Ema, Psychiatrist working in Denmark

WHEN Croatia became part of the European Union, a sort of recruitment market took form. Recruitment agents from all over Europe were seeking specialist doctors for Northern Europe. At that moment I actually had a good job, but I decided to send my application out anyway. The first job offer I got was through MediCarrera. I was recruited for a position in Aalborg as a psychiatrist but when MediCarrera realised I had been working in prisons, they found me an even more relevant position. Then the process began and I went to several different interviews.

When I met my colleagues to be they were very open and helpful, and when I came to visit and had interviews all day, the person in charge of the clinic spent the entire day with me – now, knowing his workload, I realise what a big gesture that was for his part – to spend so much time on me and making me feel welcome and demonstrating the department’s interest in me as a future employee.

On the first trip to Denmark we had a tour around the city and lots of practical information – both regarding the life in the city and work life in Denmark. My biggest worry was whether or not my daughter would be comfortable in Denmark. I searched on “Denmark” online, and found a lot of information myself and discovered an international department in one of the local schools. I studied Danish before going to Denmark, and my daughter attended an international school in Croatia. Since she changed from one international school to another, the transition was easier for her.

When I decided to move to Denmark I attended the educational trip to the country that MediCarrera arranged, and I searched for all the relevant information about the country that I could find online. MediCarrera helped with the logistic part of the moving, the language, the relevant contacts in Denmark and the authorization of my papers. The most important thing for me was, that the process should be as easy as possible for my daughter. I was curious about life and work in Denmark, but my daughter’s welfare shouldn’t be sacrificed in the process. In the end the whole process was very well organized and well planned.

The first time in Denmark went fine. From the beginning, when Croatia entered the European Union and it became possible for me to convert my certificates in Northern Europe I was determined to make the decision about moving to Denmark with my daughter. I got my whole education approved, and it was easy to move and get the authorization to be working as a psychiatrist. My impression is, that if a hospital in Denmark is in need of a specific candidate, you get – as the candidate – a lot of help with the practical circumstances.

“MediCarrera were quick to help me plan my new life in Denmark and now I feel completely settled.”

People in Denmark are very friendly. They expect you to speak Danish, but they’re very patient. When you move to Denmark you get into a free language course in the city you move to. At the language course in my city they’re using the same Danish books as MediCarrera does. That way it was very simple to continue with the Danish course after work twice a week, when I moved to Denmark. When it comes to the living situation, the hospitals very often rent out apartments to the doctors, which is an easy solution – especially because you’ll get help immediately if any problems with the apartment should appear.

MediCarrera were quick to help me plan my new life in Denmark and now I feel completely settled. During the moving there were no unfortunate surprises, everything was organised down to the smallest detail which provided a feeling of safety, especially because I didn’t know anyone in Denmark. Since then I’ve made several friends and my daughter has made friends at school and is being invited to birthday parties and other social arrangements.

The easy and difficult aspects of life in Denmark

The only thing I miss a lot after having moved to Denmark is my car. My car was only 3 years old, but it was very expensive to bring because you have to pay high taxes on cars in Denmark. It made more sense to sell the car, and buy a new one in Denmark. But as for now I still have my car in Croatia and I am saving up to bring it to Denmark. The reason why I miss the car here in Denmark is that I was very accustomed to use the car every day – going grocery shopping, driving my daughter to school, driving to work. Now we are getting used to riding our bicycles to the supermarket. I find that logistically it is difficult to make bigger purchases when I’m riding a bicycle. Back in Croatia we used to do grocery shopping once a week, but here we go every other day.

It was easy to get my social security number. You just have to hand in your papers and wait for a few weeks. Then you’ll receive the papers you need to take to the community centre. After a month and a half we had all of the papers we needed. I can recommend future doctors who will be moving to Denmark to apply for the blue European social security card before moving to Denmark. That way you’ll still be entitled to get medical care while you wait for your Danish social security number.

You should be aware that before you get your social security number you can’t get any internet or TV contract. This complicated my language course a bit, since I had to drive down to the local library to get wifi after work, to attend class and do my homework.

