Still loving Danish public health service

Yesterday I was reminded why I wrote this piece in The Local in 2015 about private vs public healthcare in Copenhagen.


After a long wait whilst the doctors decided if I needed an MRI scan with the state of the art machine at Rigshospital, I was given an appointment for a scan a couple of weeks ago. I understand the decision process surrounding it. One scan in the machine is not cheap so there must be a medical need for it.

Last summer I had a MRI scan at a private clinic and although the appointment times were more convenient and radiographer was competent, the experience wasn’t as good as the one yesterday. At the private clinic I lay in the scanner and just listened to the loud noise until the scan was done. I had no idea when it would be over and at what points I could wriggle my fingers. The scan takes up to an hour and that is a long time to lay still. I can’t recall being given ear defenders either. The scan was inconclusive.

At Rigshospital I was called in well before my appointment time as I arrived early. I was asked to change and leave my stuff in a locked changing room. The staff were polite and efficient. I was given ear defenders and they gave me an emergency buzzer to hold in my hand. Before each cycle of scans, I was told though my headset how long the section of scanning would take (anything from 1 minute to five minutes) and when I could stretch and move. Anyone who has had an MRI scan know it isn’t the most comfortable experience especially if you feel a little claustrophobic.

I was given an injection of contrast half way through and I was warned it could make me feel a little nauseous later on. Once the scan was over and the pleasantries dispensed with, I headed back to the changing room. I was a bit slow in there as I felt a little sleepy and was checking my messages when there was a knock on the door and the radiologist wanted to check I was OK.

Add to that how clean the hospital is, how helpful the staff are (not just this time but other times too), the general positive environment around you from hearing the orderlies chatting to patients to the public art installations. I still believe you can’t match this experience in the private sector.

I now have to wait and find out if this king of MRI machines has seen anything significant but overall the experience was much better than the private one.


The Hive Gathering

We are still in the throes of moving house and finally getting to live in our new place on Amager. There will be more about the practicalities of buying a place and the changes of moving from an apartment to a house and of course life on Amager to come in the next few weeks.However today I thought I’d share something I am involved in in May. The Hive Gathering is a conference for digital storytellers, tastemakers and bloggers which has been going since 2012. I have attended every conference and loved each one. When I was starting out in blogging it was amazing to connect with other bloggers and to take inspiration from others. I am still in contact and, in many cases, friends with women I have met at The Hive.

The speaker line up at these conferences has always been outstanding and this year’s Hive in Berlin is shaping up to be just as great. Sara Tasker, an Instagram guru and podcaster I personally admire will be one of the speakers this year. There are a number of other exciting speakers this year. I have a role as a chair or moderator (never sure of the actual title) of a panel discussion about what it means to be an online influencer.  How are we influenced? What are brands looking for? Are you an influencer if you won’t or just can’t engage with your followers?  And how can influence be used productively and not just to sell things? It should be a lively and interesting discussion, I’m sure.

If you are a blogger, instagramer, vlogger or involved in an online space for your business or personal brand, then this is the conference for you. The location in the centre of Berlin is an even draw as you will get a chance to explore this exciting city when not in the conference. Every time I leave the Hive I am buzzing (did you see what I did there?!) with new ideas and you can be too!

Check out the website for more information about speakers, program and much more. If you are planning on coming along do drop me a message and we can connect in person there.

Elsewhere on the Internet

I’ve had few pieces published on the internet this last week or so, so in case you don’t follow Dejlige Days on Facebook (and why not? Click here if you want to, I am posting up lots of interesting events I spot around town there now so its pretty useful) here is a quick summary here.

Here is my piece in the Huffington Post – 10 funny things that can happen when you move to a new country.hp-1

And another one – How to nail Scandi style this winter


And over on The – My Danish Career with Alison O’Keeffe and New Copenhagen project will ‘try to change the world’

If you enjoy any of these articles please take a moment to share them on Facebook or Twitter.

Elsewhere on the web

I have been trying to get all my ducks in a row before the school holidays start but there will be some new posts next week, in the meantime I have been around and about on the internet this last week or so.

