While relocating to a new country may seem like chaos for some, for me it’s the ultimate calm. I’m walking on ground my feet have never kissed before and everywhere I look there’s something to marvel at. The light is different. The air smells like pine trees. Voices are talking in a language I don’t yet understand and there’s a barrage of beauty heading my way from the moment I open my eyes until the moment I go to sleep.
For the first two months of my Danish adventure, I’m staying in a little place called Billund, or as I call it, Pleasantville. It’s a tiny town full of bungalows and perfectly mowed lawns where bicycles rule the road and neighbours wave hello to one another. Everything is spotlessly clean, doors remain unlocked and kids play out unsupervised. Nothing but birdsong tickles your eardrums night and day.
Billund is the home of Lego. Here in 1932, a carpenter by name the of Ole Kirk Christiansen began making toys in his workshop and a few years later, created the famous Lego brick. It’s a story that is nothing short of inspiring and every day I cycle to work shaking my head in happy puzzlement at the life I seem to have stumbled into.
At Lego HQ, everywhere you look there’s the contents of someone’s imagination in the form of colourful bricks and I’m pretty sure there are more minifigures than employees. Yellow bikes are parked up outside so you can quickly get from one meeting to another and delicious barista-made coffees are on tap.
I’ve hit jackpot in every possible way. The company, the values, the ambition, my role as an in-house transformation consultant and the incredible leaders I work with. All of it. It’s a playground for adults and I couldn’t feel more at home.
Life outside of the office is pretty magic too. I spend my evenings roaming Jutland’s countryside by bicycle and at weekends I take the 36 cycle route to potter around my future home, Vejle. They call it a city, in fact, it’s Denmark’s ninth largest, but to me it’s more like a town.
There’s a harbour, a fjord, a beach and a forest, and a beautiful pedestrianised shopping street that runs right the way through. You cross the bridge over the tiny canal and follow the sweet scents of pastries and freshly baked bread towards the beautiful red-bricked town hall that stands in the centre.
From there you can wander down cobbled lanes with whimsical fountains and find hidden treasures; more cosy coffee shops with Scandi interiors and florists with the prettiest displays. Every few minutes you’ll stumble upon a cluster of side-street cafes and restaurants that I can’t wait to try. And, just like Billund, Vejle is spotlessly clean. The floors are swept, the greenery is well-cared for and the shop facades are pristine.
When you’re wandering through its streets, it’s easy to see why Denmark ranks as one of the world’s most happiest countries. Yes they have dark winters and high taxes, but the Danes invest their time, money and energy into enjoying life. For me, that’s probably the most notable thing about living here so far, the slow pace and mindful presence. There seems to be a real appreciation for the preciousness of life and everybody knows how to leg godt.
Karen 21 June 2020
Carmel 23 June 2020
Go girl but mindfully as is your won’t!