I am on a plane on the way to visit my family. My fingers are typing this text about a Romanian family who decided to change their life: from a busy capital to slower outdoor lifestyle, leaving careers behind to pursue their dreams.
It will soon be one year since Cosmin - a family photographer, Cristina - a freelance writer for children and adults, a bit shy and more interested in football than posing in front of my camera Tudor (7 years) and Ana (3 years) - a smiling princess, moved to Denmark.
While the little ones were discovering the playground, Cristina and Cosmin sat down with me on the green grass. Let the joyful talks begin!
Could you tell about your life before moving to Denmark? Was it a spontaneous decision?
Cristina: We used to live in Bucharest, the capital of Romania. There we have met, studied and stayed to work afterwards. I graduated in journalism and worked for a private television with PR, copywriting and marketing for about 15 years. Once the children were born I decided to become a freelancer and work with different clients.
Cosmin: I finished medicine studies, I am a physio-kinesiotherapist, but I have never worked as one. For the last ten years I was working for a pharmaceutical company Bayer HealthCare. The decision of moving to Denmark was not spontaneous. We wanted to change our lifestyle and find a place where our dreams could come true. All the process took us around 3 years. Our first country of choice was Canada, then New Zealand, but both of them were too far away.
Cristina: Then we decided to focus on Europe. Some years ago I attended a creative writing workshop in Denmark, a little town called Viborg. I stayed there for two weeks and really liked what I saw. There was a kindergarten nearby where I stayed and everyday I saw parents coming with kids on their bikes, it got me all “wow”.
So it was you who brought the idea about moving to Denmark?
Cristina: Yes, and the idea grew for several years.
Cosmin: In 2015 we decided “okay, let's see Denmark!” and so we visited Denmark for a couple of weeks, just the two of us. We spent two to three days in every major city willing to feel the atmosphere and make the choice.
What made you choose Odense after all?
Cosmin: We did not want to move to the capital, as we were already living in one. It felt like we needed to take a break from a busy city life.
Cristina: In Odense we spent only about half a day, we walked around the city center and I really liked what I saw. I said “this is it!”
Cosmin: After we chose the city, the clock started ticking: we decided to move to Denmark in one year. And so a year later I ended my contract with Bayer, we said goodbye to our nanny and took off.
From pharma to photography is quite a significant change...
Cosmin: Of course, now I feel that I am living a totally different life… Photography was my dream. I got my first camera 15 years ago, but it was always just a hobby. When you are working in a pharmaceutical business you have everything except time. Right now in Denmark we have time to do what we love.
Cristina, what exciting projects are you working with at the moment?
Cristina: Since our move, I have been writing for some of my previous projects: Woogie - an educational robot which interacts with children by answering their questions, telling jokes, games and stories. I have been also working on a series of short stories for educational and funny socks for children, started writing a new book. I am also looking for opportunities and collaborations here, in Denmark, mainly projects that involve writing and interacting with children.
I know that you are also writing books for children…How are those stories born?
Cristina: I have published my first book in Romania last year and now I am working on a new one. My first book is inspired by stories I told Tudor. There was a little spider that lived in our apartment in Bucharest and no one could touch it. We used to leave notes to our nanny - “please, don't take our friend-spider away”. However, one day the spider disappeared and we started thinking about the reasons why it left. That is how the book about the adventures of the little spider after it left our apartment was born.
Now I am focusing on our story in Denmark. Our family used to have a dog, whose ashes we brought to Denmark. We noticed that the urna was opened at the airport because of security procedures. It inspired me to start writing about the adventures of our dog’s phantom travelling back to the airport in Copenhagen to get its missing piece back. Real people and places from Odense and surroundings will be present in the book in their fantastic versions and at the moment I am doing the research, taking notes, organising the narrative.
What inspires you, Cosmin?
Cosmin: I think my biggest inspiration are people I am working with. It is nice to see that they are happy with my photos. I also took photos for different events: Harry Potter Festival, TED x Odense, different concerts and now I can see my pictures being used in marketing. It is nice to receive such feedback.
Encouraged by it, we decided to go further and offer a combined service for start-ups: photography and writing, to make small businesses known by publishing their story on yourphotostory.dk and also to help them with photos and texts for websites. It is our way of doing what we like while supporting others who do the same.
Besides the career, what else changed after moving to Denmark?
Cristina: Biking daily was completely new for me and the children.
Cosmin: For me biking culture was one of the reasons to choose Denmark. I was driving a car every day for the last 15 years and I was really tired of it. Now I have not been driving for 8 months and it feels perfect: I don't need a car anymore, I am free to go anywhere in Odense by bike.
Cristina: We started urban gardening at Gro Odense Byhave. It feels so nice to meet new people, get to know more about plants. Another big change about living in Denmark - our children are spending so much time outside, the education is based on free playing a lot, which, I believe, is really good for them.
Cosmin: Right now I am doing what my father was doing 35 years ago - biking a lot, growing vegetables...
We get interrupted by a question of little Ana, it is time for a dinner soon at the time we talk.