I cannot believe that it has been more than year since I moved to Denmark. And I think it's a good time to share my experiences so far (in a nutshell!). I'm dedicating this post to Maria, who asked me how I adapted to my new surroundings.
In summary, Denmark was what I hoped for. In many aspects this place has made me appreciate the more intangible things about life, and has given me the time for self reflection. My lifestyle in Singapore was not giving me much fulfilment at the time. And, I felt that if I worked harder for my job, I could make the hard earned salary work even better. But, it didn't give any sort of meaning.
My project work in Denmark has been rewarding in many ways. And, when you have work objectives in mind, all the other things seem to fall in place very quickly. Work hours are very flexible here - 9 to 4pm, work from home, and plenty of vacation days. It's unheard of anywhere else in the world. Work life balance is VERY important to Danes.
Sometimes it also takes a bit of courage to meet new people, and as easy as it sounds, it is not. But slowly, I had more friends in Denmark within a few months than I have ever made in 5 years living in Singapore. That's the beauty of networking. Know one person today, you will then know 5 tomorrow, and the chain reaction goes on. Generally, expats here are non-judgemental and open, which is a given considering how closed the Danes are with their friendship networks. Yes, it's very hard to get to know a Dane very well.
I did eventually meet my dear SO. :-) Yeah, the whole love refugee story makes it even sweeter to have moved to a new place. <3
When you have friends anywhere you live, adapting to the most harshest winter, makes life easier. The weather is insanely extreme here - from extreme day light hours and many nights of insomnia to extreme darkness and the many nights of frustration. The weather was something I am still not used to.
Denmark is one of those countries that have a very socialist perspective of ensuring a safety net for all Danish citizens. But foreigners have a bit of a rough time, because they pay 50% tax, but get very little back. So eventually most foreigners leave, including EU citizens. Paying 50% of tax is painful for me, and this deters me from retiring here, on top of the weather.
On a more personal and deeper level, I appreciate simplicity more than anything now. I can afford to take things a little slower, take a deep breathe, and know that I can make it even further than I would have if I was running the rats race. But it was not an easy journey to say the least, and I had to experience the downs before I have moments of happiness.
All in all, living in Denmark is like living in Austria or London or wherever it is. Living the day to day life does not matter where you are. But it's the people and the surroundings that influence how you feel and think. So, yes, I have loved my experience and hope you get have this kind of opportunity one day... even if it is just a short period of time.