Arbejdsglæde (n). When your work is a source of purpose and joy
I’ve only been in this country for less than a month, but overall my impressions are really positive. Denmark wonderfully incorporates a sort of medieval charm with modern design. I know that most tourists only spend a few days in Copenhagen, but the countryside of Jutland is beautiful.
Kolding, where I study at Southern Denmark University, is a Danish seaport located at the head of Kolding Fjord in the Region of Southern Denmark. The city itself is also the sixth largest city in Denmark. The municipality is part of the East Jutland area of 1.2 million people.
Kolding dates back to 1321, and keeps its old tradition and commerce in the old town.
I can’t believe it’s already (only) been three weeks in Denmark, I’m so happy to write a post to reflect on my time here. And the weather is apparently notorious for being always rainy and cold. But the first month has been nothing but almost all sunshine – I feel so grateful. Even when it rains I will remember how wonderful the warmth felt. The good weather allowed us to spend a lot of our free time outside – from sports to picnics, gathering outdoors it so freeing.
1 week of learning names, languages, culture, food, history.
1 evening of dancing in Kolding’s “biggest” part of the year!
Forming a running group!
Celebrating Catalan culture and Asian culture through food.
A CPR number is a big deal. The CPR number is a national identification number, which is part of the personal information stored in the Civil Registration System. It basically means that Denmark recognizes you as a human, if you have this number. You technically don’t exist here without one – from opening a bank to signing up for Danish lessons, this combination of numbers is critical. The frustration is the processing time for these numbers and the necessity to have one for just about anything and everything.
I’ve been so buried in different administrative paperwork trying to prepare and live abroad. In Slovenia I will also need some sort of identification number, visa…etc. Creating a new life in different countries is not for those who fear the bureaucratic headaches that comes with moving.
Expensive Cost of Living
I cry a little bit inside when I see the expensive cost of everything in Denmark. From an apple to rent, the cost of living is much higher than other it’s counterparts. I’m not in the market to buy a new car, but as an idea the sales tax of new cars are 180%, making them about three times the cost of something back home.
But a friend had to make an unexpected trip to the hospital and the benefits of being covered under Danish healthcare system is real blessing. I think it’s hard as a student to justify the costs, but considering the long term opportunities (free education until university, compensation for unemployment, childcare…) there are some things that the Danish understand well from my perspective.
On an afternoon after class I received news of my grandmother’s passing. With a heavy heart I had to going to Hong Kong for her funeral. It meant I had to miss the second week of classes, but without hesitation I knew that I had to leave Denmark and be with my family for a short period of time. Before leaving, I informed my friends of the news and told them that I had to be in Hong Kong – the support of my friends almost brought me to tears. Some extended simple messages of condolences, others reached out to see if there was anything they could do. I was just amazed that three weeks ago we were strangers and now, there was no one else I could find so much comfort in.
24 hours traveling (Billund, Frankfurt, Hong Kong),
2 days funeral,
2 days of rest,
24 hours traveling (Hong Kong, Frankfurt, Billund).
I’d like to think that my grandmother is still watching over me. Her presence was deeply missed in Hong Kong. I thank her for the unconditional patience and kindness she showed me as a granddaughter. She taught me the beauty of gathering and the importance of home-cooked meals at such an early age.
The last several years haven’t been easy for you, I know. But I hope that now you’re resting in peace.
Despite the circumstances of arriving in Hong Kong, I utilized free moments to explore and eat. My grandma loved food, and she showed me the wonders of Chinese cooking. She pushed me to explore different types of flavours and forms of food.
Street stalls, crowded markets, bright signs, busy walkways – Hong Kong has such a unique personality. At first it can seem overwhelming (actually for me it always feels overwhelming), but once you see through the chaos to taste and understand what draws people from around the world to explore this city for themselves, you gain a true appreciation for Hong Kong.
I am equally Chinese as I am Japanese and Canadian. And when I was young it was hard to embrace the first-glance craziness of this culture, compared to Japanese people who value a much more organized and polite way of living. But being in Hong Kong, celebrating the life of my grandmother, was a reminder that this is who I am (Chinese), it’s a balancing act trying to live out who/where I come from when I feel so influenced by so many parts of the world.
5 days in Hong Kong felt both short and long. Moments felt busy and quiet, heartbreaking and uplifting. It was also a lot of flying, so I’m exhausted. I will take the next several days unwinding and stepping into the headspace of school.
I’m truly grateful to be back ‘home’ in Denmark and back in the presence of my dear friends, now family. Back to the much more laid back and peaceful Scandinavian life.