Noelle Boucher is a globally minded U.S. citizen and expat partner, now living in Denmark. She is has lived and worked as an expat in Madrid, Spain and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia before. These experiences have helped her discover her strong passion for people and culture. Since graduating from her Masters in International Education Management, she has worked with onboarding and supporting internationals in professional environments. She is currently finding her footing in Global Mobility or Human Resources in Denmark.
Climate change: A Californian in Denmark
My name is Noelle and I’m from California, USA currently living in Aarhus, Denmark. So why did I make the move from the state of sunshine to the land of hygge? Well, I met a Dane while I was pursuing my Master’s degree in California. A few years later, I took the plunge and moved to Denmark in August 2019.
When I arrived in Denmark, my immigration status did not allow me to work. It was a challenge to move from a fast-paced lifestyle to a new environment where I had a lot of time on my hands. However, over time I established a routine and found a number of activities to keep myself busy. Additionally, these activities gave me an outlet to meet new people and experience Danish culture.
So, without further ado, here are six ways I’ve stayed motivated and energized since I’ve moved to Denmark. I believe these can apply to many expats, regardless of what country they’re in!
- Learn the language
Even though English is widely spoken in Denmark, knowing Danish will always be an advantage, especially when entering the job market. Enrolling in Danish courses shortly after my move to Denmark was the best decision I’ve made. It was a good way to start my day and I met other expats from around the world. I’m by no means fluent yet but I can feel myself improving everyday which is exciting!
Coming out of the visa waiting game, I would be eligible to find a job, so why not use this time to explore the Danish job market and network? I took advantage of resources offered to international job seekers such workshops and resume reviews hosted by WorkinDenmark. Furthermore, I attended networking events. Through these events I was able to set up one on one informational interviews with professionals in my field.
- Join a club
Danes are big on extracurricular activities. Luckily, Aarhus has a number of clubs, communities, and opportunities to volunteer. When I first arrived in Denmark, I got involved in Aarhus’s International Spouse Community and the International Dual Career Network. Both are social and professional networks that support international partners in Denmark. Through these, I’ve met a variety of people in a similar position as me and received invaluable advice from veteran expats.
- Find a hobby and/or learn a new skill
I’ve always been into fitness so I joined a gym that offered group classes. Since I became a regular at these classes, I got to know the instructors and some locals in the class. The classes were also taught in Danish so as an extra bonus, I picked up on some new vocabulary.
Aarhus is filled with cute cafes, unique museums, and beautiful nature so I made it one of my goals to see a new place in Aarhus every week. In addition to exploring my new home base, I visited a number of cities outside of Aarhus. Despite being a small country, Denmark has a lot to offer!
Living in a new country, I’m constantly faced with new experiences, thoughts, and emotions so I document these in a journal almost daily. I also use my journal to plan my days and write down my daily and long-term goals. Nothing feels better than crossing off your accomplishments!
Based on my personal experience, the biggest piece of advice I would give to anyone moving abroad is to put yourself out there. I’m not going to lie, it was intimidating going to events alone but the more I sought out social opportunities, the more I got out of them. I’ve made some great friends, both expats and Danes and I’ve expanded my professional network. On top of that, I’ve learned things about Denmark I would have never learned by a google search.