The How To Live in Denmark game show event: Aarhus

How to Live in Denmark Jeopardy

If you’re in Aarhus on Wednesday, May 27, 2015, join us for the ‘How to Live in Denmark Game Show.’

We’ll be playing the game show at the Lakeside Lecture Hall, Aarhus University, 17:00 – 19:00. Admission is free!

We use the format of TV game shows – which are popular around the world – to put participants at their ease and get them interacting with each other. ‘How To Live in Denmark Jeopardy’ is one of our most popular games.

The Game Show host

A former staff member at Danske Bank, Carlsberg Breweries and Saxo Bank, Kay Xander Mellish runs her own communications consulting business in Copenhagen, Denmark. She is behind the podcast series ‘How to Live in Denmark’ and is the author of the book ‘How to Live in Denmark‘, available in English and Chinese.

Corporate bookings

If you represent a corporate or business group and would like to have Kay make a presentation at your location, please get in touch via this site’s contact form for more information.

How To Live in Denmark intercultural events are designed to make international employees feel more comfortable in Denmark, help them understand the Danish mindset, and give them something to chat about with their Danish colleagues besides just ‘shop talk.’

Contact Kay via this site’s contact form for more information.


The Top 10 Mistakes Foreigners Make in Denmark

If you’re in Copenhagen this Tuesday, March 24, join us at the Gentofte Library on Ahlmanns Alle 6, Hellerup for our new presentation, ‘Top 10 Mistakes Foreigners Make In Denmark.’

The show starts at 730 pm and admission is free. You don’t have to sign up in advance: just show up. Danes are welcome, too: we’ll be offering you tips on how to help the foreigners in your life!

Based on experience

Kay Xander Mellish arrived in Denmark 14 years ago. Since then, she has made just about every mistake foreigners can make in Denmark – from eating the last slice of cake without permission to paying her taxes incorrectly (ending up with a Dkr45,000 tax bill) to expecting Danish men to open doors for her and buy her flowers.

A former staff member at Danske Bank, Carlsberg Breweries and Saxo Bank, Kay runs her own communications consulting business in Copenhagen, Denmark. She is behind the podcast series ‘How to Live in Denmark’ and is the author of the book ‘How to Live in Denmark‘, available in English and Chinese.

Book Kay for your group

If you represent a corporate or community group and would like to have Kay make a presentation at your location, please get in touch via this site’s contact form for more information.


Danes and Singing: Danish drinking songs, party songs, and foreigners who try to hum along


There have been very few international singing stars from Denmark, and that’s a surprise, because Danish people love to sing.

Joining choirs is very popular, and Danish schoolchildren often start the week with a song – in my daughter’s school, all the grades get together and sing something from the school’s common songbook.

There’s actually a kind of common songbook for all the children of Denmark, called De Små Synger, where you can find classics like Se Min Kjole (See my dress), Lille Peter Edderkop (Little Peter Spider) or Oles Nye Autobil, (Ole’s new car). Ole’s new car is actually a toy car that he uses to run into things, like his sister’s dollhouse. De Små Synger

In general, the Small Songs are a throwback to an older Denmark, a quieter Denmark where most people lived in the countryside. Many of the songs refer to green hilltops, or forests, or baby pigs or horses, or happy frogs that live in a swamp. And of course, all the humans in the Small Songs are entirely Danish – or ‘Pear Danish,’ as the local expression goes. One out of five children born in Denmark today is not an ethnic Dane, but there’s no such thing as Little Muhammed Spider or Fatima’s New Toy Car.

Continue Reading

In the Media

How To Live in Denmark in Politikken

In an article about whether the Danish reputation for being the ‘world’s happiest country’ helped attract tourists, Politikken asked Kay Xander Mellish what she thought.

»Jeg får mange spørgsmål fra folk i udviklingslande, og for dem er lykkemålingerne ikke så vigtige – de vil bare gerne til Danmark for at tjene godt. Men jeg får også mange spørgsmål fra folk i USA og andre lande, hvor mange i forvejen har det godt, og blandt dem er der stor interesse for, at danskerne er verdens lykkeligste folk«, siger Kay Xander Mellish.

Hun har netop udgivet en humoristisk guide til udlændinge om at bo i Danmark. Hendes forklaring på dansk lykke er, at man i Danmark har tilrettelagt livet, så mange har tid til både job og familie.

»I Danmark har man en balance mellem arbejde og fritid, som man slet ikke har, når man som jeg boede på Manhattan i New York, hvor alle konkurrerer med hinanden om alt fra jobs til lejligheder og kærester«, siger Kay Xander Mellish.

I sin bog ’How to Live in Denmark’ gør hun dog også op med misforståelser om danskernes lykke, som mange har.

»Især venstreorienterede amerikanere er meget optaget af, at sundhedsvæsnet og uddannelsessystemet i Danmark er gratis, som de siger. De sætter sig slet ikke ind i, at man faktisk betaler en langt højere skat og moms for at have det på den måde«, siger Kay Xander Mellish.

Read the Politikken article featuring How to Live in Denmark

In the Media

Go’ Morgen Danmark welcomes HTLID

See the video: Kay Xander Mellish sat down with Go’ Morgen Danmark host Ida Wohlert to discuss the How to Live in Denmark book and what it’s like to be a foreigner in Denmark.

