New Beginnings: Settling abroad

Step-by-step, I’m settling here in Amsterdam, Holland. My new room in a shared apartment has been filled with furniture with a little help from IKEA, and all the official paper work has been sorted out. Furthermore, I’ve landed myself one of those 9-17 jobs… One that I’m really excited about as it combines previous work experience with my degrees – it seems like the perfect match. Moreover, my colleagues seems warm and welcoming, which is highly important to me as I’m quite the social type – a friendly and positive work environment is vital to me!

However, although having lived here for a little over a week now, I haven’t had time for what I enjoy the most due to practical matters: Exploring the city.
I guess, I shouldn’t be too worried about that for now as I’m going to live here permanently for an undecided period of time. This means that, if all goes as planned, I’ll have years to get to know the city and all it’s hidden treasures – but it’s not like me… at all! The previous times when I’ve relocated abroad, I was out exploring from day one. Maybe that’s because all the practical matters had been taken care of before moving? Anyway, at least I’ve had time to figure out the most basic things: Where to grocery shop, how public transportation works and where the green areas in my neighbourhood are.

IMG_3429IMG_3434

 

 

 

 

 

In this sense, though, I’ve come to wonder: What do I expect of my time in Amsterdam besides having a good time and it to be a positive experience? After some serious thinking, I’ve come to the following conclusion. In the big picture, I’ll work towards 1) Acquiring insight into and understanding for the Dutch culture; 2) Making new friends from all over the world in this highly international city; and 3) Settling in at work, befriending and getting close to my new colleagues. To me, these are the things that truly matter – especially the social aspect of it all.
Besides this, I’ve set myself certain goals to reach within the next five years. No rush, though – I’ll take it as it comes. It’s important for me not to get hung up on achieving certain things – as long as I work towards something with determination and it feels right, I’m on the right track, I’m sure.

xo P!

Travel Tip: Get lost

It’s, of course, important to plan and organise a trip in order to know what exactly there is to explore and experience, when to do so and if there are certain areas to definitely explore or avoid. However, when all the touristee things are explored, I find it extremely important to just get lost. …Get lost in the streets. …Walk around, meet people, eat at random cafes and/or restaurant. Simply, get involved in the culture and its people.

Get lost

…It’s nice to have a map, however, it’s also nice to make time to get lost too. …Forget about the map for a time and just allow yourself to wander around. You end up experiencing such amazing places and meet interesting people along the way.
Some of my personal all time best abroad adventures has started with me just wandering around different nabourhoods, exploring. Talking to strangers asking where and what to explore. I’ve met interesting people and even, as a result, been on a few innocent dates with local guys. For me, it’s truly the best way to acquire insight into the current culture of a country, maybe even learn a bit of the country’s history from a local with ancestors in the country. …You can always do the touristee stuff – maybe just set aside one day to getting lost…

xo P!

 

Picture
 Google’s search engine

Being an Expat: Living abroad as a foreigner

Bing an expat

Relocating abroad automatically means that you become categorised as an expatriate – also known as an expat. As such, you have decided to reside in another culture than that of your citizenship – you are now an immigrant. As a result, it’s now your responsibility to adapt to this foreign culture – for better and worse. Don’t be afraid, though, it’s quite the adventure, and as long as you have an open mind, you’ll be more than fine – trust me. However, for anyone relocating to a foreign culture and trying to adapt as well as assimilate to norms and behaviour attached to this culture will know: It takes time. Meanwhile, in my experience, you’ll come to experience things – things that you may or may not have expected before immigrating:

