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Meet some of the newcomers in Esbjerg municipality

Editor:

Birgit Bech Jensen

Head of communication

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Each year, Esbjerg municipality welcomes more than 5,000 newcomers from around Denmark and the rest of the world. EnergyMetropolis met with some of them to hear their stories and to talk about career options, entrepreneurship, work-life balance and more.

Arriving in Esbjerg by accident

In 2015, Marta Sawicka and Antonio Carratù, who lived in Belgium at the time, decided on a change of scenery. They agreed that whomever got a new, exciting job first, got to decide where to move. So, when Antonio was offered a job as an industrial product designer after a job interview with Esbjerg-based company Sebra, which designs toys and interior design products for children, the decision was made: the couple would move to Esbjerg. Even though they did not know anything about the area, they are today happy about that decision:

– It is nice to have city and nature so close. We like being active and appreciate being able to go for a walk in the woods or on the beach. When family and friends come to visit us, we quite often take them to the deer park and feed roe deer or go to the Wadden Sea Centre, says Marta, who is now a graphic designer at the advertising agency Kirk & Holm.

Even though the couple, originally from Poland and Italy, previously had lived in big cities like Milan and Dublin, they do not suffer deprivation in Esbjerg.
– The town has developed a lot in the last few years and cafés and other new places to eat open all the time. I usually describe Esbjerg as a small town which has all the advantages of a big city, explains Antonio, who evaluates the couple’s career options to be better here as well:
– We feel there are a lot more opportunities here, because there are not quite as many candidates for a job and the number of jobs is increasing. I actually think that we will stay – even though we had originally expected to move on in a couple of years.

“It is nice to have city and nature so close. We like being active and appreciate being able to go for a walk in the woods or on the beach”

Marta Sawicka

Graphic designer and newcomer

Antonio Carratù Marta Sawicka agreed that whomever got a new, exciting job first, got to decide where to move.

Chocolate adventure

When Timothy Ibbitson worked as a chef in Dublin in 2007, he met a Danish friend who opened up a new world of bread to him. His friend always brought back rye bread and other sourdough bread when he had been in Denmark. When Timothy, who is originally from Canada, travelled to Ribe to visit his friend’s family in the summer of 2008, he was introduced to the creator of the bread, which his taste buds had admired for so many months: Mikkel Hansen from the bakery Pompei in Ribe.

– For a few months, I worked as an in­tern at Pompei. During that time, I lived in a caravan and spent all my waking hours experimenting with sourdough and reading books about bread, says Timothy with a laugh, thinking back.

After a few months in Ribe, he went back to Dublin where he baked sour-dough bread for a Michelin-restaurant, before working at a bakery in Edinburgh, which delivered bread to the royal holiday residence. In 2010, he moved back to Ribe to take an apprenticeship with Mikkel Hansen at Pompei.

– The town already had one good bakery, so when I was fully trained, I decided to focus on something else: chocolate. Inspired by the restaurants I had worked for, where focus was always on fresh high-quality ingredients, I decided that this should be the hallmark of my chocolate, too, says Timothy, who therefore uses the world-famous Valrhona chocolate as a base together with local ingredients as taste-givers.

“We use, for example, honey from Rømø, Gråsten apples, berries from Vibegaard and beer from Ribe Bryghus”

Timothy Ibbitson

Newcomer in Ribe

– We use, for example, honey from Rømø, Gråsten apples, berries from Vibegaard and beer from Ribe Bryghus. The things I cannot buy locally, I grow in my allotment garden. We also make our own Wadden Sea salt for the salted caramel, explains the chocolatier who, after selling wholesale for some years, opened his first shop in Ribe’s pedestrian street in 2016. Despite the positive response, there are no plans to open more shops.

– I want to produce all the chocolate myself and that sets a natural limit to the quantity. When people receive a box of chocolate made by me, it should be like a really good restaurant experience.

Timothy Ibbitson is originally from Canada.

