Meet one of IA Sprog's students ✻ João ✻ sketcher and site manager at CMT

Copenhagen viewed through the tip of a pencil

Copenhagen is a city that holds many things. It has nature, water and fascinating buildings. Portuguese João Albergaria captures all these things. He captures them through his sketches.

João is 48 years old and lives in Bagsværd. He was born in the Azores and later moved to Porto in order to train to be an architect. Besides Portuguese he speaks Spanish, Italian, English, French and some Danish. João has drawn everything from Frederiksholm Kanal to Storkespringvandet to Bispebjerg Hospital.

Job in Denmark through af friend

In 2012 João was actually about to move to Algeria, but through a friend he got a job for the metro construction in Copenhagen and moved up here instead. João didn’t know so much about Denmark back then:

“When my friend said that the job was in Denmark, I only thought of LEGO and vikings. I did not really understand what Denmark was. I didn’t know anything about Danish politics or anything like that, I just knew that it was a rich country.”

João works for the company CMT (Copenhagen Metro Team) as site manager at Gammel Strand Station. He does not work as an architect directly, his work is with organizing:

“I organize all activities on site. I explain the drawings to the building workers, order materials and talk to security representatives.”

The movie ’Den eneste ene’

João is taking a break from language school at the moment, because he is working so much. He attended Danish Language Course 3 and was almost done with module 4. In the beginning, when he was learning Danish, it was the mostly out of curiosity and to get a bit closer to the Danes:

“It was mostly for fun, I was curious. I also thought that it would make it easier to get along with Danes. It was nice to learn some Danish. Danes are more open, if you are open too and trying your hand at Danish. It’s good to show at least a bit of interest in the country’s language.”

Unfortunately, most work is conducted in English at João’s workplace, so he doesn’t really get to use Danish there:

“I don’t need Danish for work, we speak English. But a couple of times I have surprised some of my Danish colleagues, when they found out that I could understand them when they spoke Danish to each other.”

João finds pronunciation difficult, but he understands quite a bit of Danish. He had a great feeling of success, when one of his teachers showed his class the Danish film ‘Den eneste ene’, and João could understand everything without subtitles. In general João has been pleased with his time at IA Sprog:

“I had Thorkild, Charlotte and Bodil as teachers, and they were all amazing. I have great memories from here, they provided me with vast amounts of knowledge. The teachers in Baghuset have also helped me a lot with, for example, test training.”

Good beer, less exciting food

Like all other foreigners João finds there are advantages and disadvantages of living in Denmark. He mentions the wonderful Danish summer with its the long, bright days, and that people are more relaxed and happy in the summertime. The atmosphere in the Danish cities is also nice, and Copenhagen feels like a pretty safe town. João has a clear attitude towards what we eat and drink,

“You have good beer, but I do not think that Danish cuisine is very imaginative …”

He also adds ‘the classic dilemma’ of many foreigners in this country – it can be difficult to make Danish friends and speak Danish with them.

“Danes are generally friendly, but they are not very good at make friends as adults, they keep very much to their friends from school. Danes are also very good at English. But that means it can be difficult to get to practice Danish with Danes.”

Sketcher in the sparetime

João does sketching as a hobby, he is part of the Urban Sketchers Copenhagen Facebook group, and he has a lot of sketches on his Instagram profile. He likes to draw and has a good eye for catching the city’s atmosphere:

“You can express yourself through sketching, you recreate the atmosphere of a given place”.

For João, drawing is a way to relax: “I stress down when I draw. It helps me to relax.”

Need Danish to find a new job

João would like to stay in Denmark and continue to work here, and he is aware that he is going to need Danish more seriously later on:

“I’m going to need Danish to find a new job when this project with the Metro is finished. I will be applying for a new job in about a year’s time. And it is easier to find a job here, if I speak Danish.”

But he wants to work less, since he now works between 10 and 11 hours a day.

“I would like to work no more than 37 hours a week in the future, so I have more time to draw”, he ends with a hopeful smile.