It was a normal enough Copenhagen situation; that’s what makes it frustrating. I was introduced to some friends of my partner’s in Copenhagen yesterday evening. Two of them persisted in speaking Danish conscious that I did not understand what they were saying, and the third – rather than politely enquiring about anything – proceeded to lambast me in English for not speaking Danish, asking me why I was not spending my whole summer going to an intensive course to make sure that I learn.

The problem, I have come to see, is that I actually do not want to learn the language, because actually I do not want to be in Denmark. Actually, taking that to its logical conclusion, I am actually not really in Denmark now. Denmark is just the place I live. The county where I have healthcare cover and a mobile phone contract. But all my work, all my friends, the vast majority of my purpose in life, are elsewhere.

In essence the guy lambasting me about language was right – to manage to really be at home in Denmark, the language is vital. It’s central. That’s correct, fair and justifiable. But with the language critique comes this kind of edge of incredulity – why would I ever not want to integrate in Copenhagen? The answer is that I have things to give up elsewhere, that taking children to kindergarten in a Christiania bike and drinking Carlsberg are not my sole aims in life, and that thanks to the nature of my job I can actually live in one place and not work there, and hell I am only here for personal reasons anyway. Yes, damn it, for me Denmark is not actually the best place in the world.

When I am in Copenhagen I have this kind of a craving for a conversation over a beer with a good friend (but I have no good friends here), or a chance meeting in the street with someone I know (but I know very few people here). But to get to that stage I have to give up more elsewhere, to travel less and work less, and to commit properly to learning Danish, and those are things I cannot bring myself to do. I cannot sketch out a future here that would be to my liking and hence I need to resort to a more minimal strategy to cope for now, and look forward to trips to Brussels or London for those beers with friends or chance encounters.

In short I think this place will never be home, and I only have myself to blame.


  1. Barbara

    I am a retired woman living in Jutland, Denmark with my Danish husband. I hate living here but unlike many of the young people above, I have no choice. I cannot afford to move anywhere else. I am of Dutch nationality but haven’t lived there for many years and have no living family there. My only child lives in London and I miss her so much. I used to live there too but my husband wanted to return here when he retired. I find Danes very rude. They have no culture. Life is just sport, work and their immediate families. They are very boring people with a very high opinion of themselves (god knows why). Very few Danes have ever tried living away from their country and are, therefore, very insular and rather ignorant of other cultures. If I ever had the money I would leave straightaway. I speak fluent Danish but believe me it doesn’t make any difference at all. In fact I find you are treated more politely if you speak English. As a foreigner here, you will never be a part of their lives! Any young people out there considering a move here, a word of warning, there are many other countries in Europe that are far more welcoming.

    • Frances

      Hi Barbra I read your story comments. I was born uk moved to Canada young age then to usa for many years. Love usa. I came to denmark 2 years ago me and my gf met through celine dion my gf came to usa to see me a few times. She always loved usa shes danish but doesnt like denmark she want to move to usa it’s her dream so I’m living in denmark with her until we can move to usa.
      Danish is so hard to learn. A few danish people are nice but alot of them are strange its danish way or there way. Like I cant do things my way we dont do it like that in denmark you are here so you cant speak english. My gf speaks good English. Her mum speaks no English at all hadn’t been anywhere live simple life which is fine. She always around home me my gf need space and privacy.she doesnt do much doesnt see anybody relies on my gf alot but she fine with her moving to usa. Me and gf mum dont talk cause of language difference she dont want to learn English but she watches english tv shows movies ect alot. So they expect me to lean danish is fine but it’s not fair. I feel isolated my gf works full time. It gets annoying doing google translate it doesn’t sound right. It’s hard being a foreigner here.
      Yeah like my gf mum doesnt do anything really just hangs around us she always there even when my gf friends come over. But my gf and her mum talk all the time even my my gf is at work like she said it always been that way it’s like a best friend between them. I do things way different to danish. Like her mum made a face when I made scrambled eggs and cheese omelette. Like it’s her way or no way they are not open to anything. Oh you cant do that here this that. Its annoying. Goodluck to you oh you have danish husband.
      I’m only here because of my gf. Takecare keep healthy during this time of hardships.

    • Fernando

      I believe that the best remedy for as-holes and ignorant people is to make them see their stupidity.
      I thought that Denmark had it figured out, instead is just a bunch of pointy shoes charlatans and ignorant self centered individuals. Unfortunately choose here, i wish to leave but family ties are pulling me into the Danish land. I will say to all those struggling,my email is hellpez {at} gmail(.)com, feel free to contact me , I am writting a little book in regards to the relationship of a foreign towards Denmark

    • Ewelina

      Hi Barbara! I have exactly the same feeling and my situation is similar. Im a New mum Though, not retired. Wished you lived in cph, we could catch up

  2. john hall

    I am living through a hell living in Denmark.

    No friends ( like everybody says)

    Dishonesty, cowardice and a shallow world view abounds.

    Ive had hundreds of thousands of kroner stolen by friends or by people I have tried to help.

