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Stories about life in Denmark, Working in Denmark: Danish Business Culture

Finding a job in Denmark as a foreigner: Some tips from my experience

If you’re a foreigner, finding a job in Denmark is not easy, but it can be done. It depends a lot on what you can do. And what you can do better than a Dane. Because, let’s be frank here, if all things are equal between you and a Danish person, they’re going to hire the Danish person.

The Danish person knows the language, the Danish person knows the culture, the Danish person knows not to bring Brie cheese to the Friday shared breakfast. In every Danish office I’ve ever worked in, there’s been a Friday shared breakfast, and they always eat exactly the same cheese. Sliced, medium-sharp Riberhus Danbo cheese.

Sometimes I would try to bring a different cheese and my Danish colleagues would smile and nod like they do when a foreigner has done something silly … and then not eat my cheese. They’d eat no cheese at all until someone brought out the Riberhus Danbo medium-sharp sliced cheese. My daughter and I call it ‘Danish people cheese.’

Having a Danish diploma helps
Anyway, the Danish workplace is about teams, and working together, and getting along as a group, and there’s an automatic suspicion that a foreigner might not fit into that. Back to my original point – to overcome this, you have to show what you can do better than your Danish rivals.

If you have an education from within Denmark, that’s a good start, because that’s kind of a local seal of approval. If you’re just moving here with a partner, you might want to consider this as a way to start out. Higher education is (in some cases) free here, and the government even gives you a stipend to live on while you learn. By the time you’re finished with school, you’ll have a network that should make job hunting easier.

Otherwise, I suggest you put all your effort into Danish classes at the start, and then get a job that will force you to speak Danish all day, every day.

I often recommend working as an assistant in a Danish day care center. The jobs don’t pay well, but they’re relatively easy to get, particularly in Copenhagen, and particularly for men. They’re always looking for men that the little boys can look up to. And quite frankly, the kids speak very simple Danish, and you speak very simple Danish. It’s a good match.

Just speaking English is not enough
When people come from English speaking countries – the US, Britain, Australia – they often ask me if speaking English well is enough to get them a job. The answer is no, even though there are many companies that have English as their corporate language. But those are prestigious companies – Novo, Lundbeck – places that everybody wants to work. So, you have to have a job skill, plus English, to work there.

So, if you do have a job skill, plus English and you want a job in Denmark, what do you do?

This is my recommendation: search the job ads on databases like Jobindex.dk and WorkinDenmark.dk. But unless you’re a perfect fit, don’t rush apply for these jobs, where you’ll be competing with a lot of other people.

Instead, study the ads to figure out what skills companies are looking for. What skill can they not find? Figure out if you can dress up your cv to highlight some of those skills, or even get take a quick course so you have them.

Go to as many professional events as possible, chat with people, but don’t ask them for a job. Ask about them about your industry, ask them where the pain is, where the problems are.

Show how you can solve their problems
And then, write your job application and your cv, explaining how you and your skills can help them solve exactly the problems that everyone is worried about. Put the problems at the top, and explain how you are the answer. Create a little elevator speech explaining how you and your skills can help solve this problem or that problem in your industry.

The local union that covers employees in your field can also help with this, and can also help you adapt your cv and cover letter for Danish employer tastes. Joining a union is well worth the money when you’re looking for a job that requires an advanced degree.

And then start approaching companies, and you gotta be tough. The first time I was unemployed in Denmark, I approached 100 companies with personalized letters. I got about three responses…and one job, where I stayed for 8 years. So it’s a numbers game.

Denmark loves LinkedIn
Two more tips. Danish people love LinkedIn, so get your LinkedIn profile looking really spiffy. Please put up a professional picture that shows your real face. Of just the people who have asked for my help, one guy had a picture of himself at wedding, maybe his own wedding, wearing a little white carnation. He looked like Fred Astaire.

Another guy had a shadowy picture of himself at a nightclub, holding a beer. No. You have to put up a clear picture of yourself smiling and looking friendly in whatever type of clothing you wear for work. If you’re a music producer, you don’t have to wear a suit. If you’re a banker, it’s probably a good idea. Danes are casual, so a nice, colorful sweater or blouse is perfect.

And secondly, pay somebody to look over your LinkedIn profile and make sure it’s in really good English. I’ve hired people in Denmark, and it’s always amazing to me I got so many cvs and cover letters in terrible English. There’s a website called Fiverr where people will copyread your CV or your LinkedIn profile for only five US dollars. It’s definitely worth the investment.

