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.