So much has been talked about and written about Denmark by expat residents, visitors and anyone else who cares to review the country. Maybe by now you know way too well that Denmark is among the happiest countries in the world, has a lot of attractions, hosts some of the best universities and can be a dream destination for many. These are great insights into a country of just under 6 million people. But have you ever thought of looking at Denmark? Not so many would be bold to take the route of reviewing some controversial behaviour one may likely pick up in Denmark . Unpopular and controversial as it may be to review controversial aspects of a country taunted as happiest, we here face the juggler.
If you have travelled across the world then you understand how behaviours, customs and social norms differ across the board. Those behaviours and norms that you might ordinarily take for granted or perform without thinking might just land you in trouble elsewhere. Those who haven’t done much traveling might think some of them are petty though.
However, if you ever plan on blending into other societies then it would save you a lot of hassle to take note. Denmark is known as the happiest country in the world and the title comes with a lot of social freedom. However, just because a behaviour or norm is socially acceptable here doesn’t mean it will be everywhere. Let’s explore some of these controversial behaviours and Norms.
Some of the Controversial Behaviour in Denmark
When making that bold step to fly out to Denmark for whatever reasons, a lot of expectations cloud your mind. Based on stories written and told, already you have an impression of Denmark. Maybe it comes out as a perfect society where everything seems well planned and operating. Yet it may also come out as a boring country where winter cold literally brings life to a standstill. Now, a well travelled adviser will tell you to keep those stories aside and open your mind like a tabula rasa of sorts so as to experience Denmark practically. Once you arrive, it is time to learn, unlearn and relearn Denmark.
Giving and receiving Tips in Denmark-Tipping
Tipping is where you offer an individual who has provided a form of service an amount of money. In Denmark and even Europe as a whole, this practice is not common and no one expects you to tip them. It has been linked to the fact that most service providers are paid enough money by their employers.
So, as an expat in Denmark, you might likely pick up on this norm. However, in other countries like the United States, failing to tip is frowned upon. So, it pays to find out about tipping in a given country before you settle on the Danish way. Other people might you’re your lack of tip rude and uncalled for.
Danish Drinking, Clubbing and Partying
Worldwide, people know Danes as drinking legends thanks to their history and attachment to the bottles and cans. Drinking is not just reserved for social events in this country, it is also considered the best way to get over a busy day. Similarly, Danes have rites of passage that involve drinking and partying!
This is also reflected in the fact that the legal age for purchasing alcohol in Denmark is 16. You might also be surprised to know that Danes allow you to drink in public places. While in Denmark, you will also find out that it is socially acceptable for young people to drink during social events.
Chances are, while you are living in Denmark and making more friends, you will get used to this. You might even pick up on this drinking and partying culture and practice it yourself. For instance, drinking early in the morning like the Danes do. However, take care because in other places, people might not take it too lightly.
For example, in the United States, drinking early in the morning is considered a result of an underlying problem. Other conservative countries also frown upon young people drinking even during social events. Therefore, this is one behaviour and norm that you should not indulge in while visiting your family back home.
Dating, Sex, Children and Marriage
Denmark is one of the countries in the world where gender equality is on the forefront. Some people have even gone as far as labelling it a feminine country. Danes respect women more compared to many other countries. This also reflects in their workplaces where women are paid as much as men. It also brings out a lot of equality when it comes to gender roles including in romantic relationships.
Danes are raised from childhood to be independent and open-minded. The downside to this culture however, is that it has paved way for casual relationships and sex. Casual sex is more common in Denmark than other countries. Another good example is their view on marriage and having kids.
In most cultures, one is expected to get married first before eventually having children. However, this is not the case in Denmark. Marriage is not a prerequisite to starting a family. This could explain why many couples cohabit without legalizing the arrangement with marriage. Don’t be mistaken though, family is essential in Denmark but the nuclear family is the centre of the social structure.
While casual relationships and having children before marriage might be acceptable here, it won’t fly in other cultures. It pays to stick to your own tradition when it comes to family, sex, relationships and marriage. This also applies to public display of affection, which is fairly common in Denmark.
Making New Friends and Building Social Relations
Denmark being the happiest country in the world, you might expect the locals to be friendly and helpful. However, many expats in the country have complained about how difficult it is to make new friends. Remember that Danes are really big on their personal space and privacy.
In addition, they make friends from their childhood and prefer to keep these ties rather than make new friends. So, don’t expect them to be eager to add you in their friend circles. You shouldn’t also expect to find random people smiling at you on the streets. This applies by the way even when something funny happens on the streets.
Another thing Danes don’t do is offer to help with your luggage or something without being asked. They expect that you will ask them for help if you need it. However, in most countries, this would be considered rude. Which could explain why Danes are considered rude, unfriendly and aloof!
Questioning People in Authority
Danes are taught from a young age to question authority and complaining is considered normal. However, it isn’t just enough to complain to your co-worker, you are expected to approach your boss. In other countries, this might do you more harm than good. For instance, in the United Kingdom, making a fuss is highly frowned upon
You will also be surprised how younger people call the older ones by their names with no reference to their status. Like a student would call the teacher Henrik, Larsen or whichever their name is and they will answer happily without qualms. The same is evident in how people of different ages interact freely with no apparent boundaries. High level of independence is also such a common thing where children will want their own rooms. Sharing may sound like an alien idea in Denmark.