Denmark: 3. After My First Month Abroad


Overall, adjusting to the Danish culture has been relatively smooth for the most part. I have learned that there are definitely a few distinct differences between Danish and American cultural norms, but I have been fascinated to learn the differences. One difference is that it is not normal in Danish culture to smile or engage with cute babies or dogs when you pass them on the street. I was unaware of this cultural difference at first, and I was acting like I was in the United States and always stopping to wave and smile at babies and dogs. It wasn’t until my friend shared the difference with me that I realized how parents were actually not responding how they would typically respond in the United States. In the United States, parents typically respond positively when you interact with their kids, but I realized that parents in Denmark didn’t seem to be amused. At first, I assumed it was just because they don’t have as friendly of a culture as that of the U.S., but apparently engaging with their kids is not culturally acceptable. It was an interesting realization, and I still am getting used to this seemingly strange cultural “rule,” but it is just part of adapting to a new culture.


Secondly, it is also not a cultural norm here to say “excuse me” when you bump into someone or when you are trying to get by someone. Instead, the Danes just push through, and don’t look back if they nudge or bump you aside. I was in a store a few days ago when one woman blatantly bumped into me as she moved by me, and at first I was caught off-guard that she did not turn around to apologize or say “excuse me.” I wondered if there was something I had done to bother her that made her nudge past me, but later my friends explained that it is just part of the Danish culture. In some ways, it is a good thing because everyone is not always apologizing for brushing past someone, but it can definitely catch you off-guard. They do not use the word excuse me, so it is something you just have to get used to. I just realized that the woman was not doing it intentionally or with bad intentions, so I let it go and learned a new thing about the Danish culture.


Although I am studying in a country where Danish is the national language, everyone here speaks english. Besides the children, you can essentially speak to anyone in english and they will understand you. That has made it easy to navigate and live here, especially because I know little to no Danish. The hardest thing about being in a country with a different national language is reading the signs and the labels in grocery stores. However, besides that, it has been easy to navigate. I think that I definitely need to stretch myself to learn the Danish language a little more, but I am going to visit my friend’s host family with her and hopefully learn some Danish in that setting. Overall, it has been a great experience thus far in Copenhagen, and it is honestly moving too fast.



Nell Green


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