Exactly Four months in Copenhagen, here I am sharing what I experienced based on the tumblr http://whenyouliveindenmark.tumblr.com check it out ;)
Exactly Four months in Copenhagen, here I am sharing what I experienced based on the tumblr http://whenyouliveindenmark.tumblr.com check it out ;)
Alright, today it’s time to write again. It’s as if I was caught in a dry spell the last few months but I didn’t write much. I don’t know why, sometimes I felt uninspired and some others, that I had so much to say I didn’t know where to begin.
I experimented a bit. Join this blogging 101 thing but it wasn’t for me I guess. And I move to Copenhagen.
That’s a big change and maybe I had less time to spend on writing too. I got a job (actually two), join Danish class, taking some volunteering job as well. It has been busy but I haven’t stopped looking at my surroundings, spying on the Danes and …just existing in a foreign land.
I also decided I will go back to study. I am in the process now of applying, but something with culture. Not art …but different cultures, how it affects us and something like that. I don’t know if I will stay in Denmark, or move somewhere else, maybe…go back to France (what?!?) everything is possible.
So here it is, I broke the silence and more articles will come. I have been doing a lot of progress in Danish so…you can expect to read on that soon :)
You are abroad and your plane just landed, the first person you see wears a huge cooking pot on his head like a hat. You may think “mmh that’s the custom, I should probably do that to fit in culturally”.So you go the first store, get a pot and here you are, ready to embrace this foreign culture.
What if the person was part of strange sect, or maybe lost a bet. He could also simply be crazy. He isn’t the majority, he is one of them but he isn’t all of them. The line between individual differences and cultural differences is blurred when you are abroad because you don’t know the custom, therefore you could think that if someone seem rude to you it might be cultural whereas they could simply be a jerk :), to what extend culture affect one’s behaviour, and to what extend is it his own personality? That’s a question I would love to answer someday.
Therefore if you want to integrate to what extend should you strectch your values and change? To the point when they break and you aren’t even yourself anymore, too scared to be put aside?
Well the good news are that as a foreigner :
We are all different no matter where we come from still we usually want the same things: connecting with others, feeling we belong somewhere.
While trying to be culturally aware and sensitive when we travel it’s good to keep in mind that nobody likes to be seen as walking cliché. We are all individuals and especially in western society we like to emphasize how unique we are, how different we think from our neighbour therefore, therefore don’t jump into conclusion when you meet a foreign person (or background it can apply to any situation) , they might be like that because of their cultural background, or because it’s their personality…probably a mix of both but at the end what matters is how open you are to the communication between the two of you.
Exactly one year ago I landed in Tel Aviv and I was on my way to Bar’am.
My flight was on the 6th at night and my mom called me like 3 times asking me if I was sure I wanted to go because she had heard on the radio something about Syria…But I really wanted to go even though I wouldn’t know until the following where I would live for the next 3 months.
After I left the office I had 5 hours of travel. 5 hours to wonder if I had picked a “good” kibbutz, if I would enjoy it there, if this wasn’t a big mistake after all? But as soon as I met the volunteers it was fine. Better than that actually.
So what happened since? Where am I now ? What did I get from this?
In the kibbutz I lived surrounded by people 24hours a day, with so many different nationalities and languages spoken. My Bar’am family spreads all over the world. In June I will visit some of my closest friend from the kibbutz, in Sweden :)
After 3 amazing months there I left. That was heartbreaking. I have never cried when leaving a place or a country because I felt it was time to move on, but the kibbutz that was something. I cried in the volunteer office, while handing my keys, in the car to Tel Aviv, in the hostel, at the airport, in the plane. Almost non stop until the plane landed in Paris and when my mom asked on the phone if I was happy to be home I said “NO” I didn’t want to speak because I was too sad.
I was very excited to go to Denmark then because I hated being home but what wasn’t good is I still had in mind the kibbutz and how I missed it. So I was a sad person for some time.
Have you heard of the cultural shock ? Because in September I was right in. Basically you can’t deal with the “strangeness” of the new place you are so you close down. After being extra social 3 months, I was “extra alone” for a little while. Luckily the volunteers with me were incredibly sweet and nice.The Danes I met weren’t so terrible people, it was just..the circumstances were difficult.