So, that’s my advice. It’s hard to get a job in Denmark, but the good news is that everyone is rooting for you – particularly the Danish government. They want to get you working as quickly as possible – so you can start paying your giant Danish taxes.
 

Hear all our How to Live in Denmark podcasts on Spotify and on Apple Podcasts (iTunes).

 

Get the How to Work in Denmark Book for more tips on finding a job in Denmark, succeeding at work, and understanding your Danish boss. It can be ordered via Amazon or Saxo.com or from any bookstore using the ISBN 978-743-000-80-8. Contact Kay to ask about bulk purchases, or visit our books site to find out how to get the eBook. You can also book a How to Work in Denmark event with Kay for your school, company, or professional organization.

 

 

 

 

 

Want to read more? Try the How to Live in Denmark book, available in paperback or eBook editions, and in English, Chinese, and Arabic. If you represent a company or organization, you can also book Kay Xander Mellish to stage a How to Live in Denmark event tailored for you, including the popular How to Live in Denmark Game Show. Kay stages occasional free public events too. Follow our How to Live in Denmark Facebook page to keep informed.

Image mashup copyright Kay Xander Mellish 2020

Dating, How To Date in Denmark, Stories about life in Denmark

Dating Danish Women: A guide for the foreign man

I get a lot of mail from readers of this site, but a lot of the mail I get is on one particular topic.

Here’s one from this week, from Teddy in Ghana: I WANT TO KNOW IF DANES WOMEN WILL DATE A GHANAIAN MAN. I AM VERY MUCH INTERESTED. And one from last month, from Alex: “Hi, I’d like to know if Danish girls would date a bi-racial Brazilian guy.” And one from late last year: “I’m a gay African American male who would like to date a Dane. Any advice?”

Basically, a lot of the mail I get is from men, wanting to know how they can get some action in Denmark.

I can understand this. Danes are very beautiful. And I can tell you now, most of them will not immediately reject you because you have a different skin color. I know of several babies of mixed heritage here in Denmark.

While I can’t offer any personal insights on gay dating in Denmark, I can tell you that male-female dating in Denmark is hard, even for the Danes, and it will probably be hard for you too.

Usual tactics won’t work
That’s because the process that works in much of the rest of the Western world doesn’t work in Denmark. In most parts of the world, a man will see a woman he likes, and he’ll approach her. He’ll try to start a conversation. Maybe he’ll ask if he can buy her a coffee, or some other type of drink. If they’re in a nightclub, he might ask her if she’d like to dance, or maybe go outside and get some fresh air.

These tactics will get you nowhere in Denmark. In fact, they will get you rejected, and then you’ll worry that that you’re being rejected because you’re a foreigner. No. Danes are not good with strangers, any type of stranger. Generally, they don’t talk to strangers. They talk to their friends.

I’ll tell you how to get around this in a minute.

Don’t tell her how much money you make
But first, let me tell you another thing that will get you rejected. I’ll call it Manhattan behavior, because it was the way people dated when I lived in New York City. Men would tell a lady how much money they made, and how much money they were going to make, how much power and influence they had, and how expensive their watch was.

This will get you nowhere in Denmark. First of all, if you have money in Denmark, the government’s going to take it all away. The tax department will have your number, real fast.

Second of all, Denmark is a very non-hierarchal society, very flat structure. I think it’s fair enough to say most women will prefer a man with a steady job, but saying you have a top management position just means that you have to spend a lot of time working and not as much time with your family and friends. That’s not very Danish.

Show off your good works
So instead, if you want to impress a Danish woman, talk about how your work benefits society at large, particularly how it benefits people who don’t have a lot of resources.

For example, there are a lot of foreign engineers in Denmark. Don’t tell a girl, as I have seen done, yeah, I’m an engineer, it’s pretty boring. No, say, I’m an engineer, and I’m helping people in developing nations access clean water.

Hmmm…pretty good. Another way to impress a Danish women is showing how your work benefits the environment. I’m a petroleum engineer. My job is to rethink drilling to minimize the danger to the environment.

Hmmm…sounds great. Creative industries, like design, and digital media, and video, are also popular in Denmark. Whatever you do, frame it in a way to show how it’s helping people. I really suggest guys prepare a little speech to this extent before they start to meet women in Denmark. 2 or 3 sentences, that’s all it takes.

