Map of Denmark

Culture shock

Kalervo Oberg, a world renowned anthropologist defined five phases of cultural shock when moving

to a foreign country. Time and intensity of the phases that one experiences can vary from one individual to another. The five phases are the following:

  1. Honeymoon phase: The newcomer feels excited and thrilled by new experiences, opportunities and environment.
  2. Crisis: When cultural differences become more annoying and irritating to the newcomer.
  3. Acceptance: Once one has learned more about the culture and accepted the differences, an understanding of the country develops.
  4. Adjustment: Comes after learning to deal with the positive and negative aspects of the new country.
  5. Reverse culture shock: Applies when returning to the home country, one can be shocked of the customs of one’s own home country.

Political system

Denmark has a parliamentary monarchy. The Danish monarchy the oldest in the world, it has been in place for more that 1000 years. The current Danish queen Margrethe II is married to the Prince consort, a former french diplomat named Henri, Comte de Laborde de Monpezat. They have two sons: Frederik the crown prince (married to Mary Donaldson from Australia) and Joachim (married to a French woman called Marie Cavallier)

Danish values

    1. Freedom of speech

People tend to express their opinion freely. The Mohammed cartoons crisis that occurred in 2005 when cartoons of the prophet were published in Danish newspapers. From the danish side, under the law of free speech, nothing had been done that was out of bounds. Even though some people were offended, no apologies were made or should be made.

    2. Time dimension

Being on time is very important. It is considered the rudest thing to be late and one is expected to warn if one will be anything over 5 minutes late.

    3. Jantelov or equality for all

Jantelov or Jante’s law is a set of 10 rules defining group behavior in Scandinavian mentality.

It was introduced by the Norwegian author Aksel Sandemose in his novel ‘A fugitive crosses his tracks’

(‘En flyktning krysser sitt spor’), where he portrays a Danish town called Jante. The ten rules are:

  1. Don’t think that you are special.
  2. Don’t think that you are of the same standing as us.
  3. Don’t think that you are smarter than us.
  4. Don’t fancy yourself as being better than us.
  5. Don’t think that you know more than us.
  6. Don’t think that you are more important than us.
  7. Don’t think that you are good at anything.
  8. Don’t laugh at us.
  9. Don’t think that any one of us cares about you
  10. Don’t think that you can teach us anything.
    4. Family friendly society

The working hours are 8am to 4pm. Maternity leave lasts a whole year splittable between the father and the mother. Children can accompany their parents to work provided they do not disturb the colleagues. It is badly seen to overwork, as it means that one is badly organized, feels that his work is more important than somebody else’s (see Jantelov) or does not respect his family.

Danish companies

Here is a quick list, on the top of my head, of some big Danish companies, since I once met a French guy who contemptuously asked what industries there were in Denmark, insinuating that there weren’t any.

Lego, Bang and Olufsen, Carlsberg, Ecco shoes, Maersk, Novo Nordisk, Oticon, Velux, Vestas, Skype, Arne Jacobsen, Georg Jensen, and many others

Book recommendation: The worktrotters’s guide to Denmark by Dagmar Fink