    MY daughter has been taken by my ex wife with the help of the authorities who are world renowned for getting the verdict wrong ( trial by rumor )

    I have been lied to by authorities ( the tax authorities for example… bare faced lies at least three times)

    The Health service has withheld treatment based upon an argument I had with a stand-in receptionist , where she claimed I shouted at her…. ( not that it matters, but I didn’t)

    The neighbors watch you through binoculars ( not just my experience) and speak to you via email.

    Employers have taken advantage of me ( eg. getting me to work on bank holidays for no recompense while the boss goes home and relaxes with his family)

    But the worst is their Jantelov. A foreigner is an ideal target as we don’t really know about Jantelov. You can go to a party happy and excited and come back depressed … without knowing why. Your crime will have been ” liking yourself too much ” . Your fellow guests will consider you a target. You will be tactically ignored. Or your opinions will be taken down a peg… subtly. You won’t even notice it happening until you get home and feel yourself wanting to hide from the world.


    Because EVERYBODY needs to feel better than someone at something. Here it is forbidden to show it , but the need is still there. So to make themselves ( the Danes) feel better , they push you down instead of building themselves up ,as to build themselves up will likely encourage the wrath of Janteloven from their fellow countrymen.

    It’s endemic. Its suffocating. It’s everywhere.

    If you help somebody , they will take advantage of you. They may even laugh at you for being so naive or scold you for being irresponsible. Then they will ignore you. No thanks or loyalty. I have two non Danish friends here: a Turk and a South African. They are not like that. Every Danish “friend ” I have had. , has behaved like that though.

    My hatred of this country knows no bounds.

    Danmark: highest per capita cancer in the world
    Danmark : Highest use of antidepressives in Europe
    Danmark Highest youth alcohol abuse in the world
    Danmark Highest abuse rate of women by their spouse in the world
    Danmark Highest abuse of children in Europe ( where notably in 2017 the EU found that in Copenhagen there was a failure to protect children and a failure to follow DKs own guidelines in … wait for it …. ONE HUNDRED PERCENT OF CASES . ( the authorities then changed the name of the body responsible. And then… business as usual)
    Danmark Highest household debt in the world
    Danmark Third highest personal debt in the world
    Danmark Highest death rate from drug overdose in the world

    Denmark. Where too many people feel not good enough.

    John Hall

    I will gladly include my telephone number should anybody feel the need to talk.
    You are not alone

  3. Bolivar

    Totally agree with all of you – finally some people who will call Denmark for what it really is. My wife is a dane but thank god I convinced her to move away and live abroad.

    Even though NOT all danes are like that and there are some notable exceptions, (after spending 8 years in the country) the vast majority is like that: rude, unfriendly, selfcentered. I remember going with my wife to festivals when we first met and idiots telling her in danish “oh what are you doing with that foreigner, do you like eating food without salt and spices?” and of course she would only tell me afterwards because she knew that if she had told me at the same time I would pick a fight. “ffs, who wouldnt?”

    My worst experience however is about their work mentality. Foreigners, are slaves. Literally. I ve been treated like a second class citizen, working my ass off while danes at the same workplace were working 9.00-15.00 and they were not supposed to be pushed around or stressed cause they are sensitive people that must have a LOT of free time to chill out and hygge. However, the rest of us (the foreigners) we were working on their projects 12-14h a day -wo taking any credit!- and when our contracts finished they never wanted to see us again; and their short answer was “we want our children to come back and stay here”

    this is my 2 cents, to my experience (I ve lived in 5 countries), this shit does not happen ANYWHERE else

  4. Frances

    Hi I have been here 2 years. It’s very hard here I agree. Plus yes the Danes like to help but they don’t want us being here. I know they are protective. Danes don’t want to be friends. I have had the experience of traveling at a young age. My gf is Danish and she doesn’t want to live here in Denmark. She has always loved the USA. We are going to move there soon. Her brother is Danish and he said Denmark is very boring country. No opportunities. But Denmark is supposed to be the happiest place all places are not perfect. But Danish don’t understand yes how hard it is to move your whole life to another country. Very interesting points.

  5. HereAndThere

    I’m an ex-pat student in Denmark living for the past year. There are a few things I agree with here and a few things I don’t agree with.

    Danes are polite people, they will talk to you and help you. They are hard-working and tend to do things quickly so they can enjoy their free time, however,

    BUT they will not become your friend. They do not appreciate you being here. They do not know or understand how hard it is for someone to move to an entirely different place, especially a non-European, to not just live but to study. They won’t talk to you. The Danes seem just emotionless to me. There is certainly too much of giving a cold shoulder to the other person. There will be underlying tension if something goes wrong but the Dane will just avoid trying to discuss the issue and will just wish it to go away.

