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Follow the University Post's top 10 tips to connect up with Lars, Lotte and Jørgen
International students and PhDs staying in Copenhagen for just a semester or two, or even a couple of years, find it easier to socialise with other foreigners than with Danes.
To add to this, Danes have a reputation of being reserved. At first, they may seem difficult to get into contact with.
But living in Copenhagen, you may feel you should make an effort to meet the natives. Here is the University Post’s guide to getting to know the locals:
Danes don’t miss a Christmas dinner (Julefrokost in Danish). Your department at the university, your job, your out-of-school classe. Probably all of them are arranging Christmas dinners that you should not miss if you want to meet Danes.
It is the perfect occasion to speak and socialise with your Danish mates. Everyone is in a good mood thanks to the food and the alcohol!
Tip: Turn up with Santa Claus hats for everyone. They will appreciate your little gift.
Volunteering is a fantastic way to meet the locals while having fun. It is a social bridge. Meeting Danes volunteering is a far better way to meet friends than going to a bar and shouting over loud music or trying to talk to someone who is not sober.
Now, as it happens, young Danes love to spend a lot of time in different cafes around the city to meet up with their friends. Café Retro is one of the most popular. ‘A different kind of café’, as they describe themselves. It is a cosy place with comfy sofas, a chimney and a suggestive smell of popcorn.
The special part of Retro is that it is run by students volunteers and profits go to Africa and India. Join the crew!
Joining a gym is a great way of meeting Danes while breaking a sweat. Danish people are really into sport, so it is an appropriate place to get in touch with them.
Why not trying a Tai-chi class? USG, the sport’s association of the University of Copenhagen offers Tai-chi classes at friendly prices. It is also very much frequented by sports-fanatical Danes.
Once you have met some people, take the initiative to invite them to hang out outside classes. It is all about being proactive.
The student bar has always functioned as a natural place for students from different faculties to meet, study and have good time.
During the week Studenterhuset puts on a range of activities such as debates, quiz-night, gay-day, live music and an International Café (where you should not go if you are thinking in meet Danes). Go there with a friend (if it makes you feel more comfortable) and make an effort to begin a conversation with a group of Danes.
Tip: Søren, Lotte, Ulrik… Try to remember their names even if they seem difficult to pronounce!
The Mentor Programme is more than just an extended tourist information service. Social contact is the key to its sucess. The programme helps to break the ice and overcome the hurdle of making contact when international students arrive and allows them to meet not only other exchange students, but also Danes.
Mentors can open up a whole world of new people and cultures, so do not miss the opportunity of having one!
Tip: When you have met Danes through the mentor programme, you can make a conscious effort to meet their buddies. Throw a party or organize an event with an invitation saying explicitly that they should bring other people they know.
You don’t always see your neighbours, never mind meet them, in Denmark, but if you do, chat to them and invite them to hang out.
Start with the usual small-talk, about where you are from, and ask them a few (not too personal) questions about themselves.
Unless your neighbors are complete social misfits, they will pick up the slack at this point and this could be the beginning of a new friendship.
If they invite you to drop by their apartment one day, take them up on their offer!
Tip: Beware, Danes are often very ‘booked-up’, with a full social calender. Many do not take kindly to spontaneous visits. Call or send a text first to make sure you will be welcomed with open arms.
Learn how to move your hips while socializing. Salsa is a popular dance between Danes. Leave your shyness at home and show up at a salsa class.
Be aware that the same people who hang around at salsa courses are looking for dancing buddies to go out on Fridays and Saturdays. For instance, Havana nightclub offers free trial lessons every weekend from 22 to 23.
The social life of many danish students revolves arround the Friday bars at their departments at the university.
Café Mødestedet is a cosy café at KUA, run by students from the Faculty of Humanities, with a good Friday bar.
Througout the semester Café Mødestedet organises different theme-parties for students.
Show up in the next party with the best costume ever. Danes love dressing up. If you take it seriously as well, you will fit in their group.
‘Madklub’ means food club, and has nothing to do with madness.
If you live in a dorm with Danes, you can use this to better understand their culture, their behaviour and to make contact with them. The idea of the madklub (pronounced something like ‘Medth-cloob’) is to get together with people from your hall and cook different meals sharing expenses.
Tip: Put up message on the notice board saying that you look for people to join your food club.
Danish is far from a beautiful language, and it is a hard one to pronounce. But trying to speak it is a good icebreaker when meeting Danes.
Speak a bit of Danish to them, even if you only know a few phrases. Even though nearly everyone speaks English, being able to speak Danish is an advantage, as you will have the possibility to participate in all conversations. And it might get everyone laughing too!
Why not trying the Tandem Project where students from the University of Copenhagen teach each other their mother tongue in an informal way?
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