Expat talk with Kathy Siddiqui

Yesterday we talked to Kathy Borys Siddiqui about her personal story moving to Denmark from Poland. In this video she shares her ups and downs and she gives her best tips on what to prepare for, when you are about to become an international or expat. Kathy is a Cross Cultural Adult, a Re-pat and Expat. She is an Intercultural Expat trainer, the founder of Active Action and specializes in transitioning and adapting solutions for Expat Spouses/Partners.

Thank you so much Kathy for talking to us.

All the best,

The Culture Nerds, Nicoline and Gitte


This course will provide you with an overall ability to navigate and communicate more sufficiently in a Danish cultural setting.


“The Culture Nerds” now proudly introduce our new program for expats in Denmark. Through this program we will provide you with a deeper understanding of Danish culture, and you will address your own cultural biases and your current challenges in your specific situation. At the end of the program you’ll be able to navigate in Danish culture more effectively, and hereby you will be able to influence your future life in Denmark in a positive direction.


In our years of working with expats in Denmark, we have seen way too many expats struggle to get of grip of how Danish culture and the Danish mindset works. How do you find local friends? Why are people going home from work early in Denmark? How will it show if a Danish co-worker is unhappy with something? How do I come to a place where I feel at home in this cold country of vikings? These are some of the questions that expats, who work in Denmark might ask, and these are some of the questions that this program will help you answer.


The program consists of 4 x 2 hours of workshop, and they will cover:

1: Discover Danish culture and working culture

In this part we will give a thorough introduction to Danish history and cultural heritage. Having this understanding is an important foundation for understanding Danish values and behavior. We’ll also work with your own cultural background, and map differences and as well as similarities in relation to Danish tendencies, so you will be clear on where your specific challenges might be.

You’ll be given some assignments to continue your discovery of how Danish culture plays out in your everyday life.


2: Communication in Denmark

In this part we’ll dig a little deeper. What impact does history have on the way we communicate in Denmark? What are the codes behind what is actually being said? During this part we’ll work on how you as a person from abroad will be able to communicate in a way that gets your messages across, and to be understood without actually having to master the Danish language.


3: Being social in Denmark

Where are Danish people open to new friendships? What is social life like in Denmark? Depending on your individual status (e.g. single or married), we’ll map your specific needs and plan for your social life in Denmark. During this part you’ll learn that Danish people like to have deeper and more personal relations, and therefore it might take a little more work, and you have to be aware of sharing more of your personal self.

You’ll give yourself small challenges and make a to-do-plan for next time.


4: How do I become great at navigating Danish culture?

In this part we’ll focus on building up your personal intercultural competence: Your ability to navigate a culture different from you own. We’ll sum up on what we have learned so far and make a strategy for your continuous work going forward with your integration into Denmark. We’ll end the course with a party to celebrate our new intercultural competencies and life in general.


This course will provide you with an overall ability to navigate and communicate more sufficiently in a Danish cultural setting.


Would you like to understand Danish culture? Then sign up now:


Price: 1.875 DKK (incl. VAT)

Dates: 4 Wednesdays the 7th, 14th, 21st and 28th of November at 4.00-6.00 PM (16.00-18.00)

 Location: Enghavevej 82, 3rd floor, 2450 Copenhagen SV 

About Olskaer & Qvortrup

We, Nicoline Qvortrup and Gitte Olskaer, are true Culture Nerds – eager to bridge mindsets! Besides that we are a consultancy specialising in cross-cultural collaboration and anthropological research. We do presentations, workshops, and analytic research projects – all with culture at the core.  


We hope to see you!


All the best from

The Culture Nerds


Unfortunately it’s a fact that expats have a hard time settling in when they relocate to Denmark. This is a huge problem for companies in Denmark that are often dependent on attracting and maintaining skilled employees from the rest of the world. In our experience a lot of companies could do a lot more to integrate their expats into Denmark successfully. This event is an introduction to our thoughts on how this can be done better.

The presentation will give an introduction to the issues, and we will also give an introduction to Danish culture and work culture – which we think is an important element in being succesful at work in Denmark.