  6. Da man

    I made the mistake of moving to Denmark with my then-girlfriend, now ex-wife back in 1992. I moved from SE London to a little dump in MId-Jutland with a population of 1500. I have lived in the West Indies, N. America. and all over Europe, but nothing, and I mean nothing, prepared me for the shock of what was to come. People stared at me because I spoke English. The literally stopped and gawked. I, being the lad that I am, stopped and stared back at them. The first Saturday I was here, all the shops shut at 12.00, as did the whole country. By now the negative vibes had set in. I started planning to back to London, she got pregnant (my fault, too).
    So, I decided to make a go of it here in DK. I learned the language very quickly and got a job. Living in small bergs never appealed to me, so I said we had to move. She would only move to a town of 3000 people. Her refusal to live in such places cost me any chance of a social life. A problem that still dogs me after 27 years here. I have nothing at ALL in common with most Danes, who usually don’t talk about much outside their jobs. (Very few cultures define themselves by their jobs as much.) The men are emasculated and dull and as a result the women think they have the answer to everything, and struggle when dealing with men from other cultures.
    The rudeness and downright ignorance are astonishing, even after so long.
    Anybody moving here, remember that first impressions last, and will probably not change. I have been here 27.5 years, and still feel the same way I did about this place after the first 2 weeks. I am finally working on getting out before I get too to get a social life, and yes, enjoy living again.

  7. Thanks to this great man of spirit called Dr Sangare which I don’t know how to thank him for the good work he has Don for me and family which I want to share my testimony with to you all so I was married to Hassan Moel and my name is Julie deshields for six years now he left me with two kids with know reason which I don’t know what to do so one day i was in my friends place when I exposed my pain to her about my depression which I have be looking for who to help me out of it then my friend called me closer to her self telling me on how she got this great man of spirit who helped her found her way to get her husband back then I ask of his contact she quickly go and get her computer and gave me his Email ID and his number so,that is how I contacted him for a help. And now am so happy with my family and with a happy home if you are in such pain kindly Via Email: Drsangare01 {at} gmail(.)com or whatsapp him on +2348103508204 have faith in him and he will help you
    Julie Deshields.

  8. Duncan Wheeler

    Thanks for your insights into this widespread and uncomfortable phenomena of the rising right. I could say a lot but will just say this. Why do people (like your parteners friends) feel the need to force their point of view and why they think it’s accepteble to berate a newly met person for the language they speak, no matter what the circumstances. this is just rude. It also shows said friends seem happy to force their view point on others without enquiring about their views on any matter. Your partners friends need to examine their behaviour and think on how far those view points will take them down the road of intellictual facism. All the best in the future

  9. thomas seerup

    Wow.. So many negative experiences.. Thats not the denmark ice Come to know.. I love it here its only been 8 month but have already made some good friends. Found work with in 4 days of moving here.. The locals Are All so friendly always smile an say hello.. I cant wait to bring My wife and Kids here and make it our for ever home..

  10. Anden generations invandre

    Denmark is a small country with an isolated population . I had been living in Denmark since i was 17 years old. Happiness is when you feel good about yourself without feeling the need for anyone else’s approval. Don’t care about them They are very selfish and not worth thinking about.
    They are afraid of foreigners, because they don’t have any selfconfidence and understanding for other cultures.
    You are living in this world for a very limited periode. My advice to you, “Don’t waste your time and energy for think about Danes.

  11. I moved here 6 months ago because my husband got a job offer. I totally hate being in here. I speak 4 languages (including my mother tongue), I have no interest in learning Danish. On the other hand I have to. I have a 1 year old son and if we live here, he will be learning Danish and I have to too.

    I am a huge fan of nature and CPH totally offers beautiful scenes but I am even bored of them.

    I am holding a PhD in engineering and I have a quite good work experience but I couldn’t find a job yet. I usually do not understand the reason why I am rejected. They just say they have better candidates. Really? All of the companies I go for an interview? One of the said they had a better chemistry with the other candidate. I began to think it is another form of racism.

    Funny but I also don’t like the supermarkets. I am hardly finding vegetables. Are they really eating spinach all year? Also the brands are not the ones we are used to. Denmark has its own brands for most of the goods.

    If I can’t find a job in 6 months, I will be looking in to the Netherlands, Germany or UK. Denmark is not worth it.

    • Hi Szn. Yeah it can be hard here, I’m sorry to say. I have been here some years and am now going back home. I’ve lived abroad before and speak different languages too, also find Denmark so far very hard to adapt to. You have to know people to get a job – nepotism seems to be a big factor. Danes themselves have a hard time finding a job they want here, let alone foreigners. I was shocked by how many people don’t even get replies after many months of job hunting. UK isn’t prefect, but the job market is way more flexible. It may be worth exploring other options :-/ perhaps join some groups or association for hobbies? You may meet people that way and grow your network.

      • I find the danes huge sticklers for things to be done their way – it’s either the “danish” way or the highway. At least it’s how my experience was with my danish ex. Considering that they are supposed to be an egalitarian lot and well-travelled, they aren’t well-rounded when it comes to the knowledge of cultural diversity. Reading through all the comments makes me feel like I might have dodged a massive bullet with my danish ex.

        They definitely talk more when they are high or drunk. Not the least sociable when sober, let alone a friendly bunch. Probably haven’t lived as an expat in other countries long enough to gain any worldly experience. They are big on patriotism though. My ex became extremely gungho when he saw the danish flag in another country.

