Ten signs you've been in Denmark too long

The Local Denmark
The Local Denmark - [email protected]
Ten signs you've been in Denmark too long
Sitting outside at a café in cold weather is one of the Danish traits that didn't make our list. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

Admit it, you do 'Danish' things you never thought you would. Take a look at our list and if more than a few of them ring true with you, then you just may have been here too long.


There is no set time for when it happens, but sooner or later certain Danish traits are bound to rub off on even the heartiest of foreign residents.

From what you eat and how you speak to where you shop, living in Denmark for an extended time can change you.

1. You mix Danish into your mother tongue

When you drop 'altså' into the middle of an English sentence for the first time, the signs are there.

You might then begin answering ‘Jo, jo’ in the affirmative to one of your non-Danish friends’ questions, or start doing that weird sucking-in-air-while-saying-ja thing that the Danes do. By the time you start saying 'Tak for mad' to your mother when she cooks you a homecoming dinner, you'll probably have been in Denmark too long.

READ ALSO: Seven Danish words that are tough to translate into English

"Tak for mad." Photo: icsnaps/Depositphotos

2. When you go back home, you’re annoyed that you have to drive

After living in Denmark with its vaunted cycling culture and expansive public transport networks, it’s easy to forget that getting around in other places isn’t always as easy. This is particularly hard on Americans who on trips home have to trade in the freedom of their iron horse for the steel prison of the automobile.

Photo: Sarah Christine Nørgaard/Ritzau Scanpix

3. You do multi-stop shopping

Do you do the bulk of your shopping at Netto but then swing by Irma for some organic goods, Kvickly for the beer selection, the local butcher for a choice cut of meat, and then Føtex for the American peanut butter you can’t find anywhere else? Congratulations, you shop like a Dane. Bonus points if you scour all the circulars and plan your shopping route by what’s on special offer this week.

Photo: Mads Joakim Rimer Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

4. You scoff at bottle openers

Now that you’ve purchased those various beers, you need a bottle opener, right? Pssh, not if you’re like a Dane. Lighters, another bottle of beer, tabletops, even teeth are amongst the many instruments used to pop open your beer ‘Danish style’. A true litmus test amongst expats.

Photo: Nils Meilvang/Ritzau Scanpix

5. You stop jaywalking

Many an expat has ridiculed the Danes for their habit of waiting for a green light to cross the street, even when there is not a vehicle in sight. If you find yourself doing this too, you may have been in Denmark too long.

Photo: Nils Meilvang/Ritzau Scanpix

6. You adopt Danish pride

OK, you probably won’t root for them if they face your home country, but gradually you will find yourself proudly cheering on the Danes in international competitions like the Olympics, Women's Euros or Eurovision Song Contest. When back home or in a third country, this feeling of Danish belonging becomes even more prominent.

Photo: Liselotte Sabroe/Ritzau Scanpix

7. You forget about the after-work drink

Back home, you wouldn’t have thought twice about offering or accepting a spontaneous offer to grab a drink after work. But after extended time working with Danes, you’ll know that they’re more inclined to head straight home when the working day ends (which is usually quite early). After a while, you will stop asking and then the day will come when you are shocked – shocked, I say! – when someone dares to invite you for a spur-of-the-moment drink.

READ ALSO: OPINION: Why do Danish leaders seem rude?

Straight home from work. Photo: Linda Kastrup/Ritzau Scanpix

8. You join the rugbrød cult

Danes love rugbrød, the hearty rye bread that is a staple in lunch packs and the basis for the famous open-faced sandwiches, smørrebrød. Resistance is futile and eventually you too will opt for rugbrød. You’ll find yourself topping it with potato salad or paté and beetroots. And when you go back home home, you'll suffer a case of rye bread withdrawal.

Photo: Sofie Mathiassen/Ritzau Scanpix

9. You turn off the subtitles

Television is a helpful tool for learning a new language. Upon arrival in Denmark, most newcomers are unlikely to make any sense out of what they are hearing, but after some time – and language courses – things start to make sense.

Before you know it, you’ll be enjoying Denmark’s world-famous shows in their native language with the help of Danish subtitles, and will eventually be able to turn off the texts altogether. At that point, why not try going next level: watch The Bridge and try to understand what on earth the Swedish characters are saying.

READ ALSO: Danish: Is it really so hard to learn?

The cast of hit Swedish-Danish TV series The Bridge. Photo: Sarah Christine Nørgaard/Ritzau Scanpix

10. You feel affection for the royal family

Did you shed a tear when Prince Henrik passed away earlier this year? Consider the Queen's New Year speech an essential annual tradition? Won't hear a bad word about Crown Princess Mary -- and not just because, like you, she's a foreigner?

Denmark's diverse foreign residents hail from both republics and other consitutional monarchies like Denmark. But if there's one thing most can agree on, it's the agreeable Danish royals.

Queen Margrethe and Crown Princess Mary. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

A previous version of this article was originally published on July 4th, 2014.

Sign up here for a daily selection of the best news, features and opinion from Denmark, via our newsletter



Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also