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RELOCATION GUIDE Denmark’s only English-language newspaper

Everything you need to know about Denmark and the Danes – but didn’t know to ask 24 pages packed with tips and tidbits to help you make a smooth transition

SPECIAL FOCUS: Relocating to Jutland Take a crash course in Danish language and living Find out where to go after office hours How to shake the winter blues


Relocation Guide - Autumn 2012


o, you’re in Denmark and you’re wondering, is it just me? The answer is ‘no’, settling in here isn’t easy. Whether you’re here to work, to study or as a trailing spouse, you’ll find that Denmark and the Danes make great colleagues, but that once the work day is done, they retreat to their well-established circles of family and close friends, some of whom they may have known since childhood, leaving you and the other expats trying alone to figure out this country. This is the one time when you wished that ‘work-life’ balance wasn’t so highly prized in this country. But, fret not, there’s plenty to do during your free time, and some of it could even find you socialising with the locals, especially if you have children, a dog or if you’re into sports. Smokers always seem to have a leg up, but with the number of Danes smoking falling precipitously, that advantage seems to be shrinking. Fortunately, most Danes speak English, meaning a minimum of those situations where you speak your lan-

guage and point a lot, the other person speaks their language and points a lot. And you both walk off pretending like you understood the other one. Of course, it doesn’t help your chances of fitting in when it seems like most people will speak to you in English before you even open your mouth. Normally, it’s really helpful that Danes speak English (and that there’s a preponderance of English and American TV shows) when you can’t understand their language, but on the other hand, it also gives a great sense of achievement when someone asks you for directions in Danish, even if you can’t help them. While Danes try to make life easier for you by speaking English, they make up for it by having dastardly similar names: Lise, Line, Lene, Lone, Lotte, Lars, Larsen, Jensen, Andersen. Jens Jensen, by the way, really is the most common name combination here. Of course, some Danes have


By Kevin McGwin

Settling in standout names – like Kim, (which probably only stands out for foreigners because it is a men’s name here) – but they aren’t known for their eccentricity, whether it’s in names, fashion or furnishings. They like to fit in. The best way for you to fit in: carry a plastic grocery bag, even if it is from your home country. People always seem to think that if you are carrying a plastic bag, you must be local. Settling among the Danes isn’t easy. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t curious about you, or your reason for being here. Expect them to ask why you’ve moved here and remark: ‘But we’re such a small country!’ It is a small country. But don’t worry. Good things do come in small packages.

Strangely delicious

By Helen Dyrbye

There are certain classics of the Danish kitchen that may not immediately appeal to the globalised palate, but no stay in Denmark is complete without sinking your teeth into a couple of the dishes. And you know what, you just might find you like them. Bon appétit – or as the locals say – velbekomme!

Remoulade: A condiment

similar to tartar sauce. Other countries have ‘remo’, but to get an idea of how important it is to Danish cuisine, Wikipedia uses 122 words to detail its uses. Other countries barely get more than 20.

Dyrlægensnatmad: Literally, ‘the veterinarian’s

midnight snack’, this is a slice of rugbrød (rye bread) with a topping that includes leverpostej (liver paté), saltkød (salted beef) and a slab of sky (jellied gravy). It tastes better than it sounds.

Pølser: From the now almost endangered pølsevogn

(traditional Danish hot-dog stands). The only mountains in Denmark are the mountains of ketchup and mustard piled alongside the roll and sausages. The red sausages may look radioactive but they are fairly harmless and usually go down well at children’s parties.

Sild: Pork may be king of the Danish kitchen, but no

celebration is complete without pickled herring. Available in a wide variety of styles, and typically eaten atop rug-

brød, try starting with the curried variety before venturing into the stronger types.

Wienerbrød: Danes might try to give Vienna credit

for creating these sinful creations (literally, Viennese bread), but make no mistake, there is a reason why the rest of the world calls them ‘Danish’. You’ll never learn the names of all the varieties, so just point at whichever one catches your eye. Even the ones with unappetising names like the ‘baker’s bad eye’ and ‘snails’ are out of this world.

Simply confusing Sure, you’ve learned a few basic Danish words before you arrived, and your colleagues are sure to teach you some choice words while you are here, but here a few common terms that aren’t as straightforward as you might think (or are just fun to say).

Hej: Hi Hej, hej: Goodbye (Yes, really.) Davs: Hey there Ja: Yes Nej: No. (But this can also be positive.

For example, if you give a Dane a present, they are very likely to exclaim ‘Nej’. They don’t mean ‘No! What a horrible thing you got me for my birthday’. They mean ‘No, you shouldn’t have! What a lovely present!’)

Tak: Thank you Skål: Cheers! (Guaranteed to cover any Mange tak: Thanks a lot embarrassing silences at a dinner party.) Selv tak: You’re welcome Øl: Beer Tak for mad: Thanks for dinner (said Fadøl: Draught beer Bajer: Bottle of beer after meal) Tak for sidst: It was nice seeing you Hof: Carlsberg (said on the first occasion you meet your Grøn: Tuborg host or guest, be it one day, one week or Mæt: Full one year later) Fuld: Drunk Tak for alt: “Thanks for everything” Tømmermænd: A hangover (liter(Common gravestone inscription)

ally: ‘carpenters’ and offered as an expla-


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President and Publisher: Ejvind Sandal Chief Executive: Jesper Nymark Editor-in-Chief: Kevin McGwin Assistant Editor: Uzi Frank

nation for the banging sensation you might be feeling in your head after ingesting too many fadøl)

Fag: Trade, profession Smøg: Fag (cigarette) Bøsse: Gay (homosexual) Fart: Speed, motion Turistfart: Tourist coach I fart: In motion Prut: Break wind

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This supplement is published by The Copenhagen Post, please refer to our disclaimer on page 2 of the newspaper.

It’s not just housing. It’s finding people a home.


Relocation Guide - Autumn 2012

DENMARK FROM A TO Å ISLANDS BRYGGE is the site of one of Copenhagen’s four harbour pools that are perfect for a cool dip on a hot day.

CHRISTIAN is the name of every other King of Denmark since 1448 and is therefore the prefix for scores of locations. From Copenhagen’s hippie Christiania commune to its shi shi neighbour Christianshavn.

JUTLAND, or Jylland to the natives (pronounced ‘you-land’) is the main peninsula of Denmark, which borders on Germany to the south. KRØYER, P.S. (1851- 1909) can be described as the Nordic van Gogh. Born in Norway and raised in Copenhagen, red-haired Krøyer painted ladies in long white dresses strolling along the sands and other happy motifs that reflect nothing of his inner mental torment.

ELSINORE was Shakespeare’s name for Kronborg Castle, located in the real life town of Helsingør, and perfectly placed for controlling ships sailing into the Baltic. FREDERIK the other name, together with Christian, shared by Danish kings over the centuries which serves as the prefix for hundreds of street names, cities, etc. Be careful not to mix Frederiksberg with Frederiksborg when getting in a taxi.


DBA.DK is an online second-hand market selling everything from bikes and pets to cars and houses. When buying goods, play it safe and ask for the original receipt (kvittering).


MØNS KLINT is a striking landmark and interesting tourist attraction. The chalk cliffs stretch for 6 km along the eastern coast of the island of Møn [just a two-hour drive from Copenhagen]. The Geocenter Møns Klint is also worth visiting.

• Classical, Jazz & Pop Piano • Music theory & rhythm • Courses for absolute beginners • Courses for children & adults

X-FACTOR might have been imported from the UK. But since Martin, a small town kid from Jutland wooed audiences with his Michael Jackson sound in 2008, the TV phenomenon has dominated the Friday night slot here every winter. When the show airs again in January, you can count on a good portion of the country tuning in.

