Reality check / dealing with expat challenges

Reality check / dealing with expat challenges

Before you read any further, I would like to state that I am very happy to be an IBT  and I still think this is the best opportunity I could ever have taken. However I’ve never been a big fan of sugar-coated reality. I remember when I was in the application process my father once told me : “I’m scared that you will be disappointed because you expect everything to be too perfect.”
Luckily this is not the first time I’ve lived abroad so I had some perspective on what I am facing. This is a great country, a great program, and I’m sure you are a strong and ambitious human being. But there will be a point where you struggle with something.  It is scientifically proved that dealing with these is easier if you are somehow prepared for it.

So I decided to write this entry because I would like to share with you the challenges I have been facing so far in Denmark as an international and how I’ve been dealing with them. This will be a very honest post so please handle my words delicately… 🙂


    I used to live in a capital and now I live in a very small town in the middle of Denmark. It’s fair to say that the options are limited here when it comes to going out to bars, clubs, restaurants, cafes, museums. I will be honest – I used to go to parties a lot back in Hungary. Since moving here this evolved into a more cozy get-together type of lifestyle. It is quite common in this region to stay in, especially in the winter months. A lot of people have families here from a young age. Almost none of my colleagues are single and ready to mingle. 🙂 This is also a big difference for me because at home I was surrounded by my single girl-friends who lived the same type of life as me.  It’s not impossible to have fun and variety in my free-time but I definitely have to make more effort. I took it for granted before. But I decided to explore Denmark, and plan weekend trips at least once in a month. I also try to  visit my friends in Arhus, where I find more of the bubbly city life.
    To be fair almost everyone speaks English here. I was shocked when the conductor on the train spoke perfect English as I was used to the Hungarian standard ( people travelling without a ticket actually always pretend to be tourists there, because the conductor for sure will have no chance to have an argument with you in English…)
    But…the majority of the employees at Bestseller are Danish people. Some of them might never had to use English as a daily language in the officee. This means that sometimes I have to remind them to speak English in my presence. It can feel uncomfortable but I try to handle it with humour and not give up on socialising. It’s usually easy for me to learn languages, but Danish has been the biggest challenge so far for sure. So making friends in Danish is not going to happen from one day to the other…
    Ok ok, It’s not that different from my home country as they have 4 seasons in both places. My roommate comes from California, my neighbour from Venezuela. They never experienced the 3 month long winter before. For me the only difficulty is the amount of rainy days and grey clouds during the wintertime. They say summer is really nice here and I look forward to it, because I am the biggest summer lover you can imagine 🙂 The first month when we moved here was really nice and sunny and I remember sunbathing at the Arhus beach after work in the end of September. Until then the Brande get-together dinners, movie nights and hardcore gym sessions, and my job, that I love, keep me motivated.
    Bestseller is a big company so the rotation of people can be quite fast too…A few people have left my brand or went on maternity leave  since I started. This includes my IBT coach who I had a great time working with and was definitely not happy about continuing without her.  Not to mention that all the IBTs go from one country to another due to the placement periods. This means that you come to a new country and start to form new friendships, but there will be a point when you also have to set apart from them. This can give you a bit of a heartache but I always realise that just as I let these people closer to my heart, new and new ones can do the same. I have to stay open for these new influences.It’s an ongoing change of scenery and people surrounding you.
    I don’t accept further debate on it. The salaries are good for sure so you can easily get by but you can’t party like Jay-Z. I won’t go to the hairdresser every month ( not that I had done that ever in my life) . But Denmark is at least 3 times more expensive as Hungary. So the first few grocery shoppings have been a nightmare for my eyes and the rational side of my brain. Food, drinks, public transport, services – everything is expensive. The only thing I found ridiculously cheap compared to my previous experience was the gym membership. So I shop less and workout more. There we go bikini body!
    I left this one to the end on purpose because I think this is the hardest one.You will experience it. Hopefully. If not that means you’re not coming from a place you love. I hope that’s not the case for anyone. It hit me the first time after two months when I was in my apartment on sick leave for two days. I just needed the comfort of my home, my family, everything that I’m used to. Basically everything that was 100% in my comfort zone. Sometimes I just feel like I want to joke in Hungarian, I crave my traditional meals, I want to walk the streets of my childhood after a stressful day or just hug my family, which can’t be substituted by Skype sessions. This urge has to be postponed until my next visit at home. But luckily I have all my IBT friends around me who are going through the exact same thing. We share our thoughts and cheer each other up. I also know that this period is the beginning and as I get used to my new life, it gets easier.

So guys I appreciate that you read my thoughts on the topic. I’m sure everyone could add or remove some points based on their personality. Just so you know none of these difficulties influence my goals of becoming a great professional and a better human being. I like to admit my difficulties and weaknesses because this is the only way to improve.
None of the obstacles you face mean that your goal is no longer available. You just have to be persistent 🙂

If you have had any similar experience, share it with us and don’t hesitate to ask in the comments regarding the uncertainties that bother you!

I wish you a nice evening!


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5 responses to “Reality check / dealing with expat challenges”

  1. Diana Sandoval says:

    Hi Anna

    I really get what you are saying I’m from México, and almost two years ago I got the chance to do my internship in Germany in a tinny place called Herzogenaurach, coming from mexico city, that town was so small.
    And yes the winter was a nightmare for me and with everything so dark almost all day, it really made me homesick, but always along with some good friends sharing the same experiences as me.

    I love to read your post you are such a good writer.

    My best wishes for the rest of your experience in Denmark

    • Anna Gyetvai says:

      Hi Diana,

      you know what?! This is such a small world! I used to do an internship in Herzo too for almost a year 🙂 Fortunately I lived in Erlangen and Furth during this period so I wasn’t that secluded from society. But if you lived in Herzo then for sure – you know how it feels to be the lonely wolf! 🙂 But I’m sure some of the beer fests made you feel better 🙂
      I wish you a lot of success on your journey too!


  2. Shikha R Patel says:

    Hi Anna,
    Thank you for writing this post. It is indeed beautifully written, and also, it has covered some very important points (especially the last one) that have to be considered when you wish to move to DK for a challenging programme like IBT.
    We often tend to overlook these in the beginning but these are the underlying things we have to deal with everyday. It definitely helps to be mentally prepared before hand.
    It is great that you have managed to focus on the silver lining.

    Do keep writing 🙂


    • Anna Gyetvai says:

      Hi Shikha,

      thank you for your comment. It feels nice to hear that my message reaches people. I think it’s important to share these thoughts with others and see how we are not alone with our them. I hope wherever you are you’re coping with your challenges too. 🙂
      All the best to you!


  3. Paulina Martina K says:

    Hi Ana,

    Originally I come from the Caribbean, meaning I often get asked how could you leave the sun?
    Even though I do miss sunsets by the beach moving to Europe has been a great adventure. As an island girl I as well have needed to adapt while experiencing the smaller cities, indeed it really is about making the most of it. During my bachelor studies I lived in Herning a relatively small city in Denmark but just like the IBT program it also provided international opportunities and learning tools which have helped me develop both personally and professionally. As you mentioned it is great to have a group of people who can relate and it really is about the underlying lessons. It is great to hear of your experience.

    Thank you for sharing,

    Paulina Martina K

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