The Danes are probably the most individualistic people I have ever met, (not in a bad way) comparing to other places I lived in. So imagine the transition between a place where people come to be social all the time and have fun, and a place where people have a specific goal, want to work hard on themselves, stay focused.Plus they have their life here already, with friends etc…So it’s understandable it was harder to connect at first. It was a bit like the Israeli members or the kibbutz, they have their life their and you are one more volunteer passing…
It was challenging but I adapted ok I guess, even if it took time. I became more flexible at work.
I wasn’t so convince by my volunteer work here, however I really like how people work in Denmark. You don’t have the hierarchy like in France, where the boss give you order you will follow, I feel it’s more equal, my mentor give me ideas and what he has in mind but then we are really free to try what we want. So I developed skills and tried things I didn’t think I would have the opportunity to do elsewhere.
I also had to question my self a lot. Especially because I was very negative when I came to Denmark, and it was easier to blame everyone else but myself for that.
It may seem a contradiction because everybody thinks Danish don’t express their feelings but I improved a lot with this here!
In France we like to be emotional, sometimes dramatic and we think that we communicate well this way. Well not really, we just hope everybody will guess what is on our mind just looking at our face and being angry when something is wrong will be enough for it to change. Here it doesn’t work (it didn’t work in the kibbutz either…I didn’t realize it, that’s all) so even if it might be hard for me I have to use words and not my face because I understood people aren’t psychic. I feel happier this way trust me :)
I had incredible experiences in both places (and more to come!): hitch hiking, meeting amazing people ( I am proud to prove my dear Martin, that yes there are actually nice Danes in Denmark, and some have empathy!!! ;) ), visiting beautiful places, trying new food…
Today I am happy because the friends I met one year ago in Israel are still close to me, we manage to see each other and I would have not imagine having such friendship. I wonder if in one year I will still be in touch with the friends I have here, I hope so, but I don’t even know where I will be so…for now I will just enjoy it :)
I think I am a happier person now that one year ago even if it wasn’t easy everyday and that’s nice!!!
Il y a environ un mois j’avais écrit ici à quel point cela pouvait être dur socialement au Danemark.
Je ne dirais pas que tout à changer mais presque. Déjà, j’ai changé, et mon opinion à changer. Il faut dire que beaucoup de chose ce sont passées ici depuis fin mars. Si vous avez suivi
ou pas bande de feignasses je suis dans une sorte d’école qui entre autre prépare une des classes à l’école de comédie musicale (ceux du fond, je vous entends rigoler, c’était ma première réaction mais ils ne sont pas cons, elles ne sont pas faites par des français c’est tout de suite mieux! Personnes ne se cachent ici, ils ne se font pas lapider quand ils disent aimer les comédies musicales! ). Cette école recrute 8 élèves par an. Ici 25 postulaient déjà…Vous êtes fort en maths, donc bien sûr une bonne claque pour la majorité et même moi qui ai un coeur de pierre parfois je me sentait triste pour eux (j’ai quand même vu une amie PRESQUE pleurer! C’était effrayant…un danois ne pleure jamais).
Mais une fois cela passé ainsi que le stress avant les auditions et bien ils étaient bien mieux lunés. Puis j’ai pris l’air à Copenhague. Je trouve cette capitale vraiment sympa, certes ça en mets pas plein la vue comme Paris ou Londres mais c’est agréable à vivre, ce n’est pas stressant et c’est jolie. Je pense que je vais rester ici en tout cas c’est ce que j’ai décidé. Sauf que du coup je panique
un peu beaucoup (ouais déjà!) car il faudra trouver un taf, trouver un appart et puis surtout payer même ma nourriture (ben ouais en tant que volontaire dans une école ma vie st drôlement facilitée et pas très coûteuse..). En plus tous les danois de l’école sont aussi en recherche de taf et ils stressent, et ils ME stressent :) Oh joie!