PH lamps are the essence of Danish design. Simple and stylish, you’ll see these lamps everywhere. The pine cone model is easiest to recognise.

YDMYG means ‘humble’. It’s an important concept in Denmark and a useful word for Scrabble.

QUEEN MARGRETHE II is the reigning queen of Denmark. She is also famous for her artistic accomplishments, which include drawing the exquisite illustrations for the Danish edition of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ under the pseudonym Ingahild Grathmer. And her two daughter inlaws, Mary and Marie, have both demonstrated that relocating to Denmark can be a snap.

ZEALAND, or Sjælland in Danish, is the largest island in Denmark – not including Greenland. It is connected to Funen by the Great Belt Bridge and to Sweden by the Øresund Bridge. ÆGGET is a chair designed by Arne Jacobsen shaped like an egg. Other famous Danish designers include Nanna Ditzel, Georg Jensen and of course Jørn Utzon, the architect who conceived and largely built the Sidney Opera House.

RIBE in southwest Jutland is the oldest extant town in Denmark. There are picturesque buildings and plenty to see there.

LUFTHAVN is how the Danes say ‘airport’. Billund Lufthavn, not far from Legoland, is Jutland’s international airport. Kastrup Lufthavn is Copenhagen’s international gateway.

GLYPTOTEKET, a museum in Copenhagen, has many statues as well as an extensive collection of Impressionist, Post-impressionist, Golden Age and other paintings. Free on Sundays.

W is pronounced ‘double v’ in Danish. Often pronounced ‘v’, this letter can cause confusion.

SKAT means ‘tax’ but it also means ‘dear’ (in the sense of ‘darling’), but as the tax here is dear (in the other sense), it’s quite appropriate. TIVOLI GARDENS is an enchanting oasis of fun in the centre of Copenhagen. Opened in 1843, it has maintained its charm by combining outdoor jazz and rock concerts with carousels, candyfloss and the latest breath-taking rides.

NIELSEN, CARL (1865-1931) was a violinist, conductor and Denmark’s foremost composer.

UDLÆNDINGSSTYRELSEN, known in English as the Immigration Service, this is the organisation responsible for processing applications for work and residence permits.

ODENSE, on Funen, is the third-largest city in Denmark and the birthplace of Hans Christian

VIKING history comes alive at the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde and the Viking Museum


BAKKEN claims to be the oldest amusement park in the world with a tradition dating back 425 years. It is also the setting for the annual world Santa convention each July.

in Aarhus, where you’ll see Viking barrows still dotted about the countryside.

Andersen. The Zoo, Funen Village and railway museum are also worth a visit. COLOURBOX

HYGGE is a core concept for the Danes and as a noun, verb or adjective, it means anything from charming, warm, cosy and friendly to scoffing sweets on the sofa with your feet up while watching TV.

ANDERSEN, HANS CHRISTIAN (1805-1875) wrote children’s stories that have enchanted readers worldwide ever since.

ØL is Danish for beer. Look out for special brews released for Easter and Christmas. Å is the last letter of the Danish alphabet. It sounds suspiciously like the letter ‘o’, and is sometimes also written as ‘aa’, particularly in proper names, like Aarhus, Aalborg and Aage.

Harman Music Methods




Relocation Guide - Autumn 2012



eep. Beep. The numbers tick off. It’s another busy Thursday afternoon at the International Citizen Service in Copen-

hagen. One by one, Denmark’s newest residents step up and meet an ICS representative and are introduced to employees from the regional state administration, tax authorities, The Danish Agency for Labour Retention and International Recruitment, the local municipality administration and Work in Denmark. In under an hour most of the visitors can leave with a residence permit, a social security number, known in Denmark as the ‘CPR number’, and a tax card. With these three crucial items in hand, they have almost everything they need to settle into their new home, from opening a bank account to borrowing books at the library.

ONE-STOP SHOPPING The ICS centres are part of a government ini-

tiative to gather relevant authorities in a single office, simplifying the application process and creating a ‘one-stop shopping’ experience, says Jonas Kongstad Østergård, information specialist at ICS Copenhagen. Established in 2011, the ICS centres in Copenhagen, Aarhus, Odense and Aalborg seek to smooth out the process of settling down as a new resident. Østergaard explains: “The global competition to attract qualified workers to Denmark is intense. We have a big task making the paperwork as easy for them a possible, so they can concentrate on what’s important for them starting a new life here in Denmark. We want them to have a good experience in the centre, and we’d like them to stay and feel welcome in Denmark - otherwise they will simply pack up and find another country to settle in.” The team of representatives can typically handle about 20 people in an hour and also assist with job hunts, information on signing

up for Danish courses, and registering a motor vehicle. Gone are lengthy waiting times or having to trudge through a foreign city and visit a handful of authorities. “We’ve gotten a lot of positive response from the people who come in,” says Østergaard. “We don’t know of any other country that has a similar system, and since the number of people we serve continues to increase, we take that as an indication that we are doing something right.”

WHAT TO BRING To speed up processing times, ICS recommends visitors to bring relevant documents • Passport (or other official ID) • Work contract • Lease or rental agreement

BE PREPARED Having the proper documents cuts the paperwork and makes it possible to ‘patch into Denmark’ in one session. “The best way of assuring that is to bring the proper paperwork, a passport picture – all the relevant documents,” Østergaard explains. “Bringing the right documents shortens the waiting time, and makes it easier for everyone”.

ICS – WHERE IT’S AT • • • •

Aalborg – Nytorv 7 Aarhus – Nordhavnsgade 4-6 Odense – Danebrogsgade 3 Copenhagen – Nyropsgade 1

For more information, visit:

Over 100 years of high academic standards in an international environment

Bernstorffsvej 54, 2900 Hellerup t +45/ 3962 1053 f +45/ 3962 1081 email:



Relocation Guide - Autumn 2012


he peninsula of Jutland, home to half Denmark’s population, also plays host to about one-third of the expats here. Although often overshadowed by the capital’s cacophony, Jutland is actually the base for some of the country’s best-known companies – think toymaker Lego, wind turbine producer Vestas or luxury stereo maker Bang & Olufsen. The companies, along with trade organisations, business networks, local authorities and central government are keen to make the region attractive for expats. It helps that Jutland is a place of great diversity: cosy, yet cosmopolitan cities like Aarhus and Aalborg invite visitors to ramble their streets. Outside city limits, you won’t find majestic mountain ranges or dramatic fjords, but there are subtle natural wonders that are worth exploring during a daytrip or weekend getaway. Take the time to explore the west coast’s windswept beaches, the rolling hills of Mols or the shifting inland sand dunes of Råbjerg Mile, and you might find that once you get to know Jutland, it’s hard to leave.



Your new neighbours might not be the most outgoing people you’ve ever met, but on the other hand you won’t have to worry about them prying too much


aciturn might be a word that outsiders use to describe someone from Jutland. Not ones to get overly excited, if something is good it might be described as ‘not bad’, if it’s excellent it might be described as ‘okay’. This lack of demonstrativeness – common throughout Denmark but perhaps particularly prevalent in parts of Jutland – can appear to outsiders as a lack of friendliness or coldness. This can make it quite difficult to be a newcomer, but there is some comfort in the fact that, to a great extent, it has got nothing to do with being a foreigner – they treat everyone this way. They just like to let people mind their own business.

