New courses start every month. Follow us on Facebook. Contact us. Sign up for our newsletter. Share on. Culture shock and how to tackle it 5 jun. Many people experience culture shock when they move to a new country. Anna Sircova is a psychologist and originally from Riga, Latvia. Anna teaches Cross-Cultural Psychology courses for young American students.
She has also studied Danish course 3 at Copenhagen Language Center. We had an opportunity to sit down and chat with Anna about the phenomenon of culture shock and how to tackle it. What is culture, and what is culture shock? Illustration by Chiara Nicola. What can you do if you find yourself in the midst of culture shock? Fortunately, there are some things you can do: You need to structure your daily life as much as possible and stick to routines , such as work, studying, jogging, etc.
You should seek out encounters with people and participate as much as possible in social activities. The social support of others is incredibly important. You should pursue your interests. Example of culture shock Before coming to Denmark, Anna lived in Sweden for three years. She pointed to three things: Danes are not as accustomed to understanding people who speak with an accent as in many other countries.
In Denmark, people typically form their social networks at a young age. This can make it difficult to form a network in Denmark at a later time. Culture stories by students at Kbh Sprogcenter. At first, it was like being on holiday. It was summer and the weather was wonderful — it was warm and sunny every day. Everything was new to me. I was constantly seeing places and things that I had never seen in my home country, like the windmills. It was also a little strange to be close to the sea while having the same climate and plants as in the mountains of Italy.
Life in Denmark is more or less like in northern Italy, even though Danes are not as open to foreigners as Italians are. I might have had a harder time if I had come from southern Italy, because those two cultures are more different from each other. But eventually things improved and I got a job and made new friends. When I arrived in Denmark in January , I was happy, excited and curious about what my new life would be like. At first, everything went well for me. I got a job as a bartender after just three weeks.
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I was so happy and I thought it would stay that way. But after five months, things changed. Then I applied for a lot of different jobs, but it was hard to find work and things started going downhill. It took me four months to get through a period full of frustrations, because I was very sad and tired, both physically and mentally. And yet, even though I was feeling bad, the situation motivated me to move forward and think outside the box. I came up with the idea of starting my own company and my dream now is to be self-employed.
When I first came to Denmark, everything was exciting and wonderful. I was fascinated by everything. The weather, the city, the people — everything was new and interesting. I missed my family, my country and my culture. So I stayed home every day and studied both English and Danish. I started going to Danish classes and playing music with some Brazilian musicians. This helped me establish a good routine. Today, I feel at home. I just got a job where I can speak Danish and teach children music at an after school centre. Denmark has become my second home and I feel really good about being here.
Your experiences in Denmark How about you? We offer danish courses Want to learn more Danish? Your name. Your email address. At Christmas and Easter, special seasoned beers are sold. Christmas is celebrated by eating a traditional extravagant lunch and dinner that bring the family together. Basic Economy. Natural resources are limited to agricultural land, clay, stone, chalk, lime, peat, and lignite. The economy is therefore heavily dependent on international trade. Farming accounts for two-thirds of the total land area, and agriculture produces enough edible products for three times the population.
Industrial exports account for about 75 percent of total exports, while the share of agricultural exports is about 15 percent. Land Tenure and Property. Most farmers are freeholders, 91 percent of them on individually owned family-run farms, 7 percent on company-run farms, and the rest on farms owned by the state, local authorities, or foundations. Private family houses typically are fenced off to delineate private property, or an invisible line between the garden and the pavement may indicate the border between private and public property. Neighbors discuss which parts outside their homes should be cleared for snow and which parts should be taken care of by municipal services.
Commercial Activities. The major goods produced include foods and beverages, textiles, paper, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, glass, ceramics, bricks, cement, concrete, marine engines, compressors, agriculture and forestry machinery, computers, electric motors, radio and communication equipment, ships, boats, furniture, and toys.
Agricultural products include beef, pork, poultry, milk, and eggs. Major Industries. The main industries are food processing, furniture, diesel engines, and electrical products. Major agricultural products include dairy products, pork, beef, and barley. Commercial fishing includes salmon, herring, cod, plaice, crustaceans and mollusks, mackerel, sprat, eel, lobster, shrimp, and prawns.
