I have an American boyfriend and being with him and meeting his friends and family have taught me some things and also showed me how Americans and Danes are very different on some points. Here is what I’ve noticed (and please note that I am generalizing my opinions, of course I don’t mean all Danes and Americans in the world are like this).
♥ Blue cheese. Americans love blue cheese. If you go to an American restaurant you sure will find blue cheese in all of their salads. I never saw blue cheese on a danish menu card nor did I hear about Danish people that like blue cheese.
♥ Knowing languages. Americans think it is crazy and very impressive if you know more than two languages, and I often get “Wow, so you speak, Danish, English AND German?”. Since Danish people are the best non native English speakers in the world, it takes more than knowing two languages to impress a Dane.
♥ Interrupting. After reading an article explaining how Americans and Scandinavians communicate differently, I finally understood why my boyfriend and I can have little issues while having a conversations. The biggest difference and issue is that Scandinavian people take their time during a conversation to stop for a couple of second and think about what they want to say, and the American will think that the Scandinavian is done talking and will interrupt, which seems very rude to the Scandinavian.
♥ Environmental habits. This is a huge cultural difference I’ve experienced between Danes and Americans. Many Americans are brought up not caring much about all the gas they use when driving the car, not caring about how big their car is, they would never think about turning off the water while brushing their teath and leaving the computer or TV on for a whole day regardless if they are watching it or not is not a big deal. It is a big part of growing up in Denmark that we are taught to turn off the lights when we leave a room, turn down the heat when we open a window or turn off the water while we brush our teeth, and because it doesn’t take much it to do these little things, it really provokes me that they don’t do it.
♥ Americans are so open to other people. This is probably one of my favorite things about Americans. You can meet one and after five minutes you are talking like you’ve known each other for a long time. Danes could learn something here, we tend to be hard to get into and we are scared to “take up too much space”, where the Americans have the tendency to think more like “the sky is the limit” and dreaming is okay. We have this thing in Denmark called “the Law of Jante” which basically describes how you should never feel like you are or will be better than anyone else, because you are not. This means that Danes sometimes act very carefully with not complimenting themselves or saying if they did a good job. It is so liberating in America that if you like something you say it, if you think you did a good job it is also okay to say it. With that being said nothing is more unpleasant than a person that is so full of himself.
♥ Americans are very honest. With the openness part being said this also leads us to the honesty of Americans. If they don’t like something they will tell you. If you eat at a restaurant with an American, and they think the portion is to small or they just don’t like the food, they will send it back. Danes are definetly more hesitant again because we don’t dare to talk about stuff we don’t know anything about, so who are we to tell if the food is good or not?
♥ Young Danes are more self independent. This is also a matter of culture. I grew up in Copenhagen, I walked myself to school from the age of 7, I started taking the train back and forth half an hour each way to school from the age of 8, and since I was 5 years old I biked and played around my neighborhood with my friends without supervision from parents or babysitters. That would never happen in America, and this means we have a whole different approach to what and where you are at a certain age. In Denmark it is very normal that kids start drinking when they are 14 years old, and also that they get their first job when they are 13/14 years old, whereas everything happens later in the States, because there is supervision from parents until the middle of the teen years and that Americans can’t drink until they are 21. I know they do it before that age, but it is still somewhat a secret and a hidden thing. I don’t know what way is better, because drinking at 14 is of course too early and also causes problems, but yet the feeling of independence and knowing how to be on your own and take care of yourself from a young age is a good thing.
♥ Exaggerating. This is a skill Americans master with perfection. It is your kid’s 4th birthday? Of course you need a bounce house, a rented clown to entertain the guests, and a very big, colored cake bought from a bakery. Nothing should be missing, where as the Danes would keep a kid’s birthday party much more low key with a homemade cake and maybe some flags and birthday decorations. Long live the exaggerating and to making every day a party!
Do you have any thoughts on this or anything you could add to the list?