A Realisation

Jim: Do you know what I was thinking?

Selena: You were thinking that you’ll never hear another piece of original music, ever again. You’ll never read a book that hasn’t already been written or see a film that hasn’t already been shot.

Jim: Um, that’s what you were thinking.

-28 days later

I was just thinking. I really enjoy finding fresh new voices. I love hearing a new perspective, learning something about which I have no knowledge, having a familiar concept taken apart. I like it when I hear something I agree with best of all (obviously!) but I also like hearing things I do not agree with. If the argument is made particularly well, it might even be enough to change my mind. Or at least confirm why I am right about everything.

Recently, I have been reading a lot more about abroad. My home country, other English speaking countries, countries that I do not have much in common with. I have even been reading about the past. Maya Angelou surprised me. I thought I was going to read something like The Color Purple all over again and it just wasn’t like that! She said things I had no idea had been said all those years before I was born. Good writing and good discussion changes the circuitry in your brain, it makes you think differently. I think that feeling of discovery feels extraordinarily good.

I just realised. I have lived in Denmark for four years almost and I have heard every original thing about Denmark that exists and will ever exist. I had the realisation whilst reading some comments (that I happened to agree with), on a news website by some Swede I do not know. And I was nodding and agreeing and feeling good. But then I was thinking “I must know this person because she is saying EXACTLY what I think!” Uhhh. No. She’s saying exactly what I think because there are maximum 12 points of view here, so law of averages sort of dictates that I will bump into ideas exactly like mine.

Conversations about Denmark are circular whoever you talk to. If you talk to the militantly pro-Denmark people, it’s one set of conversations. If you talk to the militantly against-Denmark people, it’s another. If you talk to newbies, it’s another set of topics. If you talk to Danes, it’s another one again. The people in the middle, take from all those categories.

There is nothing more to hear.

Jante. Taxes. Welfare state. Rudeness. Institutionalisation. Bikes. Design. Attachment disorder. Racism. Irony/satire (misunderstanding the meaning of). Integration. Poor spacial awareness. Mohammed Cartoons. Language barriers. Free speech. The workplace. The right wing politics. The new left wing politics. THE GODDAMNED WEATHER.

I have heard it all before. No one is going to burst onto the scene with some fresh new beats the kids can dance to. I remember getting really excited when a new foreigner opened a blog and it was AMAZING, fresh insights, clever takes on things… and then they got settled and stopped posting. If they do say anything, it’s about what they had for dinner or about sweet cultural differences that I already knew about. (This has happened so many times, if you are thinking I mean you, it is possible but I might be talking about a half dozen other people and not you at all, so you will literally never know. No, you’re right, I was talking about you. Where do you blog again? Oh yeah! Yeah, you count too.) This goes for grumpy bastard bloggers like me and more cautiously optimistic bloggers like the majority. The fount runneth dry.

So, I generate my own content, in the fervent hope that some new thinking will pop up and instead, I get arguments offered to me that I have heard before. I honestly do not mind when Danish enthusiasts take up the cause but I feel like that Greek dude vs the Hydra. Except there aren’t two new heads growing back, it’s just the same one. Over and over. It’s got so fucking predictable, I am able to place refutations to common arguments  before I press publish. When I read someone else on the internet NOT covering themselves for “worse in North Korea” or “you’re just negative”; I cringe. Then the zombie commenters come out, biting and moaning. We are all going through the motions. I can refute common logical fallacies in my frigging sleep now and that has been achieved through hours of grinding. When a friend made a bullshit bingo card, it took a day of brainstorming and is instantly recognisable even to newcomers.

The same goes for the people I hang out with (who I love because they’re my people), but we say the same shit every day. Same thoughts, same reactions. Nothing changes here, so neither do our reactions.

Honestly, I am bored. I am bored with hearing how it would be the same in another country. I am bored of hearing how it would be worse somewhere else. I am bored of hearing about Denmark’s failures. There’s NEVER any progress, there’s never change, so it’s the same failures on a constant repeat.

The only two solutions open to me are moving away or trying to change things. Neither of those things are exactly easy on any scale.

26 thoughts on “A Realisation

  1. You are so right. My husband and I have the same conversations over and over, it seems. My friends (almost all expats) have roughly the same conversations over and over again, too. I don’t offer any new insight into Denmark on my blog because the only thing I really ever do is go to the grocery store and balk at how expensive EVERYTHING is here. I could complain about that ad nauseum, but that would be boring and make me even more depressed. I don’t speak the language and have no intention of learning it because we don’t plan on being here for very long so I can’t really read the papers or watch the news. I am so sorry to say that I KNOW that I am one of the bloggers you are talking about. I do appreciate what you’re trying to do here, even if I can’t offer very much to the conversation.