  1. The paper work concerning your relocation abroad is endless
  1. …And the rules and regulations can be rather confusing and, to you, at times, somewhat illogical
  1. Not knowing the foreign language can be a real challenge – even with good English skills
  1. For better and worse, Google Translate becomes one of your treasured friends
  1. You’ll come to find that the importance of a personal number is key to …EVERYTHING
  1. Keeping in touch with friends and family from back home becomes truly important to you
  1. ..As a result, so does all types of social media as they help you stay in touch
  1. You’ll experience that your otherwise common and boring name is exotic and beautiful in the ears of foreigners, which is somewhat wonderfully weird to you
  1. You’ll discover what stereotypes there are out there concerning your home country and its people
  1. You’ll come to understand that there are various and different expectations of personal space
  1. You don’t always know what you should or should not buy at the grocery store
  1. It can be almost impossible (at times, definitely impossible) to find certain native foods
  1. You’ll pay unreasonable amounts of money for food that only somewhat resemble what you can get back home in desperate hours of homesickness
  1. The wonders of goodie bags sent from friends and family with foods from home can make your day
  1. Eating out can be either the best or worst experience
  1. You’ll never really know how much to tip
  1. When you meet a fellow (insert your nationality here), you immediately get excited
  1. However, you’ll experience that meeting new friends from foreign cultures is truly enlightening on so many levels – especially, culture-wise
  1. You’ll find yourself incredible excited when new friends or acquaintances know something about your country – especially, if you, like me, come from a little otherwise insignificant nation that people rarely tend to know much about
  1. You’ll find that keeping up with politics back home is difficult
  1. …So is keeping up with its pop culture
  1. On the other side, you’ll experience that acquiring insight into and understanding for a foreign culture is an exciting and adventurous experience
  1. You’ll come to understand your own culture and foreign cultures more in-depth and acquire perspective on these, realizing that there’s a lot you don’t know about the world yet
  1. Ultimately, you’ll realize that you will never truly know the foreign culture no matter for how long you’ll live there
  1. …That won’t stop you from getting lost in the foreign culture and your new home city/country, which you’ll find nothing but exciting
  1. As a result, you’ll come to treasure your native culture more in some ways and in other ways, you’ll come to treasure the foreign culture more

Despite challenges and difficulties linked to relocating and living abroad, it’s worth it! Every day is the beginning of a new and exciting adventure filled with wonderful people.

xo P!

 

Picture
 Google’s search engine

An Open Letter: Dating a traveler

Before you date a traveler, you should know that traveling comes first. In every way. Always. As a result, don’t expect her to settle in one place for the rest of her life. She will always need to move on. That’s what she does – she moves on. She moves from cultures and its people …and she moves on to new cultures and with new people. She does so because she wants something out of her life that cannot be found in just one place – perspective, understanding and knowledge. This doesn’t mean that she’s disloyal, though. Her love for travel is not in competition with her love for you – the two can never be compared that way! Ultimately, her biggest hope is to find someone to move on with. So when she feels the urge and moves on, it’s not because she doesn’t care for you. When she moves on, she does so because that fire in her eyes – that fire that you probably fell for – will die if she doesn’t. Her positive attitude and optimistic outlook on life along with that glimpse of excitement in her eyes that reveals to you that she sees a world of opportunities wherever she goes will vanish if she doesn’t move on. …She doesn’t want it all to vanish. She wants it all to stay. She wants to build on it and further develop as a person. The thrill of development is imperative to her – it’s like oxygen. She cannot live without it, but she cannot live without you and your love either. Therefore, her biggest wish is for you to follow her on her travels.

Travel and love

Should you fall in love with a traveler, you will have come to know someone with a truly open heart and mind; someone obsessed with diversity; someone who doesn’t see boarders; someone who sees differences and similarities at the same time; someone that breaks with social norms; someone ready to take a chance; someone comfortable with uncertainty; someone that doesn’t limit herself; someone with great independence and confidence in her own capabilities and the possibilities out there in the world; someone that doesn’t easily commit but when she does, she does so wholeheartedly; and someone with many layers all rooted in a curious and adventurous outlook on life. As a result, her curiosity for the unknown will continue to both surprise and amaze you – maybe even scare you at times. No worries though, she knows what she’s doing…but even when she really doesn’t, she’s come to know that things have a tendency to work out for the better anyway. So she’s not worried at all and neither should you be.
By now, it’s clear to you: Her heart belongs to the roads of the world, its cultures and its people. You have come to understand that the idea alone of her settling in one place for the rest of her life not only terrifies her right down to her core, it also saddens her. She, namely, knows that that would kill the fire in her eyes. Because of that, she ,simply, cannot commit to just one place. She needs to conquer the world while learning and acquiring understanding for it in order to feel the meaning of life. …And that’s just it: When she travels, she feels the meaning with life – way down in her bones. Of course, she needs comfort, stability and certainty in her life too, however, she finds this in uncertainty. She finds it there because she, through her travels, has come to understand that when nothing is sure, everything is possible.
Don’t(!) mistaken her for not having her life on track, though: Besides from being positive, open-minded and adventurous, she’s independent, ambitious and determined. She knows exactly where she wants to go: Everywhere. But she doesn’t just know this, she aims at it and she’s going everywhere – step-by-step. Conquering the world, though, takes time. Nevertheless, she’s in the middle of this adventure. This adventure called her life.