Et donc la situation sociale, c’est améliorer en partie grâce à une dispute. Je me dis parfois que c’était un de nos modes de communication préféré en France (comparé à ici j’entends) mais au Danemark ça peut servir aussi. Un danois en colère n’est pas très différent de son lui-même normal. Il a juste le coeur qui bat plus vite mais il ne crie pas ou ne devient pas tout rouge, c’est presque drôle quand vous n’êtes pas la cible.
En fait tout a commencé avec cette amie, je n’étais pas de bonne humeur et elle parlait d’un sujet qui m’énervait (la fourrure dans la mode je crois… ouais on a des débats de dingue ici ) et ne voulait pas en changer donc je l’ai planté, je me suis juste levée et je suis partie. Apparemment ça ne se fait pas ici (ouais je sais c’est mal je suis méchante et immature mais on fait souvent ça dans ma famille…). Je suis revenue 5 minutes après et on a du mettre les choses au clair. Je reprochais souvent aux danois
tous mes malheurs d’être super gentil un jour et de m’ignorer le lendemain. Alors imaginez ma tête quand mon amie m’a dit la même chose sur MOI! En fait quand quelqu’un me fait ça perso je ne veux plus faire d’effort et je me ferme. Ouais c’est con mais réflexe de protection si on s’ouvre trop on prends le risque d’être triste :) Le résultat c’est qu’elle me percevait de la même façon et ne voulait plus faire d’effort. Du coup ça nous à forcé à changer.
Puis en changeant avec elle, j’ai changé avec les autres et ça marche tellement mieux. C’est difficile de se remettre en question. Ca blesse mais c’est un mal nécessaire. Un des volontaires que je connais, un espagnol, déteste le Danemark, il ne fait que de se plaindre il a un avis très tranché. Je l’ai vu avant ce gros changement et j’avais moi même une expérience pas très facile et finalement il m’a soûlé, parce que c’est lourd de se pencher juste sur ce qu’on aime pas et surtout je me rendais compte qu’il ne se remettait jamais en cause lui. Et je me suis dit peut être que je suis pareille…Au final, j’avais peur d’expliquer ce que je vivais ici, aussi car je pensais être incomprise et que personne n’écoutait. Ce qui est sûr c’est que ce n’est pas en gardant tout à l’intérieur que la situation allait se régler. Un ami danois (Martin mon coloc du kibboutz, et oui on se voit toujours) m’a dit la dernière fois de changer ce que je n’acceptais pas et d’acceptais ce que je ne pouvais pas changer.
Donc je ne sais pas si j’aurais des amis pour la vie ici, si je vais en revoir certain ou pas mais pour le moment je préfère m’amuser, on passe de bon moments et je verrais dans deux mois, ce sera un nouveau départ. En attendant après ce post jeracontemavie.com voilà quelques photos, on a voyagé avec ma famille (tout un programme, je pourrais en faire un film d’auteur français…) à travers le pays.
Today we had the weekly meeting we always have in the school on fridays. It was very nice actually, first we were sitting on the floor. I don’t mind chairs but I found it more cosy and relaxed. One of the students Aki, prepared a song for us in Japanese and that was quite incredible, she had a very nice voice! And it’s so different to the songs you are used to when it’s in Japanese. So Torben was in charge of the meeting. He is one of a kind. I always wonder when I see him what can be in his mind and it always makes me laugh. He is a very funny guy and full of ideas and energy.
So he talked to us about wellness and music, and we listened to a song he composed to fix our chakra on the solar plexus. So here we were, all lying on the floor and listening to this song. I thought people around me were falling asleep, it was very relaxing.
Then he talked about the program of the week end, I like this one part “running through the woods” because I pictures a bunch of people running like mad man in the forest and I found it amusing, but actully he meant it in a more normal way like, you have running shoes and run together….well I prefer my version.
And then the serious talk came on.
You see, we have a yoghurt crisis in the school since this week. It seems to be quite a big deal. It all started when the kitchen realised that we were swallowing twice more yoghurt as usual. Literally. And it has a price, so they decided from now on it will only be at breakfast and not for snack. (yes you see in Denmark they are much healthier when it comes to snack, it’s fruit and muesli and yoghurt but well muesli on it’s own?? dry right?).