As a matter of fact, if you’re hoping to meet women in Denmark, do a little preparation beforehand.

For example, check out how the local guys your age have their hair cut, and what they’re wearing. I’ve seen foreign guys in nightclubs with tight business shirts and shiny business shoes on, and they’re getting nowhere. Do some reconnaissance first, maybe do some shopping. Danes are casual, but not sloppy.

And light on the cologne, guys. It’s actually not necessary at all, but if you insist, use a very, very light touch.

Meet the guys first
Now, as I promised, back to how to meet women in the first place. Danes, as I mentioned, aren’t very good with strangers. They talk to their friends.

What you need to do is come into their circle of friends. I suggest talking to one of the guys in the group. Talk to him about sports, the deejay, how he knows the host if you’re at a house party. And after a few minutes of chatting with him, you can ask him if who that girl in the brown jacket is, and if she’s here with a boyfriend. If she’s available, now you know the lady’s name, and she’s seen you with someone in her group, so you’re a complete stranger any more.

Go over and introduce yourself, and say you hear that she’s a petroleum engineer, whose job is to rethink drilling to minimize the danger to the environment. And that’s fascinating, because you really care about the environment. And I think you can take it from there.

This is somewhat how the Danes do it themselves, except that there’s a lot of alcohol involved.

Basically, Danes go through all the same steps, but they’re very shy, so they do it while drinking a bottle of wine, or sometimes a bottle of vodka. If alcohol vanished from the Earth, so would romance in Denmark.
 

Hear all our How to Live in Denmark podcasts on Spotify and on Apple Podcasts (iTunes).

Get the How to Work in Denmark Book for more tips on finding a job in Denmark, succeeding at work, and understanding your Danish boss. It can be ordered via Amazon or Saxo.com or from any bookstore using the ISBN 978-743-000-80-8. Contact Kay to ask about bulk purchases, or visit our books site to find out how to get the eBook. You can also book a How to Work in Denmark event with Kay for your school, company, or professional organization.

 

Want to read more? Try the How to Live in Denmark book, available in paperback or eBook editions, and in English, Chinese, and Arabic. If you represent a company or organization, you can also book Kay Xander Mellish to stage a How to Live in Denmark event tailored for you, including the popular How to Live in Denmark Game Show. Kay stages occasional free public events too. Follow our How to Live in Denmark Facebook page to keep informed.

Image mashup copyright Kay Xander Mellish 2020

Dating, How To Date in Denmark, Stories about life in Denmark

Dating Danish Men: A guide for the foreign woman

I saw a movie this week. It was the latest in long-running series called Father of Four. The series has been running since the Fifties. As the kids grow up, they just replace them with new actors.

Anyway, in this episode, there was a romance. The oldest sister, who’s about 20, meets a handsome young man with a guitar. What struck me watching the movie was that the male romantic lead was visibly shorter than the female lead. I’d say at least a couple of centimeters shorter, maybe an inch.

Now, in Hollywood, they’d have that guy standing on a box, to look taller, or have the actress standing in a hole, to look shorter. In the Danish film, there was no attempt to hide it. They had them walk side by side through a meadow. I had to admit, I couldn’t focus on the love scene. I kept thinking. He’s really short, or maybe she’s really tall.

Not the dominant figure
In Hollywood – or Bollywood – movies, the male actor is taller because he’s supposed to be in charge, the dominant figure. But that’s not true in Danish romance. The man is NOT in charge.

This means a lot if you’re a foreign woman dating a Danish man. He is a not a Frenchman who will pursue you to the ends of the earth. He doesn’t send flowers, he doesn’t buy chocolates. He doesn’t take you in his arms and kiss you until you’re breathless. If you are a romance novelist, the Danish man is not your dream man.

If you’re a feminist, a Danish man IS your dream man. He will cook and help with the housework. He will take being a father seriously. He’ll spend time with the kids. He’ll take your opinion seriously. He doesn’t force himself on you. In fact, you may have to force yourself on him. But if you do, he’ll usually be really grateful.

Danish women carry their own packages
Why are Danish men like this? I’ve asked my Danish male friends, and they say they’re reacting to Danish women. Danish women, they say, like to do things for themselves. They don’t want some clown opening the door for them, or helping them carry packages. They can carry their own packages. My Danish male friends say that after offering to be chivalrous a couple of times and getting turned down in a nasty manner, they don’t want to do that any more.

