Getting Ready To Work and Live in Denmark?
Question marks appear in everyone’s head when the thought of moving for job to another country comes to mind: Will I be able to leave my cultural values in new country and new company? Will locals and colleagues be friendly? Will I be accepted for who I am? Is the food similar to what I am used to? Is the health sector good enough? Is the foreign culture built on equality in all possible meanings? Will I be able to learn new language? The questions go on and on, and there will be many more questions upon the arrival to new destination, but there is a way to get ready to some extent, and it is through sharing personal experience.
The first question I have asked myself even before applying to IBT program was : Even if I fit into the program, will the IBT program fit with me, will Danish culture fit with my own? Having internet under my hands, first thing I did to get some answers was do some research. I started with www.bestseller.com . It was to my surprise how much information a company can post regarding corporate structure and culture, there was almost no question left unanswered, but the true gem was the document I came across called Code of Conduct. The entire document was based on how much importance is given to the value of human life and rights, how a company fights for a healthier planet and sustainable business practice, how much support is given to indigenous population in developing countries etc. I would call this document in another way if I may – Code of Inspiration.
Being very inspired and excited, I started digging deep into the IBT program requirements and conditions. Free accommodation, health insurance, holiday travel arrangements to home destination, possibility to work in different parts of the world, huge international community within the company, flat organizational structure, almost 100% rate of future employment were few of many conditions that I had never chance to experience in my life and here they we offered generously by BESTSELLER. After reading I told myself: If this is the way a company does the business, I will be honored to be part of this! So the answer was there: Yes, this program fits with me completely! But what about Danish culture? I tried to find as much information possible in internet, but none answered all the personal questions that I had inside, because I was comparing everything to what I already had in Turkey, and everyone interprets things differently. So this is what I have experienced as an IBT in Denmark so far.
I was accepted to JACK&JONES brand stationed in small town called Brande. Coming from a mega polis like Istanbul to a town with 6000 populations seamed challenging, but only until I arrived. Upon my arrival I found myself in a small town with small houses made of brick, with green cute gardens and a lot of woods around the town. People were cycling back and forth with small textile bags full of grocery in their bike baskets. A kid maybe 4 years old was jumping bare footed in the fountain and his mom was having the laugh watching the baby being all wet and happy. Normally I was used to people in the traffic jam, angry and tired; everyone was seeing life only through smart phone display and consumed by cement jungle. Here on the other hand, instead of taking countless pictures of her baby and filtering them, the mother was just watching the baby and enjoying the moment. It is not that mother couldn’t take pictures and get going on social media, it is that it was her choice not to. In few days I realized a very important point: here in Brande people take their time to breath and enjoy life, they don’t work to survive, the work to enjoy life in its most natural way. Small coffee shop in the central square, local restaurants, big sports facility, friendly billiard and bowling bars made it very easy to fill comfortable in this town. If I were alone maybe it would be a little bit more difficult to adopt and enjoy my stay in Brande, but I was very lucky to have my 8 fellow IBTs with me. We arrived all together 9 of us at the same time. Representing different parts of the world (USA, Ireland, Venezuela, Portugal, Spain, Moldova and Hungary) were shared the common trait: curiosity and excitement to live fully this experience. Having no one from home, forged us to quickly become a family who sticks together and shares not only food but also daily personal experiences, doubts and concerns, and most of all joy. It all started with a common dinner on the terrace in front of IBT apartments. Everyone brought a dish from their home cuisine. Of course some cooked better than others (I hope my fellow IBTs forgive my observation) but it was the feeling in the air that made it special: the feeling of not being alone and surrounded by people in the same boat. Very soon we started going to bars together, have field and forest walks together, playing bowling, having movie nights, teaching each other some cooking and baking, enjoying a glass of wine with nice local cheese, etc. It was and still is the atmosphere of big family where everyone is so different, but where our differences unite us and make every day different and special. But it wasn’t the joy, that showed how great are my fellow IBTS, it was the moment when we started getting homesick (trust me it is OK to be homesick). After two months of being in Brande I could see some of my IBTs losing the sparkle in their eyes, or some of us spent more time skyping with family with some tears happening around and others could see the same happening to me. Being apart from home proved not to be easy… It was then when a person that I met just recently, tried to comfort me and share my frustration without expecting anything from me, when I realized how lucky I am to have this family of 9 people by my side. It is easy to share happiness, but sharing difficulties proved to be the glue in our little IBT family.
It has been 4 months now, and our IBT family grows deeper roots and our life in Brande still comforts us and brings something new every day. What will happen later? Perhaps we will wait and see…