Having friends is an important aspect of living abroad, but it can be difficult for new arrivals to a country, particularly as many of us might find it harder to make new ones as we get older.
But as grumpy and peculiar as we get, we are powerless to resist the fierce bonding that comes with participating in a team sport, which puts joining a sports club at the top of every international’s ‘must do’ list.
Some opt to completely embed themselves into the local culture and join a Danish one.
But if you’re not sure about the language issues, joining sports clubs for internationals can be a safer choice. They offer networking and social events with people in a similar situation, and there always tend to be a large number of locals involved as well.
Mixing it up
Copenhagen Celtic (football) and Exiles (rugby union) are two such clubs, but if you’re not sure your ball skills will be up to scratch at those clubs, you could always try something different – like netball.
But isn’t that a women’s sport, you might think. Well, in Scandinavia it is actually mixed in a bid to distinguish itself from other sports and to be able to offer something unique.
And it has been paying off. With 30 regulars and 228 members on Facebook, the players at Copenhagen Netball Club, which was founded in 2008, train hard and party even harder.
For many of its players, life in Denmark would be unthinkable without it.
The club has a high focus on social aspects and offers a space for members to meet other internationals as well as network professionally.
Regular social events include summer barbecues, bowling nights, regular dinners and nights out in the city, as well as annual international tournaments for those players who want to compete against other European teams.
The club meets every Wednesday night at 19:30 at Bellahøj Stadion, Hall 2. New players can just turn up without worrying about paying membership fees in advance. For more information, visit netball.dk or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Clara Jessop, UK, 25
I moved to Copenhagen in July from Australia to live with my Danish boyfriend. When I moved I had to quit my job and stop playing my team sport which I love. Joining the netball club in Denmark has given me some routine in my life, and I have met other people and made lots of new friends who have also moved to Copenhagen without a job and without many friends.
Rachel Bagnall, UK, 27
I moved to Copenhagen in January 2014 to join my Danish boyfriend Jakob. Being new to the city and not knowing a lot of people I was very pleased to learn that there was a netball team in Copenhagen. Joining the team has given me the opportunity to create my own network and friends. The club has a great mixture of different nationalities, and as the netball team is mixed, I have even convinced my boyfriend to play as well, which is a lot of fun!
Liz Downey, UK, 24
I moved to Copenhagen only one month ago from the UK, and being able to play netball had made the transition so much easier and I already feel at home. I have been able to combine playing netball and keeping fit with meeting lots of other friendly people who are also new or foreign in Copenhagen. Hopefully the club can continue to attract more people, both expats and Danes, and we can all keep playing the game we love!
Heidi Gore, UK, 23
I moved from the UK to Copenhagen in August – which was perfect timing for the start of the netball season. Although I hadn’t played for a few years, I searched for a netball team in Copenhagen to meet new people with similar interests! It’s really nice to continue a hobby from home when you move to another country, and you also find a lot of people who are in similar positions to you – looking for accommodation, for example, and getting set up with your CPR number. Joining the netball club has definitely had a positive impact, and I would highly recommend anyone thinking of joining to come along too!
Wenjing Zhuang, Australia, 30
When I moved to Copenhagen for work [Maersk Oil], I didn’t know very many people. Luckily a serendipitous Google search for ‘netball’ brought up the Copenhagen Netball Club and I arranged to join a social evening the very evening I arrived in Copenhagen. Since then, I’ve met so many new people, new friends from Denmark, Europe, and all around the world. Of course a heavy skew towards Australians meant I felt doubly at home on the netball court and in Copenhagen. Socialising on and off the court is definitely a highlight of life in Copenhagen, especially when things like the Rugby World Cup are on. Come on Australia!
Susie McKenzie, Australia, 29
Netball for me has been amazing. Not just because of the physical side but the social side. Arriving at a place with others who are new to the country is very comforting. We are like-minded and open individuals who are willing to help each other when we can, whether that is a coffee or wine catch-up or support in the job hunt. On the physical side I love being able to have a run while smiling and enjoying exercise.
Emily Wiberg Rasmussen, UK, 20
I have just joined the netball club after finding it through Facebook. I’m an exchange student at CBS, which doesn’t offer netball as a sport. As such I was looking for a way to play netball and meet some Danish people as a way to better integrate into Danish life!