  12. Living abroad is seldom easy. I guess Britain is relatively easy because of the language and globally shared cultural references that are British or American. I lived in Sweden for a few years and found the sense of social isolation really hard. Even when I could speak Swedish there was still a sense of isolation. I am spending some time in Denmark now but don’t plan to move here. I’m in the countryside and find people quite casually friendly. My card didn’t work in the shop, for example, and someone offered to pay for me – that’s really friendly. The lady I bought some eggs from was very keen to chat to me. Maybe it’s a copenhagen thing, people in big cities are generally uptight. Living abroad is always easier if you don’t need much social reassurance. Most of us thrive on it though. Glad to hear that Germany is working out for you. I love the Germans. A wacky lot by and large.

    • Thank you Jon for this text. It feels somewhat a good peer support for me now! I have got many similar feelings than you have got.

      I am missing my friends and siblings from my original home country. I have not succeeded to find any local friends during more than two years living and working in Cph. First year here, I was very open minded and interested in everything that was happening. I really wanted to give a chance to Denmark and Danes. After a year I noticed that I still feel as lonely and foreigner as I did when we moved here. Luckiky I moved here with my spouse but we are sometimes thinking that we spend pretty much all the spare time together here. And we are from another scandinavian country originally! Sometimes we are thinking that maybe it has saved us from any major racism here.

      We are now planning to move to another EU country for work, hopefully near future. Before that I think I try to activate in international expats groups better and find hopefully some new friends there.

  13. Jon, this post reflects how I feel exactly. I’ve been in CPH a good few years now because of my partner. I’m British and have lived in Berlin and London before, which were very different experiences. I learned German to a pretty fluent level while in Berlin (years ago) and generally found it easy to get to know people; it’s easy to be foreign there. However, when it comes to Danish, I have NO motivation or interest in learning the language. No city is perfect and CPH has its own charm, but I have never felt at home here (I won’t list the complaints!). We are in fact moving to the UK this Summer 🙂

  14. Louise

    Could not agree more to feeling like this….thank you for sharing Jon – it’s nice to know I’m not alone 🙂

  15. Elizabeth

    I agree to this so much it’s painful. I’ve met a lot of lovely people here, but what about someone racist? That’ll always exist everywhere else right?

    Apparently that happens to be my step father, whom my mom have left her everything to married. But he was obviously this freak that spends the time on dating sites wanting to date someone that’s million years younger. My mom is very hard to open up when dating someone and when she finally does; it’s with a danish freak whose family blames her for everything despite the fact that that step father of mine, verbally abuses her in front of me and even hit her once. So my mom felt hopeless as she has no driving license and we live in a fking forest, whom my step father have born, grew up, worked, went to school in for the past 58 years.

    I even have to go to a danish public school during my first experience in denmark (with me all so naive and hoping that denmark will be an amazing country with lovely people)

    Which ofcourse, I was wrong.

    1) danish people are low-key racist, but I personally think most Europeans are
    2) danish people thinks that foreigners (with ethnic background, they can’t spot a romanian here between the danish peeps!) are lazy, stupid and poor and that we will suck all your money.

    I’m not even a refugee maybe I just moved during the wrong time or humanity is just shallow? Hell if I know

    (my step father even said it himself to my mom when she’s telling her degree to the kommune is that “to make sure you don’t suck our money”)


    But actually aarhus or odense have more open mind and a lot of foreigners so it’s kind of nice.

    Just don’t rely on a dane unless you’re a refugee or something. If you throw your life away to marry/date a dane, and then find out you cant find a future here, especially if their family is blaming on you for being “miserable”, just please, stay strong! I know you can do it ♥

    • Frances sheldrick

      I have read alot of your stories yea I agree. My experience very isolated Danish is hard. Feel pressure to learn it. Danes is their way or no way seems like. They dont understand people others lifes. They dont want anyone to take their public money. They are grumpy towards foreigners. No friends they dont want to know you.

  16. denmark is the worst place i have encountered- being married to a dane or learning danish did not help either. i have easily made friends in the uk, germany, turkey and even sweden. but denmark is another beast when it comes to alienating anyone who is not from their country.

  17. Anonym

    I have experienced this situation actually.
    But for me it was kind of worse because I am ethnic.
    I could see ethnic people having degrees but no jobs and asking me what was doing here.

    The only reason why I was in Denmark it’s because my girlfriend was danish.
    She told me that it was OK to be in Denmark for a while, waiting to move to Canada.
    Then I was trapped !
    She had her agenda ( and I think she was also a malignant narcissist).
    She never wanted to move to Canada from the start.

    And then, one day, I just ran away… I was way too tired of this situation.
    I should have done it much earlier.

    I was born in Switzerland but with an ethnic background.
    I have degrees in computer engineering.
    I moved to Canada on my own since and I am a Canadian citizen now.

    Everytime I hear news from Denmark or Scandinavia, it makes me feel mopey.
    Denmark was indeed the worst experience in my life.

  18. @Michaela – I escaped in October 2013. I now live in Berlin, and it’s a *lot* better. Not least because I speak German. I hope you find a way to cope somehow!

