Ask Kay: Coming to Denmark as a student

Got a question about moving to Denmark or life in Denmark? Ask Kay, an expat who has lived here for more than a decade. In this instalment: Kay breaks a Mads Mikkelsen fan's heart and explains why getting a student visa is easier than a work visa.

Ask Kay: Coming to Denmark as a student
Illustration: Kay Xander Mellish
Kay Xander MellishKay Xander Mellish is an American who has lived in Denmark for 14 years and answered many questions from new arrivals and people thinking of moving to Denmark. She is the author of the new book How To Live in Denmark, available on, and iTunes, and offers How To Live in Denmark events for schools, unions and corporations, as well as a free podcast
Hi! I'm a big fan of your podcast and listen to it every chance I get. I'm also a big fan of Mads Mikkelsen. Have you ever seen him, or his family, around Copenhagen? Out of curiosity, I've tried to do online searches to see what his home in Copenhagen looks like but it never produces any results.
I have never seen Mads Mikkelsen anywhere in Copenhagen. That said, I am notoriously bad at spotting celebrities, particularly Danish celebrities, because I don’t follow the Danish weekly gossip magazines all that closely. I do occasionally read them at the hairdressers or while waiting for my pizza to be ready at the local takeout, but apparently my hair is too long and my pizza eating too infrequent to really keep current. I've seen Danish supermodel Helena Christensen about on Strøget a few times, and my daughter recently met and got the autograph of teen idol Basim at a local city fair. But I can’t offer you any information on Mads, or on Game of Thrones star Nicolai Coster-Waldau for that matter. Sorry. 
My name is Robert, and my wife and I have been contemplating relocating to Denmark from Tennessee. We are a young couple in our 20s, neither of whom studied abroad during college. We are looking for some adventure and a new way of life and interested in learning a new language. Though our only Nordic travel has been to Iceland, my friend who studied abroad in Denmark made it seem amazing and got us curious about the potential for a better balance in our lives outside our hectic and stressful schedule we run on here in the USA. I've been doing a lot of research but I'm very curious as to how to connect with employers in Denmark. Though we know no Danish, we are definitely willing to study and learn. 
Hi Robert! It's difficult to get a job in Denmark if you don't speak Danish and don't have a skill the country desperately needs – high-level engineering degrees, Zumba dance certification, or something along those lines. 
The best advice I can offer is to come to Denmark for higher education. Most upwardly mobile workers in Denmark have Master's degrees, so you could work on one of those while building up a network, learning the language, and deciding if this is the right place for you. Student visas are easy to get, while working visas are not.
Students are allowed to work 20 hours per week alongside their studies, which might be enough to fund your living expenses if you are based outside of Copenhagen. 
You can get more information at Study in Denmark
Do you have a question for Kay? Send it to her at kay (at) and we might feature the answer here. 

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