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Jutland also gave rise to the fictional, but influential, Janteloven, or Jante’s Law. Created by the novelist Aksel Sandemose in his 1933 novel ‘A Fugitive Crosses His Tracks’, (En flygtning krydser sit spor), whose setting is said to be based on his birthplace, in northern Jutland, Jante’s Law has ten rules. In the novel, people who transgress these rules are treated with suspicion, and even though few Danes actually reading the book these days, understanding Janteloven can offer insight into the Jutland mentality. Even Jutlanders themselves will tell you, with a fair degree of characteristic dry wit, that getting on in Jutland depends on obeying the rules of Janteloven.

New clarification programs coming up: Copenhagen: January 21, 2013 – March 1, 2013; held in Danish Odense: January 7, 2013 – February 15, 2013; held in Danish How to apply for the program: Send your CV to, no later than 20th November 2012. In the subject field, please type ”forlob” and the name of the city you are interested in (København or Odense). For further information, please contact: HR consultant Monica Purcarea pr. e-mail or by phone: +45 27 97 25 96 See more at

Interesseorganisation for højtuddannede nydanskere

There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign. THE AARHUS ACADEMY FOR GLOBAL EDUCATION opened its doors in November 2011 as the fist international kindergarten/ pre-school in the Aarhus area. Now, a year later, AAGE is an IB candidate school, offering a globally acknowledged high quality programme from kindergarten to grade 10. AAGE is committed to providing its students with an internationally portable education with English as the primary instructional language.

R.L. Stevenson

Educators at AAGE aim to develop the potential of individual students in a stimulating environment of cultural diversity, academic excellence and mutual respect. The aim of all IB programmes is to develop internationally minded people who, recognizing their common humanity and shared guardianship of the planet, help to create a better and more peaceful world. The school is situated in Højbjerg and welcomes students from 3 to 16 years of age.

If you would like to know more, please visit

Aarhus Academy for Global Education was established August 2012 with the intention of providing an education of high quality to Middle Jutland with English as the primary instructional language. The school is a non-profit organization run by sponsorships, governmental support from the Ministry of Education and tuition fees.


By Tom Griffiths


Relocation Guide - Autumn 2012


Getting settled in Denmark requires working on two fronts: holding down your day job and putting effort into getting settled. Wind turbine maker Vestas has programmes to help, but two of the company’s employees says it all boils down to personal effort


Planned happenstance – Joachim, digital marketing consultant Joachim came to Denmark from Poland six years ago after speaking to representatives of the University of Aarhus at an education fair in Warsaw. Eighteen at the time, he had been considering his next step in life. Poland had only recently joined the EU, and this meant that there was an increasing range of opportunities available. He liked what he saw about the University of Aarhus and was accepted as one of the first full-time Polish students at its Herning campus. During the summer vacation of 2008 Joachim responded to a Vestas advert on the university’s job portal and the rest, as they say, is history. Joachim says he finds Danes and their culture very different from Poland. He thinks Danish people are very creative businesspeople and designers. “Creativity is screaming out


International Club – Internal social network for foreigners working in Denmark. Spouse Community – Network offering opportunities and assistance with job searching and other practical areas. Language classes – Held twice a week at a Vestas location and available to employed expats and accompanying spouses. Cultural training – Full-day introductory Danish culture course as well as access to online tools for continuous learning. Vestas Gateway Programme – Buddy program supporting internationals in their initial integration period. Vestas is also linked with other agencies and organisations that facilitate the attraction and retention of expats and their families, including International Community and the Consortium for Global Talent.

arhus-based Vestas is one of the largest companies in Denmark. But it is very much a global company, with a presence on five continents, and consequently, “international talent is indispensable” according to Karina Boldsen, director of

of this country,” as he put it. But as with everything, there are pros and cons, and he finds Danish culture, “a bit more closed compared with Polish culture. I would say we are a bit more outgoing but our countries are not that different. I know some people from Mediterranean countries and they really see the difference. For me it’s more like just adjusting to the new situation.” One of the things that Joachim has learned is the importance of putting the effort in early to build social networks with Danish people. “It takes time to build relationships with them. If you don’t start the conversation, if you don’t show interest in actually being friends, then most likely they won’t reach out to you first. So, for some people the level of interaction between Danes and foreigners can be different from what they expected. They are very friendly in terms of helping you out and showing you things, but that’s different from building relationships.” Thinking back: Joachim says his relocation might have been smoother if he had taken the time to learn a bit more about the country before he came. “If you get to know the history, just simple facts, then it is much easier to understand why things are the way they are.” Advice to newcomers: Make sure you make some Danish friends as soon as possible.

global HR. That explains why the company currently has more than 400 international employees in Denmark. However, being a global organisation means that Vestas faces tough competition to attract and retain its international talent. Recognising this

Return on investment – Naresh, cost performance controller Naresh first visited Denmark in 2008 on a business trip whilst working for Vestas in India. Over the following couple of years, he was here on business a number of times. He was offered a position at Vestas in Denmark in 2010. The job was an obvious attraction, but Naresh also liked the focus on work-life balance and social opportunities available in Denmark. Among Naresh’s main difficulties after getting here: a lack of detailed official information on the internet in English and finding a place to live – something he said,was probably only possible because Vestas helped. Other little day-to-day things were, he says, if not challenging then at least surprising. “When I moved into my house there were no light fittings,” he recalls. Buying a bed, too, was “somewhat disorienting”. Beds, it turns out, are

challenge the company has put in place a range of measures and opportunities to help expats and their families to successfully make the transition to life in Denmark. We spoke with two of their foreign employees about what they thought about making the move to Denmark.

very different in Denmark than they are in India. In 2011 Nareesh wound up moving to Aarhus from Skjern, in western Jutland, because as a young, single guy, he wanted to be in a place where there were more people of his own age. Aarhus offered more social opportunities, and he describes moving there as “a great success. Now, after being here for about eighteen months, it’s rare if I don’t get asked to do something.” Naresh admits to putting a lot of effort into creating his network – by getting involved with and organising events for the Aarhus Internationals Meetup group for example – and he acknowledges that without such a pro-active approach, his social life might not be quite so successful. He feels the effort has paid off, however. “I’ve never felt at any time that I don’t have a social circle in Aarhus.” Thinking back: Naresh would have found it helpful to have known about some of the little details of the Danish system. For example, he thought he needed to go to the doctor to get paracetemol. Advice to newcomers: Come with an open mind. “It may be different from what you are used to, but just because it is different doesn’t mean that it’s better or worse; it’s just different.”



Looking for the code that gives your foreign employees a head start?

Danish language and culture – the fast track The first time is crucial for whether foreign employees thrive at work and want to stay in Denmark. The same applies to the rest of the family. As an employer, you can ensure the best conditions and help break the language and cultural code. Lærdansk provides services to companies with foreign workers, for example, Grundfos, Vestas, Danish Crown and Arla Foods.

We offer: • Danish lessons at a language center, at your company, or online • Lærdansk Living: Cultural courses and local integration • Career Spouses: Individual career path for spouses – job, education or entrepreneurship Would you like to know more about the opportunities and financing? Contact Martin Wind, sales manager,, tel. 25 68 11 65. Read more at

“Lærdansk has made a significant difference to Siemens Wind Power A/S. It pays to offer foreign employees Danish language and cultural training. Not least, it ensures that we in Siemens can better retain competent employees in the long term.” Helle Fjord, Team Lead, IDC, Country Specific Services, Siemens A/S


Relocation Guide - Autumn 2012


Aarhus Stream is a popular gathering place



he importance of expats to the community in Demark is something that is being increasingly recognised. Awareness of the role that accompanying spouses and partners can play in the success of expat assignments, and the contribution that they can make to the community in their own right, is also growing. There are a number of organisations in Jutland to help the process of adjusting to life in Denmark and making the move a positive one, and you will find activities and groups in most, if not all councils.