Major commodity groups sold on the international market include animal products cattle, beef and veal, pigs and pork, poultry, butter, cheese, and eggs , vegetable products grains, seeds, fruit, flowers, plants, and vegetables , ships, fish, fur, fuel, lubricating goods, and electricity. The major industrial exports are machines and instruments, medicinal and pharmaceutical products, chemical items, industrially prepared agricultural products, fish, crayfish and mollusks, furniture, textiles, and clothing. Imports, which lag slightly behind exports, include automobiles, fuel, consumer goods food, clothing, electronics, and others , and goods to be further processed at local industries.
Division of Labor. The division of labor is determined by gender, industry and socioeconomic status. Although agricultural products constitute a major proportion of exports, only 4 percent of the population is employed in agriculture, which has become highly industrialized and machine-driven. Close to 25 percent of the population is employed in Two-thirds of Denmark's land and nearly 25 percent of its population are devoted to agriculture.
Classes and Castes. Most national surveys dealing with social strata do not divide the population into different income groups. Instead, the population is categorized into five social layers, according to level of education and occupation. Those social categories are academics, owners of large farms, and persons with more than fifty employees 4 percent ; farmers with at least four employees, owners of companies with more than six employees, and college-educated business owners 7 percent ; farmers with a maximum of three employees, owners of small companies, and persons with jobs requiring expertise 21 percent ; skilled workers, small landowners, and workers with a professional education 37 percent ; and workers without skills training 32 percent.
In the adult population, there has been an increase in unemployed people who receive public support from 6 percent in to 25 percent today. Increasing demands for skills in reading, writing, mathematics, computers, and stress management are among the factors that have caused this development. Unemployment rates are somewhat higher among ethnic minorities, with persons of Turkish descent having the highest rate.
Figures from show inequality in income distribution: Twenty percent of the lowest-income families accounted for 6 percent of total income, while 20 percent of the highest-income families accounted for 40 percent of the income. Symbols of Social Stratification. According to a code of morality the "Jante Law" which was formulated by the author Aksel Sandemose in his novel A Refugee Crosses His Tracks, a person should not display superiority materially or otherwise. Wealth and high social position are downplayed in public in regard to dress, jewelry, and housing.
The point is to be discreet about individual distinction and avoid public boasting while allowing one's wealth to be recognized by persons in a similar economic position. Denmark is a constitutional monarchy in which succession to the throne is hereditary and the ruling monarch must be a member of the national church. The parliament has members, including two from Greenland and two from the Faroe Islands. Members of parliament are elected for four-year terms, but the state minister has the right to dissolve the parliament and force an election.
The voting age has been eighteen since Since , immigrants without Danish nationality have been allowed to vote and be elected in local elections. The minimum percentage of votes required for representation in the parliament is 2 percent. Leadership and Political Officials. The first political groupings appeared in , shortly before the first constitution was promulgated, and consisted of liberals farmers , the center intellectuals , and the right landowners and higher officials.
Party policy is based on political principles and working programs; the former include fundamental political ideas, while the programs are action-oriented. Currently, ten political parties are represented in the parliament, ranging from socialist to conservative to liberal. Representatives to parliament are elected in local areas and thus represent their home localities as well as a political party.
Liberal parties traditionally strive for individual freedom, including freedom of thought, belief, speech, expression, individual choice, and ownership, and attempt to strengthen the rights of the individual citizen in relation to the state. Conservatives stress individual freedom, choice, and responsibility and attempt to protect the national culture and tradition. Modern conservatism includes confidence in the individual, an open and critical outlook, tolerance, and a free market economy, combined with a commitment to social security.
Social Democrats favor a welfare society based on freedom, equal opportunity, equality, dignity, solidarity, cultural freedom and diversity, ecology, and democracy. Socialist parties seek a society based on political, social, and cultural diversity; ecological sustainability; social security; equal opportunity; responsibility for the weak; individual freedom; self-realization; active work for peace and disarmament; and a commitment to end global inequality. The Christian People's Party favors a democracy based on Christian ethical values, focused on individual freedom, social responsibility and security, the family, and medical ethics.
For this party, a Christian view of human nature forms the basis for equal human value regardless of race, sex, age, abilities, culture, and religion. Social Problems and Control. Executive power lies with the monarch, while legislative power is based in the parliament. In executive matters, the monarch exercises authority through government ministers. Judicial power lies with the courts of justice. The most common crimes are offenses against property, offenses against special laws in some municipalities, crimes of violence, and sexual offenses.
