Many of us dream of moving to a new country and relish the thought of the adventure but the early days are challenging.
In the last nine years I have relocated to Copenhagen and Berlin and each came with their very own challenges and funny things that happened, although at the time they didn't always feel that funny. Luckily these experiences make for great stories later on.
Not everything is as it seems
Things at the supermarket look like they should until you get home, ready for a hot drink and find yoghurt plopping into your well deserved caffeine injection. Yep, Europeans love yoghurt and it comes in litre cartons, just like their milk.
Trying to learn the local lingo
Remember that episode of Friends when Joey thinks he is speaking French? That will most probably be you at the start of learning a new language. You hear what your teacher says, repeat it exactly how you think it sounds but she still looks at you with a complete lack of comprehension. It gets better until you are told you sound like a peasant or a Norwegian (and you are neither).
Suppositories are a thing
Babies are not given oral medication. Yes, that means paracetamol for your baby (and up to the age of two) will be need to be administered at the other end. Your shock at this will not be understood by your doctor.
Russian Roulette of food
Doughnuts should contain jam or chocolate, right? Not on New Year's Eve in Berlin as for fun one doughnut on the plate will be filled with mustard. This Russian Roulette of doughnut eating is a side splitting time.
Eye-opening laundry experiences
In some old apartment buildings in Northern Europe you have a communal laundry room with drying lines. You'll never look your staid neighbour in the face again after seeing her sexy undies on the line.
Weird drinks offered for free
In Berlin our Chinese food delivery service gave us a bottle of plum wine every time we ordered and were very offended when we started to refuse them, having about a million unopened ones in the kitchen. They were great for cleaning the toilet.
You have no shame when it comes to getting what you want
You start using mime to communicate (see point 2). I mimed being a duck (with added quacking) at a Berlin department store butchers' counter when they couldn't understand my 'perfect' accent when I asked for one to cook for our Christmas dinner. The assistant didn't even crack a smile but showed me where they were.
Shops selling champagne will be closed by 4pm on New Year's Eve and those that are open will be sold out. But you will still be able to buy fireworks to fire off on the streets, willy nilly.
The elusive search for everyday things
The search for an everyday item like a drying rack will become a mission of epic proportions with people in shops looking at the picture of what you want as if you are looking for a mythical creature. Two weeks later you haemorrhage a huge amount of money for one in the best department store in Europe as its the only place you find one.
Beware the Danish love of liquorice
Ice cream that looks like Oreo cookies? Nope, that's liquorice. Ice lollies that are called Kung Fu that look fun? Again liquorice. Learn the word lakrids before any other when moving to Denmark to avoid inelegantly spitting out something you hoped would be lovely or having wailing children with mouths on fire.
Melanie's book Dejlige Days - My Guide to a Successful Relocation will be available to buy via Amazon in October 2016.