  19. Michaela

    Oh wow I have felt the same way since I moved here with my bf ( he’s danish)almost 4 years ago. I still did not learned they’re language and I really hope here is not the place I will have to call home at a point. Good luck !!

  20. Honestly now Um confused if I should migrant to Denmark (green card scheme). I have done my Masters from UK. I have been in the UK for 6 years. I am a sales assistant at savers health & beauty in London. Can I get similar (super drug or boots or savers type) kind of job in Denmark with English speaking ability ? Someone advice me. Thank you.

    • sabrina

      Stay there and keep your job.
      Here they prefer to hire Danes and you will be unhappy.
      Fine another country. Please carefull, awful place.

  21. Danes are very good at campaining on the internet, covering everything up, flatening out, making everything nice.
    Beneath it is prejudice, social irresponsibility, lack of Progress. A country that breeds psychopathic mentality with a socialistic smile.

    Go to sweden instead. Sweden is real and makes an efford to be so.

  22. I’ve lived in CPH for 3 years and it’s been the most depressing, lonely and ostracized time of my life.
    I don’t need hugely caring individuals, a simple nod and smile from a stranger is all it takes to make me feel part of society, to feel accepted and acknowledged, trying to get that from a Dane however has proven ridiculous. My smile and nod is almost always met with a cold stare and a face of borderline disgust, and they very often hold that face, staring at you. It’s at this point in their incredible rudeness I give them them a sarcastic wave, to which they roll their eyes up and look away.
    I’m half Thai and was born and raised in the rough north east of England, moved to Thailand’s tropical south when I was 13 and then moved around between the U.K, Sweden, Australia, and Denmark.
    Without speaking Thai you can easily enjoy life in Thailand, you have fun getting lost in translation with the Thai people, and end up making friends where you thought it would be impossible. Getting by in Australia is also do able once you surmount the blatant racism (whites fear not).
    Denmark however is a whole different book. In a country where most people speak a conversational level of English, I have not made a single friend since arriving here. The stories and events I have experienced here that leave me bewildered and lusting for fun and friends are countless.
    At a halloween party that I was invited too I encountered the grossest form of racism I’ve ever had the pleasure of dealing with. After blacking up and assuming a minstrel-esque kind of costume, the first thing I was asked was:
    ‘Where are you from?’
    Thinking as usual that people were thrown by my northern english accent, I replied:
    They were clearly not satisfied with that as an answer and with faces still locked in curious disgust said:
    ‘Yes we can tell from your accent, we just don’t know what colour you are’
    I told them to ‘f*ck off’ then tried to laugh off the incredulousness of these tossers with some other people at the party. Which failed. I then quickly realised I was in a room full of socially retarded people, I was in a room full of Danes. I left shortly afterwards, having tried to spice the party up with some RJD2 and Jamiroquai, only to have one of the guys arrogantly and impatiently insist on Nicki Minaj, Britney Spears ‘hit me baby’ and Backstreet Boys. Initially I thought the party was coming alive and that this guy had found his sense of humour. Unfortunately he was not intending to be funny, which created another awkward social gap, but had helped to seal the deal for me.

    With no support or even interest from the person who invited me, I was surprised when she told me what a wonderful and fun night it was when saw her in the following days. Even though it was very clearly a disaster. Do Danish people actually know a good time?
    Unfortunately I’m not interested in fashion, therefore my lack of the new iphone and my now 3 month old shoes could be what’s hindering my social life, alongside my brown skin (even though I’ve been told by many Danes that mixed race couples are very ‘fashionable’ these days).
    I’ve been told (by Danes) that the Danish don’t like to do small talk, preferring to have deep and meaningful conversations. I’ve also been told that it’s very unusual to speak to someone you do not know in public, and a normal reaction to this would be the cold shoulder and generally ignorant.
    Do you see the problem there Danes?

    I recently came back from a weekend in Brighton and in the 3 days I was there I made more friends than in 3 years of Denmark, I enjoyed walking in the street again as people smiled and nodded and made the effort not to walk directly into you. People held the door for each other, treating one another with manner and courteousness, of course not everybody is polite but it’s a large percentage. The same can be said for Copenhagen, not everyone is a twat but it does seem to be a large percentage.
    I’ve been back in Denmark 2 days and can’t wait to get out again, hopefully indefinitely.

    A question that is most asked is:
    ‘How do you like living in Denmark?’
    Unfortunately this is a trap, they only really want to hear you say how amazing it is, anything slightly honest or negative is met with responses such as
    ‘Oh, I’m sad you feel that way….’* – then do absolutely nothing to help improve your stay or change your mind. Or:
    ‘If you don’t like it why don’t you leave’ – or:
    ‘Why are you here then?’

    *Such a response usually comes from someone you know through someone else.

    Easily the most superficial and narcissistic people I’ve ever lived alongside.
    I can honestly say I have never been more bored in my entire life.

    Sorry to bring a bout of negativity onto your thread, I just don’t know where to vent myself here because socialising is pretty much non-existant.

