I Can Never Make Friends with Danes

Thursday, 21 July 2016


November last year, when I returned to Belgium and waited for a train to Brussels from Charleroi, I sat in the empty chair next to an old man in the lobby. The old man was ready to open his lunch box, when I glimpsed, they were bread and bacon. Hose ten minutes later, the old man suddenly greeted me with a friendly smile, "Bonjour, madamoiselle." I turned toward him and inevitably greeted back with a stiff smile. From that time, the conversation with the old man began.

The old man was initially asked about my origins in French. But since I already stammered to answer the question, finally the old man is willing to change to Dutch. (FYI, I learned Dutch and French when I was in Belgium.) Unfortunately, he did not stop babbling and made his meal spurting everywhere. Like a police inspector (or might be just try to be nice), randomly I asked about his life then get an answer by turned lonely after being left by his wife. The longer, this old man also spoke in louder voice, disturbing enough for people sitting behind us. Funnily, he just laughed and didn't really care what people (and I) felt.

When I sat on the train to Brussels, I realized that the average Belgians are more warm and friendly indeed. Although some Europeans generally don't like small talk, but they also don't hesitate to say hello to a stranger. When talking with strangers, they are like have strong intention to join into conversation. Especially the elder ones who are mostly mournful.

It's like I cannot feel the same in Denmark. Danes are known to be very closed and cold towards strangers. They only talk with their friends and even a bit avoid small talk with strangers. Once it happens, don't expect to be their close friends chiefly if you will leave Denmark in no time. People even said, it's easier to find some loved ones here than one good friend (who will last longer).


For Danes, friendship can not be cultivated in six months or two years. On average, their close friends are people they've encountered since primary school. This is naturally quite difficult for me, Asian, who is born with warmth and high social character. For us, the more friends you have, more networks you tie, more fortune you'd get. But for Danes, there is no place for new people, if they even don't have time to meet their old friends.

I've heard this statement from a Dane, "I still have my old friends and I don't think I need a new friend". Or, "it's really nice when I'm drunk then I can talk to the strangers. Feels like we're best friend forever. But when I'm sober, I don't have to call or talk to them anymore. I love that idea!"

Yes, you can go to club or bar where bag so many Danes drunk. They will talk a lot about the experience and life, like a best friend you've known long time ago. But after that night, don't expect them to be the same in soberness. Danes think, friendship is not coming from a little chat, invite each other up on Facebook, and voĆ­la...be friends. A very pure friendship for them, nurtured through a long time, by getting to know each other time by time. This makes many foreigners find it very difficult to make friends with them. Besides the language barrier, Danes also feel no reason to make friends with foreigners who obviously would leave their country. It's so hard for them to spend time hanging out together, have good memories, and will grieve because of this new-stranger-friend will fly to their home country.


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