I arrived in Copenhagen on a rainy morning in early October. Even though it had been several years since I’d last lived here, the place still felt all too familiar. Stern and symmetric buildings alternated by high-tech, futuristic designs. Clean and efficient transportation for outrageous prices. Tall and gorgeous people, all in their own little world, trying their best not to communicate or interact with anyone unfamiliar. The pinnacle of a profoundly wealthy, ultra-liberal, individualized society. An interesting place to spend the next few years of my life.
It’s curious how life can bring you back to places in ways you’d never have expected before. Even though this time my circumstances were very different. Last time I was an exchange student, this time I was unemployed and looking for a(ny) job. Last time I inhabited a tiny apartment by the northwest urban coast, now I’d be moving into a place in a rural town in the very south. Neither Maria nor I had seen the apartment we’d be living in before we’d signed the contract, so I hopped on the train with a huge suitcase and my violin, and 100km later stepped off in Vordingborg, our home for at least half a year.
Vordingborg, population 17.714. A windswept town by the sea, it’s a very scenic place indeed. Not that I’d ever heard of it before, and really the main reason we decided to live here was because of Maria’s medicine internship nearby. As I walked through the narrow streets, it occurred to me that a year of non-stop traveling all over the world ultimately had brought me to a village on the Danish countryside. And I couldn’t be more excited about it.
As you can probably understand though, arriving in one of the most expensive countries in the world without a job, almost no money and a signed rental contract is slightly stressful. Not that I hadn’t tried my best applying beforehand, but as I was slowly finding out Denmark is not an easy country to find an engineering job in, especially as an outsider. Simply getting face-to-face with anyone is next to impossible, be it employment agencies, consultants, or employers. Everything has been virtualized to such an extent that most of human interaction happens through networking and acquaintances, which as a foreigner I didn’t have too many of.
I spent the first week mostly camping in our fully unfurnished new residence, adjusting, applying, exploring Vordingborg and going for runs in the amazing nature around. Maria’s arrival a week later was very welcome, and in one incredibly intense weekend we officially moved in. Sweden was involved, and so was IKEA. Not even a few days later, you could already call our place a home. All that was left was everything else.
But then, on a bright Monday morning, an invitation from Danmarks Tekniske Universitet came in, for an interview regarding a PhD position I’d been applied for and was really interested in. Assessing Hearing Device Benefits using Virtual Sound Environments, quite a mouthful. But research titles always are. This one seemed almost made for me, and that sentiment was apparently shared by the assessors, who offered me the position on the spot. I’ll be spending the next three years at DTU, working in this absolutely badass lab, and hopefully becoming a doctor at the end of it all. “I don’t know how I feel about that doctor title” were Maria’s words.
And so, for the first time in nearly a year and a half, I’ll be regularly employed again, in probably one of the best positions I could’ve imagined. I’ll also be cold again, because winter is coming for the first time in two years. I can’t say I’ve missed it, although the coziness of the end-of-year period does make up for it somewhat.
The next few weeks we’ll continue getting settled, dealing with Danish bureaucracy, enjoying Danish pastries, drinking Danish beers, living Danish life. And then, before you know it, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and a whole new year full of ways to make the most of life.
November 3rd, 2017