Let’s ask Danish People. How to make friends?

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Today it’s a bit different story.  It’s going to be long, I hope you guys can bare with me!
Once in a while I get a fan mail (thank you so so much, ….they are the true motivation to keep me drawings! ) , while back I got a question from this Japanese girl.

She wants to know how to make Danish friends in Denmark!



I always draw how lazy or silly I am, but!!!! This time maybe I could be her help.
It’s not like I am an expert counselor but I could advise her from my experience. makefriends-part2-1 And!!! You, a person reading this – whether you are Danish or none, if you have advice please feel free to write comments ^_^
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In my opinion, making friends is not _that_ easy – unfortunately….not only in Denmark, but pretty much everywhere.
When I was in Japan I heard gaijins complaining it’s not easy to make Japanese friends. Same story, I heard it from South Korea, United States, Germany – people make a group with same language speakers, they don’t mingle with others.

It’s a language and culture comfort, that you just suit easily with same background people.

But, if you are living abroad and want to make local friends, you gotta break the ice.
Yes sometimes it’s not easy but need to suck it up and do it …

The beauty of living in Denmark is everybody speaks awesome English. Of course it’s the best if you can speak Danish to them, but if you are not familiar, still, don’t hesitate to speak English!

so, here is my strategy…
1. Break the ice, you gotta be the first to talk. The subject can be anything! 
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2. Try to use a humor. Good humor is power!
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3. If you think there is a good chemistry, invite the person for a walk or cafe.
DO not invite right away, Danish people will freak out if the personal space or distance is too short. They think you are a creep. It takes time to break the ice.  Say Hello or have small chats until you think the she is in a ‘safe zone’.
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4. Be proactive.
In Denmark not many are interested in you as a foreigner… (at least, I don’t think so!?) so you have to approach to them. Join a club. Go to parties. makefriends-part7

5. Be you.
If you get tired of being active and the ice-breaker, take a break. The most important is that you need to be you. Heck maybe you find someone to be relax (lazy) with you, and that’s really really hygge.
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For those who don’t get my Apple Pen joke, here is the viral video I refer to.

Sesami Street Version (Japan official) , so cute and funny!

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  1. Nadia says:

    I think the best way to make friends in Denmark, is to invite people over. Not one at a time (as you said, people will find that slightly weird if you’re not really friends YET), but a lot of them at the same time!
    Like, your department/group/entire work place, depending on the amount of coworkers you have. Or everybody on your volleyball team. Invite more than you’ll have space for, half of them won’t be able to show up anyways.

    Inviting people for a special occasion linked to your home country will get people interested! I’ve been to Chinese New Year and to Thanksgiving with foreign coworkers, and that really helped breaking the ice.
    Perhaps it’s a good idea to go easy on the alcohol though – when people drink they enter party mode: What happens at parties stays at parties, so that would be a bit counter-productive.

    There’s something about having people in your home that beats meeting them at parties or cafés: It’s much more personal, and it will be a lot easier to invite af few of them over for a casual board game, pancakes or a movie/candy later on!
    But everybody -> small group -> friends is an excellent way to narrow it down, gradually 🙂

  2. Costin says:

    This is good advice, but I must say that I have travelled to a few other countries and social interactions are MUCH easier than in Denmark. I mean, not even Danes among themselves have it easy making new friends.

    I knew a Danish guy living and working in Aarhus who decided to move back to Holstebro after 3 years because he missed his friends, but he had not made a single friend in 3 years in Aarhus. And I’ve heard the same story many times from other people. That they have their friends since school and they don’t make new friends.

    When asking Danish people about how they generally meets new people or make friends, I’ve heard confused replies such as this: “Why would I want to make friends with new people? I am fine with my old friends, I never thought of making new ones…”

    And the more you go south, the warmer people are. Generally people in warm countries are warm too, sociable, talkative and friendly. People in cold countries tend to be cold people, shy, introverted.

    • Koko says:

      looking at the map, Denmark is the far most southern in Scandinavian countries, let’s hope that it’s easier than other northern countries, crossing fingers…!

  3. Peter Kjoge says:

    I have been living in Spain for close to 30 years. Here you get “friends” very quickly, but the FRIENDS take considerably longer. I do have a few by now. As well the social life – at least on the Costa del Sol – is mainly outside the homes. Even people you have known for years, and you consider them VERY good friends, hardly invite you to their home. Here you usually meet in a bar for a drink (with or without alcohol) and a tapas – small typical spanish snacks.
    Getting REAL friends in a foreign country is usually a slow process, at least according to my experience. Usually you would start to get to know people at work, or at the gym, or at the sports club. The list is endless………..

    • Koko says:

      Very interesting! In Japan – at least Tokyo, we don’t visit our homes often, mainly because Tokyo is a huge city and everybody lives so far apart. It can take an hour + to get to someone’s house. In my Tokyo life I have visited friends house only handful times.

    • Costin says:

      Ah well at least you do have social interaction, which can lead to some real friendships. In Denmark, the lack of social interaction means you get friends much slower. Besides, maybe you don’t always need to only interact with REAL friends, but just want to enjoy casual chitchat – Spain sounds perfect for that 🙂

  4. Jonas says:

    Sometimes Danish people can seem difficult to befriend.
    I think, partly, because Danes are very concious about personal space, and hence will refrain from initiating interactions due to fear of overstepping the other persons’ personal space.
    This is why alcohol works so well to get people talking, it is a great ice breaker, and will root Danes out of their shy holes.

    I think many Danes would have interest in befriending you, without you realizing it.
    A tip can be to be active and seek out the friendship – Danes will almost never approach you first out of shyness/respect of personal space. I would join some sort of community (board games club, cooking club, sports, what ever floats your boat) to try and meet new people. Since you are on exchange i would actively seek out something on campus or something related to university. When you have broken the ice, you can invite / be invited for activities and can consider your self a “familiar” with the person.
    A true friend is something Danes cherish deeply (and this comes with time), and we only have a few of those. However, we will go a long way to help them as the bond is very strong.

    Best of luck!
    If i was in your position, i would invite danes over for some Japanese tradition – people would be very interested! I have been to various Spanish, Italian, Korean and American traditional dinners with foreigners, and it was always a nice way to make new friends. 🙂

    • Koko says:

      Jonas Thanks for taking your time to post 🙂 Good to know that Danish people also want to be friends with us 😉
      Your advice is very valuable! I’d like to collect all of Danish people’s answer and bring it to 1 page.

  5. Minerva says:

    They are basically afraid: afraid to show interest – afraid to take the first step – afraid to try new foods or new ways of accomplishing things. And that fear is used by politicians, as well as others who do marketing. Fear is even taught in schools in Denmark. As someone at a bar recently said to my foreign friend,”they showed us movies in 9 kl. about people like you (muslim, dark skinned) but you aren’t like them”. No kidding. Well, if you live with blinders on, I guess it can be scary to take them off. The light might be too bright to manage.

  6. Kash says:

    I’m moving to Denmark for my masters in a couple of months. I’m from India and I have a very large social circle here. I’m used to having a lot of friends. Reading all this makes me a little scared that I’ll be lonely and depressed once I’m there. Add to that the weather. It’s a very dark picture painted in my head. I’m only hoping I’ll be able to befriend other internationals fairly quickly.