September continues having a special connotation for me as it marks one more year of me living in this country. Another year of learnings and challenges, but most importantly the accomplishment of another 365 days of endless amounts of resilience, perseverance and gratefulness.
After these years trying to settle and adapt in the city of Aarhus, I continue to believe that these have been the key elements that have led me to have a successful expat life in Denmark, reason why today I want to share them with all of you, who have recently packed their bags to begin a new chapter abroad.
This concept that refers to the ability of everyone and everything to adapt to new conditions and be prepared for the upcoming changes, became without a doubt the base of my everyday life in Denmark. Without knowing, by accepting this extraordinary skill we all have, but that most of the times is unexplored, my day to day started to become a bit easier as I learned how integrate, embrace and respect that culture that vastly differs from mine.
In the early beginnings of my life here it was very easy to fall in the tendency of complaining about how things were done here, questioning everything around me and expecting in a way that all situations involving me relate to those I was used to. But this, aside from all my countless responsibilities, became a very consuming and frustrating full time job.
Issues such as the languages we spoke as a family, the different parenting styles, relationships with extended family and friends, job cultures and social conventions turned into big monsters every time I had to revise them, as an individual and even as a family. However, after I committed to change my attitude for good, explore my capacity of resilience and welcome with grace all the elements this new culture offered me, my huge irrational problems became a thing of the past, leaving room for challenging situations to face with an open mind.
Let’s begin by stating that adapting to a new culture and society isn’t just about acceptance of what is presented. If done this way we would be stepping over the interesting thoughts of globalization, multiculturality and internationalization. The real power comes behind the perseverance you put in the process of accepting those elements from the new place, bringing in your own and creating a new sphere that relates gracefully with your surroundings.
Since my arrival to this country I have been very keen on learning the Danish ways. I have acquired myself some of their attitudes and traditions and most importantly I respect their culture over everything. Mostly because since day one I have reminded myself I was the one who decided to come and be a part of their system. Yet, this doesn’t mean in any way that my Colombian ways are gone from the picture. On the contrary, I have been very perseverant in teaching all those surrounding me the things that might help them understand my personal life, my family life and my relationship with the society around me.
Everyday I create a new relationship, a new process or a new way where my rooted traditions merge graciously with those already stablished here. This way I become part of this new culture as I continue being truthful to myself.
Despite how obvious it is to highlight the importance of being grateful, many times I have fallen in the mistake of forgetting the privileged life a country like Denmark offers me.
Yes, life as an expat isn’t for everyone, it can be extraordinarily difficult and it comes with countless days of reconsiderations as you think how to reach a positive outcome of your everyday while continuing your journey abroad. Days full of homesickness, loneliness and sadness are also down the hill. To be honest everything is on the table when you evaluate life abroad. However for us who have decided to choose Denmark as our destination we can say we have it pretty good.
This doesn’t mean life in Denmark is perfect or that it is or isn’t the happiest country in the world. The Danish society as any other world wide comes with its particularities and for many these are tough to swallow. But despite all the downsides you can think about Denmark it has been the endless gratefulness for all the things I have today, thanks to my life here, that makes me value with praise one more year in this country.
A celebration to all
Today I want to congratulate not just myself for another year abroad, but also give a loud high five to all those brave, strong and courageous fellow expats in Denmark and in any other country around the world. Only when I really let out all these hidden truths I was able to recognize the efforts you and me put everyday to make our personal and family lives work as great as they can, while living in a society we can’t call our own.
Sadly there is no secret spell to make the expat living the easiest experience of all but there are indeed some recommendations that can help you successfully face the challenges on the road.
Today I can only invite you to recognize your incredibly resilience skills, to not stop being perseverant with all the great things you have achieved so far and finally, and most importantly, to be observant about those marvellous things that surround you. The gratefulness, towards those small details that make you happy, will be your building block to construct a stable life in that place that might not be your own but that today you call your home.