Tip for Integration Ministry

Don’t be greedy

Hello! I am an immigrant! Before I became an immigrant a very wise friend of mine (Swedish, as it happens) said that highly qualified immigrants (like me and him), are “free gifts”.

My mind boggled, as perhaps yours does now.

So, my country put a lot of money into me. Sure, they charged me for university, the BASTARDS, but they put me through 12 years of school (give or take). They guarded me from harm, they gave me antibiotics and vaccines, they stopped me dying of asthma that time, they came straight round when I got burgled, etc etc. Sure, I paid a high level of tax from about 21 until I left BUT basically, my country paid millions to make me the desirable immigrant that I am.

My country sucks in a lot of ways though, so I thought I would come try out another way. Truth be told, I was not bothered where I ended up. China, Japan, Belgium… not bothered. Hated my old country. It is going crazy there.

But you, Denmark, you got me. And I had a lot of experience as a teacher, in some really challenging schools, and a good degree and reasonable health. And you took that and charged me 50% tax.
That’s okay, you know I love you.

But Denmark. The deal is, some immigrants come for different reasons. They come because their country is effed up. Sometimes, that country is effed up because of something your country has done (or failed to do).

I have talked to little kids in that position back in the old country. BELIEVE me, if their country was safe they would much prefer to be there. You can put as many frigging interactive whiteboards up in classrooms and have kiddie class elections every year, they would prefer Eritrea or Somalia or Iraq everytime. Because it is home. But “the crazy men” run those countries and it would be suicide to return. The ones I talked to, the plan was always to get highly educated and go back and bang some heads together. That’s nice, isn’t it?

Some immigrants come to be with someone who cannot be without his family. They are often highly qualified or experienced too but some of them aren’t. They would obviously like to work but you must agree, it is not the easiest country to find employment. Unless you are okay with washing cigarette smoke off of temporary worker caravan walls. Or delivering newspapers.

To make policies that make it more attractive for immigrants who are basically free gifts but drive away ones who would prefer to be in their country but cannot live there or the ones who are doing a Dane a big massive favour; it makes you look like a greedy bitch. Basically.

So. Think on.

For the love of God

So, here’s Denmark. Denmark is country like any other. It has people in it, traditions and customs. Some people are lovely, some are rude and some are both.
Denmark used to be very welcoming and friendly, people tell me. It welcomed in asylum seekers and refugees but along the way became more cold and xenophobic and asked a bunch of them to leave.

As a foreigner, I am not supposed to have an opinion about this. I should keep my mouth shut or piss off. I have no vote although I pay the same tax.

Some asylum seekers were going to be sent back to Iraq, which, BY THE WAY, is still a fucking war zone. A bunch of crazy misinformation was put out there. Stuff like, well, they fly back every third weekend. And “coming over here, taking our jobs, marrying our wives”. Some fled. Some hid in a church.

The ones who fled were caught trying to move to Germany where perhaps they might get a fairer hearing but they are caught now and are being sent back to uncertain and unsafe futures.

The ones who were in the church were taken by the police. The police ignored that churches are sanctuaries. They ignored that they were not invited. They dressed up in street clothes, to better carry off their kidnapping. Some Danish kids tried to stop them. Remember the London global warming protests where people were throwing shit at the police and they freaked out and made mistakes and we all said “oh it’s hard to call, people are crazy in riot situations”? Remember that?

Well, the Danish police were up against *kids* sitting on the floor, linking arms. No shouting, no swearing, no fighting, no projectiles. Just some kids on the floor. The Danish police sprayed chemical weapons in their eyes and hit them repeatedly with blunt weapons. Then they took the refugees away.

And sixty percent of people polled said they “agreed” with the police.

Denmark, you know I love you, so you have to understand where this is coming from but you HAVE to put yourself together and get this shit sorted out. You must NOT allow your police to become a fucking brute force for politicians, you must NOT permit that children are beaten and poisoned to prove a point about immigration.

If you tolerate this, then your children will be next.

Judge for yourself

Unfriendliness and Cultural Expectations

Hey Internet, I have had a really really great couple of days! I had to rush back before all the fun was over too because I had some food on my doorstep *and* a standing arrangement with a friend (which she did not realise was happening and made other plans, oops)

The thing is that most people here can actually pull friendliness out of the bag, they can fake it or produce it from somewhere genuine. But there are some people who cannot even do either of those things and they are the people I would like to talk about.

There is a knitting group I have been meaning to attend for a long time. I finally got out there and there were some things that surprised me. Even though the first women on the scene realised that my Danish was not up to snuff, they continued to speak slowly and clearly to me. Often, bringing me into conversations and asking questions. Then another woman came in and the atmosphere changed. She mistook me for someone else, asked me a really rapidly spoken question and when I said “hvad?” she replied in Danish, “oh, you don’t really speak Danish” and did not repeat herself.

This, my friends, is “unfriendly” especially considering that Danes say “hvad sager du” and “hvad” more than anything. More than they say “dejlig” or “flot” and that is A LOT.

Then no one talked to me. Sure they did not exclude me, they talked about wool, getting wool, buying too much wool, where you can get wool. And if I were a wool addict, I surely would have contributed.

One lady talked about something I did know about and again, the “you don’t speak Danish” woman turns to me and says “kan du forstaa?”
For the kids at the back, this is also rude. RUDE.

What you do, if you have ever done this and are now mortified that I think you are rude. What you do is you say “so, you know about this shop do you? that’s interesting…” and then see how much the foreigner is going to say on the matter and then you will know how much they understood.

Another lady came in and they all treated her very differently. Very very differently and then I worked out why and can you guess? I bet you can. She was foreign!
But her Danish was better than mine so she had a bit of a conversation thing going on but they did not shake her hand or any of the other hilser things they did for the others.

There were not so many personal questions banding about which I suppose is fair enough but where is the basic reflex of curiosity? Are there other cultures who simply do not give a shit what the back story is for a new person in a group?

None of them were awful, seriously, they were not awful. Some of them were actually quite friendly and nice. But. But.

You know, a lot of people tell me it is all me, it is all my fault I do not “integrate” or feel part of things or included. It might even be true. The way I see it, I go to Sprogskole five hours a week, I practise my exercises, I expose myself to Danish culture and the only thing I was not doing was meeting Danes in a more Danish, social setting. So, I have done that now and I cannot see how it would improve my Danish at all. It is all so awkward it is more likely to freeze me again. Give me performance anxiety.

The next step, is to find a more boy-activity, I have wanted to restart Aikido for a while. I hate to make crass generalisations BUT Danish men have seemed more up for having a chat with me. The women (especially women in a different generation) have been much more cold.

The good thing is that I do not take it personally and I do not apply my findings to all Danes ever. It is a very specific subset.

Then I went to a party and there was no one bounding up to me, interested in me or what I was doing there and I have to say that is fine.
In the UK, you have a definite subset of partygoers who just work it, God knows how they find the energy… but they wander around any gathering being nosey. It just does not seem to happen here. It is weird what you find out is not universal.