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Podcasts, Stories about life in Denmark

The non-drinkers’s guide to Danish Christmas parties

If you enjoy getting very drunk at Christmas parties, so drunk you can barely find your way home, you will fit in well at the traditional Danish Christmas party.

Alcohol is the blood that flows through Danish Christmas parties, and flows and flows. An evening will probably start off with cocktails – or perhaps some gløgg, hot spiced wine with brandy – then move into plenty of wine with dinner.

After dinner there will be beer, and more wine, and perhaps some more cocktails in between turns on the dance floor.

Even corporate employee Christmas parties are sometimes so wild and soused that people forget themselves with their colleagues and end up in trouble with their partner at home.

So what do you do if you’re invited to a Danish Christmas party and you’re a non-drinker?

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Podcasts, Stories about life in Denmark

Denmark’s big and wonderful second-hand economy

I missed a gala opening last week. It wasn’t of an opera or a nightclub, but of Copenhagen’s big new Genbrug Center, a place set up by the local government where people can leave stuff they don’t want and other people can take it for free.

The party seems to have been a hit. I saw photos of people leaving with chic leather chairs, kitchenware, lumber for building, even an electric guitar.

There is a network of these “genbrug” (recycling) stations all over all over the country, 13 in Copenhagen alone, full of lovely things that people simply can’t use any more.

Maybe they bought a new one, maybe they’re cleaning out the basement or a storage locker, maybe they’ve fallen in love and are moving in with someone who already has a toaster.

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On the Road, Stories about life in Denmark

How to Live in Denmark On the Road: The Tunnel to Germany

Getting to Sweden from Copenhagen is easy: you take a quick trip across the Øresund Bridge in your car or on the train. Getting to Norway from Copenhagen isn’t too hard: there’s a ferry that runs every day from Nordhavn.

Getting to Germany from Copenhagen, on the other hand, is a headache.

If you don’t want to fly or take the long way around through Jutland, you need to head for the little Danish town of Rødbyhavn, on the island of Lolland. Then your train or car or truck drives into the belly of a giant ferry. Then you get off on the other side in the little German town of Puttgarten and continue along your way.

The giant ferries are fun. Up top, they have duty-free shops and game arcades and restaurants where you eat very quickly, because it’s only about a half-hour trip.

But, as of 2029, the trip will be a lot quicker and a lot easier.

That’s when the tunnel between Denmark and Germany is scheduled to open.

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In the Media

BBC.com: How to Live in Denmark and “the single word that connects Denmark”

How to Live in Denmark makes an appearance in the BBC.com story “The Single Word that Connects Denmark.”

According to writer Karen Gardiner, the single word that connects Denmark is samfundssind, or putting the interests of society above one’s own interests.

She quotes Kay Xander Mellish about the ways in which samfundssind is created and encouraged in Denmark.

Heavily subsidised through taxes, Danish daycare centres foster social mindedness early in life. “Almost everyone goes to public daycare in Denmark,” said Kay Xander Mellish, author of the books How to Live in Denmark and How to Work in Denmark.

“Even Prince Christian, the future King Christian XI, attended public daycare.” Every child born in Denmark is guaranteed a place in daycare from six months to six years of age where the emphasis is on playing and socialising – formal education doesn’t begin until age eight or nine.

“In the first few years,” said Mellish, “children learn the basic rules for functioning as a society. They learn how to sit at a table at lunch time, wait until it is their turn to be served, and feed themselves. In the playground, they spend most of their time in “free play”, in which they make up rules for their own games.”

Staff generally don’t lead play, she explained, which “allows the children to form their own groups and learn how to work together on their own.”

Often, Mellish added, schools start the day by singing a song together from the popular Højskolesangbogen, (the Folk High School Songbook), a cultural tradition that extends to universities, offices and, on Wednesday mornings, Copenhagen Main Library.

You can read the complete article here.

On the Road, Stories about life in Denmark

How to Live in Denmark On the Road: Copenhagen’s Harbor Bus, “Havnebussen”

One of Denmark’s cheapest and most colorful vacations is a few hours riding back and forth on Copenhagen’s big yellow harbor bus, or “Havnebussen”, a commuter ferry designed to transport ordinary citizens between downtown and the urban islands of Christianshavn and Amager.

