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Review: The Worktrotter’s Guide to Denmark

The Worktrotter’s guide to Denmark is an ‘instruction manual’ for people moving to Denmark, mainly for work reasons. It is written by Dagmar Fink, a software engineer who moved to Denmark in 2006 and now works for the integration of expats in her spare time.

The book covers a wide variety of topics, from Danes you should know about and Danish norms, to practical information such as getting registered in Denmark and learning Danish. The book is quite brief in most sections, but the list of links it provides allow you to delve deeper into the areas you are interested in.

In my case I only got it once I arrived in Denmark, which meant I had already gone through a lot of time and effort trying to figure things out myself. Furthermore, I had visited Denmark so many times in the last years and read quite a bit about the country as I tried to understand the characteristics of my ‘in-laws’. Therefore, I had already spent a lot of time and effort trying to figure things out on my own.

Nevertheless, there were still a number of surprises in the books and explanations to things that I had never quite understood. I hope to highlight some of these below to show the wide variety of useful tips and hints in the book

Surprising facts: The time you are invited to someone’s house has a big bearing on what you will be offered there in terms of food and drink, such that they would not necessarily specify it in the invite. Very important to know rather than offend your host by turning up full for a dinner, or starving for snacks!

Good ideas: The author mentions a group she set up in Copenhagen, called ‘Vi taler dansk‘ (We speak Danish), where expats are encouraged to practice their spoken Danish in a ‘safe’ environment. It would be quite difficult for me to travel to Copenhagen for this, but nothing keeps others, including me, from setting up similar groups. If anyone else in Sonderborg thinks this is a good idea I think it will be something I will go for.

Practical issues: Danish households receive heaps and heaps of advertising leaflets and booklets with discounts and offers from a wide variety of stores. Apparently there are always some good offers (and who doesn’t like the idea of that?) but I baulk at the notion of leafing through them all every single week. However, there seems to be a saviour in all this in the form of a website that pulls them all together.

Danish traditions: A lot is said in Denmark about Jante’s Law, both by those who agree that this is a reality and by those who think that it no longer holds in Danish society. I think the book tackles this issue sensitively by highlighting aspects of Danish attitudes that may be due to this sociological concept without prescribing them to it.

As you can see the guide tackles a wide-ranging set of issues that would definitely help anyone moving to Denmark (and possibly even Danes themselves!). For this reason I would say that the guide is indispensable to the total newcomer to the country, and useful for everyone else.

UPDATE: Got this comment to the book from Grace:


Photo by Naomi Luxford