    My advice? If fashion is your life, and you have nothing but love and admiration for everything Danish – Denmark, indeed Copenhagen is the place for you. But you must learn Danish independently (Danes are not happy to teach their language but are incredibly hostile if you do not learn), and you must make a 200% effort to socialise and mingle. Even then however, positive results are not garuanteed.
    If you have even a singular criticism about anything Danish, forget it. It really isn’t worth it.

    • Hannah

      Totally agree on this!

      I’m born and raised here and have never felt like home.
      By any given chance Danes are asking me “So where are you from?” Duh. Like I’m danish. Can’t you hear? “But where are you really from” Then looking at my brown skin color, black hair, and brown eyes.
      Even though I went to danish schools and university I never had danish friends. Ppl stare at me on the street. First I thought I had my clothes on wrong, and then looked in a shop window – I was normal! Or am I? In this country is hard to tell. I am finally finished with my education and planning to move out of this godforsaken hell hole.
      Whenever I went on trips abroad(have been living a half a year in the UK during my education) I felt at home. Ppl were nice and NO ONE starred. The entire time I felt good and had no stress. I try not to let the starring part get to me, but It has, so now I shop groceries very late and not going out at all.

      ESCAPE! These ppl don’t deserve you. You are in better hands outside of this country.

  23. Hello, I found your post interesting – I am from the US having lived in Sweden and worked in Denmark for several years now. I joined some international meetup groups to feel a bit more involved in local life but it does not solve the issue of outsidership that foreigners feel here. How long will you stay in Denmark for?

    • sabrina

      True true,
      Denmark is not a place to make friends.
      yes make your stuff here, and leave.
      ……I read and read it is true it is true.
      Should we start a group ….Hating Denmark.

      • Hi Sabrina I have been here 2 years my gf is Danish she wants out of Denmark. She wants to move to USA so soon we will. I feel here like you said people come to get what they need done ect then they leave. Danish is hard Danes have like no emotions it seems. I know cultures are different. They don’t understand moving countries what it takes on you. Interesting points in the comments.

  24. Sean Church

    I’m a Brit living in Denmark (Danish partner). I moved here late in life and I tried but have given up learning Danish. Mostly OK Danish teachers but one or two very bad. Biggest problem is tax. Very high income tax (and low threshold before you pay tax), plus high VAT, plus big tax on your property in the UK, plus high inheritance tax. I’ve decided I have to return to UK residency (at least 183 days a year) due to punitive Danish taxes, so that will put a very big strain on our relationship. Yes Danish benefits are good if you live here all your life, have a family, experience unemployment, go to university, and are conditioned to it all from birth, but Danes don’t think about the unfair costs to some taxpayers. I’m effectively paying for Danish students to attend university for 5 or 6 years while my own kids have large student debts in the UK. This has been a nightmare. On the more cultural stuff, yes Danes are introverted and often unfriendly, and life here is pretty boring. Not at all the happiest country in the world, that’s just hype. Yes there are some nice Danes and a few interesting places, but it’s not at all Destination Number One!

    • sabrina

      ….super true about
      yes Danes are introverted and often unfriendly, and life here is pretty boring. Not at all the happiest country in the world, that’s just hype.

  25. Hi Jon.
    As a Dane I can say: yes we are rude. That is 100 procent true. Since this is the only post I’ve read on your blog, I don’t know anything else, and since I’m not a grown up “I don’t understand”.. But why the hell don’t you just get out of this country if you hate it so much?
    Maybe you’re just living in the wrong city, because to be honest, no one in Jutland likes anyone from the Copenhagen/Zealand area. We kinda hate eachother as a “inside joke”. Just like Siblings. Always fight yet always together (just as Denmark and Sweden). To feel home I do also believe that you have to learn about the danish culture and language. You can’t feel home in a country where you feel scared every time someone speaks danish to you. You don’t nesseserily needs to speak or understand it fully, but understand small things so you might have an idea.
    Luckily we in Denmark speak really good English so it’s no problem. Just ask. You won’t get judged. Be open. Don’t be scared to ask for direction or help or if anybody knows a good cafe.
    Yes of course there are some stupid idiots in Denmark, and yes we are rude and yes we drink too much, but that’s the culture. I am aware that Danes drinks way too much. We are quick to jugde, but we do also jugde each other. Some are racist, but most are not. I do not know a single person who is racist or homophobic. I know a few very Christians and they are open minded. They don’t see any problems (except getting married in a church, but that is legal and has been for a long time so that doesn’t matter).
    You just need to be open minded. As a Dane I would get the hell out of here as soon as I can, but this country will always be my home, I just wanna see the world.

  26. I understand what you meant with this entry. Reminds me of my life in Flanders where I lived for 5 years with my Flemish boyfriend. Very closed, conformist mentality with a need to be always ‘in’. Forced me to speak bad Flemish even though they could speak good English. Mocked everything non-Belgian or different. I see many parallels between these two nations.

    • Neil Edwards Dinesen

      Denmark and Danes aren’t that bad, some of the above posters sound a bit on the bitter side.
      I moved from London to Fakse last year and I love it. Life is so good out here. Who cares if Danes are a bit insular and stand off-ish. I prefer that to the plastic flakiness of home. It’s motorcycle heaven here, quality roads with few cars on them outside of the cities.
      The key is to have a really good go at learning danish and many of the above folks openly admit they didn’t try or barely tried. Just because most Danes are fluent in English it’s a mistake to think you can get by without embracing their language.
      At the same time, these “happiness surveys” are total and utter bunk. Denmark certainly has its problems like stupidly high tax and going to bed too early but I can think of far worse places to live In Europe.