And the international students were very annoyed because on week ends it’s usually their main dish. On week ends we have brunch. It’s not bad but it’s less food so usually you get hungry earlier.
Also some of them aren’t so keen or used to Danish food so I can understand that yoghurt is safe value for them. So we started to have this debate. Why we ate so much yoghurt, and what can we have instead. In a way it’s more than interesting than it seems because it’s a good example of cultural differences here.
Many of the international students eat very different food and it’s difficult to adjust. Of course the school cannot provide their food from home but well if there is most of the things you can’t eat, both have to compromise. One of them said he found the bread too hard so he has to dip it in the water. Well I am afraid that Denmark cannot change their bread and personally I think that at least it has taste not like this awful white bread that I found in the UK.
But we do have some alternative. Often the Nepalese cook for us amazing dinner on week ends and that’s terrific! so much spices and flavor yum yum!
It’s 2014 and I am still in Denmark, unbelievable. So I came back to the højskole in January on the 9th.
I had training just before in Copenhagen which was very nice and I didn’t really know what to expect from the Danish when I would go back because well they have very different social skills right but it was a good surprise because they were so nice and some literally jumped on me (weird, you have to be away 3 weeks and people love you! good to know).
I also noticed that a lot of them aren’t scared anymore and talk to us ( maybe they weren’t scared of us but now they acknowledge our existence, it feels odd! but good) and the one we “knew” before are more friendly so that’s cool.
But some people were missing.
The class of International students is completely new. 18 new faces from Ghana, Nepal, China , Latvia, Hungary, Lithuania, Turkey and Japan.
Communicating is always a challenge,so imagine now! For instance we have 6 Chinese here. Some have a decent English you can have a conversation with them, some….well it’s complicated. It’s funny because we learn Danish together and sometimes they try to use it but we don’t get anything because we don’t speak Danish either.
But what is odd is the “group effect”. All of sudden they forget everything they know of English and stare at you with a blank face, like you are an Alien from another planet! And you do silly moves speak slower, louder, eventually they will nod but you will have given up before they really understood anyway.
So when you have crucial information you realise you talk to them like you would to simple minded people, and it makes you sound very rude! I literally said once to them “Asian!!! Go there now!” how awful!
There is this one Chinese guy I love to talk with, even though I don’t think he ever understood me. With the girl from Hungary we asked him “where were you?” and he said ” I am fine”…. but at least he answered!
This girl from Hungary is pretty cool, we realize that it’s easier to bond with Europeans because we are similar in so many ways. But something we can’t beat her at is drinking vodka! Once I saw her sipping it like water, and I had pretty good training at the kibbutz but now I suck.
So imagine this weird combination trying to mix with the Danes. My dear Danish that I still can’t figure out but at least I have one good friend now so I can ask her, she is a bit like my guide here. For instance I come to her when I have all this stupid question, like why do you guys don’t say hello all the time like we do? Why don’t you confront and argue all the time like French? Why the word please doesn’t exist in Danish?
So it was pretty funny to see how the Danish girls reacted to the guys from Ghana asking “hey , are you married?”. It reminded me of all the wedding proposal I had in Zambia, even though Ghana is pretty different. So their Danish teacher made them a Danish session about how to ask out girls in Danish. Not sure it worked but it’s just beginning.
We also have new Nepalese but they are the complete opposite of the one we new before: the first group was loud, noisy, crazy, drunk, troublemakers and the most lovely guys on earth.
This new group is much more chilled, sweet and …behaved!
It’s good to realise that you can’t generalise about a whole culture just knowing some of them, like the Nepalese, we expected to have crazy boys. They are all different. My Danish friend keep telling me that this school isn’t Denmark and I believe her, the students here are “special” (not in this way…) and that I need to get out and experience Denmark differently…
And now it’s snowing it’s awesome!!! I realised I had one talent, maybe I can’t sing or dance or act but I am pretty good at snowball fight!
Aujourd’hui un article un peu particulier. Et oui aujourd’hui on fête un anniversaire! Celui de l’école où je suis volontaire.
Mon école est spéciale (pour ne pas dire étrange mais bon ça c’est un autre débat…), c’est le genre de choses qu’on ne trouve qu’au Danemark. Ils appellent ça højskole (si tu trouves cela imprononçable et bien….moi aussi!).
