Friday, March 06, 2009

Also in Danish news: excuses on why Danes are not friendly.

Ah Copenhagen Post, what would I do without you?

This just in: foreigners, even in SCHOOLS, surrounded and forced to interact with DANES, find that it is still ridiculously hard to make friends. The excuse, according to a Danish assimilation agent, is that Danes make friends when they are young and then are too busy to make more friends.

'Cause you know that in the rest of the world, we don't make friends before we're 20 and then because none of us work long hours or has anything better to do with our time, we find it SO EASY to maintain friendships and make even more friends!

One thing the article did get right was mentioning the Danish obssession with privacy, in the "I'm not going to tell anyone about my life" kind of privacy, not the "don't stop and interfere with the way I do things" or the "behind closed doors" kind of privacy.

Yeah, Danes will go hang out on the beach with all their junk out on display, but god forbid they tell each other about anything that's going on in their lives. Getting my husband to tell his own father what's new with us is like trying to bathe a cat.

I have four close Danish friends, all of whom I made the first year I was here. I didn't think it was that odd at the time. I'm now discovering that I'm a freak of nature, a foreigner who made good danish friends. And these friends actually contact me from time to time to make sure I'm okay, especially if I do my disappearing into the dissertation act and forget to email them for a while. One of them is on a mission to make sure I leave the apartment a bit more regularly for beer. Bless her. All four also have to put up with me telling them all kinds of amazingly personal things. I tend to wear my life on my sleeve, having learned the hard way that trying to be circumspect in your troubles and woes is hazardous to your health. They've all taken it in stride. In return I know a lot about them. Dreams, wishes, and disappointments.

I'm a really lucky bastard.

The only time I've ever run into a problem was when one of these friends wanted to introduce me to her circle of friends. Many people assume that the people they like will like each other. But these girls were not having it. We all met up for lunch and once my friend introduced me and then insisted that they all speak English (with advice that if they did speak in Danish, watch out, because I know more than I'm letting on), suddenly these three girls had to be somewhere else. They changed their orders to go and ran away. My friend was SO mortified. I was gracious about it and didn't take offense. After all, those girls were missing out on the bestest, funniest, Archaeogoddess on the planet Earth, their loss. But then again, for most of my life, most of the friends I've had did not get along. I think I would have been shocked it we'd all clicked. I've always had various circles of friends with varying degrees of intimacy. That made more sense to me than the previously mentioned theory that the friend of my friend will be my friend too.

But some of the tales I've heard on the expat blogs can make a girl's blood run cold. Tomorrow night, when I get together for some hygge with some of my friends here in Denmark (two Danes, one Pole), I am going to thank them and raise a toast to Danes who reach out to foreigners. May all the rest fall in a bog.


  1. These excuses about how busy everyone is, and how they already have enough friends, are nothing more than that -- excuses. They simply aren't very open to getting to know people substantially different from themselves, ie foreigners. Or people from different social strata. Or anyone who isn't from their tiny circle of primary school/high school/university friends. I often wonder what happens to people who were outsiders as children. They had better hope for some athletic ability or interest so they can join a sports club and meet people that way, or a lonely life is their fate.

    And on that sombre note, I wish you a good weekend. :)

  2. Anonymous2:06 PM

    Funny - but true... not just the Danes though. I used to think we Brits were not friendly, but I realize that we were very very friendly compared to the Swedes!

    It's hard to make friends here too - but I guess you could probably say that of most countries around the world...


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