If moving abroad was easy, everyone would do it, right? Yet looking at the statistics it seems that only around 232 million migrants live abroad worldwide. Knowing the fact that there are over 7 billion people on Earth, the fraction of 232 million looks incredibly small… So if you have decided to move abroad and are currently residing outside of your home country (or have done that for a while) – congratulations! You are a part of a small amount of people, who can proudly call themselves risk-takers.
1. Leaving home takes courage
Every year students leave the comforts of their homes to experience living abroad, culture shock, learn a new language, travel, meet new people and open a new chapter in their lives which usually is quite demanding. It takes time to do your research, it takes time to prepare mentally for changes and, once you arrive, it is hard to cope with homesickness. Sometimes you may find yourself thinking that you would just like to pack your luggage and go home right now. However, such moments do pass and usually become the situations that change you most. All in all, travel changes you. Not only does the fact that you have lived abroad changes you – the new culture, new friends and new environment impacts you, so you have to be flexible and adaptable. Does it surprise you that the great majority of employers prefer to employ candidates who have lived abroad for a while, believing that they adapt to changes faster?
2. Learning Danish is not easy
Before moving to Denmark you might have heard of the Little Mermaid, vikings or the fact that Danes are a biking nation. You might have also heard that Danish is similar to Swedish, which is similar to Norwegian, which makes it easy for Scandinavians to understand each other without any problems. Wrong! There are a number of Danes who speak English to their friends from other Scandinavian countries as they might have different dialects, especially if they lived in smaller cities further away from capitals. It takes time to adjust. And for internationals, it definitely takes time to learn the language since, unfortunately, none of Scandinavian languages are easy to learn. If you happen to speak German it will probably go a lot easier and if you have a good command of English language (particularly grammar), Danish grammar will seem to be easy to understand. Unfortunately, a lot of internationals struggle with pronunciation.
As Danish is said to be a hard language to learn, Danes really appreciate if you speak at least basic Danish and show an effort in learning it. Even though nearly everyone in Denmark speaks perfect English, people are still thrilled and happy hearing foreigners speaking Danish. Besides, if you speak at least OK Danish your chances of getting a job in Denmark increase at least twice.
3. It takes effort to find Danish friends
If you happen to be in US, you notice that people have no problems talking and chit-chatting with strangers. In Denmark, people usually try to keep distance and do not chit-chat without a specific goal. Danish keep their childhood or school friends for a really long time and barely make new friends when they start working. However, if you do show an effort in communicating with Danes it does pay off probably a lot more than anywhere else in the world – you can be sure that you have “earned” a friend for life.
4. Simple things = best things
Internationals are usually surprised how simple Danish cuisine is. Traditional meal of Denmark is… sandwich! Yes, you got it right, sandwich. Danish are proud of their traditional open sandwich, made out of a dark, buttered rye bread (called rugbrød) and the topping (called pålæg) which is usually meat, fish, cheese or spreads. Danes try to “layer” bread with additional things on top, such as vegetables and greens and so on making the sandwich, one of the easiest and simplest dishes existing, actually look nice and appetizing. If you want to make a Dane happy, give him a couple of good-looking open sandwiches, a jug of beer and initiate a discussion. By doing so a couple of times, you might find a friend (re-read nr.3).
5. The less, the better
Before you come to Denmark, you probably have taken more than 2 big luggage bags with you full of clothes, shoes and toiletries. Maybe even some food. Ask yourself whether you really need to pack everything you own? Do you need to bring bed bedding or a toothpaste – can’t you buy it in Denmark? After all, Denmark is all about second-hand purchases. It is very easy (and nearly every single student) buys second-hand furniture, clothes, accessories, kitchenware and so forth. Remind yourself, that you will most likely purchase some things in Denmark and will not be able to bring all of it home, if you ever intend to. Remember, that Copenhagen has IKEA (cheap furniture) and a number of great second-hand stores where you can get probably everything you need.