From the Archives: My experience moving to Copenhagen in 2012
I grew up in a small town 40 miles south of Manchester – home of Smiths, Oasis, and other great High Street stores (insert smiley).
And it was from Manchester Airport that I left England for what could potentially be the last time, as I got to grips with the idea of finally settling down somewhere. And why not Copenhagen? It’s clean; vibrant; modern; old; flat – it has everything a man in his 30s with dodgy knees needs.
My flight over here was an experience in itself, as I tightly took my seat wearing a trench coat full of plugs, wires, hard drives, adaptors, laptop, cameras and anything else I could fit in to my pockets. Don’t forget that I was also wearing two pairs of trousers, a dinner jacket, tank top, and several pairs of underpants. My “hand luggage” contained yet another camera body, three lenses, a few more cables, a Danish picture-book for children, and a fine selection of other literature. Had I have actually been stopped at airport security I would’ve made a fine subject for one of those TV documentaries about Easyjet. They would have played some trombone-style failure music as I walked away, pockets bulging, and just as I look back over my shoulder to the video camera to check I’m not being filmed, the piece would’ve ended with a single ‘ping’ on a glockenspiel.
Sweating and smelling like I looked, I managed to settle in to my seat and soon enough we were flying over the north sea. Even as we approached the western shores of Denmark the waters below were flat-calm and actually looked like tin-foil, as the rays of the sun glinted off the surface. I took it as a good sign – or maybe it was the calm before the storm…
My Danish girlfriend was waiting for me at Kastrup (I haven’t met any foreigner yet who isn’t here because of their partner) as I stumbled through the doors, unable to carry the burden of half of PC World (or FONA, depending on who’s reading this – are you reading this?) on my person. It had been a month since we last saw each other in London – straight after the Olympics. A month isn’t much, I hear you cry; but when you consider the fact that we’d just spent eight months travelling the Southern Hemisphere together, then a month apart is a slight shock to the system.
Well, that was six weeks ago, and let me tell you what has happened since then. I have a CPR number for tax purposes (it cannot be used to get free Danish language lessons because I do not have my yellow card / residency permit), I have a bank account (they won’t give me access to my money until I present them with a yellow card / residency permit), I’ve been working for a sports company – packing boxes and sitting in woodland timing cyclists – but cannot get my yellow card / residency permit because my hours are ‘variable’, and have tried to register my own business officially online, but I can’t yet because I don’t have a yellow card / residency permit.
Yet I’m staring at a chapter in a book which reads, and I quote, “…Denmark is one of the easiest countries to set up a business (with regard to cost and time).” I don’t doubt this was true once upon a time, but since then I have discovered that a lot has changed.
Things need to change again, in my opinion. This is a great city; a great country. But last December I managed to fly to the other side of the world, spent a week living in a hostel, got accepted for a tax number, opened a bank account (I opened it before I even left the UK) and hit the ground running when I went looking for work. Now I’m 90 minutes away from my homeland, living on the same continent, and finding it difficult to get anything productive done.
On the plus side, I am enjoying spending time at Super Brugsen, watching locals spend too long gazing in to the freezer sections. Pålæg – sounds like a wizard’s sleeping quarters.
But I won’t give up; I won’t give in. Denmark – you’re going to have me whether you like it or not…
This blog post originally appeared on www.photographybymatthewjames.com