Wait? Say what? Oh, yeah… socializing in Denmark. Where should I even start?
Well let’s begin with the fact that this is the sixth country I live in (and I am only 25) so if I learnt one thing over the years, is how to interact with people, regardless of colour, creed or nationality. There are some basic human needs (I am not talking about our basic instincts 😛 ) you have to take care of when you move to a new country, in this order: a roof above your head, food in the fridge and socializing. Then comes money, hobbies, personal fitness and so on. If one of these elements is lacking, then your stay in the new country might not be the best one. So for this reason the average international traveler, student or worker like me learns really fast that you need to adapt, be open and friendly with members of the new culture.
If I were to grade my level of socialization over the years I spent abroad, my Erasmus year in Utrecht would be on top of the list and at this current moment, after three months of living here, Denmark would be at the bottom of the list.
I do know that my status changed. I am not a student anymore. I am a university employee but I still live in the town in Denmark with the highest number of students and I do live in a campus building. And still…What is wrong with socializing in this country?
I will give you some examples:
- Apparent fear and lack of eye contact – this is more often to be found when speaking to the older generation, but also very often with young people as well. Seemingly, a lot of Danish people are frightened to speak to a stranger and will do everything possible to avoid eye contact. I was even in situations where they would just say a frightened “Hi” and felt like I was in kindergarten and was talking to the socially awkward kid.
- Hei, we are going for a beer. FULL STOP – another feature of Danish socializing, which I find weird and even offending, is how people you already know, live with or work with act towards you like a complete stranger. It happened to me on numerous times that people will say the typical “Hei. So we are going for a beer/watch the game/a movie” and they stop. At this point you are waiting for the more than obvious question: “Would you like to join/Come with us?”. But this you will only hear in your head or dreams. I had the chance that after 2,5 months of living on a campus full of young people (!!!!) the guy living next by asked me whether I wanted to join him for a beer.
- You are not part of the group attitude! – Germanic people are not like southerners. Period! I don’t care how many people I might offend but foreigners living in Germanic countries (whether Scandinavian countries, the Netherlands or Germany) will find it difficult to be part of “the group”. And this group attitude is evident when you live in Denmark as well. We are happy within our group, thank you! We do not want anyone else and we will notice that you exist but pretty much ignore you. It happened to me twice on campus that I heard that there was a party downstairs and went down to grab a beer. And slam in my face. “Ammm. Sorry, this is a private party and ammm you are not invited!”. Well now, put a bloody sign up moron. The first time I kindly smiled and left. The second time this happened I told the guy to go f… himself.
- Hei. I’ve been living in Denmark for 3 years and I still don’t have Danish friends – This is another weird situation. I first noticed it in the Netherlands that although I lived there for 2 years, the number of Dutch people I would classify as friends is extremely lowww. And it looks like the same is true for the Danes. I met a number of people who have been living here for 2-3 years and the answer is the same. We don’t have Danish friends!
- Lack of conversation – First I thought that this can only happen to foreigners, but it seems that it is the same among them as well. I have already written about how silent buses are (and a French guy even wrote in a comment that on some blue buses they even have quiet zones…Like it wasn’t quiet enough 😉 ). I have also noticed it at work or the gym as well that people just don’t know how to hold a normal conversation. And if you stop talking they will end the conversation.
- Not being outspoken – There are many things I don’t like about Dutch people, but the one trait I do like is that they are straight forward and outspoken. Sometimes even rude. But they can simply tell you to f..k off because they don’t like you. I see that it is different with the Danes. You never here a proper opinion and a lot of times people just smile and you don’t know what impression you left on them.
So the list could follow, but it is enough for now. I hope it is only because I have been here for three months (strangely I spent less than 5 months in South Africa and I still have a couple of people I regularly talk to) and it might change over time. We’ll see. But I am not getting my hopes high.
Next topic, “The system”.