Practical advice on making friends with Danes

Apr 23, 2021 1:01 pm


Making friends in Denmark is notoriously difficult. Not just for non-Danes, but anyone moving to a new part of the country.

As we learnt in the Making Friends (Part 1) episode, several cultural/ geographical reasons contribute to why Danes (in general) prefer a small number of close friends. This means many Danes feel they don't have space for new relationships, and so newcomers feel left out.

Strategies to make friends

Fear not - it is possible!

In our episode Making Friends (Part 2) we discuss practical ways to building relationships, including a heartwarming story from a Dane and Brazilian pair who have become great friends.

Some top tips:

  • Use your weak ties (i.e. Facebook/ LinkedIn network) to ask for introductions to cool/ nice/ interesting people in Denmark: if a mutual connection (however tenuous) can vouch for you then it's much less awkward to meet someone for a coffee and begin the path to friendship
  • Be proactive: one of several pieces of advice from Laurence Paquette in this LinkedIn article. Accept that it might feel strange to ask "Will you be my friend?" but it will really help
  • Find Danes who didn't grow up in your city: advice from Kay Xander Mellish of How To Live In Denmark. Danes often keep (and maintain) friends from school, and so those who are also in a new city will likely have more space for new friends (like you)
  • Find Danes who have lived abroad: they may empathise better with what it's like to move somewhere new and want to reciprocate hospitability they received abroad
  • Take up a hobby/ volunteer: it's a classic, but worth remembering. Note that it may still take some time/ effort to transition to the "personal sphere" and so perhaps pick a hobby where it's more natural to converse e.g. there's a time to chat rather than everyone rushing home after a group run
  • Leave behind your prejudice: as Camila (the Brazilian who features in the episode) says "no-one likes to be put in a box". Just because you've had one bad experience with a Dane/ Brit/ Canadian it doesn't mean all people are the same. See the person, not the nationality
  • Invite Danes over: take the first step. This could be dinner (serving something from your home culture) or a wine tasting (Josefine's recommendation)

The upside of new acquaintances

And for Danes, whilst there is virtue in maintaining deep, meaningful friendships, perhaps consider what could be gained from becoming friends (or at least acquaintances) with people new to the country. It can be a great way to learn about the world, and get new perspectives on things you'd not normally consider.

A natural response from a Dane someone with a full calendar for the next six months may be "Well I don't have time!".

To that, Emilie (Camila's friend) suggests reframing what is necessary to socialise by finding small pockets of time to be spontaneous. As she says, Danes often find that socialising has to be a "big production" of e.g. hosting a dinner party. Finding time for a small walk every now and again is a less intense way to make space for acquaintances.

Doing so means you can have space for people, and come to benefit from the strength of weak ties.

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