In certain expat circles, when someone answers the frequent question of how they ended in Denmark with the words “the usual,” the others will immediately know what it means. Moving to Denmark to be with a Danish spouse or significant other is one of the most oft-repeated stories among expats.
Such is also the case with 36-year-old Iowa native Bret Schafbuch, who moved to Denmark in 2012 with his Danish wife Merete. But while some ‘love refugees’ face a long struggle in finding meaningful work, Schafbuch landed himself a job as a senior digital art director at Lego shortly after relocating to Denmark.
Tell us about your job - do you get to play with Lego toys all day?
I work in Lego’s Consumer Marketing Agency (CMA) department, where we develop marketing materials for Lego products. So I don't play with Lego bricks all day, but I am indeed surrounded by them.
Growing up in Iowa, you probably built Lego sets - did you ever imagine that one day you'd be working in the company's Danish headquarters?
I adored my Lego sets as a kid and still do. However, I didn't find out that Lego was headquartered in Denmark until I visited the Dansk Design Center in my mid twenties.
How long have you been in Denmark and how did you first end up here?
My Danish wife and I moved here two years ago because we wanted to have kids, and she felt more comfortable being here to bear the first child at least.
What's the best thing about living and working in Denmark?
For me personally, the best thing about living and working in Denmark is that the system and society seem to accept and support creative types, and the arts in general.
A lot of internationals say that they wouldn't want to live outside of Copenhagen. How do you like living in Billund, which is a fairly small town?
My wife and I like living here with our one year old son, Otto. It's great riding a bike to work and having time to spend with family instead of commuting. Also, we've felt pretty welcome here as an 'international' family, but I must say it helps having a Jutland-born wife.
Do you need to speak Danish for your job?
No, I don't need Danish for my job. However, I use it, very poorly at that, for interacting with locals day-to-day. Personally, I believe a foreigner in any country or region should take the initiative to learn about that specific culture, including the language.
Do you plan to stay in Denmark forever?
If you would have asked me last February when it seemed the sun didn't appear since November, I would have said "Hell no!". Now, when it's warm and the sun shines, it's a different story.
Are you an expat working in Denmark? The Local would like to hear from you - drop us a line!