Welcome to a Brit abroad, which is me – Marco. If you’ve ever wandered what Jeanette’s bit on the side is like, here I am. A 28-year-old retired British Olympian trying to fit into Denmark’s incredibly unique way of living. Its been an eventful almost three years of being a Copenhagener, and I’ve learnt a few life lessons along the way. I hope you enjoy a short snippet of what I’ve encountered so far.
Trying to fit in
Denmark. Population 5.5million. You’d think it would be easy to make a friend or two. No sir. Well at least not for your first few months trudging around the cobbled streets of Copenhagen listening to the throaty murmur that is Denmark’s native tongue. What is it like to be a foreigner (again) in an uncommon land you may ask? It wasn’t easy. Moving here from the rat race city of London was a shock, one that I was excited to see where it would lead. Amidst the endless rows of yellow houses, coffee shops and abandoned baby prams there is a charm to Copenhagen but you have to claw away at the surface. To leave your old eyes you once looked through behind.
The skyline of Copenhagen is littered with the green patina that has aged the roofs of its historic buildings beautifully. If you spend too long looking up, you are bound to be walked into by a Dane with the absence of an apology.
Once you’re in, you’re in
Step one: get yourself a bike. The more rusty and shit looking the better. Step two: wear white, grey and black clothing. Step three: a fresh pair of sneaks. Ok now that you look the part, how in the hell do you feel at home here? Answer: Friends. I’ve met a lot of foreigners in Copenhagen whose friend base consists of mainly (if not completely) of fellow ex-pats. It was my challenge to break through the frosty façade of the Danish society and make myself some good old fashioned Danish chums. Luckily, because Copenhagen is a cooking pot of culture you are always likely to find someone with similar interests. For me it came in the form of a tattooed guy with a colourful past, studying theology in hopes of one day becoming a priest, just my luck. From my own experience when meeting the locals, those who were the most accepting were the ones who had travelled far and wide to temporarily escape the ‘Truman show’ bubble of Denmark. Once I was in with him, his friends followed suit and also like having their own token foreign buddy.
Before I knew it and without realising, I felt a great weight lift from my shoulders. My phonebook began to fill up with lots of Anthon’s and Anders’s, Lars’s and Lasse’s, Joekim’s and Jonas’s. My mundane weekends now became over booked with plans to chill in Kongen’s Have or go for quiet drinks in the evening at the Log Lady on Studiestræde. Being able to walk down the street I live on and wave to the lady from the bakery, the brothers from the coffee shop and Pete from the men’s store gives me a sense of belonging, a feeling of home. One thing is known about making friends with a Dane, you’ll be friends for life.
What’s my next adventure in Copenhagen? Fatherhood…to be continued.