The police force consists of approximately 10, officers, who work at police stations located in local communities. Traditionally, Danish police have been known for their easy-going manner and "gentle" approach to difficult situations, relying more on dialogue and communication than on brute force. After years of becoming more centralized and distanced from the Danish people, there is now a trend in policing that involves forming new, smaller police stations in more towns and cities. In this new environment, officers are moving out of their cars and walking the streets, gaining closer contact with the people.
In criminal cases, those over the age of 15 may be punished by the courts. Those between 15 and 18 are held in special youth prisons that provide social training. Those above the age of 18 are imprisoned in one of the country's 14 state prisons. Due to a lack of prison space, convicted criminals sometimes wait for up to two years before they are actually imprisoned. Military Activity. Denmark also contributes to the United Nations peace forces in the Middle East and other areas.
In , the population voted not to join in the development of a common EU military force. The military is staffed through a system of compulsory enrollment. The term of service, depending on one's duties, ranges from four to twelve months. Full mobilization in the defense forces involves fifty-eight thousand soldiers, while in the absence of war the number is only fifteen thousand.
The defense forces include the navy, air force, home guard, and national rescue corps. The defense budget in was under 2 percent of the gross national product. All residents receive social support when they are unemployed, either through union insurance or locally run programs. Idled workers receive compensation that is equal to slightly less than the lowest Egeskov Castle is a well-preserved example of Renaissance architecture in Denmark. After six months of unemployment, an individual meets with an officer from the local unemployment office to formulate a specific strategy for getting a new job.
That strategy can include training, further education, or a government job that is supported by the local community in which the person lives. Public and private programs to aid disabled individuals are found in every major town and city. Food and shelter are always provided, and sometimes disabled persons are placed with a type of foster family. Danes pursue common interests in leisure, sports, and politics. Associations are essentially nongovernmental, originating in the late nineteenth century, when farmers and workers formed interest groups.
Today Denmark has one of the highest proportions of association membership in the world. More than 90 percent of the population belongs to an organization, and more than 73 percent of the people have multiple memberships in more than three hundred thousand organizations. Organizations and associations play three important roles. First, they have been able to develop common interests and identities among different groups of people. Second, practical improvements in the form of production, increases in salary, and membership discounts have been achieved.
Third, organizations participate in the political struggle for the distribution of values and goods in society. Division of Labor by Gender. Denmark has the highest percentage of women in the labor market in Europe, with close to 80 percent of women being employed. Since the s, the country has had a public policy of equality of men and women in regard to wages and working conditions, yet men are more likely to get top positions and in general earn higher wages than women.
Persistent beliefs associate women with the family and men with work. These practices are enforced by employers who encourage single women and married men to pursue careers. The Relative Status of Women and Men. Since there have been women in the government, and the representation of women in politics has grown significantly. Today nine of twenty ministers are women. However, state ministers have always been men.
The Equal Status Council was founded in and closed in , when a new equal status law was issued. Individuals are free to choose their marriage partners. Many people cohabit at a young age. Polygyny and polyandry are not allowed, and it is forbidden to marry close family and kin members. Since the late s, homosexuals have had the right to register their partnerships with the local city council. People marry for love, but convenience and economic gains may be equally important. Parents who are not married may wed to give legal security to their children in case of sudden or accidental death.
Forty percent of the adult population is married, 45 percent is unmarried, 7 percent is divorced, and 7 percent is widowed. Divorce typically involves separation followed by a legal procedure. Domestic Unit. The ideal household unit consists of a married couple and their children who are below age twenty. However, more than 50 percent of households have only one adult single, divorced with children, or widowed. Extended families living together are rare.
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Young people usually leave the parental home in their late teens. Previously children stayed in the same town or municipality as their parents, but today families are dispersed across the country. Some people choose to live in shared houses on the basis of similarities in age or ideology or for practical purposes such as ecological farming.
A number of collective forms of housing for the elderly have emerged. For many centuries, men and women have had equal inheritance rights. If one member of a couple dies, the other partner inherits all the possessions of the deceased. If both partners die, their children inherit equal shares of their possessions. There are also special circumstances such as wills, separate estates, joint property, and divided or undivided possession of an estate.
Traditionally, the oldest son inherited the farm or the position as head of the family company after the death of the father. However, the son in this case has to compensate his mother and siblings economically. This tradition extends to the royal family, where the title of king traditionally has been passed from father to oldest son. Because King Frederik IX had no sons, the constitution was changed in to make it legal for his oldest daughter to inherit the throne.
