130 episoder

Life as an international in Denmark, one of the world's most homogenous countries, isn't always easy. In Denmark’s longest-running English-language podcast, Kay Xander Mellish, an American who has lived in Denmark for more than a decade, offers tips for enjoying your time in “the world’s happiest country” plus insights on Danish culture and how to build friendships with Danes.

How to Live in Denmark Kay Xander Mellish

    • Samfund og kultur
    • 4,5 • 45 vurderinger

Life as an international in Denmark, one of the world's most homogenous countries, isn't always easy. In Denmark’s longest-running English-language podcast, Kay Xander Mellish, an American who has lived in Denmark for more than a decade, offers tips for enjoying your time in “the world’s happiest country” plus insights on Danish culture and how to build friendships with Danes.

    Why Danes Find Compliments So Awkward

    Why Danes Find Compliments So Awkward

    A story I’ve heard over and over again when I talk to internationals working in Denmark is this: They thought they were going to get fired.
    They’d been working for a year or so at professional-level job in Denmark, often one they’d been recruited for, but they’d never heard any positive comments from their manager.
    They started to worry. They were doing their best, but maybe it just wasn’t good enough.
    Were they going to lose the job? Were they going to have to go back home, humiliated, and explain the whole thing to their friends and family?
    Expecting bad news This was what was on their mind when they went into their annual employee review. They were expecting some pretty bad news.
    Instead, they got a promotion. And a raise. Their manager thought they were doing great. But the Danish approach to employee feedback is generally – “No news is good news”.
    You have a job, you’re doing that job, we’ll let you know if there are any problems.
    Positive feedback is uncommon in Denmark, because Danes themselves are often uncomfortable receiving compliments.
    The façade of equality Compliments run smack-dab into the Jante Law, which says specifically that “Don’t think that you’re better than us.”

    When you give someone a compliment, you lift them above you, if only for a moment, and that disturbs the equality, or at least the façade of equality, which is so important in Denmark.
    So compliments are not a natural thing in Denmark, either on the job or in your personal life.
    Read more at www.howtoliveindenmark.com

    • 7 min.
    Romance in Denmark

    Romance in Denmark

    Denmark’s doing a big recruitment campaign now, trying to get young professionals to bring their skills to Denmark, and a lot of them are single when they arrive.
    If they want to meet someone and don’t meet someone, and if they want a serious relationship and a family but can’t get started, they often go home again.
    So, in the name of economic development, here are my tips on romance in Denmark.
    Bringing your own dating culture I talk a lot in my speeches about how people bring their own work culture with them when they come to work in Denmark, but they also bring their own dating culture.
    The way you expect to meet a potential partner, to flirt, to show you’re serious, to take the relationship to the next level, these are expectations you bring with you to Denmark from your home culture.
    When you get here, you will meet Danes who have very different expectations.
    #metoo hit Denmark hard Dating apps like Tinder, Hinge, and Bumble are one of the main ways people meet each other in Denmark these days – the other being friend circles, which as an international can take a while to get into.
    People used to meet at work, but #metoo has made a big imprint in Denmark. It’s taken down both male and female business leaders and political leaders who couldn’t keep their hands to themselves at work, or at parties after work.
    So, people are a lot more cautious around their colleagues these days.
    Lots of skin On dating apps, generally you’re there to show your best side – but unlike some other dating cultures, in Denmark people don’t show off their wealth, their car, their watch, or their powerful job.
    They try to show that they’re funny and down-to-Earth, that they can laugh at themselves.
    I'm on the apps myself, and I do see a lot of the Danish version of status-seeking, which is time off to travel to exotic locations and engage in extreme sports – lots of windsurfing and scuba-diving photos.
    I also see a lot of skin, which, since I’m dating in the over-40 category, isn’t always something I want to see.
    The line between sex and romance is ill-defined But this is the tricky part about dating here, because the line between sex and romance in Denmark isn’t very well defined.
    Some daters want to have sex right away and then decide if they’re interested in getting to know each other emotionally.
    There’s no stigma to this the way there can be in some cultures – but it can be rough on you if you’re a sensitive person who’s really just looking for love.
    “Kæreste” is a flexible term One thing I find interesting about the Danish language is the flexibility of the word kæreste, the Danish version of “boyfriend” or “girlfriend” which translates directly to “most dear one.”
    Your kæreste can be same-sex or opposite-sex. You can have known each other for three weeks or thirty years.
    But if someone is your kæreste, it means you’re not dating anyone else. You’ll often hear Danes talk about the time they became kæreste, which is the time they committed to each other monogomously.
    You could go on and get married at some point if you like. Many people in Denmark do.
    You can certainly buy a home and have kids without being married – the Danish government will even pay for your fertility treatment. The Danes don’t see a big difference between having a committed kæreste and having had a wedding ceremony.
    Read more at howtoliveindenmark.com.

