Are you a newly arrived Nordic woman in Luxembourg? Here’s the “hygge” group for you.
The Nordic Women’s Club was founded in January 1974. “At the time there were a few trailing spouses who spoke little French or German and wanted to know more about Luxembourg,” explains the group’s former chairwoman, Inge Gerd, originally from Denmark. “We organised opportunities to meet socially with other Nordics and speak in our native languages, but at the beginning the club was very small.”
Over the last 40-something years the club has grown as more Nordic companies opened offices in Luxembourg, providing opportunities for international work experience. “Some people may come for a 12-month assignment, but like Luxembourg so much they end up staying here,” says Kristel Weinreich, the current chairwoman and a Finn who has been living in the grand duchy for the last 13 years.
Despite the favourable publicity that the Nordic countries receive, Inge and Kristel both believe that Luxembourg has a lot to offer. “If you have children, it is relatively easy to meet people in Luxembourg and culturally there is a lot to do; be it going to other capital cities, visiting museums and living in a truly international community,” states Kristel. “That’s why many Nordics find it difficult when they return home, they miss that international feeling we have here.”
Undeniably there are some things about the Nordic way of life that people miss. Work-life balance is truly a priority, and many people leave work at 4 p.m. or 5 p.m. to spend time with their families. Daycare is also widely available, and the state takes care of many other essential aspects of life.
“In general, Nordics understand the meaning of work-life balance,” says Kristel. “Usually both parents are in full-time employment and there is a support system available to help with childcare, it tends to lead to Nordic children being quite independent.”
Over the last four decades the group has seen many changes, but Kristel is keen to highlight that the Nordic Women’s Club is a social association, not an informative one. “We occasionally hold seminars where professionals speak about taxation in Luxembourg, the school system or even the upcoming local elections,” she explains. “Having said that, we are not legal advisers, and the majority of our events are social events such as monthly ladies’ lunches, book clubs, a bi-annual ladies’ dinner and organised trips to attractions around Luxembourg.”
In addition to the club’s regular events, the Scandinavian and Iceland stands at the International Bazaar are something members always like to volunteer for. “Christmas is a special time for most Nordics and our members enjoy participating, but we are not responsible for the stands themselves,” explains Kristel, “Extra hygge [cosiness] is needed for that.”