Denmark through the eyes of a Hungarian emigrant
Penzcentrum.hu recently published a report about a 28-year-old Hungarian woman, who worked in a Hungarian call center until she moved to Denmark, where she found a job at a mink farm. She’s currently taking a free language course to find a new job, she lives in a great house and doesn’t want to return to Hungary.
“In Denmark, anyone can make ends meet, even if someone works for a minimum wage and has to pay rent” said the 28-year-old Lívia, who’s name was changed at her request. The young Hungarian woman moved to Denmark two years ago. She previously worked in a North Hungarian call center, but she decided to try her luck abroad, since her partner had already been living in the Scandinavian country for a while.
“You cannot do anything without speaking Danish” said Lívia, who’s currently taking a free language course.
Because every foreigner who has a residence permit and a Danish ID number can take free language courses in Denmark. Your options are quite limited until you don’t speak the language well. Foreigners can only find jobs in the field of agriculture.
Lívia and her partner worked at a mink farm until now. Lívia worked part-time due to the language course and the nature of the job. “My partner worked for around 4-5000 forints/hour (~EUR 13-16), I got a bit less,” she added that, despite the disturbing smell and the physical work, there were things she liked about the job.
For instance, it was up to them how they divided the tasks. Their boss gave out the tasks, but they could decide how long they worked on them. They could take short breaks if the tasks were completed by the end of the day.
They told their boss how many hours they had worked and he paid them without questioning their honesty.
However, they want a change now. They managed to save up money for any emergency situations, and she’s not worried about finding a job. For that matter, they rent a 80 m2 neat house for 3500 Danish krones (~HUF 145 thousand), and always keep an eye on their expenses.
“We travel for shopping sprees to Germany, because it is very close and everything is much cheaper there.
Moreover, people lay a great emphasis on environmental protection and encourage us to pay attention to selective garbage collection.
For instance, if I take a bag full of empty plastic bottles back to the store, I get a coupon worth 4-5 thousand forints.”
They can also afford to regularly visit their families in Hungary. They like it in Denmark, but the people and the environment are very different than in Hungary. The Danish are much more introverted, and they not speaking their language yet also adds to the difficulties.
Lívia also highlighted the free cultural programmes in Denmark, which make relaxation easier. When asked about their plans on returning, she said that they might return someday, but definitely not in the near future. They bought some lands in Hungary from the money they had saved up, and they rent them out to have a passive income.
“My partner has been doing tough physical work for many years, which he can’t keep on doing forever. We want to prepare for the time when he has to stop” said Lívia. Regarding her new job, she told that she would be happy with anything other than farm work. A shop-assistant job would be a great progress for example, but she needs to perfect her Danish first. Until then, they’ll work in a duvet factory, where their salary will be a bit higher than at the farm.
What might be surprising is that there are several job offers online, where Danish companies are looking for foreign physical workers, without language skills. For instance, one of them offers a salary of 275,000 forints (~EUR 900) during the probation, which would be raised to 340,000 forints (~EUR 1100) after the fourth month. Moreover, the employer provides accommodation, 5 weeks paid vacation, medical insurance and even travel insurance.
In contrast, in Hungary a cattle/horse/swine/sheep breeder earns a gross of 190,661 Ft (~EUR 617), while poultry breeders earn gross 186,468 Ft (~EUR 603), which are both less than the average salary. Furthermore, agricultural workers earn even less. A certain animal-keeping job offers a gross 800 Ft (~EUR 2.5) hourly rate, while a farm in Pest County was looking for a caretaker for 120-150,000 forints (~EUR 385-485) in August. The differences are shocking.