Laura: The Copenhagen Tales
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Copenhagen, etc.
I’m originally from a small town in the middle of Germany. I moved to Copenhagen about two years ago, after living somewhat of a nomad life, living in six different cities in three different countries within a six-year period. I wanted to slow things down and find a place to settle, which I found in beautiful Copenhagen.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I began writing a personal blog when I went to Paris for my first semester abroad. The idea was to collect all my experiences and stories in one place so my friends and family could stay up-to-date (Facebook was only slowly gaining popularity in Europe at that time!). I continued the blog during my second exchange semester in New Orleans, and after I’d moved to Copenhagen, it just felt right to start writing again. This time, though, I wanted to address a broader audience, and share my experiences as an expat as well as my favorite places around the city.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
I write a weekly roundup of tips for things to do in Copenhagen on the weekend, which are very popular.
From an expat perspective, I collected five things I wish I had known when moving to Denmark, which I’m hoping can be interesting and relevant for anyone considering a move or just arriving in Denmark.
Tell us about the ways your new life in Copenhagen differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
Since I’m from Germany and we’re very close to Denmark, I wasn’t expecting much of a cultural shock, and there wasn’t a big one, really. But there are still some things that really surprised me or that I’m not used to, like the fact that no pedestrian would ever dare to cross a red light, even though it’s 3am and there are no cars in sight! The things that did take getting used to were more on a personal level, for example the fact that family life is very important and we spend a lot of time with my Danish boyfriend’s family, while my own family is far away.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Copenhagen? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
I’m an organizer, a planner, a structured person. That helped a lot with the preparations. But if I had to do it again, I’d try to be more relaxed and realize that you simply can’t plan for all eventualities!
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
The time I could not stop my inner child from laughing for about 30 minutes at the road sign indicating a radar speed control – in Danish: “fart kontrol”. There have also been a number of incidents where I thought I’d be smart and use a Danish word that I thought meant the same it does in German and ended up embarrassing myself because the meaning was completely different.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Copenhagen?
- If at all possible, visit Copenhagen before you move here! Reading about it is definitely helpful, but nothing can replace the first-hand experience.
- Don’t underestimate the importance of biking. If you’re physically able, you should get a bike and use it to go everywhere. This will also make you look and feel way more like a local!
- Learn Danish! It might not be the most obvious choice because it’s not a “big” language and people here are so good at speaking English, but it will be an immense help in terms of integration and social life.
How is the expat community in Copenhagen? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
I found a couple of good friends in my language school. The nice thing about the expat community is that we’re all in the same boat. Everybody has made similar experiences and it’s great to be able to share those with someone who understands.
How would you summarize your expat life in Copenhagen in a single, catchy sentence?
Home is where there is hygge!