So, the Danish male approach is largely passive. They wait to see if the woman is interested. I get a lot of mail from non-Danish women trying to figure out if the Danish man they’re dating is interested in them. He’s really happy when I call him, but he never calls me.

I honestly don’t know what to tell them. I mean, I come from a culture where men whistle at beautiful women they don’t know walking down the street.

When I first moved to Denmark, I thought I’d stopped hearing whistles because I’d aged out of the whistle target group. But I’ve since established that beautiful young women don’t get whistled at either. Danish men do not want to offend women.

Sometimes err on the soft side
Now, I’m a modern woman, and I like a lot of things about these modern men. But they can occasionally err a bit on the soft side.

For example, a few weeks ago, we had a big storm in Denmark, and it knocked down some large trees. Before the local government came to collect them, some people were sawing off bits for free firewood, or to make furniture, or other arts and crafts project.

On our street, there was a very large tree down, and as I was walking by that Saturday, I saw a young couple trying to take part of it home. The small, slender young woman was sawing away at this big tree with an old-fashioned manual saw, while her boyfriend was just standing there, smiling, with his hands in his pockets.

Now, I don’t know what was going on.

Maybe he had a back injury – he was about 25, so maybe had a very youthful back injury. Maybe he was a professional hand model and couldn’t risk his fingernails on a messy metal saw. Or maybe he was a big wimp who was willing to let his girlfriend saw a giant tree stump while he stood there, acting like a giant tree stump. Who knows?
 

Hear all our How to Live in Denmark podcasts on Spotify and on Apple Podcasts (iTunes).

 

Get the How to Work in Denmark Book for more tips on finding a job in Denmark, succeeding at work, and understanding your Danish boss. It can be ordered via Amazon or Saxo.com or from any bookstore using the ISBN 978-743-000-80-8. Contact Kay to ask about bulk purchases, or visit our books site to find out how to get the eBook. You can also book a How to Work in Denmark event with Kay for your school, company, or professional organization.

 

 

 

 

 

Want to read more? Try the How to Live in Denmark book, available in paperback or eBook editions, and in English, Chinese, and Arabic. If you represent a company or organization, you can also book Kay Xander Mellish to stage a How to Live in Denmark event tailored for you, including the popular How to Live in Denmark Game Show. Kay stages occasional free public events too. Follow our How to Live in Denmark Facebook page to keep informed.

Image mashup copyright Kay Xander Mellish 2020

Stories about life in Denmark

Danish Vikings, or how to find Vikings in today’s Denmark

I play a little game sometime when I look at Danish people. I imagine them as Danish Vikings. It’s easy now that big beards are in fashion on young men. Sometimes on the metro I’ll look up at the hipster guy playing with his iPhone next to me and imagine him wearing a big fur cloak. Maybe a rope belt, with a sword dangling from it.

I imagine him stepping off the boat in Newfoundland in the year 1000, freaking out the local American Indians.

Imagining Danish women as Vikings is a little harder. They don’t usually have the long braids or wear the big golden brooches that Viking ladies used to fasten their dresses. They don’t wear the headscarves the married women used to wear. Of course, you can still see plenty of headscarves in Denmark, but usually not on the Danes.

Choosing Viking-era plumbing
Anyway, the Danes love the Vikings, the same way the same way the French love the age of the Impressionists, and the British love the Second World War, and the Chinese love the 2008 Olympics. It was a time when their country was at the peak of power and influence.

If you go to the Denmark’s National Museum in Copenhagen, you can spend hours looking at Viking handicrafts: lots of golden horns, and rune stones. Danish kids learn a lot about the Vikings at school – even in kindergarden, they make Viking shields, and Viking swords, and try out Viking handicrafts. There’s various places around the country where the whole family can ‘live like a Viking’ for a week. That means Viking-era clothing, Viking-era food, and Viking-era plumbing.

Unsaid in all this is that Vikings were not just fun guys who wore horned hats to soccer games. The Norse pagans were a gruesome people, by modern standards. Their religion involved a lot of human sacrifice, including young children, particularly young girls. Viking is the Norse word for pirate. When they took off on a raid in England, or France, they stole everything they could, they attacked women and girls, they burned down people’s homes, they hacked off people’s limbs with axes. All that scary stuff you see in horror movies, with fake blood, the Vikings actually did. These guys were not cute and cuddly. They were villains. They were bad guys.