For those of you who have no summer vacation plans yet, or who don’t have the cash to go very far, the harbor bus can take you from tourist trap to high culture to party culture, from shabby little wood shacks to neighborhoods of chic glass apartment houses with their own private beach.

All for as little as 14 kroner, or 2 euro, if you pay with Denmark’s popular rejsekort, or nothing, if you’re a tourist with a Copenhagen Card. (Beware – you cannot buy a ticket onboard, although you can pay with with the DOT Tickets app on your phone.)

You can start at any of the currently operational 7 Havnebussen stops, but let’s start at Nyhavn, in part because it’s the easiest stop to find if you don’t know Copenhagen well.

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Stories about life in Denmark

Moving to Denmark, a Guide for Americans

Moving to Denmark as an American has become a hot topic recently; I hear a lot from Americans interested in immigration to Denmark.

Since I’m selling books called How to Live in Denmark and How to Work in Denmark, you’d think I would encourage as many Americans as possible to look into Denmark immigration.

But moving to Denmark with a U.S. passport isn’t as easy as just buying a plane ticket and a lot of sweaters.

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In the Media

Amerikansk foredragsholder Kay Xander Mellish

Amerikansk foredragsholder Kay Xander Mellish leverer informerende og underholdende præsentationer om kulturelle forskelle og dansk arbejdskultur – samt hjælper danskere og udlændinge til at le, lære, omgå og forstå hinanden bedre.

Firmaeventsene How To Live in Denmark om dansk kultur er designet til at hjælpe internationale medarbejdere, deres og studerende med at føles sig bedre tilpas i Danmark og til at forstå den danske mentalitet bedre. Danskerne går som regel derfra med en større forståelse af både dem selv og deres udenlandske kolleger. Vores arrangementer er både underholdende og lærerige!

Kontakt os for at planlægge dit næste event.

Kay Xander Mellish har boet i Danmark i over 10 år. Hun har et konsulentfirma, der hjælper danske virksomheder med at kommunikere på engelsk. Hendes oplæg om dansk arbejdskultur, at finde sin plads i det danske samfund som nylig tilflytter, og de ”dangliske” ord, som sniger sig ind, når danskerne taler og skriver på engelsk er yderst populære.

Kay er desuden forfatter til bøgerne “How to Live in Denmark” (2014), “Top 35 Mistakes Danes Make in English” (2016), “How to Work in Denmark” (2018), “Working with Americans: Tips for Danes” (2019) og “Working with Danes: Tips for Americans” (2020.)

Amerikansk foredragsholder

“Jeg rejser rundt i hele landet og holder foredrag om en række forskellige emner,” siger Kay. “Jeg hjælper danskere og amerikanere med at få et bedre samarbejde ved at undgå kulturelle misforståelser. Jeg hjælper også med at introducere nyankomne til den danske kultur. Der findes mange uskrevne regler i den danske kultur. Danskerne kender til dem, men det gør udefrakommende ikke.”

“Derfor henvender jeg mig også til et dansk publikum og hjælper dem med at formulere deres forventninger og med at undersøge ting, de altid har taget for givet. Jeg besøger også skoler og fortæller om amerikansk kultur og om hvordan, det engelske sprog er under forandring. Jeg har skrevet adskillige bøger om dansk kultur og er også stemmen bag podcasten How to Live in Denmark, som har eksisteret siden 2013.”

“Hvis du vil vide mere om dansk kultur, kan du altid booke mig til at lave en præsentation for dit team eller din organisation – endda også virtuelt.”

Læs mere om Kay Xander Mellishs events.

Flip Book Working with Americans Working with Danes

Buy Kay Xander Mellish’s new book, Working with Danes: Tips for Americans/Working with Americans: Tips for Danes on our webshop, or at Amazon, Saxo, Google Books, Apple Books, Barnes & Noble Nook, or via our webshop.

Or follow Kay on LinkedIn.

Read in English: Kay Xander Mellish, American keynote speaker Denmark.

