Who are you?
My name is Grace, I am 21 years old and from Hertfordshire in the UK.
Where, when and why did you move abroad?
I moved to Aarhus, Denmark in August 2016. I moved here after graduating with a Sociology degree from the University of Nottingham in July 2016. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do after uni so I decided to try something completely new and move here! I am studying for a marketing qualification and work for a Danish fashion start-up.What challenges did you face during the move?
Thanks to EU arrangements, the process was relatively smooth. All I had to do was register my residence in Denmark with the local citizen service. The only issue I faced was the waiting time to receive a citizen registration number (CPR), without this number I couldn’t do things like open a bank account, get a phone contract or even get a travel card!
How did you find somewhere to live?
Luckily my boyfriend is a Dane and has an apartment in Aarhus, but if this hadn’t been the case then it would’ve been very hard. Lots of my classmates are international students and they are still struggling to find a suitable place to live. A lot of the time, you only hear of available apartments or rooms through friends so my advice would be to make some Danish friends and ask them to let you know whether they know of any friends seeking tenants or roommates.
Are there many other expats in your area?
I think so. Of course, the majority of English expats to Denmark choose to live in Copenhagen but I regularly hear English voices when I am out and about in the city. There are also a few Brits studying at my university here.
What is your relationship like with the locals?
Great, Danish people are very helpful and friendly. It really helps that everyone is so good at English as if you are ever confused about something or in need of some guidance, anybody will be happy to help you.
What do you like about life where you are?
I really like feeling independent and I really like how safe it is in Aarhus. Aarhus is such a great city, it is like a smaller and cosier Copenhagen and everything is easily accessible thanks to the great bus connections.
What do you dislike about your expat life?
Of course, I really miss English home comforts and my friends and family. However, the plane journey is so short and also cheap that it means that I can regularly go home and people can easily come and visit me.
What is the biggest cultural difference you have experienced between your new country and life back home?
Probably the fact that everyone here is very trusting. It is not uncommon to see babies in pushchairs outside restaurants, and nearly all the shops put their stock on display outside the store on the main shopping street unsecured. There is also very little CCTV. Coming from England where there is CCTV pretty much everywhere, it is very different to feel that Danes trust each other to do the right thing.
What do you think of the food and drink in your new country? What are your particular likes or dislikes?
It is not drastically different to English food but Danes tend to eat a lot healthier overall. One example is the fact that most people opt to have plain oats for breakfast and rye bread for lunch, this is something I definitely had to adjust to. One interesting thing I have tried is pickled herring – this is definitely an acquired taste!
What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?
I would advise them to find accommodation before arriving here and also make sure their finances are in order because without that all important CPR number you won’t be able to get a job. My CPR number took around 2 months to arrive so make sure you’re covered for this time period. I would also advise expats to start learning Danish. As it is slightly similar to English, it is not too difficult to learn and the effort to learn the language will be appreciated by all Danes. This is especially true if you’re wanting to work here, a potential employer will love to see that you are learning.
What are your plans for the future?
I plan to finish my education next August and then who knows! I am really enjoying living here in Denmark and if there are employment opportunities available then I don’t see why I wouldn’t stay.
Grace works at fashion startup Trendhim. You can find her on LinkedIn.