Of course, your Danish friends will tell you, the people you’ll meet in Denmark today are not the descendants of the Vikings. The Vikings, they’ll tell you, were the guys who left. They settled what is now England or France. The people you meet today in Denmark are the descendants of the people who didn’t want to go anywhere.

Tell them you want to work together
The current Danes are peaceful people. But there are still some things they have in common with the Vikings, and not just the way they scream bloody murder at you in the bicycle lanes.

For example, they still love the sea and the water. Denmark wins its Olympic medals for sailing, more than any other sport, followed by rowing and canoeing.

And they still think communally. The Vikings lived communally, in what were called ‘long houses’, with many families living inside. People lived together and worked together to survive the tough Scandinavian winters.

Understanding this can help you in your daily life in Denmark. If you want Danish people to do something, tell them you want to work together on it.

For example, Let’s work together to stop your kid from hitting my kid in the sandbox. Or Let’s work together to figure out the best way to share our corporate resources. That’s code for ‘I want a raise.’

Samarbejde is the Danish word for working together. Another good word, if you’re dealing with people on the left side of the political spectrum, is solidarisk. Solidarity. Some of the parents at my child’s school wanted to throw a fancy party which I didn’t want to attend or pay for, but it was decided that we all had to pay whether we attended or not, for reasons of solidarity. Communal thinking.

One word you should not use
So you can talk about working together, co-operation, co-ordination, but there’s a similar English word you should avoid, and that’s collaboration. In English, to collaborate just means working together. Rhianna and Jay-Z are going to collaborate on a new tune.

In Danish, kollaborere does not mean working together. It means working with the enemy. A kollaboratør is somebody who works with an occupying power, like certain Danes who collaborated with the Nazis during the 1940s.

If you use the English version of collaborate, Danish people will probably understand the difference…but the word has a nasty flavor. It brings back memories of a bad time in Danish history…of some gruesome villains that are a lot more recent and well-documented than…the Vikings.
 

Hear all our How to Live in Denmark podcasts on Spotify and on Apple Podcasts (iTunes).

 

Get the How to Work in Denmark Book for more tips on finding a job in Denmark, succeeding at work, and understanding your Danish boss. It can be ordered via Amazon or Saxo.com or from any bookstore using the ISBN 978-743-000-80-8. Contact Kay to ask about bulk purchases, or visit our books site to find out how to get the eBook. You can also book a How to Work in Denmark event with Kay for your school, company, or professional organization.

 

 

 

 

 

Want to read more? Try the How to Live in Denmark book, available in paperback or eBook editions, and in English, Chinese, and Arabic. If you represent a company or organization, you can also book Kay Xander Mellish to stage a How to Live in Denmark event tailored for you, including the popular How to Live in Denmark Game Show. Kay stages occasional free public events too. Follow our How to Live in Denmark Facebook page to keep informed.

Image mashup copyright Kay Xander Mellish 2020

Stories about life in Denmark

Danes and Fashion: All the colors of the Danish landscape

I can’t remember exactly what the social occasion was, but when I was fairly new to Copenhagen I met a man who was a refugee from a country in Sub-Saharan Africa. He had escaped his homeland – I also can’t quite remember which country that was – by way of Cairo, Egypt, and ended up in Denmark.

What I do remember is his account of what it was like to come to Copenhagen after living in busy, colorful city like Cairo. He asked another refugee, a guy who’d been here longer, to show him downtown Copenhagen.

The guy drove him to, I don’t know, Gammel Strand on a Tuesday night in February, and there was no one there. All the Danes were home enjoying their hygge, and the streets were dark and empty. My friend got very angry at the other refugee. Said he’d tricked him. Where is the city! This is not the city! he said. But it was.

The same grey sweater
Anyway, I also remember this African refugee’s comments about Danish fashion. He said he had trouble shopping here, because Danish clothes all look alike. He said, Every store you go to, it’s got same grey sweater.

Now, that’s not entirely true. You could also find a navy blue sweater. I’ve even seen green sweaters.

But what is true is that Danes dress to match the Danish landscape. That means grey. And brown, and green, and some blue. Maybe some beige for the adventurous types.

If you find yourself wearing purple or orange, or hot pink, you will stand out in Denmark. Those colors are worn by children, or sometimes by middle-aged ladies trying to make a statement.

Danish fashion is not what your average Dane wears
Now, there is such a think as Danish Fashion, and there is a Danish Fashion Week. Designers like Malene Birger, Bruuns Bazaar, and Day Birger Mikkelsen have made a name for themselves internationally. But what they design is not what your average Dane wears.