Kin Groups. Family relations are traced back equally both matrilineally and patrilineally, and active kin groups often extend to the great-grandparents. Infant Care. Three to six months of maternal leave is a legal right, but the mother may share the last three months of that leave with the father. Infants generally are breast-fed until the end of the period of maternal leave. Traditionally, the mother was the primary caregiver, but recently the father and other family members have been recognized as equally important in raising infants.
Because Denmark has one of the highest rates of women in the labor market, most infants above six months of age spend the mother's working hours in public nurseries or private child care. Some Danes, such as these hunters near Alborg, enjoy outdoor leisure activities.
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Infant care has been much debated, resulting in great variations in regard to ideas about how much an infant should be carried around, whether it should sleep alone or with the parents, whether parents should attend to a baby every time it cries, and how to manage infants who cry during the night. The overall tendency is that younger parents recognize the individual rights and needs of an infant more than older people do.
Child Rearing and Education. Most children enter kindergarten at age three, and many continue school attendance until their early teens. In , more than 80 percent of three- to six-year-olds attended some kind of day care institution. The pedagogy practiced in nursery schools, kindergartens, and after-school centers is not research-based but is informed by changing ideologies of what children are like and what they need.
An ideology of "self-management" is practiced in many institutions, leaving it up to the children to decide what they want to do and how, where, and when to do it. In the ideal family, the mother and father share authority, including their children in decision making.
In pedagogical circles, the term "negotiation-families" is used to illustrate this situation. Most children are materially well taken care of, with nourishing food, regular supplies of new clothes and toys, and a private room in the family house. Some people argue that working parents compensate for their absence by giving their children toys, videos, and computers. Higher Education. In , , students were enrolled in those institutions: 93, women and 74, men. All children in Denmark are obligated to complete nine years of school, either at private or public institutions.
After they have fulfilled that requirement, 50 percent of the students choose a trade by entering vocational training, which includes an apprenticeship and formal schooling. Thirty percent select a one- to three-year college training program, which prepares them for teaching, nursing, or other professional occupations. The remaining 20 percent enter university. Nearly two-thirds of graduating students apply for university, but the majority are not admitted; those who are turned down either reapply the next year or select one of the vocational or college options.
Admission has become increasingly competitive, based on grade point averages. All higher education is free of charge. Crowds of tourists and Copenhagen residents mingle along the Stroget, a mile-long pedestrian street along the harbor. Privacy is a primary value in Danish etiquette. One is not supposed to invite oneself into another person's house or look into other people's land, property, and salary. Danes show few emotions publicly, as the open expression of feelings is considered a sign of weakness. Unless provoked, Danes avoid getting into an argument, and they dislike being interrupted during a conversation.
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Informality is considered a virtue. However, informality in social interaction makes it difficult to enter new social circles. At dinner parties, meetings, and conferences, there are no formal introductions, leaving it up to people to initiate interaction. Religious Beliefs. Religious freedom is consonant with international standards on the right to freedom of religion.
Eighty-six percent of the population belongs to the Evangelical Lutheran Church, which has for centuries been supported by the state and is considered the national church. Other world religions represented in the country are Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, the Baha'i faith, and Sikhism. Recently, religious groups celebrating old Viking gods have emerged.
Religious Practitioners. The majority religion is Christianity, and at birth all Danes are considered to belong to the national church, with an obligation to pay church taxes as part of the income tax. Since the fifteenth century priests have been educated in a university, and ministers in the national church are officials under the Minister of Ecclesiastical Affairs. The official duties of religious leaders include performing church ceremonies for local members of the national church and keeping a register of births, marriages, and deaths.
Many religious practitioners participate in worldly affairs as social workers or advocate for the underprivileged in public debates. Rituals and Holy Places. Churches are situated within and outside villages, towns, and cities and are surrounded by churchyards with cemeteries. In a Lutheran service, there is a minister, a cantor, a servant, and an organist. Members attend ritual events such as baptisms, confirmations, wedding ceremonies, and funerals and major religious events such as Christmas and Easter. Only a minority of people attend services regularly, and on weekdays churches are virtually empty.
Death and the Afterlife. Danes are not great believers in God; therefore, practices concerning death, the deceased, funerals, and the afterlife are handled in a rational and practical manner. Dead persons are buried in coffins on the grounds of a church or are cremated and have their ashes buried in the graveyard. Graves are decorated with a gravestone with the deceased's name, dates, and greetings and are surrounded by greenery and flowers.
