Today’s interview is with Melanie, a British expat who is living in Denmark. Melanie is 38 and lives with her son and husband in Copenhagen, Denmark. She is a British blogger and has lived in Copenhagen since 2008 with just over a year living in Berlin. Formerly working in Public Relations she enjoys writing about things that delight and surprise her about living in Copenhagen and exploring the city with her three year old son. Melanie’s expat blog is called Dejlige Days.
Where are you originally from?
The UK. We were living in Hampshire when we left the UK but I grew up on the North Downs in Kent.
In which country and city are you living now?
We live in Copenhagen, Denmark at the moment.
How long have you lived here and how long are you planning to stay?
We moved here in March 2008 and apart from fifteen months living in Berlin between 2011 and 2013, it has been our home for almost five years.
Why did you move and what do you do?
We had recently married in the UK after thirteen years together and were looking for an adventure before we decided to start a family. My husband was lucky enough to be able to transfer with his company to their office in Copenhagen. I was jaded by my career in Public Relations so we decided to make the move. We said we would give it three years and see how we faired. I spent the first year learning Danish in the mornings at language school and balanced the rest of my time between freelance work and exploring the city.
How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
I found the transition surprisingly easy. My parents had already retired to France some years before and I knew friends would come and visit us, plus the UK is only a short flight away.
I was fired up by the adventure of living in a completely new place; with new food, language and lifestyle. I couldn’t remember being as excited by an experience since starting University back in my late teens. Every day offered a new adventure and the city opened up to us.
Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
Danes are notorious for already having strong groups of friends made at school and university but I found that I was able to make friends with other people in our building although we didn’t really socialise beyond the odd cup of tea or beer in the backyard. Nevertheless they made us feel welcome and gave me a chance to practice my baby Danish.
Most friends I made in the early days (and who remain good friends now) were through my Danish language classes so were a mix of nationalities, most usually married to a Dane.
What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
Walk around all the main tourist sites from the top of Strøget by the Rådhuspladen (city hall) to Nyhavn and then onto the Little Mermaid. You can do this in a day with the canal boat trip as well. It gives you a great feel of the history of the city.
Explore all the little side streets off Strøget (the main walking street) to discover all the little gems of shops and cafes.
Visit Torvehallerne, the fabulous covered market opened in 2011, and buy some open sandwiches to enjoy in the nearby Botanisk Haven (Botanical Gardens).
In the summer it is great to buy some take out beers and sit along the wall in Nyhavn (New Harbour) and enjoy the sun. It gets crowded and there is a great atmosphere as people kick back and relax after work.
What do you enjoy most about living here?
I love the freedom such a small and relatively safe city offers me and my family. I like the more laid back approach to life the Danes have. They seem to have a better work life balance than the UK and enjoy their free time. The taxes are high but you see what you get for your money – clean streets, great services like libraries and hospitals, and there is a greater respect for the environment and those around you.
How does the cost of living compare to home?
It is a lot more expensive as there is a larger purchase tax on everything but you soon get used to what things cost and the best places to get bargains. Plus, in general, the quality of products especially food is much higher in my opinion.
What negatives, if any, are there to living here?
The winters are very long and dark. It is OK in the run up to Christmas with all the lights and celebration but the first few months of the year are tough.
If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving here, what
would it be?
Don’t misunderstand the Danes, they are a little reserved but if you make an effort, smile, try and learn the language they can be really friendly.
What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
I didn’t find anything especially hard about my expat experience in Denmark as most people can speak English so I never felt too isolated at the beginning. I had also chosen to move here and was ready for a new adventure.
What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
- Do lots of research on line and in books about your new place.
- Treat it as an adventure.
- Once you have arrived do as much exploring on foot as your lifestyle allows.
- Learn even some basic language and try and use it.
- Reassess your expectations and don’t constantly compare your new country with your home country.
Published by ” Expats Blog “