Living in an Expat world | Expat in Denmark

Expat in Denmark, in case you wondered, is a state-funded initiative that does its bit to facilitate social and professional contact between expats, and between expats and Danes. According to our member surveys, folk seem to appreciate and – whisper it – even like some of the events and web-based services we provide. On the other hand, a cursory glance at some of the less-than-complimentary missives in my inbox ensures that satisfaction is always some way out of reach. You can’t please ‘em all, especially when the ‘all’ have such varied needs and desires.

Anyway, over the last week or so I have attended a number of the various working groups that come with the Expat in Denmark package. The Danish state – for those of you paying tax here, that means you – finances and supports a myriad of initiatives that seek to attract and retain/integrate non-Danes a bit more into the goings on of Danish everyday life. And who can blame them? We’re good business. The list of genuinely interesting projects is impressive: using libraries as a conduit to informing and connecting expats, sports guides to introduce non-Danes to Danish sporting life, career counselling and coaching, supporting international students onto the labour market, support and advice for spouses and – most recently – cultural literature networks between Danes and expats.

On top of that, two of the five regions of Denmark (North and Mid) have spent over 60 million kroner on joint efforts to improve the welcome and services that expats receive in those regions. The capital region is on the cusp of launching a similar project of over 40 million. These are but an indicative idea of what goes on, and I guess you soon realise that we’re into the realm of serious money being spent. Moreover, and you’ll like this, there is no overview to date of what the overall spending has entailed in its various forms.

A more cynical observer would note “ever was it thus” on these shores, but I would not (entirely) agree that such money is poorly spent. I do, however, worry how well it is communicated to the average José on the street, and I hope that everyone – us included – gets better at this, and fast.

I was wondering about this, and more interestingly the colossal elephant in the room not a million days ago. What would make the largest single difference to helping expats? How many projects, how many millions, are needed for getting their head around the state, the region, the commune … the tax rules, the health service and your rights: everything from refuse collection to child benefit?

A web-savvy Dane heads to and finds everything they could possibly need to know. An expat is left with a mish-mash of websites providing limited information – and that includes ours.

So: how about it? One project. One guide to everything you’ve paid for. One massive difference made.