Anti-Blog Indeed

I just had a weekend in London. Yes, I know, hark at her.

I got back Sunday night when I should have got back Sunday evening and the stress of it all, knocked me for six and I was really unwell all Monday. But I am back, fit for fight as the Danes say, and ready to analyse my experiences for your entertainment.

My weekend started halfway through Friday. Work time agreements in Denmark are sweet. They are really sweet. As long as I get all my teaching work done, I can leave after my lessons and not have to wait until 4pm like in the old country. I finished at 10am and stuck around, doing my marking and planning until after lunch.

I got a train, in the thick snow which fell on Wednesday, down to the airport. There were no delays. The snow had been ploughed and the roads gritted. The train was really cold because it was one of those nice new ones that don’t work, so the heating was out. (This probably accounts for the lurgee I went down with). I got to the airport very on time. The checking in lady was AWESOME, really nice and perfect English. I had a laugh with her.

Security were great. The lady in the café was bored and a bit diffident but she didn’t spit in my food or anything.

As I got on the plane, the (Welsh), flight attendant informed us that we were being diverted through Southend. No one was a dick, we just went “oh what. ok.”

He then worked his butt off arranging onward flights for two passengers who needed to get to other places after London. He sorted it out and was a thoroughly nice chap. I heart British Airways.

We landed in Southend. We were then left on the runway, freezing our butts off while we waited for the miniature border control to finish checking the passports of another flight.

A passenger did a REALLY British whinge to the runway steward and I said

“That’s so BRITISH, man,” to another man who looked kinda British. And then almost cried the homesickness was so savage.

The border control guy teased me about my passport. (It is battered to hell now)

I went to the loo and left my hat in there. I rejoined the queue to grab it and had a lovely banterous chat with two guys waiting. It was so lovely to have a joke with strangers. It was sooooo lovely!

Then I asked a steward, in terms of time, would he recommend the bus or the train?

THE TRAIN, he said with zero hesitation.

I got to the theatre bang on at half time which was so fucking lucky because otherwise, I wouldn’t have been able to go to the show at all. I almost slipped on the pavement about five times, even though there was only a tiny bit of slush. There was about one centimeter of snow. About a fifth of what I left in Denmark.

The show was a sexual health charity benefit organised by the fiancée of a dear friend. I had arranged to buy a ticket off of one of his friends. I sat with three strangers and within the short time before the show started again, we had become firm friends. We continued chatting afterwards, even as it was clear the group were going home.

I met my friend and some of his other friends, and again, chatted with them about allsorts of things. I hung out with his friends in the bar, having a laugh. These people were all strangers to me and they accepted me with open arms.

Then I hung out with my friend and his fiancée and her friends and ended up sharing a taxi with a colleague of hers, who also chatted freely and happily with me about all sorts of things.

Next day, the reason I was going, I had a lunch with a friend and her friends. I did some shopping before lunch, to get some new jeans. Every single sales assistant was extra nice, extra smiley. I wondered if I was ovulating and sending out “be lovely to me” hormones.

At lunch, I had a chat with almost everyone. I knew only one other person. The chats were not superficial. They were funny. They were interesting. They were varied. No one played with their phones.

After this, I went by train to another dear friend and her family. We chatted until what would have been dawn if the sun would have come up.

I caught a train back into central London and was let off by a nice ticket inspector because I’d stupidly bought a day return the day before and not a return return. I got to the airport and then we had to be diverted through Southend because of the snow.

At the sandwich shop, the man said “I’ve been in this country for fourteen years and come to the conclusion that it’s a developed country that transforms into a third world nation at the first sight of “weather,” after we had a long chat.

Then we got a taxi to Southend. A taxi, not a mini bus, not a coach. A taxi. And we all arrived at different times and so the plane was crazy delayed.

Then we all started making friends, Dane and non-Dane alike. Then on the plane, it was the same steward and he recognised me and when we got home, we were pretty late at around 8pm. I helped a Canadian visitor to Aarhus not get stuck in Billund until 10pm by advising him of other options and we chatted in the bus the whole way to Vejle.

And I have a few conclusions I would like to come to.

The first is that you find friendly people everywhere. But. You find more of them in the UK than in Denmark. They’re not necessarily British, they come from everywhere. But they know how to chat and have a laugh with a stranger in a queue. They know how to take a fucking interest even though they know they will never see that person again. They know how to chat about a variety of things, to get the best out of the conversation.

They know how to make a human connection, no matter how fleeting.

Customer service in the UK is better. That is not to say that Danish customer service is 100% total crap but rather that in the UK, it is consistently better, friendly and faster. In Denmark, you really are flipping a coin every time you want to buy something.

On the other hand, Denmark can handle weather without turning into a third world country. They grit the roads, shovel the snow and just go the fuck to work.

What I came away with was that I really wished I lived in another country. It doesn’t have to be the UK, though that is home and I feel welcome there in a way I might not in another country. But even though Denmark has great infrastructure and working agreements, I miss the human factor SO MUCH.

I miss talking to strangers, I miss having a laugh in queues, I miss making new friends every time I meet old ones, I miss having interesting conversations with new people (and not the same one on repeat every time). I miss vibrancy. I miss home.

The taxi driver, on the Friday night, was really nice too and we had a chat about missing home and he said that I would probably be aggravated by the little things if I came back. That visiting is always better than living. And he was absolutely right.

But it’s either move to a country where people have decent social skills or be part of the movement that introduces them here. Otherwise, I will wither and die.

