shut tight. I had also regularly visited Denmark over the past four years to visit Michael’s family and friends, which gave me first hand knowledge of some of the typical characteristics of living here.

Nevertheless, moving to a new country often has its challenges. You have to learn the unwritten norms and values of the place, without losing yourself completely. Sometimes you need to first accept the way things are done before you can understand it. This is not easy for a scientist used to (and being paid to) ask ‘Why? Why? Why?’!

Blue sky and trees

There are different strategies that people can implement to aid (and sometimes hinder!) their acclimatisation. These are often very evident when reading the blogs of other foreigners living in a country. You see the ones who only let themself focus on the good and positive. Others for whom the negative is even more pertinent. Then there are the ones in between.

The strategies one employs also depends on where in the adjustment process one is. Kalervo Oberg, a world renowned anthropologist defined five phases of cultural shock when moving to a foreign country:

  1. Honeymoon phase: The newcomer feels excited and thrilled by new experiences, opportunities and environment.
  2. Crisis: When cultural differences become more annoying and irritating to the newcomer.
  3. Acceptance: Once one has learned more about the culture and accepted the differences, an understanding of the country develops.
  4. Adjustment: Comes after learning to deal with the positive and negative aspects of the new country.
  5. Reverse culture shock: Applies when returning to the home country, one can be shocked of the customs of one’s own home country.

So how am I coping?

Looking back over the past few months I can now very clearly see the strategy I am employing. I am like a pressure cooker, which needs to be vented every so often but most of the time is happily whistling away. My venting often happens when I am with other foreigners (which has probably results in one guy telling me I complain too much…you know who you are :P).But really? I am happy here! I enjoy my job, have enough time after work to enjoy what I like, and the weather is not all that bad. So if you hear me complain a bit here, please do not take it personally if you are Danish. Hope we can be friends ;).

Guided walks in the countryside

Sonderborg Municipality is organising free nature walks with ranger Jesper Tofft throughout the year.

The municipality covers a wide variety of landscapes and habitats and the walks will take you to many of these. Coasts, meadows, lakes, ponds, bogs, beech forests and more. Jesper will talk about the birds, frogs, insects, plants and other things you come across on the walks.

It is free to participate in the walks. You just have to be at the right place at the right time. Do note that the walks will be conducted in Danish so you might consider bringing your own English interpreter (me?) if you are not proficient in Danish.

Show Naturvejleder i Sønderborg Kommune on a big map

Søndag 18. marts kl. 10-12
Hartsø på Kegnæs ▪ Vi ser på trækfugle, vadefugle og rovfugle

Søndag 22. april kl. 10-12
Bjørnkær på Nordals ▪ Vi ser på kystnatur, trækfugle og meget mere

Torsdag 10. maj kl. 19-21
Folekobbel og Skeldekobbel på Broagerland ▪ Bøgen er sprunget ud, og vi lurer på Stor Skallesluger og natuglen i deres redekasser særligt godt på.

Torsdag den 24. maj kl. 21-23
Viemosen og Dybbøl Banke ▪ Vi lytter til fuglenes aftensang og kvækkende frøer

Søndag 17. juni kl. 14-16
Fjordmosen og Bosted Made ved Nørreskoven ▪ Enge, sumpskov, strandvoldskyst – måske ser vi sommerfugle

Lørdag 18. august kl. 15-17
Kværs Hede ▪ Den eneste hede i Sønderborg Kommune

Søndag 16. september kl. 10-12
Oldenor og Mjels på Nordals ▪ Havørnens landskab

See the full programme by Sønderborg Kommune.