Denmark, a country with 5.7 million people, all famously known as being some of the happiest humans on the planet. But is this happiness true? How are they so happy? Why are they so happy? Does being so happy get tiring? And can a Brit survive an extreme culture of happiness everyday? Especially as happiness clearly gets in the way of focusing on politeness, being apologetic and saying everything is fine even when it’s terrible.
These and more are just some of the questions I’ll be answering in my weekly news’letters’ from Denmark. Follow me on this humorous journey where my wife, kids and I have relocated from a leafy Suburb in the UK to the outskirts of Copenhagen. I’m now living and working like a Dane (i.e. giving all my money away in the name of tax and still smiling).
Brexit? What’s that?
Thankfully the craziness that’s Brexit didn’t happen before we relocated, it would have made things a lot harder without that EU agreement. Still..freedom of movement? What’s that? Between the UK and Denmark you still need border control and a passport. Not so between EU countries that actually like each other. You know the type of like, that like you feel when a work colleague says ‘hi how was your evening?’ and then genuinely wants to hear about your screaming kids who refuse to go to bed and the washing machine that broke, spilling water all over your nice new wooden floor.
Well, to the UK Denmark is the type of colleague who says ‘Hi how was your evening?’ while they escape for the elevator and put their phone to their ear pretending to answer a call (yeah we’ve all done it, don’t judge).
The truth is that we couldn’t have felt more welcome by all the people we’ve met, it’s just the systems in place are not there to be welcoming. Outside of feeling like the Danish computer was saying no, we saw success in the end as we had a relocation agent help us, which I’m more grateful for than I realised at the time. She did much of the heavy lifting and I now know people who’ve done it themselves, where it sounds more painful than working out how to get that Ryanair flight Google says was £50, when in actual fact you want to fly with something other than just the clothes you’re wearing.
One year later..
So here we are, a year in. I’ve learned 2 Danish words in that time (quite a feat for me given the language is spoken nothing like it’s written), and my kids are blossoming like I could never have imagined (Denmark is terrific for kids!)
I work in a place where lunch is made by chef’s onsite and unlimited snacks, wine and beer are available 24 hours a day. Not uncommon for a Danish tech company.. Also everyone speaks English which is super awesome, though it’s making me lazy on the language front (hence my 2 word accomplishment).
We’re lucky enough to live in a house next to a forest, we’ve gone car free and there are numerous beaches, rivers and lakes less than 30 minutes bicycle ride from our house. Oh, and those rides are all in bicycle lanes or through woodland, so no cars or trucks bumping us off the road and revving up while they overtake on a bend into oncoming traffic.
All in the change has been good, even when it’s confusing where some days it feels like I’m living in 1986 again..did you know people actually buy their groceries in person and Amazon doesn’t exist? Yeah hard to believe they’re happy right?
Each week I’ll focus on work, life and other stories from Denmark. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll (hopefully) learn and you’ll cringe in the nicest way possible, I’m hoping to do all 4 with you also.
See you next week for the Episode 1.
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Marcus Purvis leads software engineering teams at Unity Technologies, the realtime development platform of choice for video games, movies and more. He’s also learning to write inspiring content on LinkedIn, Medium and here at marcuspurvis.com
Originally published as part of LinkedIn newsletters here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/notes-from-small-country-marcus-purvis/