I get called “negative” and “anti” and all sorts of things by shit-for-brains. There is a class of person who thinks you should only look on the bright side and not try to see what you could improve or what you could change. This class of person is a nincompoop. And in calling me mean names, has shown themselves to be an unkind nincompoop. And in warning others not to read what I write, in case they become spoiled and unable to integrate into Denmark, a small minded, unkind nincompoop. Walk your own path, you small minded, unkind nincompoop!

I’m sorry, but if you refuse to address “the negative”, as it is so facilely put, then if your sewer pipes burst, you’re saying “well at least we can ‘go’ wherever we want now, don’t have the tyranny of the porcelain throne anymore,” and not “I better clean up this shit and call a plumber.” Saying “Don’t listen to the ‘clean the shit up’ message, it’s just negativity, you get used to it. It’s what it is LIKE if you live next to a burst sewer main!” is really wankerific.

Grow the fuck up, people that call me negative.

There is nothing negative that does not contain a positive, nothing positive that does not contain a negative. Everything is a combination of the two, the only constant thing is change. There is nothing negative or positive about Denmark, Denmark just is.

I look at things that could be better. And friendliness, politeness and social skills could definitely do with a polish here. I don’t talk about how they deal with snow and how I have a great work life balance because it’s boring and THE LEAST THEY COULD DO, ok?

If that means new people to Denmark should not read what I write, in case they become bitter and jaded overnight, then that is a pretty bad indictment of the state of this country. Surely they can see that the snow is dealt with really well and they have good working hours all by themselves? These things do not stop existing just because I write about how boring queues are here.

And yes, I would like to leave, (if the Fucking Flink thing doesn’t work and Denmark becomes a much nicer place to live). But it’s not as simple as that, is it?

14 thoughts on “Anti-Blog Indeed

  1. I really want to go back to the UK for a visit, but I already know I’ll come back and resent the lack of social skills here – even more than I already do :) And, I’m not sure the whole Fucking Flink thing will ever become a new way of life over here either (not in my lifetime anyway) :/

    Great blog though and serves as a reminder for me, of how socially inept I’m becoming from being here ;)

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  2. I miss it too, it’ll always be ‘home’ – all the impromptu chats with strangers, just that connection thing, it’s so very absent here. It would be so much easier to accept the differences the culture here throws at us if the natives could just be, er, human.

    I’d rather wade through a snowdrift on the pavement and have someone to converse with, than glide along effortlessly, – in silence.

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    1. Hey! I really Like What you write, and just like you, many people call me negative when I make comments on how “poor” is the human factor in Denmark. Being a Latin makes it even more shocking to me. But bring a Latin who has lived in US and UK before shows me that I am not “the problem”.
      I also happen to know a few people who are immigrants like us and simply refuse to make a complaint, or even a small negative remark. It seems that they feel ashamed or scared to do so, seems like they will ruin their artificial perfect life if they do a human thing like complaining… I am tired of these people, and slowly I am cutting them off of my life. You should keep on speaking your mind, this show you think on your own and has the guts to say what you think.

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      1. Hey girl! I have met a lot of people like that. They have big problems and they hope denial will fix it. The happiest people I’ve met here are good at moaning and then stopping.
        It’s when you go to extremes to moan all the time or block all moaning, that the downsides can get the better of you.

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    2. Yeah. Plus, it’s key to innovation, creativity and renewal. If you don’t open yourself up to random interactions, you never have original ideas. Denmark is doomed by its diffidence.

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  3. Longtime lurker here:-)
    I’m danish, and went to London last week, as I tend to do once or twice a year, because it really is the closest big city, if you live near an airport in Jutland.
    I agree with most of what you just said. People are nicer to stranger, and more outgoing. I have the same experience of Copenhagen, though, at least to some extent. And people in the countryside in England tend to look at you, like you’re a zoo animal if you speak a foreign language around them. So I think, at least in part, it’s a city/countryside thing, but I agree it’s also about countries.
    What I tend to notice in England is how crap the houses are. One layer windows, electrical heating, poor insulation and no underfloor heating, not even in the bathroom. Brrrr! I freeze everytime i’m there in winter, and meanwhile our poor planet is having a heatstroke.
    But still: I’d like to move to England, at least for a few years. I’d probably grumble and groan about things that are not as efficiant, but then again, I’d be having friendly chats with salespeople and lots of ready-to-eat meals to keep me warm.

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    1. Oh yeah, I lived in Stafford. I HATED the way people don’t smile in the street. Once I choked on a mint and I was so fucking scared that I would DIE in the high street because no one would bother to see if I was ok. My brother got attacked in daylight on the high street, again, the people of Stafford gave not one shit.

      (But then everyone KNOWS Stafford is a shithole, no one aspires to move to Stafford, everyone tries to get the hell out if they can….)

      I know I live in Fredericia, but I work in Aarhus and it’s the same story. And again in Copenhagen. Lars AP isn’t coming out of nowhere, there’s a problem. Essentially, that Denmark is Stafford made country. *shudder*

      You are so right about the crap housing. I love the way my place is warm all the time and I appreciate the space.
      English housing is cold and poky. True!

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      1. Yep, that’s a big drawback to the UK, some of the really crappy apartments and houses, and of course the weird decor you find in most rentals. That fake rail thing they add with embossed wallpaper is so weird. I can understand the carpeted bathrooms even though it’s gross, because the floor is at least warmer, but yeah. Lots of bad housing.

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    Your blog is fantastic! Your insight on living in Denmark from your unique expatriate point of view would make a wonderful fit in our Recommended Expat blog Denmark section for our members to read.
    If you are interested in having your blog featured on our website (InterNations.org), please let me know.
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