Clever people say that expatriation is like starting a new life: you arrive in an unknown universe, clueless about the rules; you’re puzzled with the language and/or invent your own; and you are once again prohibited from doing adult things like voting and (by your partner or a relocation company) household management. You go back in time.
Is this really what we’re looking for? Did we choose Denmark, or did we escape our previous life? And more importantly: does this experience make us like kids again – a time when people could harass us, and now they can again with reminders like “Wear your helmet” and “Take off your shoes”.
Did you feel like a four-year-old when the Danes explained to you how to use a knife and fork to eat a sandwich?
We foreigners even have our own kindergartens: welcome to the expat ghettos where everyone is supposed to play together! I know the French ghetto only, but it definitely looks like a classroom. The art is questionable and there are a lot of colours: white, red and rosé.
Is expatriation making us less responsible? I can’t deny that I’m lazy with the language, and if the police told me that something is wrong on my bike, I’d pretend to not know the regulations. I use my origins to suit my own interests.
And I’m okay with the idea of bending the rules a bit, because what’s the point of a mixed society if everyone behaves the same? I won’t steal. I won’t kill. Can I ignore the traffic light when there’s no danger? Come on, Mommy Denmark. Please. Can I have another kanelsnegl?
But seriously now. This infantisation theory is ridiculous. No kid could ever pay that level of tax. Or drink that much aquavit. And no kid would be allowed to play with candles like Danish people do. No, living in Denmark is more like entering a super-adult society.
People are honest, even when it hurts. They believe in absolute equal rights and duties. They have long talks about values and are willing to not only comply with the rules, but also to enforce the law when necessary. They’re concerned about their social image. They know only three colours: grey, light grey and dark grey.
On the other hand … why take it so seriously? And also: is it boring?
I think Danish people answer those questions while creating chaos around them. First, make kids – at least in Frederiksberg, where I happen to live. I have the (wrong) impression that every single woman is pregnant in this country (even the old, old ones). Sometimes I’m thinking: “Wow, it’s like an industry – they produce kids like they produce Lego”.
And when they’re done compensating for their extreme adulthood with toddlers, the Danes welcome people like us. To be the grown-up kids they can play with and to remember that life can be serious and silly at the same time. Well. Here we are, Mommy Denmark.