MEET A LEISURE GUIDE: AGATA
Why did you become a leisure guide?
I was really lucky when I first came here. I had Danish people around me all the time. Suddenly, I had Danish friends. They helped me a lot in the beginning, because everything was different here.
But I know that not everyone is as lucky as me. Many international newcomers find it hard to meet Danish people and become friends with them.
So, to me, being a leisure guide is an opportunity to share my knowledge and experiences with other internationals. It can be crazy hard to move here – to figure out all the paperwork, to settle down and actually enjoy being here.
The participants ask a lot of questions: How do I open a bank account? Where should I go with my kids? Are there any free events in the city? Where do the locals go? Often they want to meet the Danes because it would help them with the language and with finding a network.
The leisure guides have been through the same thing – and if we can help even a little by sharing our knowledge with them, I would be happy to do so.
What are your favorite spots in Copenhagen?
I live in Nørrebro. That’s the best area of the city, I think. Nørrebrogade is an amazing street. I like that it’s so colourful and it’s such a mix of different people. I love the Assistens cemetery in the middle of Nørrebro. It’s a beautiful green spot which looks fantastic no matter the time of the year. I pass through it every day, and I often I feel that I am in a different world, especially during the autumn where all the leaves are yellow and orange.
I also love the lakes that separate the city into different areas.
How come you moved to Denmark in the first place?
I play floorball, and after the Floorball World Championships in Denmark in 2007, I was asked if I would like to play in a club in Denmark. I said yes. I had just finished high school in Poland, and I could choose to study in Poland, or I could go to another country. So I decided to move to Frederikshavn for a year.
After the first season I decided to take another one. Later on I started to study in Aalborg, and in the last year of my studies, I moved to Brussels for two internships; one in The European Parliament and the other one in European Olympic Committees EU Office.
But I missed everything about Denmark; the people, the atmosphere, the floorball, the whole network, even the language. Actually, I learned much of my Danish while living in Brussels, because I watched a lot of Danish TV!
The friends that I had met when I moved to Frederikshavn were like my family. When I finished my year in Brussels, I wanted to move back to Denmark. I found an amazing job by accident, and moved to Copenhagen in 2015.
In order to find a place to live, I sent out three applications to places I found online. The first interview was with a lady, and her first question was: ”Danish or English?” I said ”Danish – we can always switch to English if we can’t understand each other.” I think she really liked that. Back then my Danish wasn’t that good yet, so I probably made a lot of funny mistakes. We drank coffee for an hour, and she offered me the apartment on the spot, even though there were 60 applicants.
Do you have a tip for newcomers?
Learn Danish and don’t be afraid to speak Danish! The Danes are happy when they hear you speak Danish. I know the pronunciation is really difficult and you make a lot of mistakes in the beginning, but trying to speak Danish is the fastest way to learn it.
And of course: Get a bike! On a bike you can explore the city in a completely new way. Don’t stick to the popular spots. Personally, I do a lot of research online. And when I talk to new people, I always ask them about spots they know. Sometimes it comes up in a conversation automatically, and then I just check it out. Facebook is also a great source of information when it comes to events and new places that that are worth checking out.
I would also recommend that you join a sports club – take running for instance; sure, you can run by yourself, but why not join a running club? There are so many opportunities!
FACTS ABOUT AGATA
- Has been a leisure guide since 2015
- Born in Western Poland in a city called Sulechów located about 200km from Berlin
- Moved to Denmark in 2007
- Has a bachelor degree from Art & Technolody and a master degree from Development and International Relations, both from Aalborg University
- Lives in Nørrebro
- Creates content for an app about Copenhagen