Many of you may be wondering what Danes are like. Well, here are some common characteristics of what tourists usually learn from the culture classes, hear from other people, and observ for themselves. Sure this list is stereotyping and I know that not everyone here fits this mold, but anyhow…
- Danes love to hear what foreigners think about Danes
- Danes love to explain to foreigners what Danes are like
- Danes love to stereotype – things works better if everything and everyone fit into neat little categories
- Danes do not like to initiate any sort of interaction – if you pass someone on the street, they will always avert their eyes, even on the train it is often eerily quiet
- Danes can speak excellent English – except for the older generation
- Danes will usually not stop to help or hold the door for you, unless you ask, in which case they will be very willing
- Danes think bathtubs are a luxury
- Danes are patient in all circumstances except for getting on and off the train/bus
Danes only know two colours : black and white (or maybe rather red and white) : either they see themselves and their country as the center of the world – the best country on the earth, or they regard Denmark as a place that has a lack of everything essential and travel around the world searching for the missing parts.
In both cases the mentality its often paralysed with a certain inferiority complex. Denmark is a small and relatively homogeneous country, without big social, economical, political or cultural contradictions. And for about the last 150 years, the official Danish foreign policy has always been to stand behind and with the dominating global powers.
It all means that the ordinary Dane has lived a rather protected and secure life and often escped the earthquakes, hunger, high crime rates and huge contradictions of the outer world taking it for a rather scaring place, wondering how people can manage to live and survive out there.
Also most Danes carry about the primary mental heritage of the homogeneous society, in Denmark called ”Janteloven” which says: ”Do not believe you are something”. (”Du skal ikke tro du er noget!”)
Don’t be surprised if the Danes meet the foreign visitor with a kind of reserved curiosity, either thinking that the foreigner has arrived to Denmark to get his or her hands on all the nice parts of the their country or wondering what on earth he is doing there and what is the seeming supremacy of the visitor.
Don’t try to tell the Danes that you find Denmark is a beautiful country. They won’t believe you and besides: they are either already aware of it or completely disagree.