by Adrianne George
“I didn’t plan on being abroad. Married a Dane and moved to Copenhagen to be with him.”
– Claire Requa
Claire was born in New York, raised in Jamaica, and later moved to California with her, ‘funny accent’. She didn’t plan on living in Europe but she moved to Denmark with her Danish husband and lives in Copenhagen.
photo Claire Requa
It was wonderful to see Danish fathers taking their children to school on their bikes in the mornings.
She found it difficult to deal with the Danes because to her they were hard to understand. “I felt very left out,” she confesses. “So I sought others from English speaking countries – mostly Americans that I met at language school,” she reflects.
It was wonderful to see Danish fathers taking their children to school on their bikes in the mornings. Another thing Claire likes about Denmark is her children can participate in free summer programs including learning to sail. “I moved to Copenhagen with children from a previous marriage and they adapted very well,” she explains.
But adjusting to life in Copenhagen hasn’t all been smooth sailing for Claire. The weather is harsh and difficult to get used to, and one needs to prepare to be outside, and inside, and on a bike in the rain. “I miss the warmth, miss the music, the liming,” she says.
I eat rugbrød and sild.
Claire believes it is extremely important to speak Danish fluently and to take part in things like classes, reading signs, and menus. It’s also important to try the food. “I eat rugbrød and sild,” she admits. By pursuing her interests, like salsa dancing, she’s made friends on her own. “Also because I am black, it is easy to identify another black person and strike up an acquaintance which can lead to a friendship,” she says.
Rugbrød and sild – dark brown grain bread and pickled herring
Danes would like the world to believe they are open-minded, but that has not been my experience of them.
Finding employment is difficult these days and the job market in Copenhagen is no exception. Claire reports that it is very difficult in fact. But Claire is an entrepreneur. She is a successful designer who creates lamps, lighting and other interior products under the lines Claire Requa and Claire de Lune®. But her success was hard won. “It is difficult to start a business. The network opportunities are often for Danes only,” she reveals. But once a permit to live and work are obtained, there are no real hurdles to prevent a driven person from being successful. “Almost everything is available at a price,” Claire says.
‘Barrel Line’ lamps: Doctor bird and Megasprinkles (inspired by seed flowers fallen from a tree)
Raising a family and building a business overseas has shaped her way of thinking about her quality of life, her priorities, and even the way she dresses. “Danes would like the world to believe they are open-minded, but that has not been my experience of them. The discrimination is in being non-Danish,” she states.
‘Chandelier’ – made in an untraditional yet environmentally friendly polypropelene
To learn more about Claire Requa and Claire de Lune®, visit: www.accent.dk