By Moyo Adenmosun
Moyo Adenmosun moved to Aarhus from Utrecht in the Netherlands in 2019 to work for a Danish food company.
I live in Viby, a southwestern district of Aarhus which is well connected to the city centre by a 15-minute bus or eight-minute tram journey. Having grown up in Lagos, Nigeria, and lived in London for a number of years, the second-largest city in Denmark has for me a cosy town feel to it.
That said, there have been a lot of things to keep me busy. One has been trying my hand (or feet!) at Lindy Hopping. Aarhus Lindy Hoppers hosts dances at a variety of locations across the city, my favourite so far being The Dome by the harbour. Typically, there is a 30-minute introduction session for beginners, after which the dance floor is a free-for-all.
When homesickness hits, I enjoy strolling around the greenhouses in the Botanical Garden, which has flora from around the world. During my walk around the warm tropical greenhouse, it is always a delight to see how many plants I recognise from Nigeria.
I also like to visit Bazar Vest, a market with Middle Eastern food, to shop for yam and plantain. On Danish food, risalamande, a rice pudding with a cherry sauce, has quite frankly stolen my heart. As this, unfortunately, is not a dessert widely available outside Christmas time, I find solace in the delicious pastries from one of the many branches of the Lagkagehuset chain of bakeries that dot the city.
There is a lot of nature to explore and appreciate in the Aarhus area. I recommend a visit to the Infinite Bridge on Ballehage beach, a circular wooden pier above the sea, and the Marselisborg Deer Park, a 10-minute drive south of the city.
On the sandy Ballehage beach, as with many other beaches in Denmark, there is a winter bathing club, Vikingebadeklubben, for the many who are keen winter swimmers. It is worth noting that swimmers tend to bathe in the nude.
An alternative is to visit — with a swimsuit — the Harbour Bath in the city centre, a floating swimming pool complex equipped with saunas. I have to admit that, in spite of the invitations that have come my way and the seemingly innumerable benefits of winter bathing, I have not yet worked up the courage to be dressed in less than two layers of clothing outside the comfort of a heated room during a Danish winter.
I have been pleasantly surprised by the number of candle holders I have acquired since I arrived. Nothing makes for a cosier winter evening than playing board games with friends in a room lit by candles and dimmed lamps. Denmark has definitely changed me from the woman who entered a room and asked if it was OK to switch on the lights to one who has gained an appreciation for the hygge way of life.
While I am now in a position where I have made good friends who are Danish, I can understand why Denmark has been rated by expats as feeling unwelcoming and difficult to settle in. What has helped me the most is finding a community to be a part of and acting counter-culturally by asking the people I am getting to know out for a coffee or a meal at Aarhus Street Food, where you can find anything from American to Turkish food. I also find that making an attempt to speak Danish — thanks to twice weekly language classes — is very helpful in breaking down barriers.
Another thing that surprised me on moving to Denmark is the prevalence of the flag (or Dannebrog) during celebrations. My team at work has a collection of a dozen or so miniature flags ready to decorate a colleague’s desk — and sometimes even the colleague — when it is their birthday.
So extravagant is the whole affair that I am considering shifting my birthday celebrations forward from when I will be on holiday so I can have the full Danish birthday experience.
Photographs: Dreamstime; Getty Images/iStockphoto; Alamy; VisitAarhus