Hipster bingo

Want to play hipster bingo? over on the Huffington Post.

huff post entrepreneur

Five reasons why living in Denmark gave me the chance to become a successful entrepreneur – in the Huffington Post

cph home

Six steps to finding your new Copenhagen home – on The Local DK


My Expat Life: Melanie Haynes on Motherland

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Interview on We the EU 

Phew, all these were written or interviewed over the last month or so but all came out in the space of a week.

I am putting the finishing touches to my book about how to have a successful relocation at the moment and if you would like to have three chapters for free and also be the first to hear about the publication of the book, which will now be a physical book as well as an ebook, you can sign up here.

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New look to Dejlige Days and an exciting collaboration

You may have noticed that things are looking little different around here. I decided to bring all my ‘brands’ together and have one image for both the blog and Dejlige Days Welcome. I have been working with a great designer on new logos and also Rochelle Coote Photography on some new pictures of me. I am actually super happy about how it all looks. I would love to hear your feedback!Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 19.19.09

Also it coincides with me (as Dejlige Days Welcome) working together with Charlotte Larsen at Copenhagen Housing to offer a joint package. Together we can help you in your move to Copenhagen with me offering a pre relocation consultation and then handing over to Copenhagen Housing to find newcomers somewhere to live (and all that entails in the tough rental market) and then back to me for a comprehensive personal local guide (recent ones ran to almost 20 pages of in-depth and insider information) to help you settle in. To find out more about this do pop over to my website here.Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 19.20.36

The search is on for our new home

Last week, when I wasn’t checking out Danish men, we were checking out potential new houses. After eight years living in apartments we decided it was time to look at having a little more space and privacy but at the same time still living in the city. The dream of a villa (as detached houses are called here) in Frederiksberg remains a dream unless we win the lottery so we took the practical approach and found an area that ticked the boxes for us all.IMG_4767Quiet streets with reasonably priced but good size villas. Close enough to my son’s school to mean that we may get an extra half hour in bed. Close to green open spaces and beaches but still with easy access to the kind of city amenities we have become used to. And finally fast transport links into the city.

Sundby on Amager ticked all these boxes for us and the search is on. Interestingly I am being my own client for this. I know a little of what is available on Amager but as it is an area that is pretty much new to me, I need to find out what is there that I and my family will enjoy. So I am working on a local guide and map for myself and I am finding I am a tough customer! Tomorrow I am going to head out and walk the streets, just as I do for my clients needing a local guide written for them. I love this process of discovering hidden gems and it is even more fun doing it for myself.

We spent yesterday going to open houses at the places we have identified online (a tip if you are house hunting is to use Boliga as it brings all the places from different estate agents all together in one place) and all but one were not right for us and the one that was – really was. I know you are not supposed to fall in love with a house as it leads to disappointment in many cases but it is hard when you are choosing your home. The place we loved had an amazing history, perfectly laid out for us and totally modernised. However someone has already offered on it and as we haven’t sold our apartment yet we are in a very weak position. But as they say nothing ventured, nothing gained!

The process of both buying and selling a house at the same time is new to us and we are still learning how everything works here. I hope to share a lot more of the journey and the practical process as we go along here.

Thinking of moving to Copenhagen – let me help!

I have been pretty busy with Dejlige Days Welcome over the last few months as it seems that the Spring is a time when people think about moving here. When I launched the service I had an idea of what kind of packages most of my potential clients would be interested in but the last few months have shown that many people are looking for some pre-relocation help so today in the shape of another shameless plug I thought I would talk a little bit more about how this part of Dejlige Days Welcome works.

DDW pre relocationMost people who take this service have an idea that they want to live in Copenhagen but need the information and advice to help them make this decision. Sometimes the questions are around childcare, helping children get settled, how to register if you are self employed, good places to live, how to beat the rental system but more often than not they are very specific and personal to that person or family’s needs. Having a face to face chat (via Skype or FaceTime) really helps people get their thoughts in order. I don’t just wing it on the day but they filled out a questionnaire for me and tell me their key questions, I then spend time researching this and prepare a short report prior to the call which I then flesh out with more from the discussion and perhaps some extra information – the process is very organic and personal.

I think that almost all of my clients who have started with this service have decided to move here and have been looking for more support after that – which delights me. Although this is a business, the reason behind setting it up was the help people have the best relocation experience they can, to reduce their stress and ease them into life here. I’m not brilliant at blowing my own trumpet but here is a recent review of my services from a happy client on LinkedIn.

