Melanie: Dejlige Days
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Copenhagen, etc.
My name is Melanie and I am British. I have lived in Copenhagen since 2008 (with an 18 month spell in Berlin in 2011–12). I live in Østerbro in the city with my husband and my five year old son.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I have been blogging in some form since 2007. When I first moved to Copenhagen I started a blog to share photos and news with friends and family. When I was in Berlin, I created a blog about places to go with children and things to do. At that time it was hard to find this kind of information in English, so I saw a need for it.
On my return to Copenhagen, I knew I wanted to continue to blog in a more professional way but there was more information available to non-Danish speaking families and I felt that I wanted to move on from being a ‘mummy’ blogger so I started Dejlige Days, sharing my love of Copenhagen as an expat. I felt there was too much negativity around being an expat in Copenhagen and I wanted to offer an alternative view.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
I find the blog posts that are the most popular are the more personal ones and these are the ones I like writing the most. The one I wrote about the kindness of strangers after a serious bike accident earlier this year was one of my favorites. But it’s also always good to write ones about life here as an expat: 10 tips to help settle into life in Copenhagen and becoming Danish.
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?
I actually found settling into life in Copenhagen very easy. I found the lifestyle was very laid back, less consumer driven than in the UK, and I loved living without a car. I treated the move as an adventure and I still take that view on living here.
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 wasn’t that prepared, in fact I hadn’t even visited the city when we decided to move here. After years of over planning and career building, it was refreshing to jump into the unknown. We knew we had a great place to live and at first we thought we would live here for three years so the pressure was off somewhat. After about three months we knew this would be our home for as long as we could live here.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
I suppose the first few experiences of communal changing rooms at the swimming were somewhat blush inducing. I still can’t embrace communal swimming changing rooms awash with nakedness — I often feel more Danish than British but the inner prude in me can’t do this so its eyes down for me when visiting the swimming pool!
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Copenhagen?
- Have a realistic expectation of the cost of things. It can seem expensive here but it is counterproductive to keep comparing the price of things back home.
- Danes are pretty laid back about life and things like safety. Children have a lot of freedom here and there is a concept of herd safety so don’t be shocked to see kids under the age of ten travelling home on buses from school alone or babies sleeping outside cafes in their prams.
- Danes are private people so don’t expect to made fast friends with them. However, they are kind and helpful (in the main) when asked for help and once you make friends with them it is a real friendship.
How is the expat community in Copenhagen? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
I actually wasn’t that bothered about being part of the expat community when I arrived. I had moved to Denmark and wanted to be part of this country. I met other expats from a mix of countries at my Danish classes and we all had the same attitude. However there is a strong English speaking expat community, especially in Hellerup, if English speaking expats are looking for people to spend time with. The people I enjoy spending time with are a mix of both Danes and expats and it tends to be based on our personal interests rather than nationalities. Just because you come from the same country doesn’t automatically mean that you are on the same wavelength.
How would you summarize your expat life in Copenhagen in a single, catchy sentence?
Every day is an adventure filled with new discoveries (and pastries).