From Shanghai to Ribe

When Line Fricke and Leon Walker, who are both 30 years old, settled in Ribe in 2016, it was intended to be a pit stop only. The couple had lived in Shanghai for several years, where Leon, who comes from New Zealand, worked in a bank, while Line, who grew up in Ribe, worked with events. After one year’s leave and a trip around Australia and New Zealand, where Line trained as a yoga teacher, the couple decided to move temporarily back to Line’s family in Ribe while deciding where their next career adventure should take them.

– In Shanghai the pace was fast, and the competition was fierce. We needed fresh air and we therefore considered moving to Stockholm or Berlin, says Line, who has a Masters in Management and Economics from CBS (Copenhagen Business School) and has studied Chinese in China.

However, the couple never made it that far, as Line started to teach outdoor yoga in Ribe.

– It was a summer offer for tourists, but quite often locals participated, too. This inspired me to open my own yoga studio and teach yoga all year round, she says about Studio Ribe, which opened in April 2017. At the same time, Line is affiliated with the Museum of Southwest Jutland as a project worker.

Line og Leon relocated to Ribe i 2016.

Leon, who has a Master in Business and Chinese language, works at Ribe Jernindustri and will assist them in entering the Chinese market.

– I was surprised that there are so many international companies in a relatively small town. We even have expat friends, like we had in Shanghai. But compared to Shanghai, our quality of life is much better here – the atmosphere is more enjoyable. I notice this when I return from my business trips, says Leon, who during his job seeking process got sparring from the municipal Newcomer Service.

Today the couple lives in an apartment in the centre of Ribe and has, as it seems now, put the big city dream on the shelf.

“I was surprised that there are so many internatio­nal companies in a relatively small town”

Leon Walker

Consulant and newcomer

– It looks like we have found the base we were looking for. There may not be quite as many opportunities here as in the big cities – but it’s also less stressful here. There is more room to enjoy life alongside a career, explains the couple, who especially enjoys the surrounding nature.

– We really like cycling to the lock and going for a walk on the dyke and I enjoy going kitesurfing and mountain bike riding. I have also just started taking lessons in jiu-jitsu, says Leon.

Dream job for an art historian

An exhibition at the Hirschsprung Collection in Copenhagen in 2009 drew the attention of art historian and curator Josephine Nielsen-Bergqvist to Ribe; the exhibition consisted of works borrowed from the art museum in Denmark’s oldest town.

– This was a collection I wanted to work with. As I was not tied to Copenhagen, I decided to submit an unsolicited job application to the Art Museum of Ribe, says 30-year-old Josephine, who grew up in Ringsted and graduated from the University of Copenhagen in 2014.

Even though she did not know anything about the town or the area, Josephine changed her apartment in Copenhagen for one in Ribe during the spring of 2015, when she received a positive response from the museum.

– I had an expectation that I would have plenty of time to watch TV series and write blogs in my spare time once I moved to Jutland. But soon I became part of Ribe’s club and association life. I have always played the saxophone, so I contacted the big band of the town, says Josephine, who is taking part in leisure activities and events at least three times a week.

– In addition to playing in Big Band Ribe, I have signed up for longbow archery at the Viking Centre and I am a board member of the tenant association. On the weekends, I quite often attend one of the many cultural events in the town.

It is the diversity in the cultural life of the town that has particularly surprised the Copenhagen newcomer positively:

– In many ways, Ribe is a funny town; even though it is small and placed in West Jutland, it is anything but a provincial town. The town is filled with passionate people who make things happen. There is a lot to do if you want to, she concludes.

Intersted in moving to Esbjerg municipality?

Esbjerg Municipality’s newcomer service can help you with everything from finding a job to guidance about housing, education and leisure activites.

Newcomer service

It is the diversity in the cultural life of the town that has particularly surprised the Copenhagen newcomer positively:

– In many ways, Ribe is a funny town; even though it is small and placed in West Jutland, it is anything but a provincial town. The town is filled with passionate people who make things happen. There is a lot to do if you want to, she concludes.

During the spring of 2015 Josephine relocated from Copenhagen to Ribe because of a dream job at Ribe Kunsmuseum (Ribe Art Museum).