Thursday, October 3, 2013

Living and working with the Danes

Before coming in Copenhagen i have read a lot about working in Denmark.
How people are working in teams, how there is no clear hierarchy and that everybody's opinion matters..
Nothing could prepare me though for what i would really encounter here...

First of all, let me clear out something. I am a short girl coming from a southern country: even if i hate stereotypes, this actually means that i have dark hair, dark skin and since my country is under "crisis" i am used to work like a slave. My personal life was never a priority and my "rights" as an employee could be described as limited (if not non existing).

STEP 1: First impression

When i first arrived in this wonderful country, Danish people were just huge. White, blond and huge. They were looking at me from up there (since there is clearly a significant height difference) like huge white giants and they would start speaking as if they were puking (yes! the way they pronounce "d" sounds like puking in my ears. Try out the word "hedder" and you will get the point..). I was terrified. 

STEP 2: A closer look

Taking a closer look at the Danes, the first thing i observed was their relation with "time". My thought back then was that since they were so huge they are looking "time" from above. From up there. And even though looking things from up there should make time look tiny, thus not enough, Danes still feel as if they have loooads of time ahead. And that is why they never hurry. Some of them think they are anxious. But in reality and to my small southern eyes, they are never anxious. They take their time = They plan ahead = They avoid mistakes = They are efficient.

STEP 3: Getting to know them better and better

Danes have rights that are earned long time ago and noone can just cancel or challenge this fact. They have the right to have a personal life, which will always be their priority number one. And they do not need to fight for that. They work to live and not live to work. And whoever tries to challenge that, he will simply just fail. In this country people know that they have the right to smile and just say "No, thank you!".And that is accepted from all: boses, colleagues, managers, supervisors..
In the majority of this world's countries, people have a formal way of speaking to those they do not know or to their "superiors". Thus they are using what in english is the formal "you": a polite plural that expresses respect towards someone. Well, Danes do not use this formal way of speaking. Everyone is equal. Your boss is equal with you. There is no "Dear Mr. Andersen". There is "Hi John" instead. Even a giant Dane and a tiny dwarf like me are equals.
Their cities are made for them. They have the right to enjoy them. Whenever the sun is out, they forget that tomorrow even exist and they lie naked in the parks. They grab their bears and they stroll laughing around the lakes.

Danes have understood what is important in this life: living it. 
And we should learn something from them. 
Don't panic, stay calm, smile more, live the moment :)


  1. Hi there,

    Always nice to hear some stories like this. Don't worry if your are little darker. I'm quite blond and blue eyes but I don' speak Danish yet. Once someone started to talk very fast Danish to me and then understanding that , I don't understand anything I tell them that I do not know Danish so good to what I go the reply : " Oh sorry , not used to speak English to a blond person.
    I leave close to the canal ,yes it is true ...first time I could not believe to see all the people lying in the sun and taking the sun-bath in the middle of the city ... 5 mins to Central Station ...
    When taking a bike in the train , I was just amazed to see people standing up from theirs chairs to help you to park your bike ...then you start to do the same ...
    Danes are really very helpful , they really think that if they will help today,tomorrow someone else will help them , if they will bring some cookies today , tomorrow someone else will bring and share too...
    Tough there are many many positive things you have to take care how you say things, because they might be thinking personal sometimes ....

  2. Hello there!
    Please don't mind but are you from Italy?