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Nine Essential Tips if You Are New to Denmark

Based on the blogs written by our foreign bloggers at denmark.dk we put together this list of nine things you should be aware of if you are new to Denmark

1. Learn Danish

If you have the wish to adapt to their society, you must learn Danish. Maybe not to find a job, or to study, but to be one of them. So, when you move to Denmark and get your CPR number, contact your citizen service and ask about language courses provided by the municipality in which you live. Programs usually last up to 3 years and are free of charge if you fulfil the requirements (that are usually being of age over 18 and in possession of a CPR number) - Natalia from Spain

Danish language 
Photo: Tomasz Sienicki 

Just concentrate on using the ‘H’ words.  HEJ, HILS and HYGGELIG. You can work them into any conversation.  Use them liberally and don’t forget to gush.

“Hej!” means “Hi”.  Or “Hej, hej!” which is “See you later!”

“Hvor er det hyggeligt!”  “Isn’t this cosy/we’re having such a good time!”

“Hils!” or “Hils din mor/din kæreste/derhjemme!” which means, “Tell your Mum/your other half/everyone at home that I was asking for them! - Diane from Scotland

 

2. Adjust your taste buds

I come from a country that likes bread on both sides of their meat. You can pick it up in your hands, bite down and be safe in the knowledge that you won't get mayonnaise up your nose or all over your face! Things are different here in Denmark. Apart from having a vast array of different toppings for their sandwiches, and a dearly beloved bread of their own, they like to keep things open. This does cause problems, and I have ended up with remoulade (sweet Danish pickle) on my nose many times! Follow the Danes, use a knife and fork or avoid stacking your topics too high on your bread, that helps! - Jennifer from Ireland

Eat a huge plate of havregryn (raw, rolled oats) with sugar and milk for breakfast.  (Generations of Danes can’t be wrong – hey, even Michael Laudrup swears by it). Rugbrød med leverpostej (ryebread with liverpâté) for lunch. And frikadeller (meatballs) for dinner.  Mmm, ‘That calls for a Carlsberg’…  If you need a sweet treat, try Flødeboller (like a Scottish Tunnock’s teacake) or skumbananer (banana flavoured marshmallow covered in chocolate).  And, for the very brave, lashings of [yuck] Danish lakrids (liquorice). - Diane from Scotland

 

3. Get a varied wardrobe

Danish weather

 

The Danish weather can be frightful or fantastic – and usually everything in between. Be prepared for all seasons in one day. All before lunchtime. As the Danes say, there’s no such thing as bad weather…just the wrong clothing.  So embrace it, wear layers and invest in some waterproofs and wellie boots. Or discover your inner Viking, strip off completely and become a winter bather! - Diane from Scotland

 

4. Follow the traditions

Fastelavn

As I’ve said time and time again, the Danes may be ultra liberal but they’re painfully traditional.  Every season, every feast, every holiday, every celebration from cradle to grave has a Danish tradition attached… Secret snowdrop letters, sangskjuler (song holders), walk around the Citadel, hit barrels, weave hearts, put candles in the window, wear Blue Monday clothes, guzzle goose, listen to bonfire speeches, win a marcipan pig, feast on fjord prawns.  The list goes on…  With the Danish flag – Dannebrog – flying majestically in the background.  And – selvfølgelig – your shoes left at the doorstep. - Diane from Scotland

 

5. Get a bike

Cykel

I became a bike addict since I moved to DK. Biking gives me freedom and joy and while I am on the bike my thoughts can fly freely and I can be creative. Becoming part of the biking population helps in many ways. You’ll get faster from A to B and in parallel you’ll get to know places by trying out different variations on your trips. It also helps with getting exercise. You’ll feel energized and you will start to cherish Denmark’s best: its bike paths. Remember to always have a map with you. But be aware: Bikes are a serious mode of transportation. People drive fast and mistakes in the bike traffic are not met with tolerance. You will learn soon, why Danes are referred to as being direct: they will scold you merciless. Therefore get to know the bike rules and behave accordingly!

