Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Copenhagen Travelogue Nr 4: The Danes 1/2

Danes resemble in their everyday social behavior the citizens of other Nordic countries a lot. It is true what one Danish woman told me on the bus: Danes do not like to be approached by strangers but can be very talkative and social if they are interested in someone and they have the chance to make the first move. You really experience this everywhere: in the coffee shop, at the design store, in the museum, on the street. Although as far as I heard there is one exception from this: the dating scene.

I guess getting Danish friends goes a bit the same way as in Finland: it is not so easy to get to know locals "just so" but if you are at a student organization or some volunteering project and have some common activities with people with time there is a chance that you become friends because of the time spent together.

An American guy sitting next to me at a cafe mentioned to his Danish friend that "Danes are the funny ones while Swedes are the well-organized ones". Which is a funny stereotype but it might be true.

Another nice thing I experienced here: it happened to me already two times that when I got lost and tried to look up the place I was going to on the map people came to me and asked if I needed help and they even looked up the place on Google maps when they could locate it on the map.

When I was going to the skating event one woman started to talk to me in the bus stop after we both stepped away from in front of the somewhat shaky bus stop sign. We started to talk and she sat next to me on the bus and told me about the part of Copenhagen where we were heading to. She told also that they were moving away from Norebro with his husband because they were expecting a baby with his husband and the place they lived at was too much of a "party district". We even shook hands when we said goodbye which is considered more as a friendly gesture in Nordic countries not as a simple polite one as in the rest of the world.

As I said I did not get to know too many Danish people yet in depth and probably will not either during my stay now but based on the short contacts I had with Danish people I can say that it is really true what this woman from the bus said: when Danish people feel like starting a conversation they are funny, easy-going and talkative. When we went to a concert a girl heard us talking about the we are not sure where to get off and told us when the stop came. She also showed the music she was listening to to my friend to describe the music style of the band whose concert we were all going to (sharing earplugs with strangers in Nordic countries is not a very common thing). Then when she saw us after the concert she recognized us and said hello again.

Of course being friendly is not the only emotion what you can expect from Danish people. They can also shout very angrily if you block the traffic on the cycling road by accident or if you fail to apply a traffic rule for bikers correctly. I think cycling and cycling the correct way is something very important for the people living here.

Well..these are just superficial impressions which do not tell much about certain individuals here. These might help though to understand the rules of everyday interaction in Denmark a bit better. But it is always worth to dig a bit deeper when trying to get to know certain individuals or the local culture in general.

PS.: Cycling here is sometimes a very interesting experience. The break is on the other side as usual, it takes a really high level of concentration to understand how to continue to your desired direction when the lane continues straight and you can also turn right/left. People are biking quite fast and this is the only place where I felt the irritation towards tourists here. If I would have listened a bit more I could have learned also some Danish on the way which reminded me a bit of Germany. Not to speak about the wind: if you have a basket on the bike you should really watch out that half of your stuff is not flying away while you are riding the bike and highly concentrating.

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