Before you fall in love with a traveler, it’s important to stress that it will be difficult to capture her attention. Moreover, it will be further difficult to hold it because she’s used to constant change and doesn’t attach herself romantically to men in order to avoid hindrances for travels. In her experience, romantic relationships don’t exist for long. Needless to say, the lifestyle of a girl who travels is not associated with a classic romantic relationship. No, because, as already mentioned, she’s always on the move. This habit of constant change makes her hard to read for someone not in the same mind-set. However, her wanderlust, fernweh and need for adventure doesn’t mean that she doesn’t want you or that she doesn’t need you – she does, believe me. So should you succeed in capturing her attention and hold it, then know this: Unless you understand her soul and share her passion and love for traveling, it’s not going to work out. She knows that. It’s only fair that you do, too. Because to her, traveling comes first. Always. She wants something out of life that cannot be found in just one place, remember… If you understand her, though, and fall in love with her and she, in return, falls in love with you, however, you become home. You become the one place in the world she always returns to. You’ll be the one she wants and needs to move on with, and you’ll be the one she seeks adventures with. She will make sure that both of you chase your dreams because she knows that the biggest adventure you can ever take is to live the life of your dreams. And she wishes nothing but a happily ever after for the two of you.

xo P!

Travel Tip: Dig into the foreign culture

As I’ve touched upon in previous posts, I find it highly important to be open-minded and acquire insight into and understanding for foreign cultures in general and, especially, on travels. For my own sakes, I find it important to get involved in the foreign culture on my travels in order to, simply, acquire perspective on the foreign culture in question as well as my native culture.

Culture

Some ways in which I make sure to get involved in the foreign culture is to not only meet people from the culture, however, also by exploring its history and culture. As such, I quite enjoy the typical tourist attractions such visiting museums and attractions. However, also just walking around the different neighbourhoods trying various food, exploring street art and talking to people in the streets of these areas are great ways to acquire some insight into a foreign culture. If I spend a couple of days in a city, I always make sure to do a day tour or two to areas around the city. Often, when you travel, you end up visiting a big city, which can be somewhat of a tourist trap. Hence, it’s nice to undertake a day tour and visit rural areas far from characterised by a touristee feeling. Finally, another way I dig into a foreign culture is to go to comedy gigs and concerts. In this sense, the app Meet Up is great to get in touch with other foreigners visiting the culture as well as people living in the culture. Here, you can follow certain groups and attend meet-ups they arrange. You can actually also make an event yourself. In my experience, meeting up with like-minded strangers who want to socialise is such a great way to meet new friends as well.

There are so many great ways to dig into a foreign culture. Please share(!), how do you make sure to acquire insight into and understanding for a foreign culture on your travels?

xo P!

 

Picture
 Google’s search engine

Street Art: Why it’s culturally enlightening

…Yes, I quite enjoy street art. However, let me just stress that it’s street art and not graffiti I’m talking about …because there is a difference! While both are created in public places and no doubt represent powerful forms of art used to convey specific messages, I argue that there is a lot more thought behind street art than graffiti. Because, generally speaking, while graffiti involves instant writings and/or drawings with spray paint on location, street art involves beforehand made products brought to a location for set-up – be it produced with spray paint, stencils, wheat-pasted, stickers, installations or sculptures etc. As a result, I argue that street at represents well-thought messages.

BerlinBerlin.

