Studying language abroad
This page was constructed after it was revealed that some travel agencies used alarming sales techniques in order to sell their products [1].

Secondary some cities have chosen to prioritize language trips for student on the cost of education material. That is why we at Center Validering have made this information page for youth and their parents, who are thinking about a stay in a foreign country.


Language trips can adopt many forms
Will staying home produce same results?
Is it possible to learn culture abroad?
Is it possible to gain skills you could not have gained home?
Travel agencies - are they trustworthy?
Miscarriage of justice - something people are silent about
Future career
Dealing with homesickness
Security check of host families
Necessary preparations if you want to go


Language trips can adopt many forms.

Traveling abroad in order to learn a foreign country can be a short experience. Many traveling agents offers stays lasting about three weeks, but longer stays are also being advertised

Also the possibility of a stay by a family a whole year exist - perhaps as au-pair, but it has become increasing difficult due to September 11.

Some choose to attend an foreign High School as a kind of sabbatical year. The students must remind themselves that the exam has no value in the superior Danish educational system. People sees it as holiday - nothing more.

However, when it comes to higher education a stay abroad can count. Please remember to plan very carefully and speak with the educational consultants at the Danish universities, so the stay does not end up being a total waste not counting in the final exam.

Some firms has a mandatory stay as a part of their internal education of new employees. But both the youth and he or her parent should remember that it far more difficult to resign when the workplace is abroad. The employer has no obligation to secure a transportation back home. If a youth choose to seek employment in a firm using such a policy, they should set aside a sum so the youth - in the worst case scenario - can return safely back home.



Will staying home produce same results?

The answer is Yes. No investigations show that the youth will benefit to leave the home country - especially not considered the high standard of the Danish educational system. A resent Norwegian research did show that the skills of the student are equal regardless if they have been educated abroad or not [2]. Traveling is costly, so the cities should be urged to invest the limited sums on teaching aids at home rather than using money on sending students abroad.

Readjusting to the Danish society and also to a point cultural fauna polluting can be an issue if the stay last more than 10 weeks. Parents to smaller children should according to the Danish ministry of Education accept that the poor quality of education abroad often result in result in a whole year of education compared to the youth that have stay at home [3].

It does not have to either. By the use of new technology it is possible to take courses over the Internet with the same results as a trip abroad [4].

Is it possible to learn culture abroad?

The answer is yes, but it alls depend whether the youth can socialize and some countries have very strict rule regarding this area. One of these issues affects the natural relations to alcohol consumption where young Danes have a more mature relationship compared to youths in order countries. It means that Danish youth often are cut off from socializing with foreign youth when they can not act normal and according to their culture. Then the stay abroad ends up being isolation abroad, which does not benefit the youth and can be harmful.

Is it possible to gain skills you could not have gained home?

Not anymore. In the old days a drivers license was a possibility for youth staying in the United States, but stricter rules have made this impossible. making private arrangements instead of using the very pricy approved agents simply have to tough consequences (imprisonment, deportation, being banned from enter the country in the future).

Travel agencies - are they trustworthy?

No. Many families have cases in the justice system. However, most cases are never brought to trial to the legal cost. It is quiet understandable that the families try to get the bad experience over with and go on in life. Taking a case to court in Denmark is both expensive and very time consuming [5] [6] [7] [8]

Miscarriage of justice - something people are silent about

Some remembers the English student Louise Woodward, which got a conviction of 15 month for the murder of a baby in her care, but due to juridical quibbling managed to return home to the United Kingdom. Modern science  methods have cleared her of any guilt [9], but in fact it was a judgmental view of her European way of living that secured the conviction in the first place.

Recently an American student is held by the authorities in Italy solely based on the way she lived her life rather than based on real evidence. She can spend up to an year in jail without being charged.

As a stranger in a foreign country the outcome of the court is often decided in advance if the difference in culture and economy can prevent that the accused from presenting his or her defense.

Future career

A stay abroad are not considered a plus by many employers. In fact most firms sees a stay abroad a holiday rather than studying. The reason for that is that the Danish educational system is far superior than most countries - often considered second-to-none [10] [11]. They have reasonable doubt about a stay covering over a sabbatical year, which is total in opposition to the goals the Danish government has set for Danish youth regarding being introduced as fast as possible to the Danish workplace.

Dealing with homesickness

The same rules when using boarding schools apply. If homesickness is experienced from the very start one of the parents should go to the child or the entire stay should be terminated within 14 days in order to avoid long-term effects like depression. Sometimes it is the host-family that causes the trouble. Numbers as high as 20% percent are mentioned [12].

If that is the case stop consulting issues with the host-family or the local staff member from the traveling agency, which can not help anyhow. The family should arrange transportation at once without stating the reason for this decision so they stand better in court once the youth return to home, if they want to proceed with a case in court.

Returning home before time is not a defeat

When a youth decide to terminate the trip it is not a defeat. The error is such cases was to try a stay in a foreign country at all. People have to remember that the brain of young people are not as developed as it is the case by adult. They simply lack some skills when it comes to determine the longtime effect of a given action. The only part to blame is the parents that have overestimated the abilities by the child and if they want to leave their child unharmed they should realize their error fast.

Most children take all to many things for granted. That is not an error because their parents have not learned them anything else. In the United States they use wilderness therapy against children where the parents have lacked to teach this important lesson. The children return home broken when they are starved to learn how much their family means to them.

