Is it really that important to make friends with Danes? The short answer is yes. Of course. To live, to thrive, to truly experience Denmark while living here, you need to interact with the locals, as you would do in any other country as well. However, befriending a Dane can be a little bit difficult, for various reason. We are not the most inviting people, but it is not because we are rude, but rather because we sometimes tend to see challenges rather than opportunities. We need to change this, we need to create cross-cultural friendships – for all of our sakes! So, please take my advice and start the conversation. Here are 7 ways to befriend a Dane:
The easiest way to meet Danes and interact is through your job or your school. This is also typically where adult Danes make new friends. Here you can start a conversation over lunch, or you can comment on how little sleep you got last night over the coffee machine, because you just had to watch that last episode of Borgen.
If you’re a parent: Be engaged and active at your child’s school or day care/kindergarten. Strike a conversation with other parents when dropping off or picking up your child, and volunteer to help out with the planned activities.
- Bars and clubs
If you’re up for it: Go to the bars and the clubs. Order a nice cold Danish beer, and start talking to the person next to you – but be a little careful, please. Be polite and accept if he/she would rather be alone. Starting conversations in bars can quickly be perceived as flirting, and if that is not your intention, be completely honest and share your story.
- Local events
Check out the events in your hometown, or the larger cities close by; are there any events planned? If so, go! Participate! Be curious! Volunteer! Smile to everyone you meet, and when you get the chance, start a conversation about the event.
- Unions and clubs
As you might know, Danes love to unite in unions and clubs, and volunteers mainly run it. So, if there is a football club, a gymnastics team, a knitting club, or a nature club – you name it – close to where you live, sign up. This is the perfect place to meet fellow grown-ups and to make friends. Depending on where you live, the number of clubs might differ; so try not to be too picky the first time you sign up.
- Evening school
Do you have something on your bucket-list that you have yet to cross off? Maybe you want to learn a new language (other than Danish, of course)? Maybe you want to learn how to cook French food? Maybe you want to learn how to play the guitar? If so Denmark has a proud tradition of offering evening-classes covering many different subjects and genres. This is also a perfect place to make new friends. You are all there for a reason: to learn. You are all at the same level, and you are all humble and motivated. That’s the perfect place to start a conversation.
- Learn Danish
Learn Danish. I cannot stress this enough. We Danes like to speak English for a short time, but then we want to switch back to Danish. Simply because we become too self-aware when we speak a foreign language for a longer period of time – as do everyone, I think. Danish is difficult yes, but if you practice, if you stay motivated, if you are patient, you will learn. This is my promise to you. You don’t need to be fluent in half a year (and don’t expect to be, please), but if you at least have some of the basic sentences, basic phrases, and a basic understanding of the language, you are ready to show off your skills to a Dane. We love when internationals make the effort to learn our language, and we will give you endless compliments for it.