1 August 2016

Maria Gonzalez Hoyas - Expat in Copenhagen, Denmark

Maria Gonzalez Hoyas - Expat in Copenhagen, Denmark

Mrs. Maria Gonzalez Hoyas is a 28-year-old journalist and blogger. She talks about her expat life in Denmark in her blog, Una Expat Desesperada En Dinamarca. Originally from Spain, she relocated to Copenhagen due to the economic crisis in her home country. “I wanted to learn new languages and live new experiences in different countries,” she added. Presently, Mrs. Hoyas has been living in Denmark with her husband for 1 year and 8 months.


Mrs. Hoyas noted that her most difficult experience as an expat in Denmark involved dealing with the language barrier. “I didn't speak English nor Danish,” she said, adding that while living abroad was really hard for her, the experiences she went through helped her learn more about herself. She also noted that making friends with the locals was a difficult process, but there are a number of ways to make friends through internet groups or Facebook. “Also, I think it is better if you practice some sport or leisure activities,” Mrs. Hoyas added.

Meeting new people who share similar interests is a great way to feel less lonely when abroad. Expats who are struggling with finding a support system overseas can take some advice from Mrs. Hoyas and seek out local clubs and associations to join. Although Mrs. Hoyas had no problem with securing a work permit and a citizen card as she is a European citizen, expats who need assistance with the paperwork and formalities involved in relocating abroad may want to consider obtaining international immigration services to provide expats with support.

Find out more about Maria Gonzalez Hoyas’ experiences in Denmark in her full interview below.


Q: Where are you originally from?

A: I am from Spain.

Q: What made you move out of your home country?

A: Although the economic crisis in Spain helped me moving out of there, I wanted to learn new languages and live new experiences in different countries.

Q: Where are you living now?

A: I am living in Copenhagen (Denmark).


Q: How did you come to choose this new country of residence?

A: My husband applied for thousands of job offers around the world, and Denmark chose us.


Q: How long have you been living in Denmark?

A: I have been here 1 year and 8 months.

Q: What has been the most difficult experience you've had when you were new in your host country?

A: I lived many difficult experiences when I arrived here, all of them connected with the fact that I didn't speak English nor Danish. When you can't communicate you become desperate. It's true that it was really hard for me, but all of these experiences helped me to learn more about myself.

Q: Would you say that formalities like getting visas or work permits and international health insurance was particularly difficult in Denmark? What was your experience with these?

A: It was really easy for me because I am a European citizen moving to an European country. My husband came here with a work permit, so I got the citizen card in one single day. But if you are not European or you don't come with a job, getting a work permit or an international health insurance is pretty difficult.

Q: Are you living alone or with your family?

A: I am living with my husband.

Q: How are they adjusting to the Expat Lifestyle?

A: In Denmark there are many programs to help expats with the integration process.

Q: Was it easy making friends and meeting people? Do you mainly socialize with other expats in Denmark? How did you manage to find a social circle in Denmark?

A: I think it is really hard to make local friends, but it is kind of easy to meet people like you, expats. Actually, most of my friends are from other countries. I think it is normal when you are new in a country, at least at the beginning. You are a foreigner and you have more common things with other foreigners than with the locals.

Anyway, there are many ways to find friends here. For example there are groups on internet, in Facebook or meetup.com, to help you with getting new friends. Also I think it is better if you practice some sport or leisure activities. I read once in a Danish newspaper that if you have a dog you have more possibilities to get new friends than if you don't have. So, it seems like a funny and nice way to get new friends!

Q: What are the best things to do in the area?

A: There are many things to do in Copenhagen; it is a colourful city with an important cultural life. But in general, if it is summer you should spend your time in the parks, squares and harbours of Copenhagen. Doing what? Nothing, only enjoy the good weather, the sun and the happiness of the people. And in winter, my recommendation is that you should do like Danes: light candles at home and enjoy the "hygge", Danish word that they use to talk about the nice things of life.

Q: How does the cost of living in Denmark compared to your home?  

A: There is a big difference. At the beginning you are afraid all the time, because you don’t want to spend almost 5 euros for a cup of coffee. But although the cost of living is very high, it is true that the salaries are also higher than in my country. A cup of coffee costs 30 DKK, a meal in an inexpensive restaurant costs 100-120 DKK. A meal in an expensive restaurant costs 300-400 DKK. You can find an acceptable bottle of wine for 40 or 50 DKK, and a pack of cigarettes is more or less 40 DKK.

Q: How do you find the local culture and people in your host country?

A: I think it is a wonderful country from the cultural point of view, especially in summer. In summer there are concerts, cinema, theater and even opera for free. And of course if you pay you have more options and more quality. 

Q: What do you think are the positive and negative sides of living in Denmark?

A: Positive sides are many, for example you are learning a new language and a new culture. You know many people from many countries, and I think you have a mind more open than if you don't live these experiences. On the other hand, the main negative side is that you don't have your family (parents, siblings, friends...) close to you; also winter is very cold and dark.

Q: Do you miss home and family sometimes?

A: I miss my family and friends everyday, every single moment. Actually, many times I just think about going back to my country. 


Q: How do you cope with homesickness?

A: Skype helps a lot. In general the new technologies help to keep in touch with your homeland.

Q: Do you have plans to move to a different country or back home in the future?

A: I am open to the future. I don’t have real plans but I would like to know new places, and of course my country is my country, and I think it would always be nice to go back there. But for now I think my adventure in Denmark has not finished.

Q: What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?

A: Definitely it has been to find an apartment to rent. Copenhagen is a difficult city in that aspect because the places are over priced and there are many people applying for the same apartment. So, at the end you need to have a very big dosis of good luck.

Q: What tips can you give other expats living in Denmark?

A: There are many websites with tips to live in different countries, like yours. I think the best way to start your new life is reading about the experience of others. For example, there are many groups in Facebook.


Q: Do you have favorite websites or blogs about your host country?

A: Here they are:

Expat in Denmark

Working in Denmark

New to Denmark