 

 

 

 

Although street art is often associated with vandalism maybe even gangs or misfits of society, it represents messages often related to societal, political, environmental etc. issues in a culture. As such, it represents culture through writings and drawings with bold statements, metaphors and images – all to convey important messages of street artists. These messages may not always be understood by the audience, nevertheless, there is a message behind the art – and that’s exactly what fascinates me! Therefore, when I’m out and about – especially in foreign countries – I like to explore this part of a culture as well. Not only is street art telling of a society’s culture, there are lessons to learn about a society’s culture from street art.

Banksy - Global WarmingBanksy - Isreal

A particular street artist whose work I follow is Banksy from England. His work is characterised by satire and dark humour and is rooted in societal, political and environmental issues. Moreover, he doesn’t just focus on national issues in England and the UK. No, he travels around the world and creates street art abroad in order to illuminate foreign affairs and issues as well. His latests work is Dismaland in England – a temporary project, unfortunately now closed, which received quite the headlines in news papers around the world. He, namely, indirectly – yet very directly – commented on certain societal and political issues through various means of methods such as installations and sculptures.

Dismaland 1Dismaland 2

 

 

 

In this sense, needless to say that I find it extremely important for people to be involved in their society – and not just their national, however, also international society. I’m not only talking politics, I’m talking culture (among others defined as a society’s norms, beliefs and behaviour). For so many reasons (globalisation and mass consumption being the main ones), I find it important to participate in the development of our world. No one can deny how interrelated the countries of the world increasingly are. Hence, as world citizens, I believe it’s our duty to somehow make a contribution and take responsibility for our own (and our nation’s) actions – to better the world. Ironically, this is exactly why I find street art amazing: It enlightens certain cultural issues to respond to. And whether you approve of street art or not approve, there is no doubt that talented and gifted street artists have the power to illuminate important cultural issues in society. Don’t you agree? Or what do you think of street art?

xo P!

 

Pictures of Dismaland, the Israeli Wall 
 and Global Warming
 Google’s search engine

Christmas: It’s the season to be jolly…

…Fa la la la la, la la la la!

It’s official! It’s Christmas! …Finally! My all time favourite holiday characterised by the Christmas spirit has arrived, and I can’t wait to dig into all the traditions that belong to the month of December.

Although I am not religious – rather cultural Christian if anything, I quite enjoy the traditions linked to Christmas. I do so for several reasons – all linked to the Christmas spirit. As such, I find that people, in general, are happier and more complaisant during this month. Coming from a culture that is characterised as cold and isolating, you can imagine that the Christmas spirit truly gets to the Danes. I mean, what an excuse to be the total opposite…and not being labeled as weird for acting so. Furthermore, being interested in multiculturalism, I find it rather interesting to look into foreign Christmas traditions. Hence, I wanted to share some Danish traditions with you here in this post. Then, hopefully, you might want to enlighten me with some of your cultural determined Christmas traditions as well in the comments section? I would love to learn more about foreign traditions – of course, also traditions during December that might not be linked to Christianity at all.

Merry Christmas

Danish Christmas Traditions
In Danish, Christmas is translated into ”jul.” What ”jul” means is ”feast.” Personally, I think that feast perfectly pictures what Christmas is all about in Denmark – namely, the Christmas spirit, ”hygge” and food…and lots of it. …Seriously, lots of it. We may be highly healthy in general, however, when Christmas comes… Let’s just say that the healthy diet is not linked to Christmas here in Denmark. …At all! (…Thankfully!)
Anyway, when it comes to Danish Christmas traditions, we have a few unique customs. However, we also share some with other Christian cultures out there. As a result, I here present you with, in my opinion, the most noteworthy Danish Christmas traditions.

Christmas Decoration
Like most Western Christian cultures, the streets are decorated by the given municipality with spruce garlands and lights in all shapes and colours – there even are some occasionally Christmas trees placed in the city squares etc.

In our homes, we decorate with figures, Oranges with Clovespaper cut-outs and lights – mainly shaped as pixies, Santa, angles, hearts, stars and baubles etc. Occasionally, you might also see a nativity scene with baby Jesus, Josef, Maria and the three wise men. Moreover, also the mistletoe and, especially, spruce are highly popular. We put pieces of spruce everywhere: On table decorations, outside around the house etc. Its pine cones are also used in table decorations and sometimes as garlands on the Christmas tree. One thing, though, that you’ll most likely see in a Danish home is the smell of Christmas: Oranges with cloves hanged from the ceiling or in the window in a red string – yep, this is the smell of Christmas. Furthermore, many Danish homes put figures of Santa and pixies in the garden along with fairy lights in the garden trees.

