Whatever you say I am, that’s what I’m not.

Funny how people react to criticism of Danish culture. If you start a blog in which you tackle the day-to-day situations involved in integrating into another culture and then you mention some of the not-so-good things then you open yourself up to abuse. This, I think, is ridiculous.

Now, obviously, there are foreigners who live in Denmark who are having a whale of a time. They are a good match for the culture, they don’t get any hassle from the borough, they find a nice job, their colleagues and people they meet socially are nice. These people have lovely times in Denmark. YAY! Good for them!

So, why then, do people who say they are having a great time feel the need to attack me if I say I have had problematic experiences or if I take the experiences of others and average these out and talk generally about the culture of Denmark?

The personal attacks I have had most recently are:-

  • You hate Denmark
  • You imagine Danes hate you
  • You treat “the Danes” like animals
  • You deserve to be treated like a twat
  • You treat people aggressively
  • You are unhappy
  • You are lonely
  • Any bad experiences you have are YOUR fault
  • You are negative
  • You are unhappy
  • You cannot speak the language

Apart from being untrue, these are not arguments and they do not address my points. They are “ad hominem” and “tu quoque” arguments. They are caused by the human brain distorting reality.

  • Someone else’s problems are always more simple than our own.
  • Someone else’s misfortune is more likely to be their fault, where our own is seen to be in the lap of the gods.
  • Our own success is seen as deserved, other’s success was pure luck.

So. If you have two people. One person has spent the last four and a half years in Fredericia and has very few Danish friends and most of her friends are from other countries, another person has spent the last year in Copenhagen and has many Danish friends.

The Copenhagen one is going to think “That Frederician girl has no friends because she’s a negative bitch.” The Frederician one is going to think “That Copenhagener has got more friends through blind luck!”

And neither would be right.

I have very few Danish friends because

  1. I live in Fredericia. (Famous only for its drug addicts, prostitutes and petty criminals.)
  2. Most of the people I work with have families and are therefore very busy
  3. I didn’t speak Danish when I first came

Someone in Copenhagen might have more Danish friends because

  1. People move to Copenhagen from their shitty Jysk villages, they are desperate to make new friends
  2. People in certain industries are better travelled and cosmopolitan
  3. Certain industries have a younger workforce, who are up for more socialisation

You could call it luck or circumstances but you most certainly could not start to blame the individuals.

How on earth could a stranger hope to make an accurate assessment of the situation based on 600 words on the internet? Even if I got someone to follow me around with a clipboard for a week/month/year, I think they would find it hard to tell me exactly what it was I was “doing wrong” because I’m not doing anything wrong. Plus, they would be more careful because a real life human being would be in front of them.

It is so easy for these so-called “positive” people to judge me and find me wanting. It is so easy to invent faults and attack me.

If they were truly positive, they would treat me graciously and with compassion. Instead, they rely on cheap attacks.

Let me tell you something, “positive” people. I have been here for nearly five years. For every one of “I am having a great time!”, there are at least three people who tell me “I am having a shit time,”. I met a woman who almost cried when she whispered “I thought it was just me.”

This shit HURTS, this shit is mentally damaging. Every time I go abroad or back home, I make new friends.

I am rather personable. If I had to stay here all year around, and I had to listen to “you get out what you put in”, I would quickly go mad.

Obviously, no one wants to be friends with Eeyore. No one wants to hear wall-to-wall whinging and whining. Fine. But that is not what I am like. I’m lovely! I go to parties where I don’t know *anyone* and chat all night. I am EXTREMELY friendly. I have a lot of friends, I make them easily, I like to have a laugh, I attend a lot of social events (I try not to say “no”), I like to listen to new people, I volunteer, I blah blah bloody blah.

I just don’t have that many Danish friends. So, it can’t be me. If I can make friends with Swedes, the Dutch, Germans and Danes; then why can’t I make friends with LOTS of Danes?

The answer is complicated and I don’t have the energy. The answer starts with they are busy enough with the friends they already have, diverges into day care has not prepared them adequately for befriending new people and ends up with they do not have the theory of mind to realise that excluding others is a dick move.

And OF COURSE it doesn’t apply to all Danes. Some of my best friends etc etc parp. It applies to SOME Danes. The Danes I am talking about.

Anyone that is tempted to talk smack about me (or others finding it hard to make a social circle here), go find a Dane that moved from one town to another. Ask them about their network of Danish friends. Are they in the new town or the old one?

I suggest you do not tell them that the reason their friends are concentrated in their home town is because they are a bad person who deserves no less. Don’t be a jerk, eh?

13 thoughts on “Whatever you say I am, that’s what I’m not.