What the average Dane wears is outerwear. It’s cold in Denmark, so people’s wardrobes are heavy on sweaters, boots, and coats and jackets. There’s even a category of outerwear I never knew in the United States called rain gear.

Rain gear is like a plastic jogging suit, and it goes over your clothes and allows you to bicycle or walk around in the rain without getting wet. It’s like galoshes for your body. It comes in all the Danish fashion colors – grey, green, blue, beige, and brown for the adventurous.

Now I understand scarves
Anyway, if you really do need some color in your life, scarves are very big. When I was growing up in the United States, colorful neck scarves were always something worn by the foreign exchange student with the funny name. I never understood why.

Now that **I** am the foreigner, I do understand. It’s cold here, and rooms are not overheated the way they sometimes are in the US. A scarf keeps you from shivering. A scarf saves you from a sore throat. Personally, I now own summer scarves, light cotton, fall scarves, which are thin, flat wool, and winter scarves, which are about the thickness of a boa constrictor around my neck. On a cold, windy, rainy day in November, you’ll WANT that boa constrictor.

Danish fish
Speaking of wildlife, Copenhagen recently opened a beautiful new aquarium. It’s full of tropical fish in gorgeous tropical colors – hot magenta, lemon yellow, vibrant orange, brought to Denmark from all over the world.

But what many people don’t know is that there is another aquarium, in Helsingor – one for fish from local waters. It shows brown fish, and beige fish, and slightly grey fish. These are the Danish fish.
 

Hear all our How to Live in Denmark podcasts on Spotify and on Apple Podcasts (iTunes).

 

Get the How to Work in Denmark Book for more tips on finding a job in Denmark, succeeding at work, and understanding your Danish boss. It can be ordered via Amazon or Saxo.com or from any bookstore using the ISBN 978-743-000-80-8. Contact Kay to ask about bulk purchases, or visit our books site to find out how to get the eBook. You can also book a How to Work in Denmark event with Kay for your school, company, or professional organization.

 

 

 

 

 

Want to read more? Try the How to Live in Denmark book, available in paperback or eBook editions, and in English, Chinese, and Arabic. If you represent a company or organization, you can also book Kay Xander Mellish to stage a How to Live in Denmark event tailored for you, including the popular How to Live in Denmark Game Show. Kay stages occasional free public events too. Follow our How to Live in Denmark Facebook page to keep informed.

Image mashup copyright Kay Xander Mellish 2020

Podcasts

Danish sports: Big handballs and lonely ping-pong players

 

Denmark is a small country, and while football is popular, it’s hard to find enough talent among 5.5 million people to create a world-class team. Frankly, Denmark needs sports it can win. Team handball, team badminton, and team ping-pong are where Danish sports men and women shine.
 

Hear all our How to Live in Denmark podcasts on Spotify and on Apple Podcasts (iTunes).

 

Get the How to Work in Denmark Book for more tips on finding a job in Denmark, succeeding at work, and understanding your Danish boss. It can be ordered via Amazon or Saxo.com or from any bookstore using the ISBN 978-743-000-80-8. Contact Kay to ask about bulk purchases, or visit our books site to find out how to get the eBook. You can also book a How to Work in Denmark event with Kay for your school, company, or professional organization.

 

 

 

 

 

Want to read more? Try the How to Live in Denmark book, available in paperback or eBook editions, and in English, Chinese, and Arabic. If you represent a company or organization, you can also book Kay Xander Mellish to stage a How to Live in Denmark event tailored for you, including the popular How to Live in Denmark Game Show. Kay stages occasional free public events too. Follow our How to Live in Denmark Facebook page to keep informed.

Image mashup copyright Kay Xander Mellish 2020

Dating, How To Date in Denmark, Stories about life in Denmark

Danish Men: Denmark and the Exotic Foreign Man

This essay is from a series I wrote in co-operation with the Danish tabloid BT in 2003, shortly after I arrived in Denmark. The line drawings are my own.

When one of the right-wing nut-cases from the Danish People’s Party recently went on a rant about how most foreigners in Denmark were criminals, my friends and I were furious. Here we were, foreigners, and we were clearly not getting our cut of the criminal millions being made on the streets of Copenhagen. All we did was go to work every day and pay Danish taxes. We figured we had better get started.