Christmas Candles
Candles are popular in Denmark around Christmas time: Not only do we Danes have a candle with 24 dates that we burn every day – one each day; we also have an advent wreath consisting of four candles – one for every advent. I’m not sure where this tradition originates from or why, however, it’s a Danish Christmas symbol and a perfect way to count down for Christmas Eve.

Advent Candles

Christmas Bakings
An important part of the Danish Christmas includes the baking of various and different traditional cookies – among other the pepper nuts, which can be traced further back than any other cookie. Moreover, marzipan in all shapes, colours and with or without chocolate and other toppings are a firm tradition. This is not to forget æbleskiver – delicious æbleskiver, which are Danish fluffy, round cake dough served with icing sugar/sugar and marmalade – sometimes even Nutella.

Pepper NutsAeblskiver

 

 

 

 

Christmas Chocolate Calendar
It’s mandatory for children (sometimes also adults) to have a Christmas chocolate calender – or…it’s not really mandatory, however, every child has one (or several). This chocolate calender is, basically, a calender with 24 windows. Behind each window is a piece of chocolate – one for each day of Christmas. Also, daily Christmas calender presents are popular in Denmark, where children (sometimes also adults) receive 24 presents – also one for each day of Christmas.
Some have both the chocolate as well as the daily present calender, while others only have one of the two. However, sometimes it’s combined with the advent present calender.

Christmas Chocolate CalenderDaily Christmas Calender Presents

 

 

 

 

Advent Present Calender
Some children (even some adults) receive an advent present calender from their parents. Actually, depending on the family, sometimes Santa also brings them, which was the case in my family. As such, every advent Sunday, the child/children receive/s a present from Santa. In my family, we had a Christmas sock in which Santa would put a present every Sunday morning before my sister and I woke up. We were lucky, as ’Santa’ usually brought big presents, however, the amount of money spend on advent presents varies and depends on the family and whether or not they also receive daily Christmas presents.

Advent Present Calender

Christmas Television Specials
Christmas Television specials is big in Denmark. We, among others, have a ”Julekalender.” A Julekalender is a Television series in 24 episodes made for Christmas. There are made a few every year mainly for children, however, there are also some for adults. It must sound strange to foreigners – I can even sense the weirdness writing this now, however, they are generally very good and is a good way to make Christmas a bit more special. Of course, we also follow foreign Christmas films etc., and Home Alone is part of the Danish Christmas tradition in most Danish homes as well. In my family, we always watch Home Alone 1 the 23rd of December, also known as Little Christmas Eve (I’ll come back to that in a moment), and Home Alone 2 during the day on Christmas day, the 24th of December.

Christmas Markets and Glögg
As in most Western countries Glöggaround Christmas time, it’s the month of Christmas markets. Here, you can not only try various roller coaster rides, however, you can also buy all sorts of different things – also a lot of food and beverages, of course. Glögg, which is hot mulled wine with raisins, nuts, cinnamon and oranges, is very popular in Denmark along with the cold Christmas beer.

Christmas Company Parties
Christmas is not only celebrated with family but also friends and colleagues. As such, there are a lot of Christmas parties around the country at the time – even throughout November. Usually, people meet up to eat, drink, dance and socialise.

Santa Lucia
Originally, a Swedish tradition, Santa Lucia is celebrated on the 13th of December around the country at schools, daycare institutions, hospitals, nursing homes etc. Basically, she is celebrated by a group of young girls dressed in white holding a white candle who walks along the corridors singing the Santa Lucia song. I must admit that I’m not sure why we celebrate her: She died a Saint after a martyr death and is known as the Saint of Blindness due to the way she died.

