|My favourite square in Copenhagen. Author of photo: Den Nation.|
So without further ado...
1. The drinking culture. It's very similar to the UK, but at least it bothers me less here because it's not as aggressive. I am not the type that likes loud drinking and getting drunk. A lot of student events, like in the UK, revolve around drinking. And I don't want to hang around smoky bars drinking.
2. Which leads me to my second point. Smoking is still allowed in certain bars here. How can that be in such an advanced society? The smaller, pub-like bars allow smoking while in bigger and trendy looking bars smoking is not allowed. That kind of goes against common sense for me, as in a smaller area the smoke would be denser; a bigger bar would disperse the smoke more.
The Danes are the Scandinavian people that smoke the most. Due to high levels of smoking and drinking, they are also the Scandinavian population with the lowest life expectancy. It doesn't really affect me as there are plenty of non-smoking bars, but I can't understand smoking being allowed in small bars.
3. The Danes are hard to get to know. You can break the ice with drinking, but a lot of times it's hard to know what they are thinking. They don't seem to be very expressive. While the French are reserved, once you get them talking about something they are passionate about like politics, they are on fire! Which brings me to my next point...
4. They don't seem to care about politics. They are like Canadians in this way - it's better not to talk about politics. I must admit, though, I miss the fiery political conversations in France. Actually, it seems to me that the Danes don't object to much - they just seem to accept things without much of a fight. While I think that France goes too far with the strikes sometimes, I think it's good and necessary to fight sometimes. Note: Denmark recently had a teachers' strike, but I don't know the outcome of it.
|Ebeltoft, Denmark. I love the bright red colour of these summer houses. |
Author of photo: Den Nation.
5. I have gotten used to going out in groups of couples in France. While I think it's good that couples have their own friends that they see without their better half, it seems that Denmark has taken it to the other extreme from France. Couples tend to lead separate lives here.
6. They don't really seem to invite you over to their homes. They like to go out to cafés for drinks, but they don't have the long dinner evenings I am used to and love in France. And when you do get an invite, it's quite clear that you are the friends of one half of the couple. The other half often sits there quietly or goes off alone. There's no way that would happen in France.
7. They have a strange sense of humour. I don't know if you remember, but a few years back there was a big scandal with a Danish comic strip that was insulting. Yes, sometimes their jokes can offend. I have not experienced this firsthand, but I know it happens. For the Danes this is normal as they grew up in a culture where it is the norm, so I don't really want to criticise them since I am a guest here, but I know that this is problem for non-Danes.
8. There are certain things I don't want to talk about on this blog. So let's just call this point discrimination. Certain Danes - I am not going to say who - discriminate against certain groups in Denmark. Again, I have not been affected by this, but I know that this is an issue.
|Aarhus, Denmark's second largest city. Author of photo: Den Nation.|
9. If you want to learn a language, don't pick Danish and don't come here. Pick a country and a language that you can learn more quickly. I'm not saying that Danish is harder to learn than other languages, because although the pronunciation is tricky, it is not especially difficult. It's that the Danes don't want to hear you speak their language. They don't want to hear foreign accents and they don't have the patience to help you struggle through a sentence. I have actually seen some language exchange offers where the Danish person stipulates that they are not willing to accept someone whose level of Danish is too low. So learning Danish takes time and patience. This is not like France, where you can progress relatively quickly and feel like you are getting somewhere.
10. Before somebody jumps down my throat and tells me to go home if I don't like it here (and I really do like it here!), let's just end with my final comment that everyone can agree on - it's sometimes a struggle to cycle because the wind can be really strong. At least the country is flat though!