calendar 12.09. 2016

I packed my bags

Wouldn't it be nice to start completely afresh somewhere else? Many people think that every day. But how often does it stay with just the thought? 31-year-old Katarzyna Ciepiela from Poland actually put this thought into action and, without more ado, emigrated to Denmark, leaving her old life behind her.

I remember the day very clearly when I decided to change my life. I was sitting in our kitchen in Gliwice, Poland, during my lunch break, mulling things over, eating my sandwich deep in thought and asking myself whether what I had done so far was all life had to offer. And decided “No, it wasn’t “.

No sooner said than done

The very same day I wrote to ista’s international HR department in Germany and asked if there was any possibility of giving me a job in another country. I intentionally did not specify in more detail – sometimes you just have to let things take their course. Just a few days later – I could hardly believe it – I got an answer saying there was a job going in Denmark which might suit me. And before I knew what had hit me, I was on a plane heading for Copenhagen and an interview. No joke – I would never have thought of Denmark as my future home. But here I am.

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New start in  Denmark

And have been for nearly a year now. Of course, any new start is always difficult and the change was not easy. I have had to contend with quite a few things since I arrived – the foreign language, the new job, no family, no friends. That was the hardest thing for me – leaving my family and friends behind. Sometimes I still miss not being able to simply drop by and see them. But in Denmark it is just impossible to feel lonely. Although the Danes might be somewhat reserved at the beginning, they are such likeable, open-hearted and friendly people. Honest and always ready to help.

Structured, efficient and organised

Both privately and professionally. Although I have not changed my employer, everything is still totally new for me. I had worked at ista Shared Services in Poland since 2008 and was responsible there for the heating cost and hot water bills in Germany before I changed to the support team in 2012. Here in Copenhagen I work in the Quality & Scanning department and am also being trained in the billing process here. The biggest difference is the completely different billing programs which the two countries work with. The actual way of working is not so different. I like it when everybody works in a structured, efficient and organised manner without losing sight of the essentials. And both the Poles and Danes can do that.

“If you have the chance then don’t be afraid of change. You might lose something good, but you’ll probably gain something better.”

Ambitious goals

The greatest challenge? The language. Danish is the most frustrating language I have ever learned. I can now understand it very well but it is extremely difficult to pronounce – you feel as if the Danes have about a thousand different ways of pronouncing “g”, “a” or “d”. What helps is that nearly every Dane speaks excellent English. But I’m ambitious and I’m continuing to work hard at it. And there are some really unbelievably nice words in Danish which you simply can’t translate into other languages – for example, hyggeligt. It is a bit like the English word cosy, but that isn’t quite the meaning.

When people ask me what is special about Denmark, then, apart from the Danes themselves, I think of liquorice. The Danes are obsessed with liquorice – you can buy everything, and I really mean everything, with a liquorice flavour. It’s crazy.

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And that is my conclusion

Would I do the same thing again? Yes. I couldn’t be happier. I know it sounds like a cliché but when you start a new life with only two suitcases, you realise: everything is possible. When I had to decide, “Shall I take the plunge or not?”, a friend said to me, “If you have the chance then don’t be afraid of change. You might lose something good, but you’ll probably gain something better.” Sounds trite, but it’s very true.

Picture credits: grasundsterne, ista