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My best decision ever

Name: Ágnes Grélinger

Birth year: 1986

Country of origin: Hungary, Ajka

Based in: Copenhagen

Education: BA in dance and choreography

Educational institution: The Danish National School of Performing Arts

Profession: Dancer, choreographer, performer, teacher

Has lived in Denmark since: 2014

 

 

How would you describe studying in Denmark in few words?
I’m not sure it can be generalised to studying in Denmark but to study in Denmark in this particular art school was quite life changing. A psychedelic rollercoaster. The best decision ever. We had classes every day from 9 to 17.30 and spent any extra time there that we wanted. The education really opened up my eyes and made me a more independent, responsible, grateful person, ultimately a more aware, conscious human being. It changed my perspective on what dance can be and also how education itself can be done.

What made you want to study abroad?
For me the most important thing was not to study abroad. The truth is that I accidentally found the school in Denmark that suited my needs. There were a lot of magical coincidences. I was dancing in the evenings as a hobby, and I wanted to study it, dive deep. Then it turned out that a Swedish friend of a friend studied dance in Denmark. So I googled contemporary dance in Denmark, and I found Copenhagen Contemporary Dance School, which offered a preparatory program to apply for higher educations, and that was what I felt I needed at that point.  I quit my job and moved to Denmark in 1.5 weeks. I had been studying in different countries before, so I knew that studying abroad offers you a lot of chances and gives you different perspectives on life, confronts you with your beliefs and conditioning. I was up to an adventure. In Copenhagen I found out about The Danish National School of Performing Arts, applied and got in. That changed the trajectory of my life, since one year in Denmark suddenly became five and still counting.

What were the main reasons to choose Denmark as the country to study in?
To be honest, I didn’t know that much about Denmark. I chose the school, not the country. When I came here, I didn’t know anyone at all, so I had to build up a new social network, and it took quite some time to surround myself with what I have now. At times it has been hard, at times it has been easier, but it taught me a lot.

What are the hardest adjustments you had to make after coming to Denmark?
I definitely had to adjust.  There was a culture shock although it was invisible. Our cultures are not that different it seems, but below the surface they are very different. In Hungarian, I normally talk very sharply, very directly, but some people here interpreted it as if I was rude. I had to communicate in another way and curve the edges of my words. I think that in Hungary I carried the need to fight for things, I might say there is less trust in society and amongst people. I noticed that there was a lot of trust here, so I could lean into assuming that people were actually nice. I took it with me when I was back home, and I felt that people responded to me differently when I approached them with a different attitude.

How would you describe your future career plans?
I want to keep working with dance – and people and nature. Working with the body, see the world and think through the body is very important to me in whatever I do. I’m incorporating my newfound old love for photography as well. The details are unknown to me, as it is with performing arts and especially now with corona. It is hard to plan, but I’m getting better and better at inventing and re-imagining my work. Being a multi-disciplinary artist is the desire.

What did make you stay in Denmark when you graduated?
I realised that I had built my artistic network here and I would like to work with that base. I have also made a lot of friends here, I am grateful to feel like I have a circle that feels like family. Denmark has become my second home. Of course I would like to be able to work at home, I miss friends and family and the art scene. I went to Hungary for three months after I graduated to get my ground back. It was necessary. Then I came back here and realised that I was not done with Copenhagen and Denmark.

What advice would you give to another international student who plans on studying and maybe working in Denmark?
Allow yourself to realise that it takes time to arrive to another country and get to know people you can turn to. Keep your ground and build a supportive network that you can lean on. It helped me that I didn’t know a lot before I got here. You have to have an optimistic spirit so you can deal with rejections, because there will be a lot of perceived or real rejections. Be prepared with the right documents when meeting with the Danish authorities about work and residence permits and ask the questions you don’t know you need to ask! Bike a lot and enjoy the fresh air.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I don’t know where. Life is full of surprises and changes. But I see myself working as an artist. And I see myself serving others. Right now I am here and planning to stay, but things can change, so improvising with the conditions given is the best skill to have. I’m very grateful for where I am now and excited for what is coming.