This is what Helena told me after the day we spent in Odense. We were invited to meet other EVS volunteers of the area and visit the city. This day was much more than this: we understood that everything we have been doing since here, to bond with Danes was WRONG. SOOOO WRONG.
We met two Italian volunteers that have been here for 4 months, so they know much more than us! A very nice guy from Venezuela joined us but he has been here for a month only. We were in a way reassured to see our experience have been so similar… Our guide was a Danish girl, very nice and friendly who gave us a lesson about what to NOT do with Danes.
- BE POLITE, no please no
- Don’t say hello once a week is the maximum, we aren’t in Spain don’t say hello every time you see someone, you are invading their personal space.
- don’t kiss or hug this is very important, don’t touch too much Danes they like distance, the personal bubble of Danes is way bigger than most Latin European ( I don’t know if French fit in this category but I would say we are more similar to Spanish and Italian than Danes so for me yes) , about 10 meters should always separate you from them, you are not dating them are you?
- Don’t compliment please don’t do that it’s super rude to say someone has a nice t-shirt, I am not sure why but I assume it’s related to this privacy thing…
- If you had a nice chat with someone don’t acknowledge their existence the next day they need privacy ok, don’t even think of saying hello or even..
- SMILING, don’t smile to people you recognize no non no, if you see your co workers in the streets act like they are invisible outside of the office.
- If you meet one friend in a place and another one happens to be around ignore them because you had an appointment with the first one so it’s rude to share your self between people. Danish are possessive ( and they like privacy)
- Don’t say sorry all the time
To sum up be rude: remember in danish there is no equivalent of the word please…there is a reason for that…
So all the good manners your parents teach them, forget about it and you are halfway to de Danish!
We also had a language session:
- øl (pronounce euuuul) you will need it to survive but if you don’t like beer, cider or wine will do. Helena is on Tequila now…
- skål (pronounce SKOOOL you have to scream it too) if there is one time you can be polite it’s when Danish are trying to break your glass with theirs. Works well when there is an awkward silence as well. Some even do it with water.
- hvad (Vèl I will never get how they pronounce the d here…never) Danes use this word all the time. You know why? Because even themselves can’t understand each other! A Dane told me language is only 6% of the communication! I understand him because if you rely on the mumbles that Danes qualify as words you won’t go so far… Also even if their country is so small that you don’t even realise you are already in Germany, people from Seeland can’t understand people from Jylland…AND THEY ARE 5 MILLION!!
This is why foreigners who settle down in Copenhagen shouldn’t leave Copenhagen NEVER or this happens:
- …sighting backward…apparently this is a way of agreeing in Danish…very interesting, but some Danes told me they find this habit very ridiculous….I think it’s funny, now I want to laugh every time I see someone doing it, I wonder if that’s considered rude in the Danish code of conduct…
Now I know all of this, it all make sense, why students ignored us for two weeks at first…it’s not because we are invisible (I alsmost start to think I developed a super power really!) they were just respecting our privacy.