Living in an Expat World: Welcome to Denmark – get ready for 50 shades of grey! – The Post

Living in an Expat World: Welcome to Denmark – get ready for 50 shades of grey!

(photo: iStock)
September 6th, 2015 7:00 pm| by Tiny Maerschalk
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The end of summer sometimes equals new beginnings professionally. People change jobs and some even decide on a career abroad. I personally love this time of year, as we at International Community get to say welcome to many international employees, accompanying partners and their families.

Weather a worry
When we at International Community say welcome to newcomers during the summer (or lack thereof) the Danish weather is always a hot topic – and understandably an actual concern for people from the more exotic parts of the world.

An annual average of 750 mm of rain and only 1,495 hours of sunshine can take its toll on newcomers, and even a boost of Vitamin D is sometimes necessary. As an expat once told me: “Denmark is just different shades of grey from October to March.”

Adjusting the Danish way
Of course, the weather is not going to change, so there is only one thing you can do. Adjust. Or at least try to. The Danish saying “There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing” is actually valid, even though l am still surprised how many people venture outside when it is grey, rainy and cold.

I really had a hard time adjusting to this Danish concept of defying the weather no matter what. However, I have now tried a barbecue in the winter and had a picnic under an umbrella, which I don’t think is even an option anywhere else – and I have to admit, it has its charm.

Hygge – a state of mind
On the other hand, another Danish ‘invention’ that I adjusted to a lot faster is the concept of ‘hygge’ – and it must have been developed by someone who wanted to avoid going outside during the grey months. Many have tried to translate or describe hygge. I would call it a state of mind where you create a warm and inviting space for relaxation, alone or with good company.

So rather than perceiving the weather as a challenge, we should promote the concept of hygge and the Danes’ inventiveness and spirit regardless of what the weather gods throw at them. Maybe we should schedule some International Community events in the pouring rain, just to experience the Danish way of handling the weather.

I look forward to welcoming you, come rain or shine.


Tiny Maerschalk


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Belgium’s Tiny Maerschalk, who has worked for the International Community networking platform since its foundation in 2008, knows how it feels to settle in a new country. Dedicated to improving conditions for new arrivals, here she shares her insights about the business issues that mean the most to internationals in Denmark.