After considering a variety of profitable crimes, we decided on a male prostitution ring, with the idea that our workers could do internal projects on slow nights. But our male escorts would not provide sex: that was too easy to get in Denmark.

Instead, they would offer romance. Specially imported from Mediterranean countries, these Romeos would bring flowers, write poetry, and say things like “Your eyes are like the ocean.” In short, they would do things that Danish men wouldn’t consider even if it would give the local Copenhagen team an instant victory over the German national squad.

Longing looks and sweet words
Foreign men play a curious role in the world of Danish romance, since they can sometimes make a Danish woman realize exactly what she is missing: those longing looks, those sweet words, that masculine worship that makes her feel so wonderfully female. A man in Madrid once told me that Danish girls on vacation were easy. Well, no wonder. Nobody’s said anything nice to them in years.

Take a deep breath, everybody, but in the world outside of Denmark, florists are not just for buying a centerpiece for Aunt Bente’s Sunday lunch. They are for sending roses to your wife or girlfriend, and in France, to your mistress too. In foreign lands, men buy women jewelry and furs to win their favors: they open doors and carry furniture. Some even earn a lot of money and pay all of the household expenses.

Foreign man Danish woman
 

Sometimes Danish women capture these men alive and bring them back to Denmark, where the government punishes them by making them sit through infinite Danish courses and refusing to allow the couple to live in sublet apartments. I suspect that the new restrictions on marriage to foreigners are just Danish People’s party founder Pia Kiersgaard’s sour grapes about ending up with a Danish husband.

Longing looks and sweet words
Of course, there are already a large variety of foreign men available right here in Denmark. Many are tall, dark, and handsome, many are Muslim, and many are lovely people – one of my closest friends in Denmark now has a Pakistani boyfriend who treats her like a queen.

That said, one of the sad lessons of a multicultural society is that fools come in every color. I’m ashamed to agree with the Danish People’s Party about anything, but there are, unfortunately, some “new Danes” who cannot understand the difference between an ordinary blonde girl on the street and the blond bimbo they saw soaping her plastic breasts online. Some of them see Danish girlfriends as temps until their future Mrs. Muslim right comes along. I’ve fallen for this one myself; it took me a while to figure out why the sweet Muslim surgeon I was dating would never introduce me to his friends, and always wanted to sit at the very back of cafes.

I have met these embarrassments-to-Allah; I have occasionally removed their hands from my inner thigh on the dance floor at the Copenhagen Jazzhouse. (In one particular case, I handled the situation New York fashion, firmly grasping the gentleman’s hand and bending it back so far I almost broke his finger. He won’t try that again.) Anyway, these jerks do more than cause bad karma between “new Danes” and standard Danes. They get in the way of truly nice immigrant guys getting laid.

Kissing courses in France

Maybe, instead of importing romantic manpower, we could train Danish men to do better. Instead of those scuba courses they’re so fond of, Danish guys could be sent on kissing courses to France, or seduction courses in Italy. Since I like a man who stands up for himself, even when confronted with lunatics carrying lethal weapons, I might even suggest “misguided macho” courses in the USA.

In return, Danish men could provide exchange courses in the things they do well: housecleaning, meal preparation, child care. Forget Danish foreign aid – this is what would really win Denmark a place in the hearts of the world’s women. And, darling Pia, it just might cut the immigration rate. Plenty of men will choose another destination when they find out that in Denmark, they must help do the dishes.
 

Hear all our How to Live in Denmark podcasts on Spotify and on Apple Podcasts (iTunes).

 

Get the How to Work in Denmark Book for more tips on finding a job in Denmark, succeeding at work, and understanding your Danish boss. It can be ordered via Amazon or Saxo.com or from any bookstore using the ISBN 978-743-000-80-8. Contact Kay to ask about bulk purchases, or visit our books site to find out how to get the eBook. You can also book a How to Work in Denmark event with Kay for your school, company, or professional organization.

 

 

 

 

 

Want to read more? Try the How to Live in Denmark book, available in paperback or eBook editions, and in English, Chinese, and Arabic. If you represent a company or organization, you can also book Kay Xander Mellish to stage a How to Live in Denmark event tailored for you, including the popular How to Live in Denmark Game Show. Kay stages occasional free public events too. Follow our How to Live in Denmark Facebook page to keep informed.