Ida and her team had put together a ‘foreigner’s survival kit’ that included a bicycle helmet – to protect yourself against Viking Danes in bicycle lanes – plus some Riberhus Mellemlageret cheese and a hammer, since Danes love to talk about their home renovation projects.

Watch the Go’ Morgen Danmark segment featuring How to Live in Denmark

Book, Stories about life in Denmark

恭喜發財! The ‘How to Live in Denmark’ Chinese version is now available.

After a process that seemed to take longer than building the Great Wall, the Chinese version of ‘How to Live in Denmark’ is finally available, just in time for Chinese New Year. This is the year of the Goat, an auspicious year for creative enterprises. 恭喜發財!

Thanks to my Singapore-based translator, John Zhao, as well as the many Denmark-based Chinese speakers who took time to help me out! I appreciate it.

You can access the eBook version here on the site or via Apple’s iBooks store. (Due to an agreement with the Chinese government, Amazon does not support Chinese for Kindle Direct Publishing.) It’s also available via the Danish online bookstore,

A print version of the How to Live in Denmark Chinese version will be available March 1.

Please contact me if you’re interested in a volume package to distribute to your student or work organization,  of if you’re interested inviting me to China (I would be happy to visit my old colleagues at the South China Morning Post) or having me stage a live ‘How To Live in Denmark’ event.


More Snow Tomorrow: Surviving Winter as a Foreigner in Denmark


Everyone suffers a little bit during the winter in Denmark. But I feel particularly bad for people I can see come from warmer climates, and are experiencing one of their first winters here.

In Copenhagen the other day, I saw a pretty young woman – she looked like a newlywed – wearing traditional Pakistani dress. A light chiffon tunic, soft pajama pants, little leather slippers – and then a giant parka over the top. All around her was grey, slushy snow. I got the sense that she was a new bride whose husband hadn’t really given her the full story about Denmark and Danish winter. She looked so cold and unhappy.

I also feel bad for the African migrant workers I see here. They’re often wearing kind of cool-looking leather jackets, which they probably get when they pass through Italy, and not much else in the way of winter clothing. I sometimes see one of these dark guys fighting his way through a white cloud of windy snow. And the look on his face is not full of love for Denmark.

Of course, immigrants to Denmark adapt to the cold after a while. I think Muslim women have it best, because they often wear a head covering every day anyway.

Danes, on the other hand, often go bare-headed all winter.

Continue Reading


Inequality in Denmark: Private Schools and Migrants Who Sleep in Sandboxes


I was on Danish morning TV recently, which isn’t really something to boast about. In a country of 5 million people, 10 guests a show, 365 days a year – you do the math. Just about everyone gets on TV sooner or later.

Some of my friends and colleagues mentioned that they had seen me, stumbling through with my imperfect Danish, trying to promote my book, How to Live in Denmark. But just some of my friends and colleagues. Specifically, it was my friends and colleagues who work in trendy creative industries – advertising, app designers, actors.

That’s because I was on TV at 8:45 in the morning, when people in those industries are just getting out of bed in preparation to roll into the office around 10.

My friends who have more conventional office jobs, like working in a bank, have to be their desk at 9am, so some of them had seen teasers – you know, coming up next, someone who doesn’t speak Danish properly, trying to promote a book – but they hadn’t seen the show itself.

And my friends who do real, physical work had no idea I was on TV at all. Airport tarmac staff, postal carriers, builders. They start work at 7am. Or even earlier, as you’ll know if you’ve ever had your deep sleep interrupted by a Danish builder banging on something outside your house at, say, 5:30 in the morning.

While there’s no official class system in Denmark, there is when it comes to working hours. And working clothing – people who work with their hands often wear blue jumpsuits to and from work, or painters pants, or bright fluorescent vests if they work outside in the dark. People in the creative industries wear aggressively ugly eyeglasses, and unusual shoes, and the men have chic little Hugo Boss scarves around their necks.

Different clothes, different starting times, that’s not big news, but recently other forms of inequality have been increasing in Denmark. In fact, according to the official Danish Statistics, the GINI coefficient, which measures inequality in Denmark, has been rising faster than in any other country in Europe. It’s now 27.9, compared with 22 at the turn of the century.

Continue Reading


Cat Bites and Dental Vacations: The Ups and Downs of the Danish Health Care System


I’ve just arrived back in Denmark after a couple of weeks in the US and the night I got back, my cat bit me. This was not just a little affectionate peck – Fluffy used her sharp teeth, her fangs, to create four bleeding puncture wounds in my leg. I suppose it was partly my fault – I put a call on speakerphone. Fluffy doesn’t like speakerphone, because she can hear a person, but she can’t see one, so she assumes I’m some evil magician who has put a person inside a little glowing box, and she bites me.

So I was bleeding, and I did what I did the last time she bit me….which was a couple of months ago, the last time I used speakerphone: I called 1813, the Danish government’s non-emergency line for off-hour medical situations.

I waited about 5 minutes for a nurse to take the call, and she asked me some questions about the size and location of the bite, and whether or not I’d had a tetnus shot recently. I hadn’t, so she made an appointment for me at the local emergency room for about an hour later.

Continue Reading