In the beginning it was difficult to understand what the Danes said, which made it difficult to understand the many different possibilities you can choose between when it comes to internet and TV-packages. In Denmark you have to be aware of what kind of deal you sign with the internet company, since you can’t change or quit the package until after the first 6 months of the deal.

We got a good start in our new life in Denmark because the practical and logistic part of the moving went so well. MediCarrera paid for everything they had promised to pay for, and they arranged the transportation and helped us move in to our new home. We have a lovely home with a garden, a good view and plenty of space – it’s a big difference compared to how we used to live in Croatia. Our neighbours are really friendly and when we had just arrived in the country they showed me the closest supermarkets and helped me find my way to the centre of the city from our house.

When I started working in March, I had my first patient after three weeks. Until then I was following a colleague of mine around constantly – observing the way she talked to the patients, colleagues and how she attended meetings. After that time, I began working as the head of the department and had my own patients. After two months we had shared the patients fairly between us and in August I started writing the statements to the lawyers myself. Now I also write my own referrals and I have a good secretary who help me correct my language-based errors and typos.

From the beginning the patients were very friendly. The patients in my department aren’t there by their own free will – they’re sentenced to the treatments – and they sometimes don’t want to follow the treatment plan. Therefore I have to tell them ‘no’ sometimes. We have a lot of foreign patients and a lot of my colleagues are also from countries other than Denmark, so it wasn’t difficult to arrive as a foreigner. Actually Denmark is full of foreigners, which is probably why they are so tolerant and patient.

The language course

MediCarrera’s language course was good, but intensive and hard, too. We had to learn a lot in a very short amount of time. Personally I think it was very hard, but some of my class mates, younger than me, thought it was easier. Maybe I was too old to learn it that fast – I am 41 years old. I still attend a language course in Denmark, even though it’s not necessary anymore. But I would like to continue to improve the small mistakes I still make and keep a development to my language. The people whom I attend the language course with now, have studied Danish for 3 years, and I have learned it way faster than them.

Some advice

If I were to give the hospitals any advice, it would be to lower the language demands a little. Maybe they could focus more on the language courses the candidates will begin after arrival to Denmark. I also thought that MediCarrera’s language school could take place over a longer period of time. The language schools in Denmark are really good in general I think, and since the Danish language is so complicated I think you need a special structure to learn it.

For a 12 year old child I think it is too hard to learn a language in such a short time, which is why we chose that my daughter should learn Danish after we had arrived to Denmark. The language was difficult for her, but we are happy and satisfied here in Denmark. Whenever my daughter is missing her friends and our family back in Croatia, it’s easy to fly back to Croatia to visit them, due to the good and cheap flight connections between Denmark and Croatia. After my daughter had started school in Denmark, she quickly made friends; also a good beginning. As mentioned before she often attends social arrangements at school, such as birthday parties and I also got a handful of good friends here in Denmark. Sometimes we meet up with our neighbours for lunch, or have them over.

Our life in the future

There are many different activities in our city, and we constantly experience something new and interesting culturally. i am very satisfied with our home and the place we live, because it’s an active and lively city – not too big nor too small. The city has everything you can imagine to have a good and high quality of life. The Danes do a lot of sports and attend many different cultural arrangements. Personally I do yoga and am a member of a rowing club, and my daughter goes horseback riding. We live just as we did in Croatia, but with a higher quality of life. The only thing I am missing here is my car. Our life in Denmark has given us economical freedom, and now we can go traveling around the world on our holidays.

In Denmark the hospital constantly makes you develop by studying additional courses within your field to make sure we remain working with the highest work quality possible. I have studied additional courses that the hospital paid and I have attended several medical conferences. MediCarrera has kept all of their promises, agreements and deadlines and I have been satisfied with their way of organizing. I was surprised that everyone in Denmark is this friendly, helpful and patient and that they all had empathy with me in my situation of transition. They know it takes time to settle.

I think it is important to make sure that the whole family is a part of the decision making-process and that everyone feels included when moving to Denmark.