Finding your feet: A Personal Experience of Moving to Aarhus

Aysenaz Tavsanli, a postdoc from Turkey, moved to Denmark in January 2023. Read her personal experience settling in Aarhus and at AU, and her recommendations for newcomers to ensure they have a smooth transition to life in Denmark.

A woman in the airport. Photo: Colourbox

On a cold, rainy and windy day in January 2023, Aysenaz Tavsanli arrived at Aarhus airport. The plane ride was bumpy, and Aysenaz was happy to get off the plane and begin finding her way into Aarhus city. Aysenaz had moved from Istanbul to take up a postdoc position at Aarhus University at the Department of Food Science.

With the help from a local Aarhusian, Aysenaz managed to find the Math Department’s guest housing at AU Campus. She was staying there for the first few weeks until she could move into her apartment. It was Saturday and there were only a few people on campus. While the rain was pouring down, Aysenaz ran around trying to locate the key box. A couple of helpful AU students helped her locate it, but by the time Aysenaz finally put down her suitcase in her room, it was dark outside, and the long day of travelling had made her very hungry. So, she ventured back outside in the rain.

It was another two hours before Aysenaz returned to her apartment with her bags of groceries, as she got lost on the way back. By the time she returned to the apartment she was wet, cold, and very tired. Wet as a fish, she sat down on the couch and looked over at her unpacked suitcase still sitting by the front door and thought “Okay, it can only get better from here.”

Luckily it got better, and Aysenaz now tells the story of her first day in Aarhus with a smile. Thinking back on her time prior to arriving in Denmark, Aysenaz had limited knowledge of Denmark. To prepare herself for the move, she reached out to an old colleague living in Copenhagen, who helped answer some of her questions. She also used Google to see what the city of Aarhus had to offer. When Aysenaz arrived in Aarhus she was keen to get out and about to see and learn more about the city. She therefore went for many walks around the neighbourhood, and signed up for various activities that introduced her to life in Denmark.


Like most internationals arriving to Denmark, the priority for Aysenaz was to get registered with the local authorities for her CPR number, and to get her health care card. To make the registration process smooth, Aysenaz signed up to the Getting Started event where she received her CPR number and MitID on the same day. She then applied to open a bank account with Danske Bank, which took approx. 3-4 weeks. Aysenaz found the whole registration process straightforward.

Registering for tax was a little more complicated. Understanding the general tax system and knowing what to enter during the tax registration process online led to a lot of uncertainty. Aysenaz therefore attended the Tax Webinar for International Researchers and PhDs to get a better understanding of her tax liability, and she also called the tax authorities directly to ask for advice.

Grocery Shopping  

While Aysenaz was waiting for her bank account application to be processed, she used cash payment at the grocery shops. It quickly became evident that only a few Danes use cash. On one occasion, Aysenaz handed the cashier in REMA1000 a 1000kr note. This sparked 3 employees to come look at it and hold it up against the light to ensure it wasn’t fake.  

The grocery shopping itself can be challenging when you first arrive. Understanding labels in Danish and reading through the list of ingredients are difficult, so Aysenaz recommends using Google Translate when shopping. In addition to Aysenaz’ recommendation, the International Staff Office has developed a small grocery shopping brochure that is handy to study or bring along to the shops when you first arrive.

Participating in Events

To learn more about living in Denmark, Aysenaz signed up for Newcomers Info Evening at Dokk1.

To learn more about AU she participated in the AU Campus Tour, and the AU Workplace in Focus seminar.

By participating in these events, Aysenaz not only expanded her knowledge of AU, but she also met other internationals and thereby started to form a social network. To expand that network, she participated in one of the ISO Events at Musikhuset (Aarhus Concert Hall). She also attended a Cultural Awareness Workshop with some of her colleagues, where she strengthened her knowledge of cross-cultural collaboration and inclusion. This workshop was hosted by the Department of Food Science, but the same workshops are offered by International Staff Office a few times a semester.

‘I really recommend newly arrived internationals to sign up for as many events as possible so they can learn more about living in Aarhus, working at the university, and meet new people’.

Get Thermal Clothing!

The daytime temperatures in Istanbul in January are around 8-10 degrees. The nights are colder, and it is usually quite rainy. Aysenaz knew the temperatures in Denmark would be lower, so she felt somewhat prepared for winter here. To be sure she could keep warm, she bought herself a new winter coat before she left Istanbul.

However, Aysenaz quickly realised that winter in Turkey is not the same as winter in Denmark. Her new winter coat did not do the job. The wind in Denmark, or the chill-factor, can make it seem much colder than what the thermometer states “[…] so a pair of thermal pants to wear when outside is an absolute must”, says Aysenaz.

Just relax..

Looking back over the last 9 months in Denmark, Aysenaz feels like she has settled well in Aarhus and at AU. She enjoys her work and has made many good friends already. Of course, moving to another country comes with its challenges, and is a rollercoaster of emotions. Aysenaz advises newly arrived internationals to:

Relax. Everything will be fine. The first few months can be overwhelming but try to relax. Everything will be fine. Danes are relaxed and calm, so try to be the same. Trust everything will fall into place

We thank Aysenaz for sharing her experience of moving to Denmark. Remember if you have any questions regarding your transition to Denmark, you can always reach out to us at the International Staff Office. We are here to help.   

We look forward to seeing you around!