A young person who are being broken down by a combination of culture shock and a minor depression should both be helped home and be praised for valuing his or her social circle of acquaintance regardless of the economical consequences of their wrongly faith in own skillsmay turn out to be.

Possible results if homesickness is ignored

Based on the experiences a Danish host-family has experiences [13], a possibility of establishing false images in the mind of the youth can exist. The human mind is designed to spare one from experiences, which can not be handled at the present time. Then when the body reacts some 7 years after a specific incident has taken place none are in the position to decide what is wrong and what is true.

The youth owes it both to one self and to the host-family to terminate the stay prematurely because a try to ignore the problems can mean unpleasant consequences for both parties.

Security check of host families

It is only in Denmark, where background checks of the host families are done. A 16 year old Danish student was molested by a member of the host family. He was sentenced to 36 months probation and a fine of 1,500 dollars.


Necessary preparations if you want to go

It is all about planning. Use at least 18 months. Please observe these four issues carefully:

  1. Visa and passport-rules
    The result of improper paperwork can be arrest, wearing both handcuffs and leg irons following by an unpleasant deportation. Even later visits can result in the same experience if it is discovered later.  [14].

    Research this area very carefully and use the very over-priced licensed agents. There are almost no competition in this area, so: Yes - it is expensive
  2. Culture
    The worst case scenario is culture shock. Sometime people are hit by this phenomena in the arrival hall and then there is only path to take - home, before the youth are traumatized for the rest of his or her life.

    To a degree it can be avoid with good preparation. Read some literature about the country - before the stay! Expect to be challenged on the very basis of your ethnical and morale values. Compromise can be the answer to a successful stay. If you are not prepared to do that, maybe the best thing would be to stay home.

    Try to use psychology [15]. A book to read is Storti’s The Art of Crossing Cultures, (Intercultural Press Inc., 2001) ISBN 0-933662-85-8

    If Danish youth for a minute try to think about how difficult many foreigner find it to live in Denmark, they should give it a thought that when they leave Denmark, the tables are turned. Suddenly it is them, who is odd and interesting. It is not always pleasant.
  3. Are the school accredited?
    Even well known and acknowledged High schools are not what they seem. Academy at Ivy Ridge in  New York had to pay a huge fine for issuing High School exam papers, which was worth nothing.

    Check with the Danish department of Education. Some of the schools of low standard have strict rules about leaving classrooms during classes. They have also in some case poor environment surrounding the school with no parties and no alcohol. Even night curfews have been see. Do not attend them. It is not prisons people would travel abroad to live in. Social isolation can be harmful.
  4. Have an exit-plan ready
    Buy a plane ticket, which is not dated so a quick return home is possible. Even the best precautions can be proven useless, if the basis on which the trip was purchased are revealed to false and it is often the case. Remember that the rules regarding the use of boarding schools does also apply here. Terminate the stay if things are not fixed within a short time. 14 days are the time limit.

    It is quiet common to have trouble during a stay. One third choose to move to a new host family or terminate the stay.  [16]. Plan the trip home as a finished and strategically answer to problems. Then it would not be felt as a defeat.

Additional websites

This page focuses on short term language courses. If you think about living abroad these websites may help.

Navn Runned by Targeted against
Exchange Student Info International Kultur Formidling Future Exchange students. The webpage has been cited by Wikipedia.
Danes Studying Abroad C. Ekskildsen Forskningscenteret Young adult thinking about taking one semester or their entire education abroad.
DEI Danish Emigration Institute People thinking a job-related period abroad.



1) Language trip with unlawful bait, by MORTEN ZAHLE,, March 12,  2008 (Article in Danish)
2) Abroad or home - what is best?, Cirius, 30. March 30, 2006 (Article in Danish)
3) Education of Danish children abroad - The ministry of Education in Denmark 2005 (See chapter: "Practical advice once having returned to Denmark") (Article in Danish)
4) Stay home - take a course, Center for journalistisk kompetenceudvikling (UPDATE), 19. april 2005 (Article in Danish)
5) Language trip ended in nightmare, by TEA KROGH SØRENSEN,, January 9,  2008 (Article in Danish)
6) Children on language trip let down, by Ivar Juel Nordentoft Og Maria Slej-Hasselstrøm, Fyens Stifstidende, October 24,  2007 (Article in Danish)
7) A raise in the number of complaints over language trips, by Maria Slej-Hasselstrøm, Fyens Stiftidende, October 24,  2007  (Article in Danish)
8) The downside of studying abroad, Chillinet, November 11, 2004 (Article in Danish)
9) U-turn by medics clears Nanny, by Matthew Acton & Georgina Dickinson, News of the World (Article in Danish)
10) Home is best - Danske unge sætter nordisk bundrekord i at rejse ud for at studere, Søndagsavisen, uge 48/2007, side 23 (Article in Danish)
11) The career is wasted due to working abroad, by Mona Henriksen, TV2, November 28, 2007 (Article in Danish)
12) Youth on exchange abroad 2005/06, Cirius, November 28, 2006 (Article in Danish)
13) DIS host family - 14 år som DIS værtsfamilie for amerikanske studerende - Hvordan overlever man?, privat hjemmeside  (Article in Danish)
14) Visa for studying in the United States, Århus Universitet (Article in Danish)
15) Psychological preparation, (Article in Danish)

International exchange of youth - en antropologisk analyse af social forbundethed mellem udenlandske udvekslingsstudenter og danske værtsfamilier - Feltarbejdssynopsis ved Mia Priskorn, 8. sem., juni 2003. (Article in Danish)