Santa Lucia

Christmas Mass
Characterised as a rather cultural Christian country, Denmark and the Danes do not practice religion much. Except for at Christmas. Here, you see Danes visit the church especially around the 23rd, 24th and 25th of December depending on your family tradition. It’s sort of the one day of the year, where you honor the true spirit of Christmas – namely, Jesus (…although Christmas originally, of course, was a pagan holiday that the Christians later used to spread Christianity…)

Little Christmas Eve
We Danes celebrate ”lille juleaften” (little Christmas eve) the 23rd of December, which is the last day of work before Christmas. There are various and different traditions linked to this day depending on family traditions. In my family, we decorate the Christmas tree, bake and make marzipan for the following Christmas days. It’s very common for the cook of the family to make desert for Christmas eve this day, which is eaten for dinner. Other families also play the Christmas Present Game (I’ll come back to this later) and sing Christmas carols.

The Danish Christmas Tree
The Christmas trees in Denmark Christmas Treeare decorated like most other Western countries do it: With figures, baubles and garlands – not to forget the star on top. However, Danes also puts lights (living candles) and garland(s) with the Danish flag on it.

Christmas Eve
In most Danish homes, Christmas Eve kicks off with dinner. During the day, the cook of the family will cook while the others help when needed. Otherwise, it’s a big Television day where lots of series and film are shown – and lots of bakery and candy is eaten.

For dinner, generally the main course is roast goose, duck or pork (sometimes all three kinds) with brown sauce/gravy, sour-sweet red cabbage and potatoes as well as caramelised potatoes. With dinner, most families drink wine, Christmas beer, snaps and/or soda. For desert, we either have rice pudding or ris á alement with cherry sauce served with a glass of glögg. In this sense, however, we have a unique tradition: In the desert bowl, the cook puts an almond – whoever finds the almond in his or her portion receives the ”almond present,” which traditionally is a marzipan pig.

Christmas Dinnerris á alement

 

 

 

 

In my family, we play a game of Christmas Present Game between dinner and desert. The game goes like this: Every person at the dinner has brought 3 presents – two useful and one funny. Then either you play with cards or dices until all presents have been given to people around the table. Then it ends and you can open the presents for keeps.

At last, when it’s time to open the actual Christmas presents, a Danish tradition is to dance around the Christmas tree. As such, all family members join hands in a circle around the tree and sing Christmas carols while dancing around it – and then the Christmas unwrapping can begin. Following, the evening generally ends with Christmas films and lots of candy and chocolate.

That’s all, I think – a bit of insight into the Danish Christmas. How do you celebrate Christmas in your culture?

xo P!

 

Pictures
Google’s search engine

A Dane Abroad: Cultural differences

Living in a foreign culture is interesting for various reasons: Not only do you among others gain perspective on a foreign culture, however, also on your own culture. As such, I just had to write a post on going abroad as a Dane including personal experiences I’ve made on my abroad relocations. Because, it’s true, you don’t realize the extent of cultural differences before you travel abroad and see for yourself. In this sense, being a Dane abroad, you quickly realize that things are quite different abroad in some aspects, and that us Danes can be somewhat weird to foreigners. Let me elaborate on this by presenting you with 30 cultural differences I’ve experienced as a Dane living abroad.

