Melanie Haynes. Photo: Submitted
With her book, British expat Melanie Haynes hopes to help others find their footing in a new country. Photo: Submitted
We spoke to Melanie about her motivation to write the book and what she hopes others will get out of it.
Tell us a bit about why you have written 'Dejlige Days – My Guide to a Successful Relocation'?
Back in 2008 we decided to move from the UK to another European country and, without ever visiting, I agreed to move to Copenhagen. My husband’s company had been offering him opportunities to work abroad for a long time and I had always been resistant as I wanted to work on my own career. But after a succession of soul-destroying months in my job, I decided that it was time we took the chance on a new life.
In the intervening years we settled in Copenhagen, had our son and then made the tough decision to move to Berlin and then, happily, returned to Copenhagen. Through these relocations I experienced the two sides of the experience from a wonderful move to Copenhagen and a stressful, unsuccessful one to Berlin. I learned so much about myself and how to make relocations less stressful. I think the key theme running through the book is how to be kind to yourself and how you can do that whilst still managing big change effectively.
I have been writing this book for many years, both on paper and in my mind. Finally in 2015 a close friend and successful entrepreneur challenged me to finally write it as she believed that I had a lot of advice and help to give. Her belief in me spurred me on. I also felt that if reading the book helped one woman feel less isolated and better equipped to face relocation then it was worthwhile.
Melanie Haynes. Photo: Submitted
Is it just about relocating to Denmark?
No, the book talks about relocation in general terms and is not specific to Copenhagen. I think that the main audience for it will be women but I hope that men will also find plenty of useful content in it. Spouses are the ones, generally, in relocation who find the transition the hardest, especially dealing with children, finding friends and settling in to everyday life without the anchor of a workplace (at least at the start).
It is like a friend sharing their experiences with you. Some chapters are longer than others but all have some real takeaway ideas on how to make many aspects of moving to, and living in, a new country easier. Whilst many relish the chance to find things out for themselves over time (like I did in the start), others have less time or energy, or more commitments and want to hit the ground running.
There are also thing you may not even realise that you need to know until they happen — dealing with a relocation consultant is something that is new to most people and moving your children to a new home in a new country is a real challenge. Everything I share I believe would have helped me when I was a new expat. Many things I learnt the hard way and this can save readers from that tough learning curve.
It is not all practical advice, there are two personal chapters and I lay it very bare about the struggles I went through in Berlin. I also asked a number of expats to share their one piece of advice they wish someone had given them when they first moved.
What can the reader expect from the book?
It is relatively short but I tried to make sure that I packed it with great advice and ideas for people about to relocate and also in the throes of the change. People who have already read it say that it is like a good friend talking to you and sharing their experiences with relevant information. I see it as a book that the reader comes back to time and time again when they need a boost or come to a new stage of their relocation. I would love to think of the copies dog-eared with highlight marks inside and Post-It notes sticking out.
A relocation to a new country is a huge thing to do, whether you are excited, apprehensive or just plain resistant to the move. I would like to think that this book will help, regardless of how the reader views their own relocation.