Bringing Denmark together



A remarkable story of country-wide events happening this September for all.


Text: Nikolaos Papadopoulos

Pictures: Aarhus & Copenhagen Municipality


Sitting here with Kirsten, Lasse, and Lise, representatives of three of Denmark’s largest municipalities, the air of excitement is evident; excitement for things to come, as this September, something big is happening throughout Denmark. The three of them are here to present this collaborative effort. It is an initiative coming to fruition thanks to the combined efforts of the country’s municipalities, business regions, state authorities, associations, and business organisations. For the first time ever, more than 65 municipalities and organisations all across Denmark are opening their doors and working together with one common goal in mind: to welcome internationals to Denmark. September will be a national welcome month: a concerted effort across Denmark to dispel existing negative preconceptions about the country and its “unwelcome” attitude.


Although the COVID pandemic naturally created many obstacles that had to be overcome while planning for such an initiative, it is also one of the reasons behind it. As Denmark emerges from extended lockdowns and slowly returns to normality, it is imperative to bring interpersonal interactions and networking back into peoples’ lives and what better way to do it than a country-wide event bringing together a multitude of people with diverse nationalities, says Kirsten Vestergaard Lauridsen, innovation consultant for the Citizen Service of the City of Aarhus.


In the past, welcoming events for internationals have taken place in different parts of the country, but they were not part of a holistic, country-wide undertaking. The idea has been there for several years, and now it finally comes to fruition with financial assistance from Talent to Danmark and the European Social Fund. It was inspired by the events taking place in and around certain municipalities such as, but not limited to, Copenhagen, Aarhus, or Aalborg, since every one of these and other communities were already organising welcoming events for internationals independently. This time, the idea has been to join forces across municipalities, business regions, and business organisations to get newfound inspiration and exchange ideas on events that contribute to the attraction, reception, and retention of internationals across Denmark. All events taking place as part of the welcome concept will be available at lifeindenmark.dk/welcomeseptember from the middle of August.


Mutual learning is one of the most critical components of the initiative. Even bigger cities with large international populations and experience in organising such events can still benefit from cooperating with smaller ones. Smaller municipalities then have the opportunity to upscale their own events through this cooperation. These areas of Denmark are especially in need of international workers, as generally, internationals tend to flock to the capital regions because of its natural appeal and abundance of opportunities. While Aarhus, Aalborg, and Copenhagen are the leading partners in this endeavour, the focus is on promoting what the whole country can achieve together.


Working together as one

With over 100 events across the country, Welcome September will attempt to cover everything an international needs to know about Denmark, but that is not all. Fun, cultural and educational entertainment is also part of the programme. Lise Kingo Hansen, Chief Advisor for Copenhagen Municipality, calls it a “360 degree September”. It will be a combination of online and physical events addressing a variety of topics. Physical distancing will not be a factor for many events, as online events, workshops, and webinars can be accessed worldwide.



Since the initiative’s aim is twofold, welcoming and retaining internationals in Denmark, the concept is open for newcomers and internationals who have lived in Denmark for years. It will be an excellent opportunity for newcomers to kickstart their life in Denmark by getting practical information, meeting people, and using the events as a starting point for settling down. For internationals who have called Denmark home for years, the events will also allow them to acquire knowledge and get involved in social activities that will strengthen the sense of Denmark feeling like their home away from home.


“As an effort that truly encompasses the entire country, events are not focused in a single area but can be found across the country. internationals will have ample opportunity to become part of the initiative."

As an effort that truly encompasses the entire country, events are not focused in a single area but can be found across the country; from the capital to small towns such as Maribo and Aars, internationals will have ample opportunity to become part of the initiative. The events will address job-seeking, housing, and networking professionally and socially to navigating the Danish tax system. Events that tackle professional and practical issues of life in Denmark are usually a common theme across regions, and some are done at a national level, but each municipality, big or small, is free to add its own touch to the initiative. From zoo and museum visits in Aalborg and Odense to dancing classes in Esbjerg, to speed dating in Kalundborg, one thing is for sure: everyone, no matter where they are from and their interest levels, will have ample opportunity to find an event tailored to their tastes.


And by everyone, we mean everyone; organisers of the initiative hope to attract Danes to participate in the events too. Several events are directly aimed to bring internationals and Danes together. “An international citizen is not a nationality or a passport. It is a mindset,” says Lasse, meaning that internationally-minded Danes have much to gain from this initiative by personally meeting the different nationalities that are part of Denmark.


