Denmark – it is the land of opportunity.
A student arrives to Copenhagen from the Himalayas, full of hopes and dreams. “Denmark is the land of opportunity,” he thinks, “and I will complete my education in this prosperous country.”
And so he begins his studies. Shortly after, he starts to work, making money to keep his livelihood sustainable. After all, his non-EU citizenship makes him responsible for his hefty education fees, totalling nearly 40,000 kroner. Sometimes, his passions wane. He feels tired and wonders why he has come to this new nation, cursing his fate. But the thought is soon banished – he must get back to work, he must keep studying, he must finish what he set out for when he left his home.
He is not a citizen of Europe, and he finds people tend to treat him poorly or show hatred towards him at school or at work. His differences give him few chances to get a good job with good pay, which makes it extremely difficult to make ends meet. Put simply, he finds he is the one who earns the least but pays the most. As a student, he has limited responsibilities – go to school, learn, and pay tuition. As a human being, however, he has many more – he must eat, he must pay taxes, he must live and have fun and feel some freedom.
Some days feel monotonous, but some days brim with potential – routines are created, school feels under control, colleagues become friendly. New ways, new ideas, new energy makes everything feel smooth. Family and friends are still active in his life, and he shares his happiness with them.
But suddenly a day comes with worries, and a tired body feels restless, with endless tossing and turning. Late last night, he heard his friend left to return to his home country, leaving his studies unfinished. Of a sudden, his situation feels very real – if he faces the same problems, what would he do with his future?
Alas! Everything seems like its crashing. He recalls his friend has just paid for his entire semester, but he left without finishing his education. He wonders whether he could get his money back if he chose to leave. He calls his friend, who says his departure was caused by working more hours than he was allowed, which the government considers a crime. What a punishment, he thinks; it’s even more purposeless and aggressive than torturing an innocent calf.
He recalls the last time he met with his friend. They had fun, but his friend was concerned. “At my company,” said his friend, “contractors pay less, and they don’t pay nearly enough unless you do exceptional work. It becomes almost necessary to work overtime.”
And even though his friend’s record was clean – he paid his taxes, he never took social benefits, his school attendance was good, he always purchased transportation tickets, he was good at his job, and he never committed any violent crimes – he was still being sent home.
Although his friend did, by definition, commit this crime, wouldn’t it have been better to give him a warning first before ordering him back to his home country? It could have been a lesson, but now it has seriously put his future in jeopardy. What would happen to his studies? What would happen to his career? His friend had to leave his dream behind, and now he felt like he had lost.
The story of his friend is a constant reminder of the fragility of this dream and the ceaseless worries among students in similar positions – will he last long enough to see his dream come true?
Author’s identity witheld by request