One of the big challenges when moving to a new country is finding friends. And if you’re moving to Denmark, it looks like you’ve won the jackpot: Denmark is considered one of the hardest places to make local friends.
Sounds like Danes are really unpleasant people to hang out with – right? Of course not. While it can be a little tricky to find friends, once you do find your flock, you’ll be inseparable and learn lots of things about Danish society and culture! Keep reading to learn about the secrets when it comes to how to make Danish friends.
1. Know the meaning of friendship in Denmark
Why is it so hard to make Danish friends? The answer is not that Danes are an antisocial people – on the contrary: friendship is treasured. People become friends at an early age, for example at school or while doing a hobby, and become very close with them. And then, it stays that way for life, or at least for a very long time.
Danes cherish the friendships they have and invest a lot of time and energy in them, but that comes at a cost for outsiders: having too many acquaintances takes away from the friendships that are really important, so people try not to fill their lives with too many new people.
And now you’re probably thinking “Okay, I get it, it’s more difficult in Denmark than in other places – but what can I do?” This brings us to our next tip on how to make Danish friends.
2. Find Danes that just moved here, too
Part of the reason why it seems so much easier to become friends with other internationals is that they are in a similar situation: they, too, are feeling lost and are happy about meeting new people that they can discover the new place with. And by all means, bonding with fellow internationals is very useful and comforting, since you can share your worries and resources with them.
But what about Danes? If you meet a Dane who moved from another town to yours, or has spent a long time abroad and is coming back to Denmark, they probably won’t know the people or the place very well, just like you. You will have some common ground and ideas for activities! Walk around the city, discover cafes and museums, take trips to the beach – and whatever else comes to mind!
3. Start a hobby or join a club
In public, Danes like to keep to themselves and avoid too much small talk – and when it happens, it isn’t usually the beginning of a long friendship. So one of the best ways to make friends is to find a new hobby that involves other people. This gives you the possibility to meet new people while doing an activity that you enjoy and bond over with the other members.
There are many possibilities to choose from, whether it be sports, meditation, choirs, board games, and more! If you can’t find a place to follow your hobby with others, you can use platforms like Genlyd (if you live in Aarhus): you make listings where you state what activity you would like to do, so other people can join in! You can also browse existing listings to see if someone is looking for company while knitting, painting, biking, visiting museums – the list is endless.
An alternative not tied to a certain city is Meetup, which allows people to – you guessed it – arrange and attend meetups around different topics. Also, be sure to check Facebook for events near you, so you can check out both free and paid activities of all kinds.
If you feel that your Danish isn’t enough to follow instructions and talk to people, there are lots of activities offered in English – either because the instructor is an international themselves, or to make the course more accessible for foreigners. You’ll see that there is often a mix of Danes and foreigners attending! If you are not sure whether your language needs can be met, it’s always worth contacting the activity host to find out more!
4. Learn Danish
This brings us to another useful tip – learning Danish! Of course, it takes a lot of time to become fluent enough to have deep conversations. But becoming familiar with the basics will make it possible to understand people, and it will show your potential friends that you care and want to become part of their community.
And because Danish is not the easiest language to learn, you will get extra points for effort and for caring, no matter what your Danish skills are!
A great way to learn Danish AND meet people is finding a language exchange partner. It’s a win-win situation: You find a Danish speaker who is interested in learning a language that you speak, and meet up regularly to practice each other’s languages together!
One way to find a language partner is attending Swap Language Nights, where you can meet internationals and Danes and have a chat about language, culture, and potential future language meetups! To learn and practice Danish at home – or wherever else you feel like it – video lessons over on Swap Language have got you covered.
5. Don’t rush things
No matter how you meet people, you have to remember that good things take time – especially when establishing friendships in Denmark. If you can see yourself becoming friends with someone, immediately sharing lots of personal information might make them feel steamrolled. It is better to take it slow and let the friendship unfold naturally.
For example, if you’ve become a member of a choir – after a while, the members of that choir might feel like arranging a cozy dinner at someone’s place. This is a great place to start: it gives you the chance to talk to the members outside the usual context and get to know them. And if you feel ready, maybe you can host (or suggest) a gettogether yourself! This will show everyone that you care about the community and want to get to know them. This can also apply to co-workers, your study group, or whoever else you spend time with, of course.
The more opportunities you get to meet up with your acquaintances, the bigger the chance you’ll end up having a good conversation with someone, and – for example – being invited to a party the next weekend, or meeting up for a coffee sometime.
Here, it also needs to be mentioned that many Danes like to plan very far ahead. So don’t be shocked if your new potential friend tells you they will have time for a coffee at the end of, for example, week 43 (yes, they love their calendar weeks), which might be a couple of weeks from now.
6. Know the signs that show that a Dane likes you
So, after a while, you may hang out with certain people a lot, and they seem to like you! Awesome! But how do you know if your Danish friend considers YOU a good friend, too?
So of course, they want to meet up with you more, text you about their day and ask you about yours, and include you in activities they are doing with other friends. Being with them feels natural and you feel like you can be yourselves, and talk about many things. But there are also some more subtle signs that a Danish person feels super comfortable around you. One of them is that they won’t be afraid to joke with you.
In Danish friend groups, people lovingly poke fun at each other, while all parties agree that whatever is being said should be taken lightly. With people they don’t know well or who come from a different culture, Danes may be more cautious, since they don’t know how jokes will be taken. But if a Dane does start joking with you, it’s a safe sign that they trust you and see you as a chill person!
And now you know how to make Danish friends!
And just like that, you have made it to the end of this little guide on how to make Danish friends.
As you may have gathered, there isn’t a single correct way when it comes to how to make Danish friends. And more importantly, everyone is different, and we advise you to absolutely not put all Danes in one box. In every part of the world, some people are easier to talk to and make friends with than others. But these tips hopefully gave you some motivation and ideas for making Friends in Denmark! And before you know it, you’ll have your Danish buddy group to share a laugh and lots of cultural experiences with.