  27. Hi Jon,
    I moved out of Denmark 10 years ago. no matter how hard you try as an immigrant you always keep hanging and they would not let you in their circle.

  28. Holger

    Some official confirmation of what you and others all sense

  29. I have lived in Denmark since 1996. And escaped for 2 years. I found that Danes were happy to speak English one to one and also in groups for a while, provided you were making an effort to learn the language.
    This is opposed to the French, where some years ago, even if you spoke French they would make no effort to help and expected you to embarras yourself in their language.
    I have been fortunate to live in many countries and usually make no effort to meet people from the UK but spend my time with those from the country. You learn more, it is more fun and interesting. However I would say that Danes are mostly mini racists. They often denegrate their own country but are so scared of being over run, that they intentionally make it diddifult for foreigners, even within the EU. Good in some ways because they will not tolerate certain muslim and religious practices. But they also make it difficult. Anyone in Copenhagen will notice very few signs to the sights in the city. Hence the number of foreign tourists staring at maps. On my reentry to Denmark I have to leap a number of hurdles not present in other countries, even though I have a daughter and have lived here since 1996.
    If you live somewhere, whether for work or not then make an effort. You can alsoway find people from your own country when you need some domestic conversation. Very interested in the boarder check debate though on the other part of this blog.

  30. Richard P

    Just calling it the way I see it.

    Suffice to say, I am quite sure that any Dane reading your blog above, would find your attitude less than charming. It seems to me that, despite having chosen to reside there, you have not made the slightest effort to learn Danish and are content instead to coast along on the fact that most Danes speak fluent English.

    It’s one thing to be in a country temporarily on contract, with a clear end date in sight (even then, I believe one should make an effort to master a few useful phrases) but when you have chosen to reside there on a indefinite basis (as seem to be the case with you), it is simply (I repeat) arrogant and rude not to attempt to learn the language. The fact that Denmark does not feel to “home” for you is no excuse.

    It appears that you treat Denmark as little more than a glorified dormitory, and expect the locals to accommodate you, linguistically at least.

    I had a friend who moved to the Netherlands. After a while, her Dutch friends got justifiably irritated at having to converse in English so that she could understand what they were saying (even though all spoke fluent English) and made this known. Instead of bleating self-serving rationalisations, she knuckled down and made an effort to learn Dutch.

    I am an immigrant myself, having moved to the UK some 15 years ago. I was fortunate in that I was English speaking, but I realised very quickly that it was for me to make an effort to fit in culturally, not for the natives to fit around me. Had I not been English-speaking, then I would justifiably have been expected to be able to speak English.

    I believe strongly that no one should be allowed to immigrate to the UK, unless they can prove that they have at least a decent level of conversational English. This should, I believe, apply equally to migrants from within the EU as without. Otherwise, we risk the development of linguistic ghettoes.

    Similarly, despite my current right as a British citizen (as I now am) to live and work elsewhere in the EU (although that will soon change when the UK leaves), I would not dream of doing so unless I had made the effort to learn the local language (and as I am effectively monolingual – something I am not proud of, Ireland is about as far as I can go at the moment).

    Just sayin’

  31. Thank you Richard. Very charming.

  32. Richard P

    That should have read: “If you choose to live in a country, you should do the locals the courtesy of making an effort to learn their language (even if most of them happen to speak English).”

  33. Richard P

    If you choose to live in a country, you should do the locals the courtesy of making an effort to learn their language (even if most of them happen to be English). Refusing to do so, and expecting them to converse with each other in your language, in order to accommodate you, is both rude and arrogant.

    If living in Denmark makes you feel so uncomfortable, why don’t you just leave. It seems to be that would be a win-win situation both for the Danes and yourself.

    I’m not going to be so crass as to suggest that you fit or or f**k off, but you could at least make an effort.

    • Danish is a very difficult spoken language, for a typical European immigrant working a full-time job, it’s not very useful to attend lessons within the first 6-9 months of arriving. It takes that long to get an ear for the vowels.

      It’s also beyond stupid to spend summer evenings in a classroom, when the weather is actually nice. Save that for the autumn, winter and spring.

      I’ll be resuming my lessons in September.

      (However, I’ve also not encountered any Dane who disagrees with this approach.)

  34. @Hanne – thanks for the comment. Part of the advantage of writing this blog entry has been to show that I am not alone in feeling like this!

    @Leon – smoking is mostly banned in enclosed spaces (although not inside rather enclosed places like rail stations). As for the intellectual curiosity of learning Danish – yes, I do have that, and if I could find the right circumstances would learn. But I also find the process of learning languages deeply frustrating, and that doesn’t help (I speak French and German, and some Italian and Swedish, so it’s not as if I am just a monolingual Brit).