    1. Just keep a calendar in the kitchen with the days to go, you know, like in prison. It’s ok, I’m not angry with people who know when to stop talking! It’s fine. But are you kidding, your blog’s got loads of interesting craft content. I really enjoy it!
      I guess it’s just a matter of creating lovely bubbles… and having conversations about vibrant countries instead.


  2. Sweet heart. Only 4 years? My god That is nothing. Bless. What is going to be interesting is to see what happens next. Typically (and yeah, it is the same story over and over) you will now go through the membrane. it takes about 4 years to get to the point you are at. You might have got there early but this is the real crunch point. the 4 year marker in DK is a whole other world to the 5 year marker. you are on the cusp…beware beware…food blogs ahoy! What DID you have for dinner? Time to get a pet and start taking pictures of it and what you had for dinner. Or start taking pictures or rick rack and yarn in the afternoon sunlight. its about to HAPPEN. ;) xx The weirdest thing is, you either leave now before it gets harder to leave. .. Or you stay, go through the membrane. I am not going to tell you what is through the membrane because as this blog so eloquently states, you think you have seen it all. Trust me, there are more levels to depression and boredom to come. I know you think it is hard to leave now, but it will be harder with each year to come.

    You could…and I say this tentatively, and I am sure you have heard it before, you could try and make a go of it, go and find some private surgeon who will do the op and give you a lobotomy.

    This will help if you decide to stay in Denmark. Or you could *JESUS FUCKING CHRIST FOR THE LOVE OF GOD* join a sports klub.

    Congrats, you have now reached the point where people who have known Denmark intimately for a lot longer than 4 years can tell you it gets worse, believe us, it gets worse.

    Your best bet is to get out, or stay and erm…I don’t actually know what the point is if you stay.

    if you hate it so mush then why not you leave? *ducks*

    Oh sweetie buns, I think you are wasted in Denmark, except that you are the only fecking person who is saying it loud.

    I don’t know what to say. it is boring, you are going through torture by boredom, and I am trying to stick with it, but it is hard to support people who are being slowly but surely bored to death. What can I do? My advice is to get the fuck out. You are way too talented for Denmark. x


  3. Here’s a thought: Denmark is a sort of do-it-yourself country, I’ve always said. So…. if you want to do something exciting and different, you have to JUST GO DO IT. YOURSELF. Danes, as you might have very well guessed by now, will not really help you. They are for the most part useless, anyway. Do it in spite of the boredom, in spite of possibly getting depressed, the perceived lack of change, etc. Its the only way to keep your sanity in that place. I know. I lived there for years. The new thinking has to be generated by YOU. Do something AMAZING and the right people will gravitate toward it.


    1. I have tried to do amazing things but they’re only fun when other people join in and they don’t.

      It’s not so much that I miss exciting and different things to do (I go abroad for that), but that there are no more conversations to have about Denmark. Like, I’ve even had THIS conversation before about being a go-getter and doing it myself. And then I followed the advice and sat in cafés waiting for people to show up to something I’ve organised (that they SAID they’d come to), and then they just didn’t. F-town is awful.


  4. I miss parts of your old blog and would hearing more about your teaching experiences.
    Perhaps start a different blog for that? If you’re looking for ideas, how about how to reform the Danish education system so the smarter kids get challenged while everyone still gets along. (If this comment reals too much info, please remove/edit it.)

    Or if you’re looking for a new project, how about working on how to reform the welfare state or the EU so they live up to their ideals.


    1. I felt weird about sharing my teaching stuff because
      1) I’m talking about colleagues and maybe they won’t like it because sometimes it’s not complimentary
      2) I’m talking about my students and that’s not very private
      3) I’d just be talking about how great my practice is and it could be a lot better, so I’d be a phony.

      I could start a teaching blog, I was thinking about one about the use of tech in the classroom. I think reforming the EU/welfare state is out of my expertise. I’d only inform them they should act like human beings anyway. For 20 pages.
      Maybe I should do an education masters/phd.


      1. Would like to hear about the challenges of teaching…without violating anyone’s privacy.
        Sure you should study for an advanced degree in education!


  5. Uh definitely. I feel like my blog is repeating words. New cases, new people, same complaints.


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