May 24, 2012

Living in Denmark - in a nutshell


Hi everyone!

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.


13 comments:

Rainy Days and Lattes said...

Great post Tracy! I really enjoyed reading about your time in Denmark. Are you leaving now? Living in Singapore and living in Denmark is such a vast difference, life style wise. Everything in Singapore is so fast and everyone is moving like NYC but Europe seems calm and relaxed. I hope I get to experience a country like Denmark. I read an article today that they are the happiest people on Earth ;)

gigidob said...

Really nice post. I moved to live and work in the Netherlands 5 years ago and 5 months ago moved again to London so I completely relate to your experience.

Maria said...

thank you Tracy!
it's very interesting!

i think the best way to change the country is to find a job there and move when you already have this job offer, right? what do you think? would it be the same to you if you went to Denmark for example to stay with your BF but without getting a job first.

as for the weather :))) i remember my friend was so excited to go to live in Singapore because it's always hot there :) after Russian winter it's a miracle :)

Sarah S. said...

Great post! I really think everyone should try to live in a different country at some point. I had an amazing learning experience when I lived in Japan, and it made me appreciate the U.S. more, too.

Ra, UK said...

I used to travel to Denmark for business quite often. I love Aarhus! Tried to move to the headquarters in Dk but didn't work out. Love Denmark! Incredible country. You are so lucky.

a p r i l said...

Thank you Tracy for sharing with us the story of your life in Denmark. I hope to live and work overseas at least once in my life, and when that time comes, I'll recall this post! :)
xx

Tracy said...

Hi Jen, plans on returning to Singapore is postponed for the time being. And the summer here is so gorgeous that it'll be a pity to not experience it once again.

Simple Life yet Memorable said...

Hi Tracy,
please write something about this again. You know that living in SIngapore is kind of stressful, so reading this post actually makes me feel better that there's such a beautiful place out there. Thanks :)

memoiselle said...

hi Tracy,
I love this post very much. It's good to know that there's such a beautiful place with lovely people and lovely work life balance. Please post this kind of article again :)

R. said...

Hi Tracy, thanks for the post. I'll be moving to the UK to live for a year for grad school and think it will really be an adventure.

Tracy said...

Hi Maria,

if your company is willing to transfer you, that is the best solution. It's less stressful in the settling down but requires alot of energy. I was burnt out by the time I moved - two jobs were overlapping, ontop of moving, etc. The least stressful is moving to a country where your bf is already there.

Russian weather is crazy cold! I don't know how you get through the mountains of snow!!!

Maria said...

hahaha :)) in fact last years the winter here is less cold :) and we have less snow :))
to tell you the truth, we can't live WITHOUT it, i feel uncomfortable when in november-december we still have no snow...it's very depressive - with the snow you have more light, it's not so dark, grey....

Tracy said...

Yes, I've heard that from the Danes as well. They were complaining about last year's winter. I was in Moscow in November period, and I don't recall it being dark at all. Rather, there was snow! and lots of it!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...