I hate having to make big decisions, but after five glorious years of living in Copenhagen, I have hit a brick wall. So this could be my penultimate column, as I am thinking of heading back to London. Then I might finally be able to answer my own question: Can a foreigner ever become a Dane? Maybe, but not in my case!
In the end, it is my lack of Danish language skills that has become my brick wall. In my self-defence, being a news journalist, words are my only currency, but I have finally woken up to this reality – I will never be fluent enough to interview Villy Søvndal in Danish without making a fool of myself. (Even though the Danes have excellent English skills, there aren’t that many outlets here for people like me, so thank goodness for The Copenhagen Post.)
So unless I want to rethink my career, it could be the language that gets me in the end! Yet Copenhagen has treated me so well, and even though this city is currently a horrible building site littered with trash, it’s a wonderful place to live.
The fact that I can walk the streets any time of day or night without the fear of being mugged, or I can get on my bike and go to the sea, makes for a relaxing and calm life. Even though I am now certain Danish society has a drinking problem, hanging out with the Danes has also been a life-changing experience, especially on the sexual liberation front. I am convinced this is one of the most metrosexual cities in the Western Hemisphere!
The idea of returning to London fills me with mixed emotions. On the work front, the possibilities will be much more forthcoming, though from a lifestyle point of view, it really will be back to the rat race. I will also have to confront and deal again with a society based on the haves and the have-nots: the continuing homeless problem, the obsession with Posh Spice, and all the other crazy people in desperate need of mental help. Oh, and the chance of being mugged or stabbed for my iPhone!
Of course Copenhagen is not flawless, but compared to London it’s pure heaven. Here there is little of the suspicious ambience that London thrives on: the jealousy, resentment, greed, conspicuous wealth and consumption. And, as yet, socialism is not seen as a dirty word here.
I know what you’re thinking: I am being totally daft trying to compare these two cities. One is a gold-fish bowl, the other a metropolis. Yet the quality of life here is fantastic – something to be envied – and I don’t see the same aggression between the Danes like there is between the Brits. You still have some kind of respect for each other, which in today’s cruel and violent world is pretty amazing. London could definitely pick up a few tips from this city.
I also love the fact that you naively think you’re the best in the world, which obviously as a foreigner makes me sometimes giggle at your self-righteousness and self-delusional behaviour, but hey, nobody’s perfect!
So should I stay or should I go now? Well I guess my next article will let you know how my story ends.