    @Tove – I think you’re a bit tough. Every country has its own pros and cons. For people with certain values then Denmark may really be some kind of paradise… just not for me, and some others. The social norms in Denmark are very strong, for good and bad, and it’s a question of whether a person wishes to conform to these.

    @Puzzled – a relationship is not all there is in life. A person needs more than that.

    @Ben – thanks for the thoughtful comment. On your individual points… I understand the one about the flat and place to live, and while that does not – in terms of physical surroundings – affect me to quite the same extent you explain (the place we live is a joint effort), I do nevertheless have this sort of feeling that I am living as an adjunct to someone else’s life.

    The language and location thing are more complex for me, and I struggle to work out why I feel the way I do. Through the voluntary work I have done, and later my job, I am lucky to know people all over the place, and have lived in Brussels and London for reasonable periods, and also for a while in Berlin. I hence have a bunch of places where I do not feel like an outsider in the way I do in Copenhagen. The flip side of this is then I have no clear idea of where home actually is, although I seem to be able to tell where it is not. Maybe it is just easier for me in Germanophone or Francophone countries, as I have the language before arriving there, and perhaps adjusting while learning the language makes things hard, as you too found it Ben?

  35. @Jon – a bit of a revelation reading this post. I’ve been living in Spain for 9 years now, I’m married to a Spaniard, I speak the language, I own a flat here – I’m probably more “settled” here than I have been at any point in my life. And yet I still often feel that this is not my home. I do actually enjoy living here and I do want to be here, but that doesn’t stop it feeling like living in the flat your girlfriend bought before you knew her – and it’s still decorated to her tastes.

    People can say that you won’t integrate until you learn the language, which is true. But even learning the language doesn’t completely dispel that sense that you are rooted elsewhere. It can sometimes even heighten it. I often feel that when I am expressing myself in Spanish, it’s not really me who’s talking – it’s the Spanish version of me who has had to adapt to suit the words I can use.

    Free movement of labour, globalisation, teleworking – they are all giving us the freedom to live and work wherever we want. But I suspect that they will never change the fact that many of us are always going to be inherently ‘from’ somewhere, and that no matter how much we move around, and how much we like being in a place, we will always, deep down, crave that relaxed beer with a good friend back home.

  36. Puzzled

    Dear Jon, as I don’t know more about you than what I read on this blog, I don’t really think that it is for me to comment on your personal life. Still, I see a bit of a contradiction between living in Copenhagen “only for personal reasons” and not wanting to be there because “all my work, all my friends, the vast majority of my purpose in life, are elsewhere”. So maybe the problem is rather one of deciding which relevance those “personal reasons” that brought you to Copenhaguen shall have in your overall “purpose in live”?

  37. Tove Malloy

    Dear Jon, of course you know that they are the losers and you are the winner. The Danes are not a cosmopolitan people and never will be. I say this as a Dane married to an American who gave up understanding that insular little nation. No need to blame yourself.

  38. Leon S Kennedy

    I didn’t love the Danish either when I visited Copenhagen. At least I hoped that they banned smoking, because last time I was there going out was a nightmare because everyone smoke like chimneys and, for the first time in my entire life, my eyes were itchy all night. And I personally found people in general a bit rude, although this might be due to cultural differences. Very handsome people around though haha.

    I am, however, surprised that you are not willing to learn Danish: from this entry I understand that your boyfriend / girlfriend is Danish. Even if you understandably don’t wanna stay in Copenhagen forever, don’t you feel the curiosity to learn his mother language?

    • I think that you aren’t able to think about a nation only visiting their capital city… but about a language it was an ineresting question, thanks)

  39. I cringe at the thought of… No wait. My *knowledge* of what it is like to be a foreigner in Denmark. I am so sorry. And I think that mentality is the main reason why I’ll never feel at home here. I travelled out at a very young age and returned (involuntarily) a few years back. I was shocked. It wasn’t at all the country or the people I’d had in my head for 17 years. I miss London. It’s far from perfect, but at least it’s open and let’s you be who you are with no pressure to fit in. You fit in *because* you’re different and the ground attitude is “let’s try and include this stranger through a common language and see if we can’t benefit each other.”

  40. @Jon: Did you learn Dutch when you used to live in Brussels?

  41. @Till – no, but I speak fluent French. So I at least speak one of the languages of Brussels. Which essentially is better than the situation I face in Copenhagen where there is one language and I do not speak it.

  42. What a horrible way to treat a guest in your country. You get rude, nasty people everywhere. You should have just told them it is not your intention to make Denmark a permanent home. When I lived in Spain, I knew quite a few people that were keen to move inland and live in the mountains. There are whole villages up there that simply refuse to speak to foreigners or serve them in shops, even if they speak Spanish!

    • Frances

      Hi I have read the comments wow yeah denmark I’m here because my gf is Danish. People come off some what cold here like I can’t fit in they don’t speak English. They dont like strangers I think that’s why my gf friends don’t talk to me and they speak some English they talk all in Danish to my gf even her friend that speaks good English. My gf wants to move to USA I’m just waiting for it. I wish denmark was more outgoing but I guess everywhere can’t be.

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