HORSENS Project Welcome is an EU funded project that aims to help foreign residents to settle in Horsens. As part of the project, informational meetings on practical matters and social events, including visits to spare time associations, are organised. The project has a website with practical information and a newsletter containing information about what’s happening in the area. In addition, Project Welcome and local foreign residents are working on establishing an international network in Horsens that aims to facilitate social interaction with Danes. For more information visit:


STRUER Struer International Living supports area companies’ international employees to a better stay by focusing on the ordinary day-to-day aspects of life in a new country. English-speaking representatives are available, and each Wednesday at 7:30, foreign residents get together for International Café at Den Glade Pingvin on Søndergade 14. Struer International Living is on Facebook. Or feel free to contact Linda Bech Wind on +45 2128 4764, e-mail:

RANDERS Randers Business Council is working on its Retention in Randers programme, which it expects will involve social activities such as visits to local cultural events and other venues that give foreign residents a perspective on life in Denmark. It

also contains job creation for spouses and international students, as this will increase the chance of long or permanent residence. The program will involve the participation of local services, including the local library, businesses and volunteers. For more information visit:

HEDENSTED In order to ensure a smooth start for all of Hedensted’s new residents – Danish as well as foreign – the council has created a welcome guide with all the information they need about settling in, including special information for foreigners. The council’s English website is also regularly updated. Hedensted is also working on a guide to leisure and culture activities in the area. New residents can also look forward to being matched with local volunteers, who can introduce them and their family to their new community and provide answers to everyday questions. For more information visit:

HERNING & IKAST-BRANDE New arrivals to the Herning and IkastBrande area will find an international environment with lots of opportunities – including plenty of educational offerings for children, teens and adults seeking higher education or simply to attend Danish classes. There is a wide variety of international activities in the region, including informational meetings and job search seminars for accompanying spouses. Networking events are organised by by International Society, where you can meet internationally minded Danes and other foreign residents. For more information visit:

LEMVIG As a supplement to the relocation programmes offered by individual companies, new residents in Lemvig can expect assistance in the form of informational meetings, networking events and international contacts. The council also works with schools to improve reception of international students and with companies to improve ways to attract, welcome and retain foreign employees. For more information e-mail: Marie Schlünsen,

AARHUS Foreigners moving to Aarhus and the eastern Jutland area can receive practical information to help with relocation and settling in from International Community. In addition to general introductory information, International Community offers social and professional support, as well as a weekly newsletter with updates about events and other information. For more information visit:

TREKANTSOMRÅDET For those living in the Trekant area – including Billund, Fredericia, Kolding, Middelfart, Vejen and Vejle – International Community Trekantområdet brings together Danish and international companies in the six councils. International Community Trekantområdet works towards improving the stay of foreign residents by organising social and networking events. For more information visit:

Relocation Guide - Autumn 2012

By Tom Griffiths



t just 42, Mick Gordon has worked with some of the most luminous figures in British theatre – Peter Hall, Trevor Nunn and Peter Brook, to name but three. He has produced work with neurologists and psychologists on the puzzle of consciousness and personal identity and raised thousands of pounds to support charitable theatre projects. Starting in December he will bring this experience to central Jutland as the artistic director of Aarhus Teater. Stil in the process of relocating from the UK, Gordon is frequently in Aarhus as part of the handover process, and we were able to catch up with him on one of his visits. Although not entirely a stranger to Aarhus or its theatre – he has been a guest director there on two previous occasions, first in 2011 when he directed ‘Sweeny Todd’ and earlier in 2012 when he directed ‘Gengangerne’ (Ghosts) by Henrik Ibsen – his appointment marks a significant step for Gordon personally and perhaps for Aarhus Teater as well. On the surface, Aarhus Teater is a reso-


Mick Gordon is an expat, but his position at Aarhus Teatre gives him a unique platform for viewing life in his temporary hometown

lutely Danish institution – for example, its website only has a Danish language section. But Gordon counters that it is actually culturally diverse in the way it works. He also points out that the current artistic director Stefan Larsson, a Swede, has always had an international bent. Even with the international wrinkle he brings, he also made the point that the theatre has an important role in nurturing new Danish talent both in acting and writing and it is vital that this can flourish in a specifically Danish context. He hopes to build on some of the international success that the theatre has had, particularly since Aarhus has been named one of the European Capitals of Culture for 2017. “You want that theatre to be debating the issues and the themes that the city is debating, and you want to make sure that it is left in as rude health as when you took it over. So it’s a very great responsibility.” Much of the work that Gordan has done over the past years has been within a theme of making people’s lives better, and he says he hopes to continue along this

tack in Aarhus. “I’m partly drawn to the theatre because I think it can be life enhancing. I think it’s a place for the imagination, through empathy you can permit yourself to go on journeys that you wouldn’t necessarily permit yourself to embark upon in life. And I think the theatre is the art form of the human scale, it is the place where we can ask questions about what it means to be a human being, and I’m naturally curious about that. So I hope that’s something I can bring, that sort of inspiration and the life enhancing aspect of exploring human being-ness.” Originally from Belfast, Northern Ireland, Gordon says that Aarhus reminds him of his home town in some ways, “It’s a big port town. It’s prettier than Belfast is, but you can walk everywhere, you’re by the sea – I was born by the sea – and I enjoy all those aspects,” he said. Another similarity between the two cities are large student populations – Belfast has two universities and there are over 40,000 students in Aarhus. The energy and

positivity a university brings to a town is also something to be valued, Gordon says. Like many other expats, he’ll be faced with the practical details of relocation – from finding a place to live, to getting his girlfriend moved here and of course learning Danish. Although he doesn’t expect his lack of Danish skills to be a hindrance, he says he will be starting language classes once he gets settled in, and he is very interested to start that process – both personally, but perhaps also professionally. “Learning a language gives you an entirely different access to the culture you are living within,” he says. “It is a different way of thinking that is contained in the grammar and vocabulary of a language.”

Free Danish Language Classes Why? Where? We have schools in: • Horsens • Odder • Skanderborg • Silkeborg

How? Contact us: • tel 76 25 99 25 • mail

See more:

For professional or personal reasons!

When? We offer classes: • daytime • evenings • Saturdays

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Relocation Guide - Autumn 2012

10 Bjarne Stroustrup: creator and developer of the computer programming language C++ (Aarhus)

9 Jørn Utzon: architect, designed Sydney Opera House (Aalborg)

7 Karen Blixen: author of ‘Out of Africa’, as Isak Dinesen (Horsens)

Renée Toft Simonsen: fashion supermodel who was named Face of the ‘80s (Aarhus)

6 Morten Andersen: American football kicker (Struer)

4 Anders Fogh Rasmussen: former prime minister, current NATO secretary general (Ginnerup, near Grenaa)


3 Bjarne Riis: cyclist and cycling team owner, won 1996 Tour de France (Herning)



FAMOUS JUTLANDERS Jutland may be a place where people try to keep a low profile, but here are 10 Jutlanders you might have heard of before

Connie Nielsen: Hollywood actress (Frederikshavn)

2 Jacob Riis: journalist, social reformer in 18th century New York (Ribe)

1 Ole Kirk Christiansen: carpenter, founder of Lego (Filskov, north-west of Billund, where Lego is now headquartered)

International Citizen Service Get help with the paperwork and get good advice on what it’s like to live and work in Denmark. All relevant authorities under one roof. A public service for foreign employees, students, job seekers and Danish companies Office hours Wed. 1 pm - 5 pm Thurs. 11 am - 3 pm

Get off to a good start in Denmark

Copenhagen Nyropsgade 1 DK-1602 Cph. V Phone: +45 33 66 66 06


Relocation Guide - Autumn 2012




ne of the major concerns of parents resettling in Jutland is whether they will be able to get good quality education for their children. Throughout Denmark, local authority primary and secondary schools – from ages 6 to 16 – are free and have no admission requirements. Students with a foreign language as their native language are entitled to instruction in the municipal primary and lower secondary schools. If the student does not speak Danish, the council must offer a course in Danish language and culture, as well as native language instruction for children from EU/ EEA countries, the Faroe Islands and Greenland if so desired by the child’s parents and it is possible to gather a class. In addition, councils have the option of offering native language courses to children from other countries.

