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The power of resilience

Embracing compassion amidst change.

Photographs: Pexels

Text: Ophelia Wu

As internationals living abroad, while every journey is unique, one thing we all share is the quality of resilience. Navigating expat life demands a robust level of resilience—you simply can't survive without it. It's easy to overlook the adaptability and tenacity of human beings until we're cornered without a choice but to rise and persevere.

Although Denmark ranks as one of the happiest nations in the world, for expats, fully embracing this happiness can take time. Undoubtedly a fantastic country for its natives, let's face it—most internationals occasionally struggle with mundane tasks that Danes effortlessly breeze through. How many of you have contended with the exasperation of opening a Danish bank account upon arrival? Or felt gridlocked trying to secure a CPR number and Danish address—uncertain which is more pivotal? These are the stumbling blocks that challenge newcomers, experiences perhaps not wholly grasped by native Danes.

But as internationals, we navigate, investigate and dig deep into the heart of the matter. We advocate and persist in seeking solutions and answers to our questions. We make things happen. We embody resilience.

"As internationals, we carry with us a rich mosaic of mindsets and experiences."

Train your resilience

Resilience, much like a muscle, strengthens with flexing. It is cultivated over time and moulded through experiences and challenges, through introspection and learning. With each hurdle crossed, we emerge more resilient. Life in Denmark, as hyggeligt as it may be, doesn't shield one from stress and pressure.

One particularly exasperating experience is observing how effortlessly Danes seem to handle everything—a stark contrast to the struggle we often face, coupled with a slight communication divide and a gap in mutual understanding on the matter. At times, we may also misinterpret Danish values, so engrossed in our journey of integration—learning the language, searching for an apartment and job, and forging new Danish friendships—that we forget to pause and embrace the present, to simply 'hygge', as the Danes do. Danish culture values community, and once you're welcomed in, you're truly part of it. The secret, perhaps, is to take a step back, relax, and allow things to unfold naturally—giving ourselves time and opportunity to truly comprehend Denmark and Danish society in an authentic Danish manner.

As internationals, we carry with us a rich mosaic of mindsets and experiences. Sometimes, we cling to every recollection of home and our roots, using these memories to reaffirm our identity. This can be a double-edged sword since while it maintains our sense of self, it may also obscure our openness to new experiences. We cannot hope to see eye to eye if we view things only from divergent cultural perspectives, not allowing ourselves the space to find commonality.

Your experiences of resilience weave into a vast narrative tapestry. Deep down, we all know we're going to make it—not only because this likely isn't the first challenge we've overcome but also because we've seen things work out beautifully before. By sharing your resilience stories, you inspire current and future internationals to embrace their own resilient spirit.

The real power of resilience

The real power of resilience lies in those quieter moments—the revelation when the bus system clicks into place or the unexpected joy when a stranger wishes you 'god morgen.' These small victories are not just individual successes; they're universal accomplishments, each shining as a beacon of hope, affirming that with resilience, expat life is not merely survivable—it's thrivable (and yes, we're declaring it a word).

So, let's celebrate resilience—our hidden superpower. Our tenacity as internationals doesn't just facilitate our adaptation; it transforms us into envoys for a world growing ever more interconnected. Each narrative sings a powerful anthem, regardless of where you're from - in Denmark, you're home.

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