I am something of an introvert and enjoy my own company but like everyone I do need friends. As it is often said Danes are hard to make friends with and if I am honest I have a mixture of friends from Danes to other expats. But how and where to make friends?Neighbours
I still see my first Danish next door neighbour and whilst neither of us still live in that apartment building and many things have changed for both of us over the last ten years, I still love to have a chat with her. We are connected on social media and delight in the good things that happen to each other and commiserate the less good. We became friends simply because we are both friendly people. I recall, apprehensively asking her in for coffee and cakes one afternoon because I liked her and wanted to get to know her better. It was quite an unDanish thing to do in the early stages of acquaintance but we ended up really talking until it started to get dark (so probably 3pm as it was winter) and our husbands came home. After that I had a friend in the building and we had our children a year apart which helped cement the friendship. My son thinks she is lovely but has no recollection of the times she stood in our kitchen giving him big cuddles when he was a little baby whilst I did other things around them. We helped each other out especially in regard to the shared washing machines when one of our kids had a nappy blow out or was sick on their favourite soft toy. Shared experiences and making the first move resulted in friendship.
Making the first move
Just like above another good friend was made through being brave and making the first move.
One afternoon during our first week living in Denmark I was in our local supermarket I heard a very clear English voice and I bravely walked up to a very statuesque woman and introduced myself. This was my first friend. She had also just moved to Copenhagen. We met for coffee later in the week and I noticed she carried a little leather-bound notebook into which she wrote down recommendations and information she discovered. I liked this and her. We parted without making another date and I wasn’t sure we would meet again.
Fast forward a few weeks and guess who was in my first Danish class? We became good friends and even ended up having our sons within a few weeks of each other a few years later. I was glad I made the bold step of speaking to her in the supermarket.
Although we both moved away from Denmark for a year or so, now we are both back, have our kids in the same class at school and that easy friendship has continued.Language School
This was the place where I made the most friends in the early days, again through shared experiences. I have lost touch with almost all the people I sat in that classroom at VUF three hours a day, four days a week. But although I rarely see the people I am in touch with due to work, children or location, when I do it is lovely. Situational friends have an important place in our lives for that time but do take an effort to maintain when you are no longer in that situation.
This one is an obvious one if you have children. When your child starts school or daycare they have a new group of people to befriend and so do you. I have a great friend I made through my son’s school (sadly she has moved back to Australia). I can’t even remember how we started our friendship it just seemed to evolve naturally into a wonderful honest friendship. I also know that there are other people who share experiences with our kids and who will help each other out, whether that is sharing books, lending tools or picking up children from school if someone is sick.Hobbies
A big piece of advice for making friends in Denmark is to join a club and that theme running through this whole post is about shared experiences. I am the least sporty person so any kind of active club would be a big no no for me. When I moved back to Denmark from Germany many of my old friends had moved out of the city or left the country. Through a blogger I knew I spotted a crafting group hosted a someone’s home. I love craft so I went along. I then went to every single one after, even when I could use my hand after my accident I still went for the social aspect. Through this group I made about five great friends as well as loads more casual friends. I now run the group as the lady who hosted it when I started going has moved back to the US and it has such meaning for me (and I hope) others. Incidentally the lady became an amazing friend, who gave me masses of support after my accident, inspired me through her work ethic, parenting and just general kick ass approach to life.
Through this blog
This one of course isn’t an opportunity for everyone but social media can offer the same chances. Back in 2013 when I first started writing this blog, I got a really sweet email from nervous British lady who had just moved to Copenhagen with her Danish partner and their daughter. She was feeling daunted by the move and just kept seeing negativity in the expat forums and her partner had found my blog and said she should contact me. She just wanted some tips via email but I suggested a coffee. Fast forward four years and we are great friends. She is another person who inspires with her approach to life here and all she has achieved.
So if you are struggling to make friends don’t give up hope!
Also don’t forget to get your hands on my guide to Christmas in Copenhagen – just click here for your free copy