Denmark and the USA, In the Media

Kongressen.com: Forskelle på virksomhedskulturen i Danmark og i USA

Forskelle på virksomhedskulturen i Danmark og i USA var på agendaen når Kay Xander Mellish når blev interviewet af Kongressen.com.

Kay Xander Mellish, amerikansk forfatter og business coach, som har boet over ti år i Danmark og er aktuel med bogen “Working with Americans: Tips for Danes” and “Working with Danes: Tips for Americans”.

Hun siger, at entusiasme og positiv feedback er altafgørende for at få forretningssucces i USA, også selvom det gælder en rutineopgave. Ellers kan du blive opfattet som uinteresseret eller ligeglad.

Hvad er de primære forskelle på virksomhedskulturen i Danmark og i USA?

“En af dem er hierarki. I Danmark elsker vi fladt hierarki. Selvom en person er to niveauer over vores eget, går vi gerne direkte til ham eller hende.

“Amerikanerne er meget mere beskyttende i forhold til deres hierarki. De er succesorienterede og mener, at man når kun til tops, hvis man har særlige evner og talenter. Så hvis man oplever at blive omgået, bliver det set som meget respektløst,” siger Kay Xander Mellish.

Hun tilføjer, at Amerikanere forventer at få klare målsætninger på de opgaver, de får. Hvis du ikke selv er sikker på den præcise målsætning, så inddrag dine amerikanske samarbejdspartnere i at definere dem og husk at følge op.

Og Kay siger, at i USA forventer kunder at få hjælp omgående. Sørg for at det er muligt for dem at få kontakt til jer, og at medarbejdernes ferie overlapper hinanden. “Det duer det ikke at spise en amerikansk kunde af med, at Jens er på ferie i tre uger, og at kunden ikke kan få hjælp, før han er tilbage,” siger Kay Xander Mellish.

Læs mere om forskelle på virksomhedskulturen i Danmark og i USA på Kongressen.com.

Lær mere om Kay Xander Mellish, Amerikansk foredragsholder i Danmark – “Helping Danes and Americans Work Better Together.”

Køb Kay’s bøger, “Working with Americans: Tips for Danes” og “Working with Danes: Tips for Americans” på Saxo, Amazon, Google Books, Apple Books eller Kays webshop.

In the Media

The “13 Scale” and what it means for Danish working culture

Kay says: Something I often talk about when I talk about Danish working culture is the 13 scale.

The 13 scale was a grading scale used in Danish schools from the 1960s until about 15 years ago, so it’s likely to be influential on the people you do business with, even though it’s since been replaced.

Under the 13 scale, an excellent piece of work, a student paper that was pretty much flawless, would get a grade of 11. But….there was the opportunity to get a 13 – if you went beyond perfect, did something exceptional, and taught the teacher something.

This willingness to challenge authority, challenge the status quo and the accepted wisdom, is one of the reasons Denmark is so innovative and punches far beyond its weight on the world stage.

But for international managers, it can be tricky. When they are challenged by their team, they can confuse this lack of deference with lack of respect.

I’m the boss, thinks the international manager. I give you my wisdom, I make the decisions, you carry them out.

But that’s not where their Danish team is coming from. They believe that challenging the accepted wisdom is the best way to get to an inventive result, maybe even something groundbreaking, maybe even earn the workplace equivalent – of a grade of 13.

 

Book Kay for an in-person or virtual event: Read more.

See our previous video: “The Kvajebajer and Danish working culture

Stories about life in Denmark

How to Live in Denmark On the Road: Visiting Esbjerg, Ribe, Fanø

When I mentioned visiting Esbjerg for a few days off this spring, many of my friends in Copenhagen said – why? Esbjerg doesn’t have a reputation as a vacation spot, even though it’s the fifth-largest city in Denmark and the youngest big city.

My daughter, who is more clever than I am, told her Copenhagen friends that we were going to the “West Coast of Denmark” making it sound like we would be relaxing on one of the west coast beaches.

For Copenhagen snobs, Esbjerg is a fishing town, which it was 50 years ago but isn’t really anymore. It’s an oil and wind energy town, industrial but very modern.

Still, I think the city has a bit of an inferiority complex.

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