Changing the narrative

The ultimate goal of this initiative is to attract but most importantly retain foreign highly skilled workers and integrate them into the Danish workforce and social experience. This does not only apply to experienced professionals but also extends to students and families. People coming to Denmark need to feel they are welcome here while at the same time exploring the numerous opportunities the country offers. Moreover, there is a long-standing issue of workers and students arriving in the country only to abandon it after some time. “If an international comes to Denmark to work and their spouse can’t find a job, what’s the point of staying?” says Kirsten.



“Even when a stay in Denmark is temporary, as in the case of Erasmus students, by banding together across Denmark and organising events that attempt to include every international, they also hope that this will result in them acting as ambassadors for Denmark in their respective countries when they return home,” says Lasse.


In joining forces to promote Demark as a whole, these events will benefit everyone, not just the bigger cities. Excitement and anticipation regarding this initiative are evident and Lise, Lasse, and Kirsten hope the combined efforts of everyone will achieve all they have planned!


You can access online more information about the 110+ events throughout Denmark from late August until early October 2021 at www.lifeindenmark.dk/welcomeseptember. This website will be live from the middle of August.


NORTHERN DENMARK

Online - 30 August

Smart and effective job search 2021.


Nykøbing Mors - 4 September

Newcomer network.


Thisted - 8 September

Living in Thy.


Aalborg - 10 September

Diversity evening at Aalborg Zoo 2021.


Aalborg - 10 September

Getting started - An introduction to life in Denmark.


Nykøbing Mors - 10 September

Newcomer network.


Frederikshavn - 11 September

Frederikshavn culture day - Hele verden i Frederikshavn.


Online - 16 September

Career in Frederikshavn.


Aalborg - 21 September

Internationals' Fair North Denmark.


Online - 30 September

Job search in North Denmark.


Online - TBC

Company visit to MAN Energy Solutions - webinar.


Aars - TBC

International voters for local elections.


Aars - TBC

Go Vest / Tour de Vesthimmerland.


CENTRAL DENMARK

Aarhus - 28 August

Expat reception.


Skive - 1-30 September

World map - Put a pin in your home country.


Ikast - 4 September

Expat Day Ikast-Brande.


Aarhus - 9 September

International Leadership Forum (ILF).


Ikast - 9 September

Job search seminar for internationals in Ikast-Brande.


Skive - 11 September

Meet international newcomers for board games.


Online - 14 September

Working across cultures (workshop).


Aarhus - 17 September

TGIF (Thank God it's Friday).


Herning - 18 September

Herning Expat Fair.


Online - 28 September

Understanding Danish culture and society - Danish culture, values, customs and traditions.


Horsens - 28 September

Discover the locals.


Aarhus - 1 October

Monthly coffee morning.


Aarhus - 2 October

Aarhus City Welcome.


Aarhus - TBC

CV workshop.


Skive - TBC

Big Blue City Tour for international newcomers.


SOUTHERN DENMARK

Sønderborg - 1, 15, 29 September

Food club for newcomers.


Sønderborg - 1, 15, 29 September

Food club for newcomers.


Esbjerg - 1 September

Esbjerg International Ladies coffee morning.


Odense - 1 September

Guided tour with The Night Watchmen.


Odense - 1 September

International Family Day.


South Denmark - 1 September

Intro meeting for students - Future Talent Denmark.


Odense - 2 September

New in Denmark seminar.


Esbjerg - 2 September

Information meeting for new arrivals.


Billund - 2 September

Welcome to your local democracy.


Esbjerg - 4 September

Newcomers guided city walk.


Sønderborg - 4 September

Information day for newcomers from German speaking countries.


Odense - 5 September

International playdate.


Odense - 5 September

Urban gardening.


Esbjerg - 6 September

Open house FOF Beginners Danish or FVU Danish.


Esbjerg - 6 September

Line dancing.


Esbjerg - 6, 16, 27 September

Try football with a social aspect.


Odense - 7 September

International meetup.


Esbjerg - 7 September

Get a free Salsa lesson at Esbjerg Salsa club with Cuban instructor Lexys Santiaguero

Gonzales.


Vejle - 7 September

ABC's of an active LinkedIn.


Odense - 7 September

Open training: Rugby.