When you’re on a bike, bear one thing in mind – the wind! It is often windy in Denmark and according to Murphy ’s Law, you will always have headwind when you’re in a hurry. Wind can add to your journey times greatly. Take this point seriously in light of Danish punctuality. - Dagmar from Germany


 

6. Don't talk too much about religion

Not many people here go to Churches on a regular basis and spirituality in day to day life style is also missing. Even not many festivals are celebrated in Denmark. I spoke to many of my Danish friends to get reasons behind such thinking.  Since most of them are young, they tell that they do not really call themselves religious and prefer not to follow it at all. Many of them openly call themselves atheist. - Ankit from India

Danes are very private about their religious views. According to Professor Vejrup, Danes HATE  discussing religion openly. They consider it to be a private and personal matter, not meant to be public. I guess that’s why they don’t usually go to church (unless it’s Christmas). But the people who don’t consider themselves religious, still belong to Folkekirken (The Danish state church) and pay taxes that go to it. - Natalia from Spain

 

7. Take initiative

In Ireland when we bring a new person to a group of family or friends we take full responsibility for introducing them. We take the spotlight at the head of the table and introduce the newbie to the group and the group to the newbie, usually in a quick painless, but somewhat impersonal way. Things are a little more formal in Denmark. It falls on the individual to take it in their own hands and make their way around the group or room to shake hands with each and every person, stating your name (that's all you need to say!). It can be a daunting challenge (especially if you don't speak Danish!) but by the end of your "round" you technically have met everyone and can now relax. But unfortunately you won’t remember half of the names or be able to pronounce them! - Jennifer from Ireland

If you are good in taking initiative, then you can live very well in Denmark. If you are not then you might face lot of problems. Land of Vikings Denmark has an open society, where everyone has freedom to speak. Taking initiative and becoming responsible for your own development is one of the key aspects of this freedom. - Ankit from India

It is up to you taking the initiative and get in touch with Danes. Invite them to some small gatherings, to a café or something. They might be surprised at first that this is happening already as you don’t know each other well yet, but they will happily come. - Dagmar from Germany

Let’s just say that the Danes are a reserved bunch and even when I have wowed them with my fantastic, heavily accented Danish, it took years of hard work to make them friends. Breaking through the friendship barrier takes hard work and determination but the rewards are great. Once you have a Danish friend, you have a friend for life. If you have a problem, they will come to your rescue and will be there for you in thick and thin. They can be the warmest and kindest people you know….giving and helpful. - Sharmi from USA

 

8. Get a job

Most Danish workplaces have a relatively flat structure, which means there is open dialogue and collaboration between bosses/managers and employees. It’s not like your boss is your buddy but there’s a good relationship and you can always (respectfully and politely) speak your mind. Never forget, though, that your boss will be the one making the decisions at the end!

1. Register your CV at their CV bank. Important: Do it thoroughly, be detailed, and update it from time to time. Your CV is your letter of presentation to the companies (and the recruiters!) and they have to want to hire you.

2. Attend their CV and Cover Letter seminar. You might think that you know how to write it but maybe you don’t!

3. Swing by one of their centres to see if they have some free time! (I don’t know about the other cities, but in Aarhus, if the International Citizen Service is open, then for sure there will be someone there to help you!) - Natalia from Spain

 

9. Be ready to say thanks

Thank you 

When you first learn to speak Danish, you realize how important gratitude plays into life and conversation here. Every day after dinner, most kids are expected to give ‘thanks’ (tak for mad) to their parents for making and providing dinner. Indeed, my daughter, a tweenager, expresses gratitude several times a day, in a very natural and authentic way – to the bus driver, to her teachers, to her classmates. I have always felt that the word ‘thanks’ seemed disingenuous and insincere – but since I moved to Denmark and started seeing how it was integrated in nearly all conversations, I began to start using it myself also in English and feeling really good about it. - Sharmi from USA.

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