Many expat parents choose to send their children to an international school, and there is a variety to choose from is all areas of Jutland. School


Age Group



The Cosmo - International School of Southern Denmark


5 -16

7630 1747 2052 0549

Esbjerg International School



7610 53 99

Sønderborg International School


5 -11

7443 0110

International School Ikast-Brande


2 years and 9 months- 16

9715 6465

International School of Als



7443 0550

Skipper Clement School International Department


5 -16

9812 1188

Aarhus Academy for Global Education


3 -16

8672 6060

In addition to those schools accommodating primary and lower secondary age children, there are a number of gymnasiums (upper secondary schools) that have international departments offering courses taught in English or other languages and leading to the International Baccalaureate or other internationally recognised programmes. School


Age Group



Grenaa Gymnasium og HF



8758 4050

Hasseris Gymnasium



2330 3409

Ikast-Brande Gymnasium



2093 2610

Kolding Gymnasium



7633 9600

Struer Gymnasium



9785 4300

A CAREER IN DENMARK? People come to Copenhagen from all over the world for many different reasons and with many different qualifications. This is of great value to Denmark. The municipality of Copenhagen puts an effort into welcoming and retaining newcomers. As an accompanying spouse you have come to Denmark because your spouse has either got a job here or is searching for one. Perhaps you are also pursuing a career here in Denmark? WHO CAN CONTACT COPENHAGEN CAREER PROGRAM? If you have a residence permit as an accompanying spouse and are residing in the municipality of Copenhagen you can contact the Copenhagen Career Program. COUNSELING AND COURSES You can ask for a personal meeting with a job consultant who can provide you with information about the labour market and job seeking in Denmark. We can also provide you with information about measures promoting employment, different kinds of courses such as job seeking courses, Danish language courses and courses about the Danish society.

FOR MORE INFORMATION Contact project coordinator: Dorthe Kingo Vesterlund Telephone: 20 53 87 64 Mail: Department for Integration and Language Jobcenter København Musvågevej 15 2400 Copenhagen Copenhagen Career Program is based at the Department for Integration and Language at Jobcenter Copenhagen, Musvågevej. The Department for Integration and Language is responsible for administrating the Integration Act in the municipality of Copenhagen.


Relocation Guide - Autumn 2012


Danish or International? One of each, please


here are plenty of choices – in cargo bikes, bread and educations. One thing is for certain no single model fits all and, sometimes not even within the same family, as one American, expat family discovered. Philippa and David Stasiuk, recent transplants to Copenhagen from the US, found that a private international school was the natural choice for older daughter Iris, while public school was a good fit for younger daughter Jane. Philippa said her daughters’ individual personalities and ages factored strongly in the decision about where each girl should go to school. “I spoke to other people whose kids did major shifts, and I heard that the experience can really change their personalities – at least at first. In the first year, they might not talk at all at school, they are just focused on absorbing the new language.” Iris, according to her mom, is “really outgoing”, so the Stasiuks decided she would fare best at an international school.

Iris had just started kindergarten before the family moved to Denmark, and the Stasiuks didn’t want her to miss out on too much school. They wanted a quick transition. They found a spot for their daughter at Østerbro International School. The family moved to Copenhagen on a Friday and Iris started school on Monday morning, without missing a beat. Nearly six months after the move, the Stasiuks said they were happy with the decision. “Iris’s awareness of international culture is blowing us away. Her classmates come from all over the world – India, Pakistan, Italy, France ... her teacher is an American, married to a Dane, who used to live in Costa Rica.” The Stasiuks said they were also impressed by how quickly Iris’s reading and writing skills had come along. “The curriculum at her school is based on the British system and is even more rigorous about reading and writing at the kindergarten level than American schools. Iris really likes the discipline, and she has gotten a lot of confidence.” Østerbro International School begins Danish language

training when students are seven years old. So Iris’s younger sister, Jane, who is enrolled in the council-run pre-school Børnehuset Hjortøgade, actually got a more intense start on her language training. According to Philippa, Danish words began “sneaking” into three-year-old Jane’s speech. Jane herself proudly announced one day after school, “I can speak a little Danish.” “In pre-school the emphasis isn’t so much on reading and writing as on human interaction, like learning to share. We felt that Jane could learn that just as well in Danish. They are very loving with the children, and that’s the most important thing in pre-school.” Philippa said she noticed a different approach to preschool education at her daughter’s kindergarten. “It seems like the emphasis here is on letting the children choose for themselves how they want to spend their time. Something that impresses me is seeing groups of three or four little kids organise themselves and discuss how they are going to play a game together – with very little direct management from the teacher.” That kind of self-management and group co-operation, at such a young age impressed Philippa, who said it strikes her as “wonderfully Danish”.


By Jennifer Buley

Expat families in Denmark grapple with difficult decisions. “We were willing to run the risk of her learning Danish more Christiania or Nihola transport bike? White bread or rug- slowly, rather than affect her development as an outgoing kid.” brød? Danish public school or private international?

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Relocation Guide - Autumn 2012

Making a new country feel like home By Max Freckleton

Scandia Housing has been putting roofs over foreign heads for almost 20 years


hen Peter Høyer moved to Los Angeles many years ago, the biggest difficulty he faced was trying to find somewhere to stay. He had no network or help in figuring out how to navigate the unfamiliar culture and environment that he had just been thrust into. But the experience gave Høyer an idea: why not start a real estate agency specialised in renting out apartments and houses to expatriates who come to Denmark. And he did just that. When Scandia Housing was founded in 1993, the agency managed just 60 rental properties. That number has since grown to about 2,000 each year, after Scandia Housing expanded its operations to include both foreigners and Danes. “The dream,” he says, “is still to make the stay and the experience for foreigners as smooth as possible. There are a lot more foreigners working here in Denmark today than

there were 20 years ago, which is great for us and great for all of society. While Høyer has been told a countless number of times that it is impossible to find an apartment in Denmark, he thinks the same difficulty crops up no matter what country one moves to. “Whenever you come to a new place, you don’t know where to look, you don’t have any acquaintances, and you don’t have a network. It’s always a challenging experience to find a property.” Even having to figure out small cultural customs, like whether to greet with a kiss or a hug, is daunting enough, let alone the additional stress of searching for the right residence.

gen, north of Copenhagen and in some of the other major Danish cities, like Aarhus. Høyer says that while the standard of properties is high, and the agency never lets out rentals that are below par, not all of the residences are luxury apartments. The properties come fully furnished or unfurnished, giving clients the option of leasing a ‘furniture package’ so all the fitting out gets done for them, right down to the vase on the coffee table. “All you will need to bring is your toothbrush and your computer,” Høyer says, adding that the furnishing add-on had been hugely successful among their foreign clients. The furniture packages are put together by one of Scandia Housing’s interior designers who has an eye for classic, modern and timeless pieces. That modernity is something that Høyer and his team of more than 50 employees are constantly striving for in their work. “We are a young operation, well perhaps except for me,” Høyer laughs. “We are modern, we have young ideas and a lot of innovation.” With the recent economic crisis encouraging homeowners to hold onto their properties and rent them out until the market recovers, Høyer says the rental market was growing, presenting foreigners with a wider range of properties and rental services. “We try to make the service and the quality more international in Denmark. That is our goal and I think we’ve gone a long way towards that,” he says.