    • 8 min.
    Finding light in the Danish Winter Darkness

    Finding light in the Danish Winter Darkness

    Many internationals newly arrived in Denmark struggle with the long Danish winter. 
    The darkness that starts to fall in the early afternoon means that 5pm looks just like 8pm, which looks just like midnight, which looks just like 5am.
    Dense, inky black sky.
    During the daytime there’s a dim grey light, sometimes accompanied by a soupy fog of tiny raindrops.
    It’s tough to handle - even for Danes.
    Many people living through this time in Denmark describe feeling low-energy – sløj is the very descriptive Danish term. It translates directly to “sluggish”.
    Others feel deeply depressed. Some eat too much, or drink too much. Some sleep all the time.
    It doesn’t have to be this way. Here are my tips for handling these dark months, which generally stretch from November until the end of February.
    Enjoy the brown charm of Danish winter nature
    It’s important to get outside during the brief period of light every day. Even if it’s just for 15 minutes on your lunch hour, it really helps. 
    Walking in nature is wonderful this time of year if you have right clothing, in particular the right footwear. A good pair of solid boots and you can even go out when it’s icy. Don’t neglect second-hand stores in Denmark. You can usually find a lot of good winter clothes there for not very much money.
    Parks, botanical gardens, forests – they all have a certain charm this time of year. A brown, winter charm, but a charm all the same.
    The secret sauce: a project or a list with things you can check off
    Go see how the winter animals are doing. Deer parks are good, see what the deer are up to. And most Danish zoos are open year-round. Go see how happy the polar bears are when the weather is freezing!
    But my top tip for making it through the winter is a specific project, like learning how to knit, or learning how to make something out of wood, or even better, a list.
    If you have a list, you can check things off as you go along, and you get a feeling of progress as the dark months drag on.
    Read more at howtoliveindenmark.com.

    • 7 min.
    New Year's Eve Traditions in Denmark

    New Year's Eve Traditions in Denmark

    It’s almost Week 1, in the weekly numbering system that’s widely used in Northern Europe, where the year starts with week 1 and runs through to Week 52 or 53, depending on the calendar. It’s very efficient for planning, so you don’t have to say something messy like “What about that week that starts Monday June 3…”
    Week 1 starts on January 1, and everything follows that in perfect order.
    But before January 1 we have New Year’s Eve, a day that fills me with trepidation to be honest, because in Denmark, New Year’s Eve is all about amateur fireworks.
    Cannonballs, Roman Candles, Ding Dongs, Triple Extremes, these are the fireworks you can purchase and set off yourself in a local parking lot, terrifying any nearby dogs and cats. 
    Having a family member in the hospital business, I can’t help but think that today, December 26, there are a few amateur fireworks fans who have perfectly well-functioning eyes and fingers right now who won’t have them on January 2.
    The Queen's Speech
    New Year’s Eve celebrations start at 6pm, when the Queen Margrethe gives her annual speech, live. 
    To the uninitiated, this looks like a woman sitting at her desk reading from a pile of papers – she refuses to use a TelePrompter – but it’s all been intricately planned, from the clothes to the jewelry to the flowers to the text itself to reflect the themes and priorities of the year gone by. There’s even a website that gives odds on what words and themes will appear. 
    The Queen now keeps her pile of papers together with a paper clip. In past years, she left them loose, and on one particular occasion they got out of order and she had to desperately search through them on air to find her place.
    The comedian Ulf Pilgaard, a large man who dressed up as a colorful burlesque imitation of the Queen, used to make this incident part of his act, throwing papers up in the air like Harpo Marx.
    Just as an aside, when this comedian who imitated the Queen retired last year, the Queen herself showed up at his final performance and shook his hand. Having such a good sense of humor about herself is why Queen is so beloved, even by people who do not really like the monarchy. 
    Some Danes even stand up to watch the Queen’s speech on TV. It always ends with “Gud Bevare Danmark”, God Protect Denmark.
    "Wreath cake" 
    After the speech, it’s dinner time, followed by a very sweet cake called kransekage – which translates to “wreath cake.” It’s made of a lot of rings delicately placed on top of each other, in a little tower. There’s lot of marzipan involved in this cake. I’m not a marzipan fan myself, but if you are, you’ll like this cake.
     Read more at howtoliveindenmark.com

