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I went to Denmark the day before my Cambridge tripos exam

Here’s what happened


Everyone knows that after a long hard day spent revising, the best thing is to head down to the bar with all your friends. That’s exactly what I did, only to wake up three days before my Latin exam to find my bank account £30 lighter and plane tickets to Denmark in my wallet the next day. Ryanair really should introduce a breathalyser test. 

Now, I only knew three things about Denmark: It was rather cold, the football team was quite good, and the Danish word for comfy socks was hyggesokker. Fearing, therefore, I’m either about to freeze to death, or be forced to remember Nicklas Bendtner’s torrid spell at my beloved Forest (admittedly, I wasn’t particularly worried about comfy socks), I attempted to cancel the flights, but my efforts were in vain. Ryanair refused everything I tried, and to my horror I now had a holiday booked one day before my final exam. One might say, “Frankie, you fool, just take the hit, it’s only £30!”, and many people did just that. But I am nothing if not miserly, and for the sole sake of not losing money, I resigned myself to my Danish fate. 

Image credit: Frankie Hill

Now I had booked my tickets to a town named Aalborg, which I had assumed was the second biggest city in Denmark. A quick Google search swiftly showed me that the second biggest city was, in fact, Aarhus, and that I was (consequently) in a bit of trouble. I had planned, you see, to get the train from Aarhus to Copenhagen, a bit of a trek to be sure, but a worthwhile one. Aalborg, on the other hand, turned out to be the most northerly city in Denmark, and absolutely miles away from anything of interest (sort of like a Danish Inverness). Since I had assumed that making it to Copenhagen would not be an issue, I had booked my hotel there. Not in Aalborg. 400km away. Drat. Thankfully I managed to get a refund, and I got a hotel room in Aalborg (pretty much the only one in the entire province), but it was most certainly an inauspicious start.

Image credit: Frankie Hill

After landing,  I walked up to the immigration desk, got shouted at in Danish for the dilapidated state of my passport, then quizzed extensively in very broken English about coming to Aalborg as a tourist for only one night. This was the third cause for concern: Nobody in Aalborg spoke much English, and my Danish didn’t extend past “hello”, “thank you”, and “defibrillator” (hej, takk, and the wonderful hjertestarter respectively). It was going to be a long day, made even longer by the fact that the only train to leave this airport to the centre of Aalborg left every two hours, with one pulling away just as I sprinted onto the platform. As they say in Danish, åh gud. Now one might think that, given my exam was in two days, I might’ve considered bringing some Latin with me to be getting on with in case of such emergencies. However, I am a fool, and very much did not.

After landing,  I walked up to the immigration desk, got shouted at in Danish for the dilapidated state of my passport, then quizzed extensively in very broken English about coming to Aalborg as a tourist for only one night. This was the third cause for concern: Nobody in Aalborg spoke much English, and my Danish didn’t extend past “hello”, “thank you”, and “defibrillator” (hej, takk, and the wonderful hjertestarter respectively). It was going to be a long day, made even longer by the fact that the only train to leave this airport to the centre of Aalborg left every two hours, with one pulling away just as I sprinted onto the platform. As they say in Danish, åh gud. Now one might think that, given my exam was in two days, I might’ve considered bringing some Latin with me to be getting on with in case of such emergencies. However, I am a fool, and very much did not.

Following that, I reached the burial site. It was rather powerful, and to top it off there was a nice little restaurant, with what seemed to be very reasonable prices. Turns out I got the exchange rate completely and utterly wrong (I thought it was 10 krone to the pound, not six as the rate on my card was), and paid £17 for mushroom toast that came with neither mushrooms nor toast (although this was probably due to my terrible Danish). 

Image credit: Frankie Hill

Thanks to what I now assume is my complete fluency in the Danish language, my mood was as high as a kite. Yet, upon arriving at the hotel, that kite was shot down by a million tiny bullets. Upon queueing for 20 minutes to get to the desk, a very grumpy-looking Danish teenager informed me that, in my infinite wisdom, I had managed to book my room for the wrong month. If I wanted to get into my room, I had to come back later in July. Never wanting to set foot in this town again as long as I lived, I made the wise decision to change my booking, in a sour mood, and my bank balance in an even worse one. And… oh great… my supposed “double bed” was, in fact, a bunk bed. 

The rest of the trip passed relatively without incident. I did a little sightseeing around the town, went to a Danish McDonalds for tea, had a nice walk along the fjord and went to sleep. As I took off, however, I was absolutely bricking it for my exam the next day. I eventually did manage to get a first, one of the few exams I did so in, only to be told that as it was only Latin prose composition, it counted for absolutely nothing unless I was on a grade boundary and all my panic was for nothing. Alas.