“All you will need to bring is your toothbrush and your computer.” “A place to live is always very important for your well-being. There are a lot of cases where the spouse is not working, so she or he will stay at home,” Høyer says. “That means the environment and the neighbourhood where they settle is very important.” Many of Scandia Housing’s rental properties are leased out for between three-months and five years, and are located in central Copenha-

NEWLY ARRIVED IN COPENHAGEN? The City of Copenhagen invites you to attend the course ‘Learn about Denmark’ – free of charge. The courses are conducted in more than 16 languages, so that you can choose the language you feel the most comfortable speaking.

‘Learn about Denmark’ is a introduction to Danish society, culture and history. The course’s programme is a combination of information, dialogue and experience sharing, led by professional bilingual instructors. The course is in two parts. Each part consists of five lessons conducted over a period of five weeks (one lesson each week).

The new courses will start at the beginning of November 2012.

For more information about the course, please call CBSI Language Centre tel. 8256 5200, or write to us at and ask us for an application form.

Peter Høyer, CEO

Relocation Guide - Autumn 2012

Foreigners expect better service


By Max Freckleton

One real estate agency is raising the bar on standards of service in Denmark


oreigners generally have higher expectations than Danes when it comes to customer service in Denmark. But Scandia Housing, which began by solely renting homes to expats, is one company that understands what foreign clients need. Even a quick browse of their website – available in English, Danish, French and German – reveals that this real estate agency has stepped its services up a notch to cater for foreign clients. That effort even extends to hiring staff with first-hand experience of what it is like to be an expat. One of those staff members is Tine Gregory. Recently hired as their customer

s rse h u o C anis . s in D l level l at a

relations consultant, Gregory spent 20 years of her life in Singapore and Hong Kong. “They have a completely different service level over there than we do here,” Gregory says. “So the customer relations department was started up as a way for us to continue offering service above-and-beyond the standard level in Denmark.” Gregory’s role includes making clients feel welcome and answering any questions about the house or apartment. Being their central contact person, customers direct all their enquiries to Gregory, who speaks English and German fluently. And by using Gregory’s feedback on

customer concerns, Scandia Housing can develop new services for foreigners. “One of the questions I often hear is ‘Why does it take a whole year for renters to get their deposits back in Denmark?’” Gregory says. “People get very frustrated and it’s especially annoying for expats who might be travelling out of the country.” To combat the inconvenience, Scandia Housing created a service called ‘Small Bill’, which allows customers to get their deposit back as soon as they move out. They have devised a means of accurately estimating heating and water consumption, as well as calculating the likely amount required for general repairs and maintenance, so customers can get their deposit back straight away. Once the estimated cost has been determined, it is then subtracted from the deposit, and the client gets back the balance then and there.

Tine Gregory Customer Relations Consultant

There are a number of other free services available to foreign customers, including a welcome bag, concierge services and information on Danish rental regulations. All new arrivals and their families, regardless of whether they are clients, are also invited to regular expat events, which give newcomers the chance to network. The next event is being held in December. All clients can also access cleaning services, linen services, garden maintenance, renovations and snow removal, to name a few. And if customers want their rental contract drawn up in English that can be arranged for a small fee. “The list of our services keeps growing as we continuously adapt ourselves to the changing needs of our foreign customers,” Gregory said.

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Relocation Guide - Autumn 2012


ByJustin Cremer

The much-touted happiness of Danes gets put to the test during the autumn and winter


anes have been called some variation of the moniker ‘the happiest people in the world’ so many times that it has become cliche, a bit of a long running joke. Last year, in an OECD publication entitled ‘How’s Life?’, Denmark finished top out of 40 countries in terms of life satisfaction. But while a visit to Kongens Have on a warm and sunny July day might make it easy to understand how Danes can be such a happy lot, outsiders may be hardpressed to explain this distinction during the dark, cold days of winter. How can people be so happy and satisfied when they go months barely seeing the sun? The answer, of course, is murkier than all of those ‘happiest people on Earth’ studies suggest. According to the mental health group PsykiatriFonden, 200,000 Danes currently suffer from depression and roughly 15 percent of the population – one in every seven – will suffer from a form of depression at some point in their lives. For many people, the dark and dreary conditions of this time of year can lead to winter depression, or seasonal affective disorder (SAD). In a widely cited 1998 study, it was found that over 12 percent of Danes indicated a presence of SAD. According to the United States National Library of Medicine, SAD is defined as ‘episodes of depression that occur at a certain time of the year, usually during winter’. The risk of SAD is greater

in locations like Denmark that have long dark winters. Its symptoms include social withdrawal, a lack of energy, increased sleepiness, and feelings of unhappiness or hopelessness. Martin Morsing, a Vesterbro-based psychologist, said that he sees seasonal affective disorder in five to ten percent of his clients, mostly women. “In Danish, we call it ‘vinterdepression’ [winter depression], but actually I prefer the English term ‘winter blues’, because the word ‘depression’ carries with it a number of associations which, from a psychological viewpoint, could be misleading,” Morsing said. “It is important to distinguish between a clinical depression and the winter blues. Although the symptoms are similar, they are two very distinct states of mind. To complicate things, the winter blues can easily become a depression if they go untreated.”

even more depressed as a result.” At its most extreme, depression can lead to suicide. Statistics from the Odense-based Centre for Suicide Research (CSR) show that suicides and suicide attempts peak at two points during the year: October/November, when the days begin to shorten, and April/May, when the days get longer again. “Studies have pointed towards daylight hours or changes in the day’s length as the most significant explanation for seasonal variations in suicidal behaviour,” wrote Børge Jensen, CSR’s statistician, in a 2003 report. “As the changes in the daylight hours and temperature are the highest in the autumn and spring, the number of suicides and suicide attempts peaks [during these times].” According to Jensen, it is a common myth that most suicides occur during December. But although the most suicides actually occur in the spring, the long, dark days of winter may be the culprit for that as well. “People with a severe winter depression, or seasonal affective disorder, lack the initiative to act while they are suffering from the depression, and first get it when they are on their way out of the depressive period in spring,” Jensen told The Copenhagen Post. Beyond the time of year, the particular weather conditions are also a factor in

“Cuddle up together and have some candlelight to make it more hyggeligt.” The condition can particularly affect the elderly. “They’re less likely to leave their homes due to their increased immobility,” said Sarika Staflund, a Swedish occupational health therapist based in Copenhagen. “They’re frightened they’ll slip in the wintry conditions, so they don’t go out and spend all their time inside, getting

suicides. “During autumn and winter, there are more suicides when it is foggy, humid, and rainy, but fewer when there is true winter weather (cold, clear weather with snowfall)”, Jensen wrote. With the past few weeks providing dark and foggy conditions, what can be done to stave off the winter blues? Ask a Dane how to make it through the winter, and the odds are the answer will include two words: ‘hygge’ and ‘candles’. The theory seems to be that if one lights enough candles, has enough low-hanging lamps and regularly meets with friends over coffee or drinks, seasonal affective disorder can be avoided. Danes, after all, consume more candles per capita than any other people in the world. But does that work? The professionals think so. “Definitely that’s a way to survive the hard winter,” Morsing said. “Cuddle up together and have some candlelight to make it more hyggeligt.” For those suffering from SAD, Morsing recommends they practice light therapy, where special lamps with bright fluorescent lights are used to simulate the light from the sun. Spending 20-30 minutes a day under the lamp can improve the depressive symptoms. Although, Morsing said, nothing replaces the real thing. “Be active, do sports, and get out in direct sunlight,” Morsing advised. “That is, during those few hours when the sun is out.”