The event is free, but we need to know hos many people will attend, so please sign up on: info@olskaerqvortrup, or through eventbrite: https://lnkd.in/dhUUKKi

See you there!


All the best from,

The Culture Nerds


Unfortunately, it’s a fact that expats have a hard time settling in when they relocate to Denmark. This is a huge problem for companies in Denmark, which are often dependent on attracting and maintaining skilled employees from the rest of the world. In our experience a lot of companies could do a lot more to integrate their expats into Denmark successfully. As culture nerds, we have 4 suggestions.


Is Denmark that bad at making expats feel welcome? Unfortunately the answer is yes, according to the 2017 Internations report. In the category “settling in” Denmark ranks an embarrassing 63 out of 65. This category refers to the expat’s experience of the easiness of settling in into the new country: How welcome do you feel in your new country? Are you able to find local friends? Do you understand the new culture? According to the Internations report, a high number of expats in Denmark find it very hard to settle in Denmark, and a lot of Danish companies experience their expats ending their contracts and leaving before time because they – or their spouse – just don’t feel at home in Denmark.




In the above article, DI recommends companies to provide their expats with lessons in Danish language in order to ensure better integration. We believe that it is a step in the right direction, but we still believe more should also be done in order to secure long-term stays.

Based on our work with expats in Denmark, these are our recommendations:


1: Take care of the whole family

Often, expats don’t come alone but with their whole family: spouse and kids. And often, expats end up leaving before the end of a contract because the spouse simply doesn’t feel happy in the new country. Therefore, it is just as important to ensure the settlement of the whole family. This should begin a long time before the family arrives in Denmark – e.g. it would be a good idea to find the right school for the kids, find a network for the spouse, and find out what qualifications and interests the spouse has so that he or she might be able to find work or voluntary work in Denmark. These are all things that take time, but they will ensure a happier expat with a happier family in Denmark, willing to stay longer.


2: Make initiatives that ensure a more “talkative” culture at work

Traditionally Danish work culture is not very talkative. This is probably because Danes generally stay shorter hours at work (because of the Danish work-life balance), and therefore Danes are very efficient in the hours they spend at work. This leaves less time for personal chit-chat, and knowing your colleagues on a more personal level is not a necessity for a good work relation. This very “professional” working culture makes it harder for expats to find friends among their colleagues, and often expats feel lonely at work because Danes have a tendency to speak Danish with their colleagues at lunch breaks, which can feel very excluding towards non-Danish-speakers. Therefore we recommend that Danish companies make initiatives so the expats feel more welcome – this could e.g. be a voluntary programme of monthly dinner parties in private homes with a mix of native Danes and expats. Furthermore, internal mentor or buddy programmes is also a great way to get expats settled better into the company.


3: Do courses on Danish culture and work culture

Understanding the Danish language is one thing. Understanding Danish culture is quite another. In our opinion it is more important to understand the culture, than being able to speak the language, because, let’s face it, most Danes speak fluent English anyway. Compared to the rest of the world Danish culture is quite unique – especially our working culture. E.g. our organizational cultures tend to have very flat hierarchies compared to the organizations in the rest of the world. Navigating and communicating in Danish organizational cultures can be very confusing to a foreigner, so an introduction to Danish culture and work culture should always be a part of the expat’s (and the rest of the family’s) introduction programme.


4: More positive storytelling regarding expats

The contributions of the expat workforce is crucial to a lot of companies – even more so in the coming years. Furthermore, expats also add large amounts of tax money to the Danish Treasury. Expats make Danish society more international, more diverse. This should be celebrated a lot more. Danish companies could do a lot more to tell the stories of the expats, who contribute to Danish society. Internally as well as externally.

So to sum up, Danish companies are currently not doing enough to integrate their expats successfully. But we can’t blame the companies alone. As a society, we as Danes could do a lot more to be more open towards people who are new to this country. All research show that you get smarter from being around people who are culturally different from yourself, so why not invite an expat family, an exchange student, or an immigrant over for dinner – or maybe just for a cup of coffee?


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Gitte & Nicoline, The Culture Nerds