Or maybe you will. But I am so sick of telling everyone what goes on in Denmark, only for it to be repeated by a newbie as in “Now I see what all the negative blogs were talking about!” Yes, motherfucker, NOW you see it.
When I stopped this blog that time, a friend asked me to make the resource about “Should I Move to Denmark?” available so I put it on tumblr for everyone.
One important thing that all “expat” immigrant workers need to realise is
“Whatever you are told in the interview about English being the language of your workplace and that how all your colleagues speak English, bear this in mind, informal meetings around coffee and water coolers are in Danish. These meetings are massively important and you will not take part in them. Also, there will be gossip and team strengthening chats around coffee. You will not be part of this.”
And I know you very well, now you are thinking “This is their country, Danish is their language. I don’t expect them to change for me!” and when it actually happens to you at your new workplace and you realise how socially isolating it is to literally not know what your colleagues are chatting about. And when you feel tired because your brain will try to learn Danish (even without your permission), because you are surrounded by it. And when you have situations at work where you are on the backfoot because no one thought to tell you because you were sat right there when they were talking about it. And when you realise you have effectively been left out of the decision making/problem solving process. And when you get the impression that people around you are better friends with each other than with you. And when you start to notice you only are spoken to when it is time to tell you what to do. You will say “I don’t mind that they do this but it sort of bums me out all the same.”
Great. Now we are on the same page. So, you see. It wasn’t “negativity”, it was “giving you a heads-up”. It’s natural that your psychological immune system tricked you into thinking you would be an exception or your colleagues would be different from mine. But newbies (and people planning to be newbies), need to get things in place right from the start.
You will start out being all “nice” and thinking charitable thoughts about your colleagues. You will try to see the good. You will try to persuade yourself it is your shitty attitude that is at fault. This does not work. They will not suddenly begin to treat you better because you were super nice and professional the whole time.
You need to be an English language imperialist. You need to act like one of those 80 year old women on buses who no longer give a fuck and just call it as they see it. You need to wipe the “It’s okay that they speak Danish, this workplace is in Denmark after all” thoughts. Those bastards TOLD you at the interview “Everyone speaks English.” They TOLD you “The official language is English here”. You need to start enforcing it, guerilla style. Obviously your colleagues are just normal people and so they are probably quite nice (except for vinegar dicks all workplaces seem to pick up), and would be mortified that they have put you in this position. If you are serious about wanting to be the exception, you need to start acting like it. You need to say things like “WHAT?” and “WHAT DID YOU SAY?” and “I DON’T SPEAK DANISH” all the frigging time. You need to say it when they’re having a joke over coffee. You need to say it when they are having a discussion about holiday plans.
You can even say “HAHAHAH YOU ARE LEAVING ME OUT OF THE CONVERSATION.”
and “AM I INVISIBLE?”
or “I GUESS I AM GLAD I CANNOT UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU ARE SAYING BECAUSE I BET IT IS REALLY FUCKING BORING AND JUST ABOUT MEAT BALLS OR SOMETHING, RIGHT?”
It’s okay, because remember, you are not really going to stay in Denmark longer than about three to seven years, so if they think “What an English language imperialistic DICK” you’re never going to see them again when you move home. Also, it’s not as if they were ever going to invite you to a dinner party for real. They were just saying that to be polite that one time.
These techniques work, by the way. I have been trialling them at my workplace, saying things like that actually gets you a level of grudging respect because you’re at dangerously Danish levels of directness and they like that. (Obvs I don’t say “I DO NOT KNOW WHAT YOU ARE SAYING!” because I do know what they are saying, I am calling them out on other bullshit they do)
Best of luck, “expats”, no need to thank me/apologise when you have your road to Damascus conversion and you realise that I was not being “negative” but just not sugar coating the turd for you. You are welcome but I would have done it for anyone.
- Why Does Denmark Need Foreigners? (adventuresandjapes.wordpress.com)