Welcome to Aalborg!

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It’s December in Aalborg. The air is crisp, the sky blue, and the streets in the center of town alight with Christmas stars and twinkling trees. It’s our second Christmas season in Denmark and I’m comforted by sights that have already become familiar: the big tree at Nytorv, ‘julehjerter’ hanging in the windows of many homes, and the seasonal market at Gammel Torv. Given that the sun doesn’t come up here until around 8:00 and sets before 16:00, lights and decorations go a long way in making the atmosphere both in and outside of the home ‘hyggelig’ (cozy, comfortable).Image

Aalborg is a hyggelig city. It is the center of the third largest municipality in Denmark, after Copenhagen and Aarhus. While the city proper has around 104,000 residents, the municipality boasts a population of over 201,000. Aalborg is also the capital of North Jutland, a region of nearly 8,000 square kilometers. Major employers in the area include Aalborg University, Aalborg University Hospital and Aalborg Kommune (‘Municipality’).

According to statistics kept by the Danish government, there were approximately 17,000 foreign nationals living in the greater Aalborg area in 2012, which represents 8.5% of the total population. As one myself, I have had to learn a lot about living in Aalborg in a short amount of time. Although I’m studying Danish, my ability to read official government web sites, Danish newspapers and the like in the national language is still limited. Of course there are translation tools online and many web pages offered in English but in general I’ve found myself having to piece together information from many sources to understand, for example, how childcare works here. This blog is inspired by the challenges I’ve faced and my goal is to provide useful information based on my experience as well as first-hand accounts from Danes who are experts on the topics I think would be of interest to my readers. I aim to write once a week on a major theme, e.g. daycare, going to the doctor, etc., and supplement with more frequent posts on local activities and events when possible. I welcome any and all suggestions, comments, questions. Welcome to Life in Aalborg!

Next week’s topic: the International Citizen Service.