    • 6 min.
    How to Handle a Conflict in Denmark

    How to Handle a Conflict in Denmark

    If you are an international who lives in Denmark, or someone who wants to, you have to learn the Danish way of dealing with conflict. This might be with a colleague, or your upstairs neighbors, or the authorities at the commune.
    In these cases, it’s very important not to lose your temper or raise your voice. And this can be tricky if the culture you come from, your culture of origin, is a passionate culture.
    Denmark is not a passionate culture. If you hear someone talking about their passion here, it's almost always some sort of hobby, or the summer home they have been fixing up for years. Their passion is almost never a person or a cause. And they generally use the English or French word passion, not lidenskab, which is the rather clumsy Danish translation.
    So, the keywords to handling conflict here are not strength and passion, they are humor and equality.
    You have to take the approach that you and the person you disagree with are equals. Your counterparty isn’t someone you can push around, but they’re also not someone better than you that you have to bow down to.
    One of Danes’ favorite expressions is øjenhøjde, or eye level. They love that concept. When Prince Christian, the future king of Denmark, recently turned 18, several of his birthday greetings from the public said, Remember to always stay at eye level with your people.
    The person you disagree with is your human equal, even if they’re a teacher or a manager or someone who works for the government.
    The other best strategy getting a conflict resolved in Denmark is to find the humor in it. If you can make the other person laugh at the ridiculousness of it all, you’re halfway there.
    Keep it as light as you possibly can, assume good faith, and assume that the other person really would like to solve the problem, and assume that it is solvable, which isn’t always true, but it’s a good first assumption.
    Humorously acknowledge your contribution to the problem, whatever it might have been, and own your mistakes. Danes really like people that admit they’ve made a mistake and have a sense of humor about it.
    Be as practical as possible. Danes are practical to a fault. Focus on something that can really get accomplished, not big noble concepts of truth and justice.
    I have seen internationals in Denmark make disagreements much worse than they have to be by raising their voices, telling the other person they are racist or sexist, threatening to call in somebody’s boss or threatening to expose them online, which is illegal, by the way.
    Denmark has very strict privacy laws – if you catch someone stealing your bike and you post a photo of them online, you’re the one who will hear from the police first.
    Read more at howtoliveindenmark.com

    • 6 min.
    Drugs in Denmark

    Drugs in Denmark

    Denmark is getting rich selling pharmaceuticals to other countries, but within Denmark itself, the approach is inconsistent. Getting illegal drugs doesn't seem to be too difficult, but getting legal drugs from your doctor can be.

    • 5 min.


4,5 ud af 5
45 vurderinger

45 vurderinger

Nougat..! ,

Plantenørd skal flette næbet

Wow en latterlig kommentar, tror vist du projekterer.

Elsker det her podcast, man lærer en masse om den danske kultur som jeg aldrig have tænkt på.

darbrtf ,


Really like the On the Road concept. Been here 15 years but never to Esbjerg; now on my list. Would like to hear about more interesting spots.

Giba-dk ,

100 right

You are right in all comments. Very funny observations. I hear several times each episode 😄.

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