Four years ago last week, Opie and I landed in Denmark and began this crazy adventure of living in Denmark as an expat.
These past four years have been much more of a struggle than I’ve let on. Denmark and I are not a match made in heaven. I’ve struggled with the high taxes, anti-foreigner policies, the language, getting my driver’s license, the long dark winters, the lack of diversity, and so many other things.
I nearly drowned in the online dating pool. I wasted more time than I should have in a quasi-relationship with an arrogant old man who had little to offer me, but who shamelessly took advantage of my generosity and desire to see the good in people. I’ve been on dates with a fake n’ baked middle-aged version of The Situation, a creepy investment banker, a lying egomaniac PR guy, a welfare-collecting DUI-convicted psychologist, and a few others who looked good on paper but who have blurred into one unpleasant composite of my experiences with Danish men and all that I loathe about them (as potential partners, anyway).
I don’t claim that Denmark is hell on earth, but don’t believe everything you read on Huffington Post. Living in Denmark as an expat is hard.
Last summer, on a renewed visa, I weighed my options, quickly reaching the conclusion that my time living in Denmark as an expat was coming to an end. I didn’t know if I should try to move within Europe… or give up, buy the lovely converted church for sale in Vermont, and take some time to regroup. I went into this move with the mindset that I could take this chance, have this experience of living in Denmark as an expat and be back home a few years ahead of forty. But it turns out that moving countries is logistically more difficult than it seemed.
I was overwhelmed. I signed up for a 7-day trial membership on a dating site, more for the hell of it than with the expectation of actually meeting my future husband. Truthfully, I thought I’d never marry again. Dating in Denmark had jaded me and I was well on my way to becoming a man-hater.
Each profile seemed worse than the last, until I found Robert and added him to my otherwise empty “favorites” list. He’d also failed to strike gold in online dating, and while going in to delete his profile, had seen mine, and written to me. It’s amazing how easily we could’ve missed each other, but we didn’t. It was fate!
I was in London on business that week, so we agreed to meet on Saturday. We spoke on the phone, and three hours passed as if they were minutes. We kept writing throughout my trip and I knew this was something special. We couldn’t wait any longer, we had to meet on Friday! I’d even managed to bring back some Cadbury’s Dairy Milk Chocolate… his favorite :)
It didn’t take long to see that Robert was why I’d come to Denmark, and that I wouldn’t be leaving anytime soon. Since our first date, we’ve been together more than we’ve been apart.
Of course, there’s been a lot of adaptation, as there often is on the second chance market when you’re both set in your ways, and come with souvenirs of your past relationships. I’ll have to get used to his love of orchids and Eames and he’ll have to get used to my love of vintage things with fringes. He’ll have to get used to Opie and I’ll have to get used to his kids. I’ll have to get used to his tiny man kitchen, and he’ll have to get used to me complaining about it. It’s give and take ;-)
Even after four years of living in Denmark as an expat, I know that Denmark will never truly feel like home. But I’m getting used to the idea that I’ll spend the rest of my life on this side of the Atlantic.
So, while Denmark has not been as advertised, I’m not sorry I came. I’ve taken the long way around, but I’ve found what I came for…