Matt: Thoughts from a Viking Land
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Denmark, etc.
My name is Matt Whitby, I am a 25 year old Australian and I have been living in Aarhus, Denmark’s second largest city since May 2010.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I am a journalist, and so writing a blog was a good opportunity for me to provide reflection on my experiences moving to another country.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
I like this one about Danish people eating a huge amount of unhealthy food, but not being overweight. I find it fascinating.
Tell us about the ways your new life in Denmark differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
As an Australian I find adjusting to the bad weather to be the most challenging aspect of living in Denmark. Coming from a beach lifestyle with warm weather pretty much year round, to having to huddle together with blankets and scarfs to enjoy any outside entertainment, was certainly a challenge for me. Luckily the Danish cozy lifestyle somewhat compensates for this.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Denmark? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
I moved to Denmark to live with my Danish girlfriend, who I met while I was studying. I didn’t really have many other options when I moved here, but I didn’t realize how challenging being an immigrant could be until I became one.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
Danes are big on running (to warm up) and not on swimming (its too damn cold). Which is the opposite of Australia, where it’s too hot to run, and we love to swim at the beach to cool off. So in the Danish summer I walk to the beach while Danish people run past me and then lie on the sand. They then watch in amazement as I swim (not paddle at ankle height) up and down the beach.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Denmark?
It’s not easy being a foreigner in Denmark. Danes are notoriously private and not trusting of outsiders. You will need to make the first step, don’t wait for people to ask you into their group, you will be waiting a long time. Drink beer, it will help break down social barriers with Danes. Learn to appreciate irony and don’t get offended when people are abrupt (Americans find this challenging I think).
How is the expat community in Denmark? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
For me it was not too difficult. There are many groups of internationals in Denmark and many international Danish companies support this.
How would you summarize your expat life in Denmark in a single, catchy sentence?
Living in Denmark is challenging but rewarding, Danes are slow to trust outsiders, but I as was prepared to drink a beer and appreciate a joke I found myself making great friends and am having a great time, despite the cold.