Settling in and First Week of Work

Hej allesammen! (Hi everyone!)

I’ve finished my first week of official DIS work! Look at my cute desk! It’s so hyggeligt!!


I think the Danish work system has already spoiled me.

Some great things about working in Denmark include:

  • Danish laws require all offices to have standing desks. At DIS, yoga-balls-as-chairs can also be arranged by the facilities manager.
  • The first year of working at a Danish company includes 12-15 days of public holidays, which are counted as paid working days
  • After someone has been at a company for more than a year, it is customary for them to SIX weeks of paid vacation.
  • Professionals do not work on the weekends usually. If someone works a few hours on the weekend, this extra effort may earn them a promotion (that is, working during non-working hours is not expected)
  • There is paid maternity leave (for a year) and paternity leave (for a little under a year).
  • Having to remain in a job/work with a certain employer based on the health benefits is unnecessary, since there is universal coverage. However, Danes must first see their GPs to get referrals for specialists, and some drugs that are legal and easily accessible in the US are not available in Denmark.
    • To pay for universal healthcare, free education including up to five years of higher education (subsidized! College kids get a living stipend to go to school!), there are high (by American standards) taxes. The lowest tax percentage is about 35% of income, while high-earners may pay over 50% of their income in taxes.
  • Tattoos are not stigmas in the professional world in the way that they are in the US. Anyone can have any number of visible tattoos here and still be taken seriously. In fact, it seems like most people have at least a couple of tattoos!

Great things about working for DIS:

  • I get six weeks of paid vacation!!!! I’m taking TEN days off at the end of July/beginning of August. I haven’t decided on vacation plans yet, but I’m thinking of visiting Prague or Berlin 🙂
  • DIS-Copenhagen is run by women! There are so many strong women in leadership roles in the company, including my supervisors, a majority of the housing and student affairs team, and our executive director.
  • In addition to free Nespresso coffee 24/7, there is an amazing lunch plan at DIS!! Delicious homemade lunch (by our kitchen staff!) is prepared daily: we have hot and cold meat and vegetarian options, fresh baked bread, and a variety of fruits (including kiwi!). The plan is open to all staff, and if we choose to opt in, it is automatically deducted from our paychecks. The cost per day is 15 DKK…which is about $2.25 a day!!
  • On Fridays, at 2:30pm, all staff is invited to a short “Friday afternoon treat” (F.A.T.) — it could be coffee and pastries, soda and chips, gummies and chocolate, etc.. It’s a very informal setting, and I’ve gotten to meet a lot of other DIS staff this way.
  • We also can reserve subsidized massages during our work days on Tuesdays and Thursdays. We can choose between 30 to 60 minutes with either a masseuse trained in Swedish massage, physical therapy, or sports therapy (30 minutes costs about $15, and 60 minutes costs about $30, also deducted straight from our paychecks)!!
  • In my specific department (Housing and Student Affairs), we can show up to work anywhere between 8am-9am, and leave between 4pm-5pm. On Fridays, most DIS staff leave by 3:30pm!!

It’s so amazing here!!!

Life update:

Last Saturday, Anton and I went on a six hour bike ride to the outskirts of Copenhagen on  a Kæmpe hunt! A guy named Thomas Dambo created six giants out of recycled wood to get city people out in nature–it’s an open air scavenger hunt! There’s a rough map of where the giants are, and at each site, there’s a little Danish poem describing where the next giant is. We took a picnic lunch and had a great time exploring in the warm-ish Copenhagen summer!



Then, last Sunday, in order to get to know each other better, all the interns (new and current) went out to a board game cafe. I really like the other interns who have also just started. There’s Yoan and Justin in the Architecture and Design department, Adeline in International business and Global Economics, and Holly in the Cross-cultural communications, gender studies, computer science, and media communications department. On my first Thursday after work, I invited all the new interns to come over to Anton’s apartment where he was grilling and playing lawn games with his classmates from school. We all hung out and walked around the neighborhood at the outdoor music festival called Distortion.

A ginger hot chocolate on a rainy day 🙂 We played this game called pirate dice and had a hyggeligt time!

Also, here’s my staff picture on the site. The job feels very grown up and official!

Screen Shot 2017-06-11 at 23.56.30

Also last week, one of Anton’s aunts passed away after battling cancer for four years. We had gone to visit Charlotte in the hospital the previous week, where she was cared for in an end-of-life wing. All of Anton’s mom’s family came to Copenhagen to support Charlotte, including one of his aunts who lives with her family in Beijing. The hospital was nice–there was art on the walls, posters for events, and its interior was inspired by Nordic design. The most striking difference though (besides the lack of air conditioning everywhere except in patient rooms when necessary, and the total silence in the corridors-no constant dinging of elevators, or pages over the intercoms, or hustle and bustle of a crowded hospital), was the absence of medical staff. I only saw three nurses in scrubs the whole time we were walking through the hospital, where we stayed for 2.5 hours.

lobby of the Hvidovre hospital

On Saturday, we went to Charlotte’s funeral. It was at a Catholic church, though none of Anton’s family is Catholic. The church was beautiful, as was the service. The priest and one of Anton’s aunts gave speeches (in Danish, of course), but Anton told me they were very thoughtful and emotional. We didn’t sing any hymns, but instead sang psalms, and the psalm books did not have accompanying sheet music, so it took a few verses for everyone to get the hang of the tune (interesting!). The pews had very high backs and were very close together, so there were no benches to kneel on between them. While I didn’t know the language well enough to understand the speeches, it was still a very moving experience.

Tomorrow (Monday) is arrival day, when the new summer students arrive. Housing and student affairs is in charge of it, and so I’ll be getting to the airport around 6.30am to greet the new arrivals and sort them into busses to drive to their assigned housing. I think it’ll be a pretty hectic day! But to celebrate, on Tuesday, the department is going out after work to a sort of SkyZone place (an indoor play place where all the floor is trampolines) and then for a sushi dinner.

The weather is beautiful here, though much colder than Lawrence. It was a *hot day today with max temps around 82ºF. Most days I wear jeans! It’s also much less humid, which adds to the illusion of chilliness.

I hope you’re all doing well! XOxoxoxoxoxo


2 Comments Add yours

  1. thanks Sophie. Loving your descriptive casual way of conveying. You rock. I can see you there. Sooooo glad for you. xoxox


  2. Susan Kang says:

    Sophie-I love reading your updates! Thank you so much for sharing all your observations: I feel like I’m there living in Copenhagen. That is an awesome feat for a blogger/author to be able to do.


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