Image mashup copyright Kay Xander Mellish 2020

Dating, How To Date in Denmark, Stories about life in Denmark

Dating in Denmark: Get Drunk and Find Your True Love

This essay is from a series I wrote in co-operation with the Danish tabloid BT in 2003, shortly after I arrived in Denmark. The line drawings are my own.

On my very first night in Copenhagen, I went with an American girlfriend to a downtown discotheque. I’m a blonde, and she’s an attractive black woman, so you could say we had something for every taste.

We sat at a table roughly the size of a pizza. Three men sat across from us, a distance of approximately 25 centimeters. For an hour. Without saying anything. I think Zulus or spacemen would have found some way to communicate with us, but this was apparently beyond the capability of three well-educated Danes.

Finally, fortified by gin and tonics, we spoke to them first, and they turned out to be nice guys. But that was a lucky night: Since moving here, I have been to many a discoteque where women shake their booty with their girfriends for hours while men watch with pretend disinterest from the sidelines, their eyes radiating invisible beams of desire: Please, miss, ask me to dance.

Dating in Denmark
How do Danish men and women meet each other? I know it happens; the streets are full of Danish babies. But much like other reported miracles, such as Christ walking on water or an American president delivering a speech he wrote himself, it’s something I’ve never seen with my own eyes.

For one thing, Danish people seem to think that talking to strangers is uncouth. Ask Danish men why they don’t chat up women, and they say that women don’t want to be approached. They’ll make fun of you; they’ll think you’re desperate. They’ll think you want something from them.

partyscene-700x460

What men want of course, is the same thing that has produced a world population currently approaching 7 billion. Most women want the same thing, although they’d probably like it to last longer than three minutes. Yet you see Danish men and women in parks in the summer, sitting alone on blankets, or in cafes in the winter surrounded by their buddies or girlfriends with their hair carefully gelled, lonely and horny but contemptous of anyone who dares to approach.

Extreme drunkenness is socially acceptable
The icebreaker of course, is alcohol, and I have little doubt that if it vanished from the Earth tomorrow Danes would never reproduce. It didn’t take me long to learn that in Danish parties and nightclubs, there was a window of time, roughly from 1am to 3am, where social interaction was possible. Before 1am, Danish men weren’t drunk enough to talk, and after 3, they were too drunk to talk.

Extreme drunkeness seems to be the accepted way to meet that special someone, as explained to me in the days when I still was seeking a Danish boyfriend.

“What you do,” a Danish girlfriend explained to me, “is you get trashed and go home with somebody. Then in the morning you decide if you want to be boyfriend and girlfriend.”

This one-night stand culture is very difficult for foreigners to understand. One-night stands certainly take place in the US, but it is something unusual and embarassing, like making a lot of money in Denmark.

What do we tell the kids?
Here, drunken sex with a complete stranger seems to be the hopeful prelude to a serious relationship, possibly marriage. If children result from this, it is hard to imagine what their parents tell them about the night Mom and Dad first met. My grandparents once told me that they met outside a Depression-era dance hall, since my unemployed grandmother didn’t have the 10 cents necessary to get in, but maybe I just didn’t hear the whole story.

Which leads me back to dancing. Here is what I have learned: in Denmark, it is bad manners to ask a girl to dance, but it is good manners to get very drunk, make sure she is drunk too, and ask her to come back to your place. She will quite likely say yes, if only in a misguided audition for the role of girlfriend, leaving you both a little sad and bitter the next morning.

Long ago, before I ever thought of living here, a Danish woman told me that her country was a place with a lot of sex but not very much love. I wonder.
 

Hear all our How to Live in Denmark podcasts on Spotify and on Apple Podcasts (iTunes).

 

Get the How to Work in Denmark Book for more tips on finding a job in Denmark, succeeding at work, and understanding your Danish boss. It can be ordered via Amazon or Saxo.com or from any bookstore using the ISBN 978-743-000-80-8. Contact Kay to ask about bulk purchases, or visit our books site to find out how to get the eBook. You can also book a How to Work in Denmark event with Kay for your school, company, or professional organization.

 

 

 

 

 

Want to read more? Try the How to Live in Denmark book, available in paperback or eBook editions, and in English, Chinese, and Arabic. If you represent a company or organization, you can also book Kay Xander Mellish to stage a How to Live in Denmark event tailored for you, including the popular How to Live in Denmark Game Show. Kay stages occasional free public events too. Follow our How to Live in Denmark Facebook page to keep informed.

Image mashup copyright Kay Xander Mellish 2020