Today I am not feeling very positive.There are many, many aspects of living here in Denmark that I see as being better than the UK and Germany but there are also some things that I struggle with. Danish society thrives on trust and also on people being similar in many ways. My husband often jokes about everything being OK in Denmark until someone gets hurt in regard to the element of self-responsibility but over the last year I would say, with less humour, that everything is alright unless you are different and don’t fit the mould.
If your child doesn’t socialise with other children in the same way Danish children do – they don’t fit the mould. If your bilingual child takes longer to learn to speak than her monolingual peers – she doesn’t fit the mould. If your health issues can’t be fixed by group therapy – you don’t fit the mould. These are some of the downsides of living in a mainly homogenous society where group norms are viewed as very important.
After having a great start to my experiences with public healthcare here in regard to my fractured elbow, once my injury recovery couldn’t be put in a neat little box that could be treated with community group physio, I am now struggling to get any answers about why my recovery has ground to a halt, why I am still needing strong pain relief and have very limited use of my arm after almost six months.
I stayed positive all the way through – even when I had my stomach pumped and needed a colonoscopy due to a reaction to medication I stayed positive – but last week when I was told there was no more the physios could do for me and the hospital doctor dismissed my pain and problems until after the summer holidays, I felt as if the complexity of my case was making me too different to be explored more. And my positivity reserve ran dry.
I like the concept of the strength of the community and collectiveness here in Denmark but it seems this only works where the community is the same, if you are different you are either under pressure and scrutiny to conform or else you are too different and you have to fight not to be dismissed. I realise the examples above are tiny compared to some issues people encounter. I am very lucky that I have other options in regard to healthcare and I also have the confidence to fight not to be dismissed or forced to conform but not everyone is the same and as time goes on and Danish society continues to change, the tight grasp on ‘sameness’ needs to be relaxed without losing the good sides of collectiveness.