My name is Tina, but online I am known as the Traveling Mama. Our Flying House is quite full with my husband, Jack, and our three kids, Hailey (10), Parker (6), and Landon (3). We moved to Copenhagen, Denmark a little over a year ago after living in Morocco for three years. We call Atlanta “home” home because that is where our extended family still lives, but we are most at home abroad.
1. Why did you move abroad?
Originally we began our journey overseas in Spain doing nonprofit work. Prior to moving to Spain we had gotten married, had a baby, but never bought a house or a new car and lived in rentals debt free. We were determined to move overseas! But after living for two years overseas with a baby, we decided we wanted to go home. So, we went home, bought a house, and started going into debt. We quickly realized that the “American Dream” wasn’t what we thought it was. We spent the next two and a half years undoing the financial damage we had done in our first six months back.
Our previous work in Spain helped introduce us to a lot of Moroccans, so we decided this time we were going to give Morocco a try. My husband worked as a language school director which was somewhat ironic since we were students as well!
2. How do you make a living?
In 2009, some friends of ours living in Europe gave us some really great leads and we decided to move to Denmark. My husband now works as a freelance photographer and I am a freelance writer/designer. We still do a great deal of consulting with nonprofi organizations because of our past experience and hope to bring our passion for helping others and our creativity together in the next few months.
3. How often do you communicate with home and how?
My Dad is my number one blog fan, so we stay in touch the most, but we talk via Skype with our family pretty often. Technology has radically changed since we moved to Spain, even though it was only ten years ago. Some days I am still amazed by how much it feels like we had a nice little visit from home just by turning on the cameras and letting Grandparents see the kids running around the living room!
4. What's your favorite thing about being an expat in Copenhagen?
I think what we are most enamored with is the whole green/urban lifestyle. We love riding our bikes daily and the beautiful green space that is never very far away. If I could choose a second thing it would be the shopping. Denmark has an incredible dedication to small businesses so the local shops are amazing as well as the local artists. We started a project called Shop 52 on our blog, which features a different small shop from Copenhagen each week. We are currently talking with a publisher to have the project published because the response has been so positive and people want to know more about where to shop when they come to Copenhagen!
5. What’s the worst thing about being an expat in Copenhagen?
The exchange rate and taxes. This is not the city for the penny pincher. It’s crazy expensive, but I think we are finally getting used to the sticker shock...maybe.
6. What do you miss most?
Our family and friends... and Chick-fil-A.
7. What did you do to meet people and integrate in your new home?
Some friends of ours in the States knew a couple here and they introduced us via Facebook/e-mail before we came. They quickly became dear friends and through them we have
met a lot of people. We also attend a local church, which is a great way to get to know people!
8. What custom/ habits do you find most strange about your adopted culture?
The freedom given to children from a very young age was completely unnerving for us when we first arrived. The idea of putting my nine year old and five year old on a bus or train and sending them across the city alone to cross busy streets as they walked to school was just short of insanity in my mind. We had just come from Morocco where little girls barely even played outside, let alone ran around town alone. It is still a struggle for us, but we are learning to let go more and our kids have adapted really well. They love having more freedom!
9. What is a myth about your adopted country?
I was terrified to move to Denmark. Moroccans were so warm and inviting and all we had heard was that the Danes were cold and hard to get to know. We have found the Danes to be incredibly friendly and always eager to help someone in need. They tend to be a bit more reserved when developing friendships, but once someone is a friend, they are a really special one. Truly, I have been amazed by the kindness so many Danes have extended to us.
10. What advice would you give other expats?
Make your new country your home. Unpack your bags, put some pictures on the wall (even if they are just taped up there if you are staying a short while) and learn the language. Locals always react different to those making an effort to learn their language. I am reminding myself
of this very thing right now because Danish is our third foreign language!
11. When and why did you start your blog?
While we were in Morocco my husband kept telling me that I should blog. I didn’t even know what blogs were in 2007 and I was pretty sure that no one would want to read mine if I had one! He had a general interest in photography and I liked to babble, so eventually I caved and started a blog about our life in Morocco and the creativity that flowed from my new life spent mostly in the house. It has changed a lot over the last four years, but it is still about living a creative life no matter where you live. We’ve really enjoyed sharing our experience of moving from one foreign country to another, adjusting to a radically different new life, and the home we have made along the way.
12. How has the blog been beneficial?
Lots of ways, actually. Blogging helped us find our current jobs and we are constantly getting new clients because of it. We’ve also made so many friends that have been an amazing support to us. It is a lot of fun to share our highs, our lows, and all the craziness in between with
friends from all around the world. I hope through the blog we get to share with others the honesty of a life abroad while also helping them realize that the world really is a small place and we are not all so different after all.
Tina's blog, Traveling Mama
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