It's been almost a year since I began planning my move to Denmark. This has been the fastest and most stressful year of my life!
I've gotten many emails from my blog followers complimenting me on my courage and thanking me for inspiring them to personal change. Looking back over this past year, I still can't quite believe I did it and I'm here, living, working, and owning property in a foreign country. I actually pulled it off! This is not an extended vacation and it's not being an exchange student. I will never be the same after this.
So while I'm honored to be considered an inspiration to anyone, let alone many, most days my life feels incredibly awkward, sometimes overwhelming, and sometimes just plain frustrating. It's taken me over 3 weeks to straighten out my internet access, nevermind that I've been waiting since June for a connection. I have a chandelier that will not light and I don't know how to call an electrician, or how much it should cost. I need wood for my woodburning stove, and have no idea where to get it. I own property in a country that can revoke my visa at anytime and force me to sell the property. I can't sell or rent the property for a profit until I've lived in it for 3 years, which is about 2 months after my visa comes up for renewal. And I have a very stressful job that I can't leave because my visa is dependent on the job and I can't find another job because I don't speak Danish.
So, the big question here is, "if I knew then what I know now, would I have done it"?
Yes!!! Without hesitation, yes!!!
My life here is very hard compared to the one I've had and this adventure would be much richer shared with a partner, but I will survive. I've met many lovely people, but Denmark as a whole isn't the most accepting place for foreigners. Riding a bike in the wind and rain sucks, it sucks even more when I forget to cover my seat at the bus stop and have to ride home on a wet seat like I did today. It rains sideways here, so sometimes an umbrella is useless. I pay 50% of my income to taxes, I will never have a pension here and cannot access many of the benefits I'm paying for because I have a temporary visa. I will never have a permanent visa because the requirements are so strict that fulfilling them is practically a fulltime job, and there is no easy route via a Danish husband.
I have a new level of compassion and respect for people who leave their entire lives behind to start a new life somewhere else. I know how hard it is to rely on public transportation and the kindness of others. I know how hard it is to not speak or read the language of the country I'm living in. And I even know what it's truly like to live in a Welfare State; regardless of one's political leanings, I can say with 100% certainty that national healthcare does not qualify a country as socialist, nor is it even a significant step on that path.
When I made this decision, people told me I'd regret it, but I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be. Nothing amazing comes without sacrifice and even with the hardships and sometimes hollow feeling in the pit of my stomach, I'm happy that I'll never look back on my life and say, "I had the chance to live and work in Europe, but I was too scared to take it." I gave up many things for this adventure, but there would've been nothing noble in staying the course, living a life of regret. Things sort themselves out and everything finds its place.
I look forward to the next two and a half years with great anticipation and I can't wait to see what's next! Where will I travel? Who will I meet? What will my life be like? Will I move back to the US or will I stay in Europe? There are so many possibilities and I never considered that my life would turn out like this!
So, now that that housekeeping portion of this move is complete, I can finally get on with living. Just in time for the long cold winter, where it's dark 18 hours of the day :)