Danish flag

  1. Foreigners are usually not as isolated, reticent and restrained as Danes
  1. Being approached with a ”how are you?” is just, simply, very weird for an isolating, cold Nordic person. I mean, we’re trained not to look strangers in the eyes let alone talk to them (Exaggeration, however, not far from the truth)
  1. ”The Law of Jante” is definitely not part of every culture, which is a good thing if you ask me (LoJ is not a law per se, rather a set of cultural norms)
  1. Nor is the concept of ”hygge”
  1. Vikings may not always be as popular abroad as back home – especially not in England
  1. Foreign countries rarely have rye bread – and when they do it’s just not the same
  1. Nor do they have smoerrebroed (rye bread with delicious, various and different toppings)
  1. In my humble opinion, they don’t have (proper) licorice outside the Nordic countries either
  1. With gained perspective, equality is far along in Denmark
  1. So is the environmental movement
  1. However, certain Danes could learn much from foreigners and their welcoming and open hearts (here, specifically considering the current refugee crisis)
  1. Bikes are not as popular abroad as in Denmark (except for in Holland/Amsterdam, of course)
  1. Students outside Scandinavia don’t go to college or university for free
  1. Nor do they get paid to go study
  1. They do, however, not have to pay approximately 50 percent of their salary in taxes as all Danes do
  1. The cost of health care abroad is expensive
  1. It’s just not appropriate to put your national flag on your birthday cake abroad
  1. … Or on the Christmas tree
  1. Christmas is not celebrated with dinner AND gifts on the 24th of December all over the world
  1. It’s not common to dance around the Christmas tree before opening gifts on Christmas eve either. In my experience, foreigners find this Danish tradition very strange
  1. Nor do foreign cultures burn witches every summer on the beach
  1. … Or ”shoot in” the new year on New Year’s day to receive candy (only children)
  1. … Or hide candy for children to find in the highly decorated garden for Easter
  1. In general, people abroad don’t throw pre-parties before going out partying/clubbing
  1. … And the bars and clubs close way too early – I mean the party doesn’t even start before 1am…
  1. Maybe it has to do with the viking genes, however, foreigners really can’t hold their liquor too well
  1. They are, however, way better at socialising without alcohol as the center of attention
  1. Foreigners generally speaking don’t find the Danish Band, Aqua, and their song, Barbie Girl, as interesting as Danes
  1. They do, however, seem to find the Danish LEGO pretty neat
  1. … And the fairy tales of the Danish author, H. C. Andersen (The Ugly Duckling, The Little Mermaid, The Nightingale etc.)

There you go… Some cultural differences (and facts about ’Danishness’) I’ve experienced abroad.
What about you? What cultural differences have you experienced on your travels?

xo P!

 

Pictures
 Google’s search engine

Understanding Foreign Cultures: Why it’s impossible

As the headline suggests, I don’t believe it’s possible to ever get to completely understand a foreign culture with all its social norms, beliefs and behavioural patterns. There are several reasons for this belief. However, they are all based on the fact that we grow up in one culture – our ’mother culture,’ if you will. Of course, some people grow up in two or maybe several cultures due to parents from different backgrounds or immigration but that’s an entire different aspect that doesn’t have anything to do with my point exactly because they grow up with more than one culture – grow up… As in, they learn and grow up with an understanding for more than one culture. Back to the point: It is from this (or these) culture(s) with its social norms, beliefs and behavioural patterns that we perceive the world. As such, depending on your ’mother culture’ and her social norms, beliefs and behavioural patterns, it is from this culture that you perceive other cultures. My point: Everything we explore and discover, we decode through our own cultural codes.

Cultural understanding

Even though some cultures may be similar in certain aspects, they vary nonetheless. This isn’t something new: It has been researched over decades by various scholars within the field of cultural studies. Metaphorically speaking, every culture is like a puzzle: Each culture consists of various subjects (pieces) that through social norms, beliefs and behavioural patterns fit – they are interrelated. Although, cultures further develop, they develop step-by-step, remaining a puzzle. Implicit, a culture (the puzzle) is made up of distinct subjects (pieces) and both the overall puzzle as well as the multitude of pieces are simultaneously distinguishable. In this sense, when you, then, try to understand a foreign culture, you have to understand an entire new and different puzzle with all its various and simultaneously distinguishable pieces. Here, you have to not only understand, however, also perceive each piece in accordance with the overall puzzle – and that’s the challenge. This is also why I believe it’s impossible to completely understand a foreign culture: Because you’re not brought up with all the pieces of another culture, it’s ultimately impossible to completely understand a foreign culture with all its subjects in the form of social norms, beliefs and behavioural patterns. What you can, though, is acquire an understanding – a cultural awareness – for a foreign culture. As a result, you can learn cultural rules that enlighten your understanding for the foreign culture and its norms, beliefs and behavioural patterns – rules that you can abide to when interacting in this culture. It is these rules that I try to learn on my travels – acquiring cultural awareness and understanding. However, to think that you can ever completely understand a foreign culture having grown up in your own ’mother culture’ is unrealistic – it won’t keep you from creating perspective, though, and become culturally aware of differences.

Please, feel free to express your thoughts on this subject in the comment field. Do you agree? Or not? And why?

xo P!

 

Picture
 Google’s search engine