9 Things You Should Know Before Moving to Denmark
Denmark’s a stunning place to live, and there’s a difference in culture that perhaps runs deeper than it first appears. Perhaps the most significant thing to remember when settling down for a future in Denmark is that it’s a hugely egalitarian country. Blowing one’s own trumpet is frowned upon, women expect less chivalry from men, and success at work comes from hard graft alone.
In Denmark, ‘hi’ means hello, but ‘hihi’ means goodbye – often said enthusiastically in a higher pitch than normal. Simple enough, in theory. Unless you’re already in the habit of saying ‘hihi’ in place of ‘hello.’
2. Size matters
Denmark is a tiny country with a population of only 4 million – and over half a million live in Copenhagen! As you can imagine, a massive divide exists culturally between the city folk and the rural Danes.
It’s not cool to be late for stuff in Denmark, whether business or social. Long business lunches are a rarity, as people tend to work hard through the day so they can get home to their families and their social lives. The summer months are important to Danes, and important business events or deadlines will be scheduled outside of July and August wherever possible.
4. Good advice
Danes don’t often shy away from giving advice, whether sought or otherwise. Don’t be offended by the apparent bossiness of it, it’s purely a cultural thing and won’t necessarily be meant as a put-down or as criticism. So get ready to dish it out – just keep personal advice out of the workplace, is our tip.
5. Tame your ego
It’s considered really beyond the pale to make a big scene and brag about your achievements and conquests in Denmark. Danes are a quiet and modest people who shy away from loudmouths and braggarts. Be calm and quiet but friendly when you meet new people, and they’ll soon decide they want to know more about you.
6. Fair’s fair
There’s a bigger focus on egalitarianism in Denmark, both socially and at work. In business meetings, expect decisions to take longer as the board seeks a general consensus. Hierarchies within workplaces tend to lie much flatter than they do in the UK, too. Managers are seen more like equals, and promotion comes through merit rather than networking and favours. Men don’t open doors or pull out chairs for women here, though it’s polite to let a women through the door first, or to be seated first.
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7. Introduce yourself
Visitors to Denmark have found that party hosts are less inclined to take a newbie under their wing and introduce them to the group. They’re not ignoring you or being deliberately mean – it’s just not done so much here. So take a deep breath, then get out there and mingle.
8. Leave religion out of it
Denmark’s a liberal place but also a nation of quite private people, so it’s not surprising that religion is pretty much off the menu when it comes to social chit chat. It’s either not a factor in people’s lives at all, or it’s simply none of your business.
Danes cycle everywhere, so sell your car before you move here, and use the proceeds to buy a few black cloaks to wear whilst cycling. This’ll help you blend in with the locals instantly, and it looks super-dramatic too.