Kay 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 Amazon.com, Saxo.com and iTunes, and offers How To Live in Denmark events for schools, unions and corporations, as well as a free podcast.
My name is Faisal, and I am thinking about moving to Denmark with my wife and daughter. I have a PhD from a prestigious university in the UK, and I have taught there for about three years in the higher education sector. I am familiar with the British professional environment and have documented proof in the form of references from British employers. But here's the thing: I AM A MUSLIM, and a practising one at that. Does not mean that I put a label on my forehead (I am clean shaven, btw). I have read confusing stories about job-hunting in Denmark, mainly negative. Do you think it is a good time to move to Denmark? What are the job prospects with my ethnic, religious and academic background? If we Muslims prove ourselves ‘as good as’ Danish people, are we likely to have a comfortable social life or it is a continuous conflict?
Hi Faisal. You sound like a very educated man. Most Danes are mostly open to immigrants they feel will work hard and contribute to the shared society. Once you have established yourself, that would no doubt be you. There are around 25 international schools in Denmark and more are probably on the way, along with several new Muslim schools. I believe they would be your best chance of initial employment, along with the local universities.
Danes are by and large not religious, which means they have a hard time understanding observant Muslims. That said, Danes also respect one's private life. No one will interfere with your choice to worship.
I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t say that there are some Muslim immigrants who have a hard time fitting into Danish culture. Some live in neighbourhoods with high rates of crime and unemployment. (Once you can understand Danish, you should read young poet Yahya Hassan's work about growing up in this environment). The sad truth is, some Danes cannot tell the difference between you and these guys, at least until they have gotten to know you as an individual.
Denmark is a nice place to live and a good place to raise children. It is a peaceful place and Danes respect education. But it can be hard to settle in, no matter where you come from, and particularly before you learn Danish. I suggest you start with the local Muslim community and then meet Danes through the other parents in your daughter's day care.
I hope that is helpful to you. Good luck!
Do you have a question for Kay? Send it to her at kay (at) howtoliveindenmark.com and we might feature the answer here.