Illustration: Kay Xander Mellish
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.
I'm in the second year of my Bachelor's degree in Portugal, but I have been thinking lately that if I want to succeed I can't stay here. I have a chance to study in the field I really want at a Danish university. Should I go to Denmark? Will I regret it? Or will I live an unforgettable adventure? I've never lived abroad, I've never lived without my parents, but I'm sensing that this is a step i need to take in order to improve myself and an opportunity to live something awesome, something I will never forget. Please, give me your sincere advice.
It’s late November as I write this. I’m sitting at my desk in Copenhagen and it’s noon, but it’s not really very light. Outside the sky is grey and the air is kind of thick and soupy. And it’s cold. I’m indoors and the heat’s on to the max, but I’m wearing a thick woollen scarf and a knit hat. These are the dark times in Denmark. November, December, January, February. Dark and cold. You can only get through it with a lot of tea or coffee, and maybe some chocolate.
I took the liberty of looking at what the weather is like in Portugal today. It’s a good 10 degrees Celsius warmer than it is here.
That said, yes, I think you should come to study in Denmark. You have to move where the action is, particularly if you’re 18 years old and don’t own any furniture yet.
I also left my hometown when I was 18. At the time, the place where I lived was in a terrible economic situation, as Portugal is today. All the factories had been shut down, and the area downtown where the factories once stood was so deserted that the local wildlife started to come back. Deer, badgers and woodchucks. Anyway, I moved to New York City to go to university, which turned out to be the launch pad for a whole new life for me. From personal experience, I can say it was the right move.
Also, because you haven't lived away from home before, I think it's good to come into a structured environment in Denmark. If you attend university here, there will be classes, student activities, parties and all different ways to meet people and fit in. You'll have a place to be and a place to go. This will help you get started. Good luck!
Have you ever met the Danish Royal Family?
Despite having spent nearly 15 years in Denmark, I have never had the opportunity to be introduced directly to a member of the Royal Family. I do see them occasionally around town at various events, quickly wafting by surrounded by support staff and waving and smiling at appropriate moments. When my daughter was very small, we heard that Prince Joachim was appearing at a museum opening down the street, so we waited outside for a bit to see him exit. When he did, my daughter was crushed. He was only an ordinary-looking Danish man in a grey business suit. "If he's a prince, where's his crown?" she asked.
Do you have a question for Kay? Send it to her at kay (at) howtoliveindenmark.com and we might feature the answer here.