IB Diploma at Grenaa Gymnasium in Denmark

IB in a Danish Context

Two IB1 students explain about their IB experience at Grenaa Gymnasium

A total of 520 students are currently enrolled in the three upper-secondary programmes at Grenaa Gymnasium and 200 of them are Pre-IB and IB students from many parts of the world and with diverse backgrounds.

Marie Lienemeyer from Belgium and Alessandro Samueli from Italy are among them. They are currently IB1 students and have been enrolled at Grenaa Gymnasium since start of the school year in August 2021.

– I think it is important to have and international perspective on today’s world and an international mindset. You need to establish connections, Alessandro explains about his motive for opting for the IB programme. – And I preferred to go to a country in Northern Europe because in my view they offer better opportunities for young people. I might want to pursue my further education here, he adds.

Marie explains that she had visited Denmark several times. – My impression was that this country is well organized and this means that if you need support, you can get it. I come from a very international school background so it was natural for me to apply for admission to the IB programme. I like the IB structure with fewer subjects that allows you to go more into depth and that you get to elect the subjects you prefer. I also value CAS (Creativity Activity Service, ed) that keeps you active besides the academic school work.

Marie further explains that she applied for admission at Grenaa Gymnasium because she has a passion for horses that she can live out here, as there is a horse college nearby. – It is 10 minutes from here by bike and I go there twice a day, she explains.

Alessandro became aware of the IB programme at Grenaa Gymnasium through a friend, a former IB student also from Italy, that recommended the school to him.

Talk to an IB student

Learning in an informal and friendly atmosphere

One thing that many international students mention when asked to characterize the learning environment at Grenaa Gymnasium is that the atmosphere is informal and friendly. Marie and Alessandro confirm this.

– The teachers tell you to do things, but they do not run behind you. You do not feel this pressure all the time. I find that very helpful, because I am not afraid of making a mistake.

Marie agrees. – The pressure isn’t felt so much even though the IB programme is demanding, and there is a lot of help if you need it. They want you to learn to be on your own, but you are supported if you need it, she explains and adds: Learning to be responsible is a healthy thing and you need self management at the university.

Alessandro nods. – You have to get used to how things work here and if you have problems managing your time you can join the homework café, or perhaps get a tutor, or simply study with friends.

Going to school is more than going to classes. Read about extra-curricular activities at Grenaa Gymnasium

Learning to focus on how to improve

– I think, the most common trait among the teachers is that they want the students to be active in class, because that helps you to stay engaged and learn it better, Alessandro says.
– They apply many different teaching methods, Marie adds. – Overall I like the way they teach, because they want us to think for ourselves. Some of them let you take notes on your own, others explain first, and then take notes. There is a lot of group work and that is a good way to interact with other people for learning purposes.

Marie finds that the lack of heavy pressure has to do with the students not getting graded constantly. This however, has a back side she feels. – For example right now I feel a bit lost, because I do not know how well I am doing, so I look forward to the coming consultations with my teachers.

IB Coordinator Eike Strandsby explains:
– This feeling Pre-IB and IB1 students might encounter during their time at Grenaa Gymnasium. In our experience, too many students that are used to very frequent grading tend to focus on the grades and not on how to improve. They tend not to pay enough attention to the formative feedback they receive from their teachers. By insisting more on formative feedback and less on summative feedback during Pre-IB and IB1, we try to teach them to focus on the proces of learning as much as on the end result. In IB2 students are graded more frequently.

Read more about Pre-IB and IB Diploma at Grenaa Gymnasium

Boarding life

Alessandro and Marie were among the many new students moving in at Grenaa Gymnasium’s boarding facilities in August. Almost all the Pre-IB and IB students at Grenaa Gymnasium live at the boarding school and they form the majority there.

Read more about Grenaa Gymnasium’s Boarding School

Like other IB schools in Denmark, Grenaa Gymnasium has experienced a big increase in IB applicants and has had to expand the boarding capacity by renting boarding rooms at the neighbouring campus and to turn a former janitor house to boarding rooms. So the boarding school has several departments that are all within 5 minutes’ walk from the school.

Marie and Alessandro feel that they have settled in well. – In the first two weeks there were many activities to get us to socialize and feel comfortable and generally there are often activities that you can join, for example in the weekends and most of us do, Marie explains.

– I am actually more social here than I used to be. I used to spend more time on my own and it is a bit of an issue for me right now, Alessandro says. – More time management will be the solution, he adds.  One does not, however get the impression that the problem is alarming.

– I think, you have to create your alone time here, Marie says. If you have a single room that is of course no problem. I share a double room, and I get on well with my room mate.

The Boarding School is run by the Head of Boarding School and a team of boarding teachers. – They are always accessible, Marie explains. – They’ll help you if you need it. I think, that if I had a problem, I would feel comfortable talking to one of them.