7 Danish things that are missed in Belgium
This blog post is written by Josefine, the Digital Marketing Intern at Talentree. She came from the cold north, aka Denmark, to do her internship here in Belgium, and she likes to share her experiences as an expatriate with you!
Moving to a different country comes with many tangible and intangible experiences. Some differences you can pinpoint and go “this is so different from what I am used to!” while other differences lie in the abstract and cannot be explained. It might be a different smell, a different mindset – just a different atmosphere.
However, I bet that everyone moving abroad will have at least those few things that they miss. A certain dish, tradition, your favourite supermarket or the nature of people’s jokes.
I have contacted fellow Danish expats, now living in Belgium, and asked them about these things. And without further ado, here are 7 things that Danes miss in Belgium…
1. To have the sea within close reach
Did you know that Denmark has approximately 7,300 kilometers coastline? Yes, you read that correctly. A tiny country surrounded by water. That is around 7,233 kilometers more than Belgium. As so, it might not come as a surprise that Danes miss the close proximity to the wild sea. Alright, so the Danish beaches are not the Portuguese Algarve, but it is still nice to be able to hear the waves roll in, go for a refreshing swim, enjoy the cozy harbours with beautiful ships and feel the wind in your hair when you get on one.
2. Lakrids / liquorice
These delightful, black pieces of joy have been the source of at least half of my munchies in Belgium. Moreover, they are often one of things we Danes like to lovingly torture internationals with when in Denmark. The unique taste is not for everyone, and it is certainly not for Belgians. In case anyone knows of a good place to fetch this lovely guilty pleasure, by all means add it in the comment section below.
3. Shorter work day
It seemed to be a recurring point among the Danish expats asked that shorter work days are greatly missed. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has done a study on work life balance in 38 countries, and the result varied widely. While Belgium’s neighbour, the Netherlands, claimed the first place as the country with the best work life balance, Denmark sneaked in on the second place. Belgium did just manage to make it to top five, however, many Danish expats clearly feel the difference between their Danish working days and their Belgian ones.
4. Less traffic
So, this makes perfect sense. Belgium has an area of 30528 km2 and Denmark 42924 km2. Yet, Belgium has over of 11 million inhabitants and Denmark just under 6 million. Inevitably, you will experience a lot more traffic when living in Belgium. Driving almost alone on a highway in the deep Jutland in Denmark is no rarity. In Belgium you definitely put your driver abilities to the test being constantly attentive and trying not to lose your nerve with endless hunks, hand gestures and traffic jams.
5. Rugbrød / rye bread
The more grains and cereal the better! Eating bread as white as the sky is not as embedded in the Danish DNA as rye bread is. Top it off with leverpostej and beetroot, and you are almost sure to make a Dane smile! Don’t get it twisted though – we are in no way health preachers, we love the waffles here.
Here it comes – the used and abused word that seems to be untranslatable. We could go with “cosy”, but it does not quite cover it. Related to point #3, Danes generally seem to make room for hygge either alone or with others. Candle lights, the intimate moments of deep talks, warm socks, hot chocolate in your favourite mug, laughs, pillows, a glass of delicious red wine, hugs and everything destressing are all points that kind of explain what we mean by hygge. And we tend to miss spending time on this in Belgium while we live our busy lives.
Pssst.. Danish is not the only language with untranslatable words – take a look at these 5 untranslatable Dutch words!
7. Supermarkets with more flexible opening hours
Every once in a while, you want to go on a night snack patrol, but nothing seems to be open… Also, Sunday is normally the big grocery-shopping day in Denmark, and we do miss some more open supermarkets in Belgium on Sundays. Actually, just open stores in general. As alive as the bigger Belgian cities are during the week, as dead can they be on Sundays. And again, with point #3, it would be awesome to have longer opening hours to fit our fast-paced lives here.
Just to clarify – we have all chosen to live in Belgium, and as so, we have lots of love for this beautiful country! As so, these are just 7 points of those things we inevitably would miss moving abroad. Those things we beg our relatives to put in their suitcases when visiting us (okay, not the coastline, but you get the gist), and those experience we cherish just a bit more when going back on visits in Denmark.
If you moved here as well, and you too have those things you would wish for in case a genie in a bottle decided to show up at your doorstep, let us know about them! Drop your comments in the comment section below or share your thoughts with other like-minded expats in our “Talentree Talent Network” group on Facebook.
You may also like to read Josefine’s other blog post on homesickness that deals with being at a crossroads between curiosity and powerlessness in a new environment and touches upon some feelings that most expatriates will have struggled with.
All the best,
The Talentree Team