Author: Nikki Hueng, Cph. Sept. 2022
There are two types of expat students: those who study abroad for the experience, and those who intend to stay longer term. However, these identities consistently flip back and forth throughout the whole education, and they are not mutually exclusive. The same question repeats itself every time you meet someone: what are your plans after Denmark? And, depending on which number beer you have in your hand, your answer varies from “I have no fucking clue” to “I like it here and I wanna stay!”
My journey was a unique one, having gone through a two-years masters program during the beginnings of the pandemic. I had one semester of normalcy before the lockdowns ensued. However, even with some setbacks, I still experienced the emotional rollercoaster within that first semester, finding myself in love with the country, hating it, confused by it, annoyed by it, enamored by it. With the pandemic, I felt like I was trapped in a country that seemed to take better care of me than my home country. But, how long would that last? And, the daunting question: would the country keep me? With an expiring student visa, what were my options? But, did I even want to stay in the first place?
I still firmly believe that people don’t go abroad to study in Denmark with the pure intention of wanting to live there for the rest of their lives. After their studies, my friends and colleagues have found a job, found love, or found themselves just being used to living here. And, so far, people are content with their lives here in Denmark. I, luckily, am in that category, but I by no means found myself in that situation as a student. So how did I get here?
Through trials and tribulations, I have heard the stories and made my own stories being a non-student expat. And, if you find yourself staying here after your studies, here is some advice I can give to you. Please also note that these are not a 100% guaranteed way of having the smoothest transition into “adulthood,” but rather suggestions if you find yourself in a rut.
Maybe, after following some of these suggestions, you find your crowd and the social aspect of being an expat is now a bit more bearable. Maybe, now that you’re a bit more content with being an expat in Denmark, you would like to stay here longer. What would that mean for your working life? How would one obtain that work visa? In a country so dependent on networking and LinkedIn, how do you get yourself in that system? Stay tuned for more advice from an ex-student expat on how to thrive, survive, and stay alive in the seemingly tumultuous Danish workforce.
Nikki is a Taiwanese-American expat living in Copenhagen, who has learned to enjoy the Danish hygge, the Law of Jante, and the use of biking as a means for transportation. She works as an Administrative Assistant and Content Creator at Expat Hero, where she works alongside psychotherapist Nanna Hauch, and manages the social media of the company. She also works as a part-time lecturer at DIS, where she teaches the Psychology of Adolescence course to American university students studying abroad in Denmark.
Expat Hero counsels and advises expats, globally mobile families, and businesses with ensuring psychologically safe transitions.