If you are thinking of moving here and need some support pop over to my website to read more about how we can work together. If you are already moving here I can help too with a personal local area guide.

Let me help you find your feet in Copenhagen!


Lars Mikkelsen – my new friend?

You know that moment when you see a familiar face and you are about to say hello but then you realise it is actually a famous person? I had very few experiences like this before I moved to Copenhagen but in a city of just over 500,000 people the chances of seeing a famous person are a little higher than London.  There is also only a small number of very well-known actors and actresses here but unless you watch Danish TV or films you may miss some sightings. I would regularly see an actor from Game of Thrones as he picked up his child from my son’s kindergarten but as I never watch the show and I understand most characters don’t make a second season he was just a dad from school, although some mums were a little more starstruck.sofieI recently saw Sofie Gråbøl (best known as Sara Lund from The Killing) in my local greengrocers. And before you ask, no she wasn’t wearing her trademark jumper. Not one person batted an eyelid despite it being busy with after work shoppers. I, however, was inwardly pretty excited as she is someone I greatly admire.larsDanes are very private people so actors can lead a similarly private life and not be bugged by autograph hunters at every turn. However I do feel that the universe is telling me that I should be friends with the actor, Lars Mikkelsen (also from The Killing and more recently in Sherlock). We go to the same coffee shops, hang out in the same shopping streets and we both own an iPad. A match made in heaven I think! I have seen this man umpteen times as I go about my daily life and I don’t even live in his neighbourhood (in fact I live close to his brother, Mads, yet never see him).

One day I will say hello – perhaps he has noticed me too?!


Trusting your gut

There is something I have learnt the hard way and that is to trust my gut feeling. When I have convinced myself that my intuition or my gut feeling is wrong and gone ahead with a decision, it has always been the wrong one. It is easy to mock people who say “something doesn’t feel right” or “my gut is telling me no” but there is actually a real psychology behind it. Psychologists believe that a gut feeling comes from forgotten or suppressed thoughts, experiences and feelings so it’s not possible to pin point why something feels right or wrong but you just know it.IMG_4204

When we moved the Berlin we were desperate to get a rental after months of soul-destroying searches. We widened our search to a more outlying neighbourhood and on a reconnoiter visit to the area, my gut again was screaming no! It wasn’t a place that filled me with joy, quite to opposite. We found a beautiful apartment in the area and took it despite my misgivings and then spent eighteen months regretting it. We believe a different choice could have changed our whole Berlin experience.

On the flip side there have been gut feelings that have worked out splendidly for me. My first job was the perfect example, I had no idea what I really wanted to do except be a writer and a communicator so started applying for entry-level jobs in PR. I sent off hundreds of applications but there was one that I felt was me – campaigns and research assistant at CAMRA. I wanted to work for a place that I would feel a genuine interest in. I got the interview and then the job offer with a tiny salary. When I started I asked why I’d got the job and the reply was the interviewers had a gut feeling I was worth the gamble. The eighteen months I was there they took lots of gambles on me – I appeared as a spokesperson on high-profile news programmes, I learnt how to build a website, I was given a significant campaign as my own and taken on a lobbying trip to Prague – all with zero experience when I walked in the door at age 22. Mike Benner was my boss and I don’t think that any other boss in the ten years that followed ever gave me the support and belief in myself that he did – all because of gut feelings at the start.

Our move to Copenhagen was another follow your gut moment. With just a guide book and a weekend visit to the city I knew I wanted this place to be my home. And eight years later I still do.

So where is all this going? I am not saying follow your dreams but follow your gut.

Sometimes we want to rush things and ignore our intuition and moving to a new country or job means that we feel we must make fast or snap decisions but you need to listen to your inner voice. You may need to make the best decisions you can with the information you have available (another post there!) but take time to make sure you feel as comfortable as you can with them. But it is also important not to have too much pride and not admit that something is a mistake. I often hear from expats for whom the move hasn’t worked out that they can’t return home as they would be seen as failure. Quite frankly moving to another country in the first place is a massively brave thing to do and its even braver to say if it’s not working out or to change how you are doing it. It’s all about you. Over the years I have realised that for so long I was a passenger in my life and now I am the driver, as I do the best to follow my gut.