One year ago today I arrived in Denmark. From London, via Hamburg. I arrived exhausted – it was a gruelling trip, what with luggage and train cancellations. However, it signified the start of a new life: a new country and a new job in a new field. I was excited.
Having known Michael for around 4 years, I had, of course, often visited Denmark. During these visits I had encountered a country that looked ‘like in the films’: green rolling hills in spring and summer, golden reddish hues in autumn, and snow! However, most of all, houses had attics – with sloping roofs! You may say – why the excitement? But I come from a country with flat roofs and sloping roofs was what all houses in fairytales had when growing up!
However, I was also apprehensive. I had experienced quite a number of Danes who solely looked inwards towards Denmark and Danes rather than outwards towards the rest of the world. These were people who really believed that everything in Denmark is the best in the world. An attitude, might I add, I had never encountered previously and is the complete opposite to what I expect. This did not sit easy with me – I like to question everything, if only to understand. This is a country where ‘hygge’ and a happy time is important above all else. Coming from a confrontational society, where arguments are relished, I was worried.
So what have I found? I have found a bit of both. Lovely nature that is opposite to the dry and urbanised landscape I grew up with. But also, people with different norms of what is acceptable discourse and what is not, and individuals who struggled with my questions as they were used to having what they say accepted without being challenged in the hope by others of keeping the peace.
Over all, however, I am happy to be here. I appreciate the nature I have around me. I appreciate having the possibilities I have been given in being involved in the community. Above all else, however, I have learnt more about Danish culture and what causes people to act the way they do. This has come in handy in feeling less affronted by what I am told and confronted with, and – why not? – in knowing what buttons to push when I feel its time to give my argumentation skills some exercise!