  1. It’s a wonder how people who read a couple of things you write (what, probably like once or twice a month?) think that they know better about you than yourself.

    I live in Copenhagen, I don’t have danish friends. The truth is – I don’t bother. Friends are friends no matter what nationality they have. It’s just that I haven’t found any interesting Danes to be friends with, or vice versa.

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  2. “I met a woman who almost cried when she whispered “I thought it was just me.”

    I can completely empathise here as this could have been me saying this to you too, and I am near Copenhagen (which should be an ok place to be in DK, as a foreigner). I was (and probably still am at heart) a friendly, outgoing person… These days I prefer to shut myself into a room and forget that there is a society out there in DK, who just don’t get it and/or just don’t want to.

    It’s all about luck, finding the right Danish friends, landing a job and not putting up with crap about being a foreigner/being unable to speak Danish. I guess I bummed out a little here.

    And, after posting a (recent) blog about a negative experience, the (instant) amount of negative, shitty feedback I got far out weighed (by miles) anything positive and/or constructive this year. Interestingly, I don’t get comments about non negative blogs, from these people…

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  3. I know for a fact that Danes who move to a different town can be discouraged, to the extent of quitting their new job and moving back where they came from. It’s not a joke. But yeah, some people are just really sensitive to anything remotely resembling criticism, and the flow of vile is a symptom of something that doesn’t really match this self-professed “ideal” of being a nice, positive person. Do what I say, not what I do, right?

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      1. You might have something there, Heidi! This might be a dream land for those who enjoy being fake, and superficial… (Happy, happy faces.) But then, I’ve also found that being “real” (and confident) actually gets me some respect, as long as I am strong enough to take the unavoidable oppressive criticism (don’t do this, don’t stick your neck out, etc.). I guess I don’t care that much about what other people think, and I am going to lead my life the way I see fit, but this culture really puts one’s confidence to the test…

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  4. That stupid Australian bitch!

    Look, if you’re reading this, you silly bitch, may I just say that I have met this blogger in person on many occasions and find her to be very kind, fun and overall great company?

    I am so sick of these people. And yes, Lucy, I too, avoid most events and activities here myself, simply because the natives are so unbearable. This month alone, I declined a New Years Eve dinner party invite, and I will NOT be attending the winter burlesque party because of a particularly obnoxious group of Danes who dress up as SS officers and take over an entire table.

    Ms A&J, you are a super intelligent, functional and truly decent human being. Only a mouth breather would ever assume otherwise.

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  5. It is what you make of it, but I got fed up being the one making all the effort.
    When my job finished I found it impossible to find another one and I have a ton of experience. I went back to the UK, within weeks I had interviews and for this past month have been working..
    I think life in Denmark can be very pleasant if you are in love with a Dane, but often I felt myself very much on the outside, mostly because I did not speak the language well and I am not anyone’s wife or girlfriend.
    In the end you have to make a choice, either : “put up and shut up” or leave.
    I went back for a weekend in October, and I really missed it, people are just so much better looking in Denmark than they are in the UK..

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  6. Not sure about the YayDK Brigade, they seems to come out of the woodwork when someone rocks their delusional boat, maybe it strikes a chord that is too close to home, and reminds them that the situation they left is worse than the present one, the lesser of the two evils, to be defended at all costs. Or maybe they don’t mind surrendering their *souls* to their adopted culture, and have thrown any vestiges of their original, and make out that they are ‘rigtig’ Danoids, which would quite naturally make them totally acceptable to Danes, who feel really comfortable with a person whose brain has been tuned in to their wavelength. I think it’s a pseudo acceptance, and if that yay person changed their melody, they might hear a rendition of that old evergreen ‘Why don’t you go home’

    Don’t let them grind you down A&J.

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  7. I don’t get the personal attacks, either. Add me to the list of highly-educated, socially well-adjusted, non-Danes who have moved here and struggled with many of the same things you called out in your post (and were subsequently attacked for). I sit in my Danish class 3 days a week with about 10-12 others of similar backgrounds (though from a variety of countries), and it is unreal listening to EVERY ONE OF THEM express their exact same frustrations. It took a while before we felt comfortable enough with each other to start to have these conversations during our daily breaks, but once they started, it was like the floodgates opened. We’re not in Copenhagen — we’re in the second largest city here, so not the sticks, either — and we’re here for a variety of reasons (some attached to Danes, some not, some EU, some not, etc.). It seems statistically unlikely that in a reasonable diverse group such as mine, 100% of us are struggling with routine, negative encounters on a daily basis here that strike us as incredibly unusual and unique to this country (we are a rather well-traveled bunch, to boot).

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