Home baker Singaporean Eunice Ng talks about life in Copenhagen, Denmark where she lives with her Danish husband and two teenage girls
In our latest Overseas Mama series, Singaporean Eunice Ng, mum to two teenage girls tells us about life in Copenhagen, Denmark. Eunice hates to cook but loves to bake. She specialises in gorgeous customised cakes, a skill she picked up in Singapore after watching Cake Boss! Eunice talks about her hands-off parenting approach, the pros of living in Denmark (her kids aren’t stressed and depressed with school pressures), and the cons (dealing with racism) and gives us a little snapshot of her life. We must say we love her sense of humour – when asked what’s the best souvenir to bring back from Copenhagen for a mama friend she answered “Danish men!”. Read on for her interview!
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m a 46-year-old mum to two teenage girls and a home baker making customised cakes mostly for foreigners living in Copenhagen, Denmark. I was inspired by how cakes can look and picked up baking through a SkillsFuture course in Singapore in 2017 after watching Cake Boss.
Before moving to Copenhagen, I lived in Singapore and worked as a real estate agent at ERA. Prior to that, we were living in Rotterdam in the Netherlands for six years. I only have my older brother and his family left in Singapore as both my parents have passed on.
I love shopping. I think I have become less materialistic these days although my husband might disagree. I am fun-loving, I love pranking my family, hate being out in nature, and am still very kiasu.
I have cleaning obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). I’m starting to hate cooking simply because I have to cook but I’ve improved my cooking skills tremendously! I am very chatty and speak Teochew, Mandarin, and English fluently as well as a bit of survival Danish. I have learned to speak up for myself in order not to be bullied.
What brought you to Copenhagen, Denmark? How long have you been living overseas?
My husband is Danish. After losing his job of six years in 2017, he got a job offer in Denmark and we decided to move to Copenhagen even though I had said I would never live there! But under the circumstances back then, I sucked it up and made the move. I have just crossed the five-year mark of living in Copenhagen—and have been living overseas for about 11 years in total.
Favourite aspect about living in Copenhagen?
We are fortunate to be living in a big house with a garden and we get to experience the four seasons.
And the worst part?
The high cost of living and no hawker centers.
How do you think parenting in Copenhagen differs from parenting in Singapore? What do you appreciate most about it?
Definitely different, at least in our family where we are more hands-off. We give the children more autonomy in deciding when and how much work they want to put in on a daily basis as long as they finish their homework. We hardly send them for tuition and we don’t put pressure on them to score high marks—we just ask them to pass. I appreciate that they are not under stress in school, are not depressed nor have suicidal thoughts because of academic pressure.
Did you give birth to your children in Copenhagen?
I actually gave birth to both of them in Rotterdam. Unlike in Singapore, we had a midwife to look after me and help deliver the baby. I was given the option of having a home birth which I initially thought was a joke but realised after that it was very common. You also do not get admitted to the hospital until you are almost fully dilated and ready to give birth—you will be sent home if you are not ready.
With my firstborn, I was already seven centimetres dilated before we rushed to the hospital. Of course the option to get painkillers and epidural was almost non-existent. Four hours after the baby was born, I was sent home and I walked to the car without assistance.
After comparing birth stories, I am convinced of the conspiracy in Singapore where mothers are often told they need a C-section because their baby has the umbilical cord wrapped around its neck and is in danger. I’ve heard this so many times, I think this is just because a C-section is quicker, easier, and more profitable.
Can you talk us through your career pre- and post-baby?
I was working as a marketing manager at LUXASIA, handling fragrance distribution and promotions. This involved some travel, lots of late-night and weekend work, and parties. After having a baby, I became a stay-at-home mum (SAHM) while living in Rotterdam. Moving back to Singapore after, I worked as a property agent for six years and have been a baker and cake decorator in Copenhagen for the past five years.
Favourite kid/teen-friendly restaurant in Copenhagen?
Burger chains and also this restaurant called Stacey’s Diner in nearby Køge where they had taken a yellow school bus, cut it into half, and attached it to the side of the restaurant building. The theme is very 60s American diner.
Top five places in or around Copenhagen you would recommend to parents travelling with kids.
Tivoli Gardens – It is like Universal Studios except it is super old. The garden is beautiful and the decorations change seasonally such as for Easter, Halloween and Christmas. It is an amusement park that both the young and the old can enjoy.
Nyhavn – A charming location both in summer and winter with waterfront dining and colourful old buildings. There are plenty of dining options and you can take some great Instagram-worthy photos here!
Frederiksborg Slot – One of the most famous castles in Denmark and for good reason—it has beautiful gardens and is situated on three islets in a lake. Absolutely breathtaking! Home to the Museum of National History, the grounds are filled with rich history and architecture.
Odense – Just over an hour by train from Copenhagen is the hometown of Hans Christian Andersen. It is Denmark’s third largest city and an old charming city full of history.
Skagen – While it might be a little far from Copenhagen, this port town is worth travelling the distance. It’s a popular tourist spot with beautiful beaches and most interestingly, you can see the Baltic sea and the North Sea come from two different directions and meet. Often you can spot sunbathing seals too.
Is there something that you do to keep your children in touch with their Singaporean roots?
They get ang pows every Chinese New Year and I make local food at home. We also hang out with my Singaporean friends and watch Jack Neo’s movies. They learn Singaporean slang and we visit Singapore whenever we can. Their favourite food must be curry chicken and roti prata. They can’t get enough of fishball noodle soup and ban mian too.
Best souvenir one could bring back from Copenhagen
– for a child:
A custom Lego Minifigure.
– for a mama friend:
Danish men, I’m kidding! I would say chocolates.
What do you find is the hardest part of being a mother living in a foreign country?
Four hard parts for me, i.e. learning a new language, dealing with racism, the lack of familiar food from home, and getting to know a new culture.
On raising multilingual children …
They are only proficient in English and Danish. Their Mandarin is well, very, very basic and “half past six”.
What do you always bring back from Singapore for yourself and for your children?
Wheel crackers, iced gem biscuits, Twisties, canned food, instant pastes, Yupi gummy candies, pork floss, and bak kwa.
Tell us about your go-to recipe for your family.
Order a pizza – nooo LOL! I make stews a lot, mainly because it is cold and we eat a lot of rice. I make all sorts of food from Singaporean, Vietnamese, Japanese to Thai, Italian and Danish. I cook what I can get on sale.
What’s the one thing you would miss about Copenhagen if you moved away?
The freedom children enjoy. Children here as young as eight cycle or take the train to school by themselves.
What is the first thing you do each time you come back to Singapore?
Eat at a coffee shop.
What do you dread most if you are moving back to Singapore?
How do you think Singaporeans can benefit from living overseas?
They can burst the bubble they live in and it is quite an eye-opener. Singaporeans can learn to be more appreciative of Singapore and what our government is doing for the country and its people.