After twenty years the grave is neglected unless family members pay for its care. Generally, religious practitioners are available to support the surviving relatives and talk about life, death, and the afterlife.
Danish-Estonian cultural relations
Neoreligious communities have emerged in which people are guided to the other side to communicate with deceased family members and kin. Since , a tax-financed health care system has provided free access to health care throughout the life span within a national system. Treatment for inclusion in this system must adhere to theories and practices based on the sciences of medicine and psychology utilized by organized practitioners trained at accredited colleges and universities.
Most children are born in hospitals. Health visitors give families support for infant care and development. All children are offered an extensive vaccination program and medical examinations on a regular basis at least once a year until they leave school. Fee-for-service health care is available from alternative practitioners and private hospitals.
Alternative medicines such as homeopathy, reflexology, acupuncture, massage, diet therapy, and healing have been popular since the s. Alternative explanatory models adhere to notions of holism and energy as important factors in disease and healing, aiming at indirect disease elimination. Alternative medicines have been well received by the population, with 20 percent of the population seeking alternative treatments in the s and more than 30 percent in the s.
In the s, a number of private hospitals offering orthodox medical services and staffed with medical doctors, nurses, and other biomedical professions were established. Limited resources for national health care that caused long waiting lists led to the establishment of private hospitals offering treatments such as hip surgery and bypass operations. Medical professionals increasingly stress the individual's responsibility for health through changes in lifestyle and personal habits.
Smoking, alcohol abuse, poor dietary patterns, and lack of physical exercise are considered the main causes of disease. In surveys of lay perceptions of health and disease, the focus has been on notions of the importance of varied eating patterns, fresh air, regular exercise, a positive mood, and good social relations. Among the traditional secular celebrations is "Shrovetide" fastelavn , which is held in February and features children dressed in fancy costumes going from house to house singing songs and begging for money, candy, or even buns.
The Danish lifestyle
The "1st of May Celebrations" were originally intended to celebrate the formation of workers' unions, but they have evolved into public parties with demonstrations, speeches, music, and drinking. Besides these national celebrations, farmers and other rural residents regularly hold harvest parties in August and September to celebrate crops that have been brought in from the fields. Support for the Arts. Artists may join a union from which they receive insurance against unemployment. In this system of employment security, artists must produce input in the form of work, and many artists take menial jobs to maintain their union status.
During their training, artists may receive subsidies through the State Education Grant and Loan scheme. A few artists are awarded a civil list pension on the basis of merit and talent. A few excellent artists are fully self-supporting. Danish literature was initiated by the historian Saxo Grammaticus, who wrote about Danish history up to the end of the twelfth century, including Scandinavian mythology, with its traditional stories of gods and legendary heroes. Since that time, Denmark has had a long history of poetry and literature, with Hans Christian Andersen and Karen Blixen Isak Dinesen being among the most famous writers.
Graphic Arts. There is an extended culture of painting, sculpture, textiles, and pottery. Those subjects are part of the school curriculum and are taught in leisure time courses. Many of the islands are known for their artifacts. Bornholm produces pottery, sculpture, and glass. Artifacts are exhibited at museums and art exhibitions attended by school children, university students, and tourists. Professional artists known outside Denmark include the sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen — and the contemporary painter Per Kirkeby.
Performance Arts. Music and dance from Europe have been dominant, but genres from Africa and South America have become popular. Conservatories are for those with special talents and ambitions, while many other schools are open to a wider range of people. Danish cinema has been awarded many international prizes.
University life dates back to the fifteenth century, with theology, medicine, and law as the first areas of study. The terminal degree was for centuries the magistergraden , which was between a master's and a doctoral degree. Recently this degree has been replaced by the kandidatgraden , which is equivalent to a master's degree. Theology was the first social science degree awarded.
Major social sciences today are economics, political science, anthropology, and sociology. The physical sciences are well established. The Technical University of Denmark was founded in and today is a leading international institution, training construction, chemical, computer, and mechanical engineers. However, young Danes tend to choose humanistic or social science studies over the natural sciences. Universities are public and are run by the state, as are the Ministry of Research and a number of research councils that fund basic and applied research.
Much technical research is applied, supported by public and private authorities, and much natural science research is funded by private companies and foundations. The Danish Technological Institute and the Academy for Technical Sciences are important in technology and information services.
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