Tout à commencer avec Grundtvig, un gars avec de multiples talents (écrivain, poète, pédagogue…merci wikipédia!) qui pensait que ce serait bien d’éduquer les masses plutôt que seulement les nobles, et à l’époque c’était assez révolutionnaire comme concept. Donc ces écoles sont apparues partout dans le pays. Pas d’examen d’entrée ni de sortie, le but c’est d’apprendre sur divers sujet pour soit, d’être “éclairé” (ouais l’influence des Lumières t’as vu! La France est PARTOUT).
Mon école est donc l’une de ces højskole, mais elle a bien évoluée depuis 100 ans. Je sais que pendant un moment il y a eu des gymnastes qui s’entraînaient ici mais aussi des pêcheurs, dans les années 90 des geeks, pour apprendre l’informatique. Mais depuis un moment c’est les comédies musicales.
J’en entends rigoler dans le coin. Mais les comédies musicales au Danemark c’est du sérieux, ce n’est pas les trucs minables à la Kamel Ouali qu’on a en France, où avouer qu’on aime, c’est être rejeté par sa famille et ses amis! Ici non, il y a même une école nationale de comédie musicale, oui je suis sérieuse! Et c’est dans cette école que les élèves de cette classe veulent entrer, donc ils se préparent ici.
Mais il y a aussi théâtre, internationaux et “jeunes”. Les jeunes c’est un programme un peu particulier, ce sont des jeunes (oui comme le nom l’indique) qui ne peuvent pas suivre au lycée pour diverses raisons, donc ils sont envoyés ici pour pouvoir rattraper leur retard et être plus soutenu en cours et d’un point de vue personnel.
Bien sûr le fait qu’il n’y ai pas d’exam n’est pas la seule différence, l’enseignement est très différent de tout ce que j’ai vu, c’est très relax comparé à la France. Rien que la relation prof-étudiant, le vouvoiement, les noms de famille on oublie. Je trouve que le dialogue est bien plus présent aussi. Et on est vraiment libre, que ce soit les étudiants ou les professeurs, ici prendre des initiatives c’est bienvenue même très encouragées. Du coup l’école évolue sans cesse. Après ça peut être déstabilisant parce que la méthode de travail est très différent mais je reviendrais là dessus
Bon je vais arrêter de parler et laisser parler les images (oui je fais de la pub pour mon taf, aucune honte!). Je vous encourage bien sûr vivement à regarder toutes les vidéos! Voici la chaîne et aussi notre blog!
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.
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:
This is why foreigners who settle down in Copenhagen shouldn’t leave Copenhagen NEVER or this happens:
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.
This is my new motto since we had our first Danish lesson with my team mate Helena.
So because we currently are illegal immigrant (tomorrow this will be sorted because we will get our resident permit yeah! ) we don’t have a CPR number: without this your life in denmark is HELL: something as simple as getting the youth card for the train reduction you can’t do it here without this magical CPR number… I wouldn’t be surprised if they ask me next time I go to a restaurant…
In the meantime we started Danish lesson with the Global students. Helena asked me what I expect from this class, I answered nothing but she said “ahhh common don’t react like this (being so
French negative!) at least we will learn Danish!”
So now you can imagine the look I gave her when the teacher said
Today in Danish Class we aren’t going to learn danish…
Helena NO EXPECTATION!
I also kind of gave up my idea of working with students however it seems that as soon as I gave up on something they come to me!
Things I gave up last week:
As you can tell I also don’t expect to see the sun for the next 10 months….
I was also quite depressed you know, the project being everything but what is described, not understand why I have been selected…I don’t know if I will like it still but I came to a point giving it a chance anyway. I have my arrival training (training that is common to all EVS volunteers of the country) in October, so I can share my experience and compare with others and then see what to do.
To go back on my expectations, sorry absence of expectation, some crazy things happened:
You have to understand one thing when you do an EVS: it will not be as it is suppose to be, but you should know if you travel or if you have a normal life because I still live in a dream that everything should be fine :) Silly me!
c'est la vie
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