In 24 days time, my family and I will be using our one-way ticket and heading off to Copenhagen for a new adventure. After 10 years of living in Oxford, it will be a fairly big change but one that I hope will have lasting and positive impacts for myself and my family.
I’m going to be a Senior Digital Project Manager for Valtech in Copenhagen. It seems a great company, with a great culture. Yes, they have amazing offices on the water’s edge (complete with beautiful kayaks for staff to use) but more than locality and perks, which are just the shiny things that turn your head. I’m more enthused about the fact they seem to really invest in team dynamics (they have their own internal version of DISC profiling). They are also a global company that allows local offices and individual teams a great deal of autonomy in how they work.
Leaving White October will be a bit of a strain. There are some very good people there whom I’ve had some great times with and had the pleasure of seeing first hand some of the brilliant work they do.
Most of my reasons for going are personal, cultural and political:
Politically – well, let’s be honest – living in Britain at the moment is a bit like living in a house with a constantly bickering couple whose arguing keeps you awake at night and then finding out you’ve got dry rot and it’s going to be really expensive and time consuming to fix….Oh and plus the neighbour that you thought was a nice friendly chap turns out to be a racist. The whole Brexit process (if it’s organized enough to be called a process) is very disheartening and draining. The tone of some news outlets and parties that look to shift blame for current problems onto immigrants rather than respecting the intelligence of the electorate and look to address the root cause of any problems is extremely concerning and is starting to trouble me more and more every day. (Thank goodness nearly everyone I meet face-to-face in the UK is nice, lovely, kind and reasonable).
It feels good to make the most of freedom of movement while I still can and test my conviction that migration is a really wonderful thing that has benefitted countries, economies and cultures since we first started walking. I’m under no illusions and know that Denmark will not be a utopia. It has its fair share of problems and immigration is an issue there just as it is anywhere else…but it is undeniably a country with a progressive outlook and that’s something I want to learn from and see in action.
Culturally – well Copenhagen is amazing: aquariums, parks, castles, outdoor swimming, museums, galleries, pastries, hipster coffee, hipster beer, boats, bacon, barbecuing, hippy communes, food and restaurants, towers, breweries, lakes, harbours, boats, theme parks, street food, opera, history, shopping, lego, beautiful countryside, knitwear and bleak crime dramas – what’s not to love?
There’s so much richness to explore, a whole new history, climate, language, cuisine and outlook. Life is so short and I feel blessed that we have this opportunity to do more than just ‘experience’ another culture but instead to really attempt to integrate with it.
Personally – Having spent the early years of my life in Monterey, California (one of the most beautiful places in the world) I feel I know first-hand the amazing positive impression living in another country can have on young minds. I’m hoping for my family and especially my two young children that this adventure will stick with them throughout their lifetime and be a lesson in saying ‘yes’ to opportunity. Ultimately I hope it will expand their horizons and help them think globally about the amazing opportunities the world offers privileged people who, like most people reading this, happen to be somehow be born in MEDCs.
My Dad who was a gannet for Travel was always the one pushing us to explore new parts of the world and luckily through his job as an academic he managed to finance it, often working overseas or giving talks at a conference so he could get his family out to some far-flung places. He sadly passed away this year but I think I’ve inherited some of his innate desire to see the world and I’ve certainly been feeling a Scandinavian itch for the past few years which this adventure is happily going to scratch.
Finally, while there is still so much I can learn at my current job, I’m deeply aware that every agency does things differently and I’m really looking forward to working with new technologies and new techniques whilst sharing the good things that I’ve picked up along the way and hopefully developing and becoming a better all-round project manager and people manager. I know I’ll deeply miss friends and colleagues in Oxford but I’m hoping that living in a global-interconnected world with amazing communication tools and with Copenhagen only being a 2-hour flight away means that it won’t be a ‘hard-Brexit-goodbye’ but more of a gentle ‘Vi ses’.