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Relocation Guide - Autumn 2012

FIT IN OR FALL OUT? By Helen Dyrbye

Great Danes and great expectations are a part of moving to Denmark, but grating on your neighbours and co-workers nerves is all too easy if you don’t know their customs and habits


ROADLY speaking you will meet three kinds of Danes: Those who love speaking English, those who are happy speaking Danish or English, and those who say “Now you live in Denmark, so you will speak Danish.” This may sound gruff but it will help get your glottal stopping in first gear. What else can you expect of your new neighbours and co-workers?




When asked about her Danish neighbour’s customs and habits, Grethe Mose, a retired Danish nurse who lives on a typical housing estate north of Copenhagen admitted: “I’m not really sure. I don’t know them very well. I tend to speak more with the family two doors down where the dad is Australian, and the family across the car park where the father is from New Zealand. Of course if you have children, they play at each other’s homes and you chat when you go and collect them. Otherwise people usually call before visiting.” Apparently, having a dog also helps get Danes out of their houses and talking. Having a cat isn’t quite as popular, as children’s playgrounds are enormous sandpits. Time is another factor. People leave early, get home late and have to prepare dinner for their family before club meetings during the week. At weekends it’s hard to even know who lives next door. Relatively high divorce rates mean many children live half their lives at their father’s address and the other half at their mother’s. Anyone with a holiday home or kolonihave (allotment with glorified shed) also spends time away. You will meet local children at Fastelavn (the Sunday seven weeks before Easter), when children dress in costumes in a Danish version of Carnival. Halloween has also taken hold of the nation, so stock up on sweets to hand out to the children in fancy dress who knock on your door. Or face the music – a traditional trick or treat song.

GETTING STUCK IN Arbejdsdage (working days) are another occasion for meeting those who share the same building or housing estate, or who send their children to the same schools and playschools. Turn up in scruffy but not too outdated clothes and be ready to get busy with a paintbrush, broom or other tool. Some residents’ associations actually

charge you a fine for not joining in. Working days and summer parties are well publicised on notice board, as is the fact that during winter, you are legally liable for failing to clear snow from the pavement outside your building. Causing bodily injury is not a good ice breaker when moving in next door.

PARTY, PARTY If you are planning a flat-warming party, you will get a luke-warm reception unless you pin up a notice apologising in advance for any noise. Invite the neighbours if you like. People who prefer a quiet life can then arrange to stay at their boyfriend’s. There is nothing quiet about another Danish neighbourhood custom: New Year’s Eve, which is usually spent with friends wearing safety goggles. It is legally permitted to store up to five kilos of fireworks and set them off from December 1 until January 5. At the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve the heavens explode. So park your car well out of the way or your paintwork will be peppered with rocket fall-out. And store your pets in a soundproof room.

Danes think it’s superficial. Why ask if you don’t want an answer?”

IT’S NOT SO BAD Positive adjectives are another minefield. Despite regional differences and however progressive your workplace, along with other customs and habits you will bump into something called Janteloven, the law of ‘hiding your light under a bushel’. “Advertising brochures that are overly positive really turn us off,” says Sonne. “It’s worse in Jutland. They think the phrase ‘det er ikke så ringe endda’ (it’s actually not that bad) is positive. My husband has an Alpha Romeo, which is accepted in Copenhagen, but couldn’t have one in Jutland. He wouldn’t get any respect. People would think he was throwing his money away.” In other words, even if your neighbours and co-workers are lovely, don’t expect

positive feedback or praise. Look up ‘excellent’ in a Danish dictionary and it says ‘udmærket’, but, look up ‘udmærket’ in an English dictionary, and it means ‘fair enough’. So do yourself a favour. Interpret ‘udmærket’ as ‘excellent’ but act like it’s ‘fair enough’. Unless the topic is life in Denmark. Then visitors from overseas should praise Denmark to the skies. You can really go overboard. And though a few might wish you had, once you join a few clubs and get to know them properly, you’ll find the vast majority of Danes are friendly, good-natured and really very helpful.

The author is the principal contributor to the book “Xenophobe’s Guide to the Danes”. Though a true Brit, she followed her heart to Denmark many years ago (but still pines for fish and chips with real vinegar).

CUSTOMS AND HABITS AT WORK Birthdays are also celebrated with colleagues. But who forks out for the cake? Lise Sonne Rasmussen, European finance manager at a global provider of chemical, regulatory and compliance services, is Danish but worked in England for 13 years early in her career. Familiar with cultural differences, she points out that in Denmark the person having the birthday brings the cake to work. Misunderstandings also arise around the lunch buffet. “We have to accompany foreign visitors, telling them what goes with what. Otherwise they start piling fish in with everything else.” Even she was surprised by another Danish canteen custom: “When you sit down with your meal, the people already seated say ‘Velbekomme’, which literally translates to something like “may you do well by it”. That’s polite. Be careful though. Though she lived in the UK where politeness is popular, Sonne, like many Danes, still hates phrases like ‘have a nice day’. “They don’t mean it and anyway, I might be having a really awful day. It’s the same with ‘How are you?’ We

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Relocation Guide - Autumn 2012



When the honeymoon of the international assignment is over, it becomes time to settle in. Canadian Anna Cohen explains how to make the transition from trailing spouse to well-adjusted expat


t was midnight in April earlier this year. My husband, straight off the plane from Copenhagen after interviewing for a job, crawled into bed and asked, ‘Do you want to move to Denmark?’ If he’d asked me: “Do you want to leave your job, our closest friends, our community, the home we’ve created for our family and join me in a foreign country?” I may have said no. I rather thought of weekends in Paris, skiing in the Pyrenees and sunbathing in Sicily, and offered a speedy “yes” to his loaded question. Within four months, we’d left our jobs, packed up the home we’d created, said goodbye to our friends and had flown from Vancouver to Denmark. A few hours after arriving in Copenhagen, when I realised that my suitcase, with laptops, photos and passports had been stolen, tears flowed. What have we got ourselves into? People move to Denmark for a variety of reasons: the social welfare system, a higher quality of life, and, for internationals, the offer of an appealing job. It didn’t take me long to realise that I wasn’t alone. I had officially joined the ranks of the trailing spouse club. Approximately 80 percent of us are women! My first two weeks in Odense were pleasant: we visited the tourist attractions, attended the festivals and, wandered around the city centre. However, once the summer was over, the rain came and the cold set in, my honeymoon was over. Suddenly the winter blues set it, and culture shock struck. After the initial excitement of hearing my children whine “Mor!!!” and the amusement of interesting items in the deli aisle, it all felt so strange living here and getting up in the morning wasn’t as easy as it used to be. Although English is widely spoken here, without speaking Danish it can be tough to find a job. WorkinDenmark holds workshops for internationals as well as a six month mentoring program for expat spouses such as myself. They help tailor your CV to the Danish market, meet with you one-to-one and hold monthly workshops. Networking is incredibly important - some 70 percent of positions are not advertised. Meeting with people, reaching out and sending your CV to companies, even when there are no jobs advertised, is crucial. Through my husband’s university, my children’s school and our local church, we have already met some lovely people. But as an unemployed mum, it has been difficult to meet other parents as 95 percent

