I must say I love living in Denmark and have not even considered moving back to Finland. There are many good things about Denmark and here are my top 3:
hygge/ˈh(j)uːɡə,ˈhʊɡə/Lær at udtale
a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture).
Sometimes it feels like the purpose of life for every Dane is to have it ´hyggeligt´ all the time. And what is wrong with that? Nothing! I have learned to love the word and everything that comes with it.
Every now and then the Danes try to have ´hygge´ so much, that they get stressed. For example social gatherings: many are so busy to book all kinds of ´hyggelige´ social arrangements with their family and friends, that they get stressed, because they don´t have any weekends left for doing nothing. Well, now 2020-> we have had a lot of hygge at home with the closest family, so I am sure the entire country goes crazy, when the restrictions stop one day. Cannot wait 🙂
Working in Denmark
Denmark ranked high at OECD´s Better Life Index. Only 2% of the Danes work long hours (over 50 hours per week) whereas for example in France the number is 8%.
Copenhagen is also a Nordic metropolitan. Many companies have their Nordic headquarters here and the job market is good for people who can speak Nordic languages – even if you don´t speak Danish. Many companies offer nice benefits from free physical training, cheap lunch, recreational activities etc.
The hierarchy is flat and Danes are straightforward as managers and colleagues. For me, as a Finn, that was a relief. I changed my career completely when I moved from Finland to Denmark and did not know what to expect outside the school environment that I was used to. I adapted fine and have been enjoying working in a few Nordic and global teams for both international and Danish companies.
There are rules and laws, of course, in Denmark. But it is more socially accepted to break the rules sometimes than what it is in Finland. This irritated me so much when I moved to Denmark but now I appreciate the attitude of the rebellious Danes, who march to the barricades, if they think the government is not doing things right. Maybe not as much as in France but definitely more than in Finland. A good example of this all is maybe Christiania, the freetown or self-governing society, where they bend the rules.
At work the laidback attitude can often be seen in clothing, which is often smart casual, also in institutions, that are more formal in many countries, such as banks and consultancy companies. Meetings are not formal and everybody can freely express their meaning, despite their title. This is purely my subjective experience from the companies I have worked for.
I come from a country that has one of the best school systems in the world. However, I still find the Danish system very good. I used to be a teacher myself in Finland, so I have experience from Finland as both as a pupil but also as a teacher. Here in Denmark, I can only see how my own kids are doing at school.
I could go on and on about this but I try to keep it short. When our twins started their school career, I was not happy about their academic challenges. I thought they were not learning enough.
The school is very focused on “trivsel”, meaning well-being at school. I can see now how important this is. The twins´ class is working so incredibly fine as a team, we have not had any problems with mobbing or somebody not having anyone to play with during classes. Both kids love their teachers and play fine with everybody in the class. This is so important also for the academic work. The class can focus on the learning during the classes and group work is never a problem, no matter how they create the groups.
I don´t know how I would feel, had one of our twins any learning challenges. Luckily they don´t and I think that this focus on well-being and group dynamic in school will benefit them the rest of their life. They are socially well-behaving and trust people and are content in social arrangements. This is so important also later in life – to know how to interact with people and how to respect all kinds of people and personalities. I am happy to have my kids in Danish school and can only hope the system in New Zealand is at least half as good.