1. Inspiration

The globetrotter's route to the west coast

Job

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Birgit Bech Jensen

Head of communication

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Ieva and Christian Dragin-Jensen moved here in 2009 from Lithuania and Mexico to study at the University of Southern Denmark. Even though they both regarded their stay in Esbjerg as temporary, they now have a home and careers in the city, and enjoy a very high quality of life.

I’m due to meet Ieva and Christian on a quiet street in Sønderris, just north of Esbjerg one Saturday morning. As I turn the corner, I find them both in the car port – just getting out of the car. Their classic, dark-blue polo shirts and Ieva’s pink golfing pants (and the clubs in the car boot) reveal that they have just come back from the golf course. “We joined the golf club, and now play almost every weekend,” explains 32-year-old Ieva, while I help carry their gear into the modern house.

Student job with responsibility

Ieva and Christian work as Strategic Sourcing Buyer for Semco Maritime and Cluster Manager for the Service Economist Course at Business Academy Southwest respectively, and moved to
Esbjerg in the summer of 2009 to study at the University of Southern Denmark. They did not know each other at that time. Ieva took a master’s degree in public health science and a business academy degree in international trade and marketing in her native Lithuania. Christian, whose parents come from Denmark and Portugal respectively, has lived in Dubai,  Copenhagen, Japan, Singapore, France, Israel, Poland, Spain, Holland, Scotland and Mexico.

“Esbjerg is the smallest city I have ever lived in, but I chose it because it was the place where I could study for an MSc. along with being able to find a good student job with a bit of responsibility. I thought there would be a lot of competition for the really good student jobs in other cities,” explained Christian, who first came to Esbjerg before starting his studies, having obtained a student job at Viking, the manufacturer of survival gear for shipping and offshore.

“I don’t mind admitting that my plan was simply to get my degree and a bit of experience on my CV before moving on. But then I met Ieva, and ended up feeling so at home here that we’re still here now, over nine years later.” Christian gained a PhD in City Branding from the University of Southern Denmark.

“Esbjerg is the smallest city I have ever lived in, but I chose it because it was the place where I could study for an MSc. along with being able to find a good student job with a bit of responsibility.”

Christian Dragin-Jensen

Cluster Manager at Business Academy Southwest

Low housing prices and high quality of living

Esbjerg has expanded immensely in recent years, a process the couple have been able to follow closely since moving here in 2010.

“One of the first things I noticed when I moved here was that this was a city with ambition. It’s been fun watching it grow and expand, especially the last couple of years, where a lot of student accommodation and the new harbour area at Esbjerg Strand have been built, bars, cafés and restaurants have opened and events have been staged,” says Ieva. Christian joins in to add that he finds it hard to imagine ever leaving the area again:

“Esbjerg may seem small at first glance, but when you get to know it, there’s a lot going on. This is a big small city. I think we have a very high quality of life here. My brother lives in  Copenhagen, and I often tease him about house prices. The bottom line is that we feel we have the opportunity to live a really good life here.”