of women in Denmark work fulltime. I was surprised when I first visited the playground in the middle of a weekday to find it completely deserted. However, there are many organised expatriate communities, mums groups and international clubs that you can join. Additionally, Danish clubs are very popular here: there is a club for every sport, interest or activity, from bird watching to knitting, and offer another way to meet people. Everyone I have come across has said: you MUST learn Danish. Danes expect you to learn Danish and, to integrate, you must. This is reiterated by the 2010 Expat Study, conducted by Oxford Research and The Copenhagen Post, which found that “expats and their families need more personal contact with Danish society so that they can act and feel as if they are part of it, and a pre-requisite to fulfilling this goal is to get an understanding and insight into Danish society.” Thankfully, newcomers are offered free language lessons upon arrival. Institutions such as Lærdansk will teach you Danish and also provide a chance to socialise. In addition to organised lessons it is good to join a ‘Chat in Danish’ group. It’s difficult when many people speak English, so I suggest you find people who can’t speak English (in my case, my son’s friends) so you will be forced to make an effort to speak and understand Danish. According to the Expat Study, there are four factors that affect integrating to life in Denmark. Firstly, having good Dan-

“The ‘adjustment’ is never complete, and a foreigner will always be seen as a foreigner, [but] Denmark is a good place to live.” ish skills; secondly, giving it time (expats who stay for more than three years feel more integrated than shorter stays); thirdly, having children and lastly, having a good salary. Moving to Denmark and being a trailing spouse is difficult, so don’t be afraid to ask for help. And the more people you meet, the more people can help you and give you advice. It’s good to be realistic though. Hanna, from Finland admitted: “The ‘adjustment’ is never complete, and a foreigner will always be seen as a foreigner, [but] Denmark is a good place to live.” One main reason why expats leave Denmark after a short time is because their spouse isn’t content. So my mantra is: learn danish, socialise, get a job and be patient.

WELCOME TO DENMARK! Living and working in a new country is a great opportunity… and a tough challenge. It is our job to make it work for you and your family!

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Relocation Guide - Autumn 2012

Useful information


Flag days

DSB ( – national railway operator Arriva ( – operates a number of lines in Jutland DSBØresund ( – operates rail service between Sweden and Denmark SJ ( – Swedish rail operator, offers service from Copenhagen

Immigration Service


Copenhagen Airport ( Aarhus Airport ( Aalborg Airport ( Billund Airport ( Karup Airport ( Looking for inexpensive flights? Try, or

In accordance with the Danish custom of flying the national flag (the Danebrog) on red-letter days such as birthdays, certain days are designated as national ‘flag days’. In addition to the list below, certain major events, such as state visits, are also designated flag days. Flags are normally flown from public buildings, atop buses, in allotment gardens and anyplace else people can squeeze them in.

General Official information website International Citizen Service

Weather Postal service Emergency services

Dial 1-1-2

Ground Triage telephone

In non-emergency situations, some areas require you to call a special triage line before (akuttelefon) visiting the A&E. Zealand (Region Sjælland) – 7015 0708 Greater Copenhagen & Bornholm (Region Hovedstaden) – 1813 24-hour doctor

If you require a doctor outside of normal opening hours, you must contact the 24-hour doctor (lægevagt) in your region, who will either tell you to come in, make a house call or instruct you to see emergency care. Northern Jutland (Region Nordjylland) – 7015 0300 Central Jutland (Region Midtjylland) – 7011 3131 Southern Jutland & Funen (Region Syddanmark) – 7011 0707 Zealand (Region Sjælland) – 7015 0700 Greater Copenhagen & Bornholm (Region Hovedstaden) – 3869 3869 There are also a number of 24-hour doctors who make afterhours house calls for a fee. Poison control line 8212 1212 (nationwide) 24-hour chemists

All areas have at least one chemist open 24 hours a day. A surcharge is sometimes added for after-hours service. Getting there Public transit

Journey Planner ( – Plan your trip by public transit. Includes information about fares, maps, transfer times and walking distance between where you get off and your final destination.

There is a wide variety of coach services providing national and international service. Sea

Mols-Linien ( – sails between Aarhus in Jutland and the island of Zealand Scandlines ( – sails to Germany and Sweden DFDS Seaways ( – sails to Norway and England Polferries ( – sails to Poland Ferries are often the only way to reach Denmark’s smaller islands. Check the internet for routes and schedules.

Jan 1 – New Year’s Day Feb 5 – Crown Princess Mary’s birthday Feb 6 – Princess Marie’s birthday Mar 29 – Good Friday Mar 31 – Easter Sunday Apr 9 – Occupation Day Apr 16 – Queen Margrethe II’s birthday Apr 29 – Princess Benedikte’s birthday May 5 – Liberation Day May 9 – Ascension Day May 26 – Crown Prince Frederik’s birthday May 19 – Whitsun Jun 5 – Constitution day Jun 7 – Prince Joachim’s birthday Jun 11 – Prince Henrik’s birthday Jun 15 – Valdemar’s Day, Reunion Day Sep 5 – Veterans Day Dec 25 – Christmas Day


CELEBRATIONS AND HOLIDAYS 2013 Jan 1 – New Year’s Day / Nytårsdag* Feb 10 – Shrove / Fastelavn Mar 24 – Palm Sunday / Palmesøndag Mar 28 - Maundy Thursday / Skærtorsdag* Mar 29 – Good Friday / Langfredag* Mar 31 – Easter Sunday / Påske Apr 1 – Easter Monday / 2. Påskedag* Apr 26 – Prayer Day / Store bededag * May 1 – May Day / 1. maj** May 9 – Ascension Day / Kristi himmelfart* May 19 – Whitsun May 20 – Whit Monday* Jun 5 – Constitution Day (also Fathers’ Day)** June 23 – Midsummer / Skt. Hans aften Dec 25 – Christmas* Dec 26 – Second Day of Christmas* Dec 31 – New Year’s Eve** *denotes bank holiday **denotes optional closing or reduced hours

Where to visit

VisitDenmark ( offers a good overview of places to see and experience during your stay. Check out the individual websites of the four largest cities too:




From American football to weightlifting, all sports in Denmark are organised as part of the National Olympic Committee and Sports Confederation of Denmark. Visit their website – ( to find contact information for your sport. Runners, whether you are looking for a group to jog with or a race to win, there’s no shortage of opportunities. Many workplaces have running clubs, and the link above can also guide you to clubs in your area. Races are held year round and there are a variety of online calendars, including ( run-dk) – or just ask a fellow runner.


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We teach Danish to adult immigrants. We also provide courses in Danish culture and society. We work together with local authorities and businesses.


Language Centre Vejle is a local authority language center working actively in partnership with the local authorities and social workers who refer students to us. Students can be referred either under the Integration Act, the Danish Education Act or the LAB-law

LANGUAGE CENTRE VEJLE Klostergade 4, 7100 Vejle Tel.: 76 81 38 00 E-mail: Web: EANnr: 5798006361366


Our Enterprise and Development Department works with the business sector. Our Enterprise and development consultant is always available for a chat about your organisation’s learning needs and skills upgrading requirements.

SPROGCENTER FREDERICIA Prangervej 111, 7000 Fredericia Tlf.: 76 81 38 63 E-mail: Web: EANnr: 5798006361366

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Relocating to Denmark | The Copenhagen Post's Autumn 2012 Relocation Guide