Sage: Sage and Simple
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Denmark, etc.
I’m a New England girl through and through. I was born in Connecticut and lived there for all but one year of my life until moving to Denmark in May, 2010. I moved here for an amazing opportunity to work as the Senior Channel Editor for a very well-known website.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
My blog actually predates my decision to move to Denmark. It started off mostly as a way to share vegetarian recipes and tips for simple living, but it has since taken a very different turn. My blog is a great time capsule of the process of moving and establishing a life abroad, and it’s been useful to a lot of other expats. I still blog recipes and secondhand shopping finds, but now I also write about the beautiful places I travel, the challenges of living abroad, and the experience of falling in love with and merging lives with an Englishman in a third country.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
I wouldn’t say they’re my favorite, but I think these three entries offer a good summary of my experience of being an expat in Denmark:
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?
Life is pretty much the same no matter where you live. You commute, work, go home, pay bills, shop for groceries, cook, clean, spend time with friends and partner, etc. The only real difference is that you’re doing it in a foreign country, which makes everything a bit more of a challenge. I’ll never get used to the 18 hours of darkness we have in midwinter or the 18 hours of daylight we have in the summer, the cost of living, the lack of diversity and choice, the taxes, etc. But I don’t consider that culture shock, just personal preference ;-)
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’d say I was a bit naïve. I didn’t fully understand the anti-immigration climate that awaited me here. Denmark’s policies make this a very difficult country for non-EU foreigners. I was recruited here as a specialist by a Danish company and I pay the top rate of income tax, but the country’s policies and attitudes make me feel unwelcome. I’m in the midst of trying to sell my apartment so I can merge households with my fiancé, and it’s a slow market. In an ideal world, I wouldn’t have bought property, but the reality of the situation is that finding a rental as a foreigner is difficult, and finding a rental that allows pets is next to impossible. The quality of rental properties is quite low here and the prices are very high, so in retrospect, I don’t think I would’ve done things differently, I just wish the situation was a bit different. I'm foreign and there’s no way I was leaving my cat behind!
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
My plans to borrow a car to move from my temporary housing to my apartment had fallen through, so I was in a bit of a bind. There’s nothing like a situation like that to highlight how utterly alone you are in a new country. You can call friends and family, but there’s not much they can do from the other side of the Atlantic, except listen. My only options were pretty much to call a taxi or borrow a shopping cart from a grocery store. I opted for the latter and spent the day pushing my belongings, including my cat, across town! It was a quiet summer Sunday, people had their windows open, and there I was pushing a howling cat in noisy shopping trolley on asphalt… good times!
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Denmark?
- Get hooked up with expat in Denmark message boards, Facebook groups, etc. Get your advice straight from the people who are living the experience!
- Read as many blogs as possible. Believe the good and the bad and know that you will experience both extremes, and that your average experience will fall somewhere in the middle. Don’t be afraid to email bloggers directly for the inside scoop.
- If you are coming from outside the EU, even if you are marrying a Dane, immigration policy will be stacked against you. This is likely to become one of the biggest barriers to your happiness here.
How is the expat community in Denmark? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
It was slow-go in the beginning. There’s a big expat community within my company, but I wouldn’t say we’re like-minded. I soon realized that I was hanging out with people I had nothing in common with except for the fact that we’re expats. It wasn’t fun. After four years, I’ve established a social circle that’s much more like-minded than the people I socialized with in the beginning. I’m also part of a very tight expat community online. We’re spread around the country, though mostly concentrated in Copenhagen, and have regular meet-ups.
But in the beginning, you do what you have to do to get through and get established.
How would you summarize your expat life in Denmark in a single, catchy sentence?
My expat life in Denmark is a test of patience, strength, and endurance I never knew I had.