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Bon Voyage Denmark

Leaving a country and moving to another will always be a massive upheaval.

However, moving in a pandemic adds even more complications, muses Shani Bishop.

Photographs: iStock

Text: Shani Bishop

When my friend moved back to the USA in 2020, she hunted for masks in Copenhagen, which were very expensive at the time. They didn't have to undergo tests (there was no testing at that point) before the flight home, but their flights were cancelled twice, and there were no direct ones anymore. On the long flight home, they only got a sandwich, snacks and one water bottle for the entire journey. Their Airbnb in the States had been cancelled because they didn't want foreign arrivals. Our trip in 2021 was more bureaucratic but smoother. We had tests at both ends, had flights cancelled, worried about how our stuff would get home, felt concerned about catching it before departure and had a 10-day quarantine at the end. I imagine travelling in 2022 would require more paperwork, mainly evidence of your vaccination status and a negative test.

The unexpected

In our minds, we thought we would get home and see everyone and maybe throw a party. The reality has been different. We still haven't seen many of our closest friends because of distance and Covid concerns; however, being in the same time zone makes it easier and cheaper to communicate more regularly and casually. Covid has caused many families to move out of London, so having new families at school has been great. The new people I've met at school and through friends have become people I see regularly. The ones I regularly saw before leaving the UK I see less often. I also expected to see more people who had also returned from Denmark but haven't.

Culture surprises and shocks

Even though we know the UK culture, there have been changes and developments. It has been interesting seeing our kids learn more about their own culture and explain the differences with Denmark. For example, when my son won an award for reading at school, I pointed out that this wouldn't have happened in Denmark because generally, the pupils are not singled out for praise publically. We had an interesting discussion about Jante's Law. Before Denmark, I would have been universally pleased about the award, but now I have mixed feelings about this. My son was surprised when a stranger in a cafe said, 'see you later' when it was clear we wouldn't be seeing him. They now see how words and pronunciation are different here. We walked past a street sign that said 'court', and my son was interested in seeing it had a different meaning from the one he knows.

We have all acclimatised at different rates. Whilst I'm delighted by the warmer, milder weather and sunshine, my kids miss the cold! They go out in T-shirts when everyone else has coats. I just explain they are Vikings. So whilst we enjoy things, there are things we miss. It's a shame you can't mix and match countries.

It will take longer than you think

When we landed in June 2021, we expected to have everything in our house sorted out by the end of the summer. However, it took until November, so two months later than expected. There were lots of little things which took extra time. Also, finishing our affairs in Denmark is still going on with tax returns and the landlord there.

My top tips for moving:

  1. Compile a detailed checklist months before leaving

  2. Ensure you tell the proper authorities in Denmark - there are fines if you get it wrong! Here's a handy checklist:

  3. Have both paper and electronic copies of tests and vaccine documents when travelling

  4. Start packing early and get rid of as much stuff as you can

  5. Expect the unexpected!

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