The ever-lovely Vivienne McKee is in Fredericia for Young Frankenstein. She’s written in the Copenhagen Post about how frozen in time Fredericia seems to someone who has lived in Copenhagen for a few years. It’s really funny.
The Flink movement is something I have
banged on about covered here a few times. I guess it steams my milk because it is something I desire for Denmark but feel like a terrible imperialist by trying to be the change I want to see in the world.
I have previous, London has a rep for being cold and rude so as soon as I moved there, I was double polite and friendly to try to tip the balance. What helped was that I called myself a Londoner within about 10 months of living there. I have lived in Denmark for 18 months longer than in London and I still call myself a Londoner and not a Dane. (I lived in Cardiff and Stafford for six years each and I never said I was from there so maybe it’s because Londoners can be outsiders to London)
I digress. The Fucking Flink movement, is to try to introduce a bit of kindness and consideration between strangers in public in Denmark.
Political considerations aside, it is this unkindness and lack of consideration that I like least about living here. When people are kind or considerate here, I think about it all day. All day.
Lars AP was persuaded to come to Fredericia by the library. What a treat! Another digression: when I tell people that I don’t get on with Danish culture, if they come from somewhere else they blame F town. Outrageous. There’s loads going for my town.
He started by talking about how Danes are the happiest. He seemed convinced by the studies (I am unconvinced by that’s by the by) but he brought up the paradox: If Danes are so happy, why don’t they have the energy to spread the joy?
If it were my talk, my question would be “studies show that if strangers smile at you, you feel much happier than if they scowl or ignore you in a walking down the street situation. How on EARTH are Danes happy?” But it wasn’t so there we are.
He also revealed that as a bilingual child, he was aware that in English he was more outgoing, curious, kind and friendly than in Danish. He also used the dirty word for bilingual to describe himself, several times, so I am in love.
With that set up, he talked about how “Flink” isn’t a sexy word and not something people aspire to. I didn’t know that. In English “nice” is unsexy (friend zone) but “considerate”, “curious”, “friendly” and “kind” are neutral. Maybe a bit sexy depending on the context.
Then he gave five ways of increasing Flink interactions. His main thrust was it starts with the individual, it is nice to be nice and so on.
When he asked the audience (80% pensioners), what they could do to make Fredericia famous for flinkhed, the discussion was limited by imagination. Not that they were bad ideas. Just limited. They need more coaching.
For example, the first few things were about how to persuade others to be more Flink in the dog poo situation. Irresponsible dog owners leave dog poo on the streets. The majority of the discussion was about how to get them to pick it up. Poking Danish flags in the turds was suggested. But I had always taken that to be more passive aggressive than Flink. I’m not knocking it, it works!
Then there was talk about getting the borough to introduce a Flink initiative. Another guy blamed the press for focusing on “negative” stories. Lars put both of these back on the individual. “Make the positive news more newsworthy and the media will run with it.” for example.
It seems to me that the ones willing to share with the group had missed the point. This journey starts beneath our feet. We need to be kinder and funnier with strangers. How can WE do that? What behaviours of ours are the equivalent of leaving poop in the street? What can we do ourselves to make things better for everyone? There’s no point waiting on the borough to do something and it’s not especially Flink to try to modify the poor behaviour of others with passive aggression.
I am excited because maybe the movement will strike a chord and things will change but I’m also nervous because it looks like I’ll need to roll up my own sleeves.
A lack of familiarity with flinkhed has led to a lack of facility with it. The people of my town need to be shown and not told. Over and over. But I am hopeful even though I am over faced by the challenge.
Wow, you really do get less for murder. I have been living in Denmark for four years to the day.
I remember arriving, it rained and soaked everything I had. I brought only two bags and lived out of them for the first few months. My first impressions were so positive and everything was going to be wonderful.
You know what, the only thing that really consistently upset me in those early days was sprogskole. Poor teaching, shonky “hidden” agenda and crappy learning priorities. If I had had a Danish partner in those early stages or if I had a better school, maybe things would have looked very differently around here.
Being an unaccompanied foreigner in Denmark is a nightmare. Honestly. It is a total nightmare. Put that unaccompanied foreigner in a small town in the middle of nowhere and it’s a wonder I made it at all.
There’s a blog out there about learning languages in three months and the guy says that all you need to do is get out there and practice! No one will make fun of you! People will be helpful! It’s easy to make friends using social networks! He is working his way around the world and I really hope he comes to Denmark. Not because I want him to fail (I want him to succeed), but because I want him to acknowledge that Denmark throws up challenges that Holland or France does not. I guess he will never see that a lot of what he says only really applies to males. Just showing up at parties where I do not know anyone, this can be dangerous or at least highly provocative as a single woman.
The guys who came over around the same time as me had girlfriends and liked sport. They were also guys, so hanging around the pub on their own wasn’t seen in the same way my hanging around in the pub on my own is seen.
In spite of all that, I have got pretty good at Danish. I’m not world class but I can communicate. I have learned how to make myself understood. I have learned how to make networks of friends from nothing. I have learned how to keep my head above water.
Honestly, if I knew then what I know now, would I have done it?
My social life is not enough. There’s not enough random shit going on. There are not enough opportunities to meet people. F-town is dead. Maybe if I had started in a bigger city, with more random shit, more opportunities, better language tuition, maybe it would have been different.
Who can tell? I feel ready to move on, either to a big Danish city (to accommodate the boyfriend I met after a couple of years of playing Nightmare Mode in the Danish dungeon of F-town) or back to the UK… or maybe even a country with people who let you practise on them.
Here’s a video I shot at my Mum’s house, inspired by the blogger’s comments on learning a language. I don’t think my accent has changed since I made my last Danish vlog…