By Dr. Gabriella Ablonczy, Psychiatrist
We wanted to go abroad as a family because we saw a possibility to improve our living conditions both financially and due to the political situation in Hungary. I have always found the Scandinavian countries exciting. Denmark is different, though, because it is geographically not located as north as Sweden and Norway. I really like the Danish weather and the Danish lifestyle. The summers here are very pleasant and not too hot and the winters are cold but not too cold. It is a nice balance. Furthermore, we had our personal reasons to move away from Hungary. As a doctor, I saw the opportunity to develop my professional competency while my husband and I saw opportunities for our children (two sons, 6 and 14 years respectively) that could lead to a stable and secure future. These aspects together were the primary factors that motivated us to leave our home country.
I cannot deny that I was worried about my family. Even though the future, in the long term perspective did not concern me, we still needed to adapt to a new country with a foreign language and a new culture. I expected that our boys would meet some challenges with the Danish language, however, my husband and I were convinced that they would adapt to the new environment eventually. From a long term perspective we had no concerns, as we were convinced that this was for the better, although I was concerned about the job situation for my husband. Now, 12 months after we arrived to Denmark, he has improved his Danish really well. He will end his language studies soon and we look forward to exploring his job opportunities. He is optimistic and so am I. Our situation financially is satisfactory. We both feel financial security and financial independence, and we have no worries about the present or the future. We do not have to think about this aspect in our everyday lives which we really appreciate.
Generally speaking, Danish is a difficult and challenging language to learn.However, I found it interesting – especially the rhythm of the language. I have acquired the necessary language level for working in Denmark. Every day I am surrounded by colleagues and patients, and the communication between us is working just fine. Occasionally, when and if a misunderstanding occurs my colleagues are very helpful.Yet, I would always like to improve my Danish skills further and learn more about the language and especially the cultural nuances. I received private Danish lessons for the first six months after my arrival. Besides this opportunity, there were further possibilities to participate in classes two times a week. After 12 months, I am no longer studying Danish due to a lot of work. However, I listen to the radio, read papers and watch TV.
My family and I live in a nice apartment close to the sea. We enjoy the view of the harbour and we love this location. Furthermore, we enjoy our nice and helpful neighbours. Before moving to Denmark it was a frustrating process finding accommodation, but at the very end it went quite smoothly. We searched for houses online. When we found our apartment we made use of our relation to Medicolink and they managed to provide the information we needed.
There is no doubt that my children have undergone a radical change which has and still does cause some frustrations. My youngest son has had a difficult time in the beginning but is starting to manage quite well. My oldest son managed quite well in the beginning, but at the moment he is having a small crisis after he visited his home country this summer. I understand it can be hard, but I am convinced that this kind of process takes time. I am optimistic. If I should give any recommendations for future candidates coming to Denmark with children, I would encourage them to find activities for them outside school. Sport, for example, is a good way to make friends and there are a lot of opportunities in the local area.
I find the day care in Denmark better than in Hungary. I found it very satisfying to learn that the pedagogues are paying attention to the children. They are tolerant and they try to understand and accept each individual. If any challenges occur they are both supportive and interested in cooperating with the parents. Generally, there is more liberty for each child. For example the day care offers different playgrounds so that the children can play independently and where they want. In this aspect there is not much focus on strict discipline and rules and I appreciate this system.
I am working in the region of Zealand as a psychiatrist. In my division we have a chief of department, one medical social worker and one psychotherapist – these are of course flexible between the divisions. Furthermore, we have at least 15 nurses. I have a good working relationship with my colleagues. We work quite structured which means that specific competencies are divided between us. However, it took some time to understand what was expected from me. With constant dialogue, e.g. on network meetings etc, I have gained a great foothold. Generally, I meet an open culture where one is allowed to talk if one should be in doubt. This contributes to the fact that I have no worries at work. Furthermore, I have learned that there is a great cooperation between the municipality and the hospital. One last point: In Hungary, I often inspected the patients together with my colleagues. In Denmark I work more independently, which often requires that I make important decisions myself. I like the way that I have more responsibility as I feel it strengthens my professional competencies. However, one should expect that the working environment is different from what one comes from. In Denmark, I also feel that I can take direct contact to my chief of department if necessary. If I want to talk to the chief of the hospital, I need to arrange a meeting. I do not recognize a strong hierarchy here.
As a professional, one of my biggest difficulties here in Denmark has been to understand how the Danish healthcare system works. I can only recommend that you find additional information about the healthcare system and acquaint yourself with the system to be prepared and to avoid confusion.
I find Danish people very considerate and kind. They are nice people. As I mentioned earlier, I enjoy my neighborhood because they are friendly and accommodating. Also, I have experienced that it is easier to manage practical things here. It seems that Danish people are very efficient and solution-oriented. At least that is my experience.People were accommodating and friendly when we arrived to Denmark. I have not yet met any people who have treated me poorly or been dismissive towards me. One thing about Danish culture that has struck me is how important it is to follow the rules in traffic – both as a bike rider and a driver. Do not forget your seat belt, for example!Danes are very precise and follow the rules. I consider this a quality because it can contribute to an effective and stable foundation for the society. However, I experience that I sometimes miss a kind of lack in flexibility in certain situations.
As for my cooperation with Medicolink, I can say that I have had a great experience. Employees within the company and the teachers have done a great job. I am really happy about the whole process. Medicolink has definitely lived up to my expectations. Besides the help from Medicolink, the hospital has been a resource to help and at the moment, after 12 months in Denmark, I feel quite independent.
If you are a doctor who would be interested in working in Denmark, I would recommend you to not be afraid of the changes and the future that are ahead of you. Denmark offers great opportunities in education and people around are open and extroverted. Practicalities can be difficult to command before arrival, but I recommend you to trust the system. As for myself, I am feeling good here. Of course we meet challenges once in a while but we manage, and we see opportunities in Denmark that we did not have in Hungary.