The other day I gave a friend a hug when I arrived at their house and then proceeded to do so when I left. The first hug was welcomed, the second was also welcomed but I could tell they thought it slightly odd that I wanted to hug so much. And then it hit me – we don’t double hug in NZ.
I actually feel like Barney the dinosaur half the time in NZ. After four years of hugging on arrival and departure in any social situation, it feels abnormal and almost rejecting not to hug someone both when you greet them and leave them.
The great thing about a hug is that it takes out any weirdness there may be in what stage of a greeting you are with a person. The rule in Denmark is if you’ve meet them a couple of times, just always go in for a hug. Here I feel so confused as to how to say goodbye to a person without hugging them. And especially men – some are so uncomfortable with it that I get this floppy flounder hug.
Despite the hugging, I forgot how friendly and welcoming kiwi’s are – especially in a new city. I moved to Auckland about two months ago and every weekend I seem to have an invite to something with someone. That’s what I’ve missed – being able to connect with people’s easily despite having not known them very long. I love you Danes but geez you’re hard work to get to know sometimes.
And after living in a fridge for years, I feel like it’s taken six months for me to actually thaw out. I put on a winter coat for the first time today and I thought “yes, I think I can handle winter now”. But I seriously think those severe winters took their toll on me. I feel my mood physically change now when it’s grey and rainy for too long. It seems after many harsh winters I’ve lost my stamina for getting through those tough weather days.
But you want to know what else makes my physically cringe? The state of people’s homes here. Oh. My. Gosh. It’s not that they’re terrible, but the interiors and how people chose to decorate and store their things makes me want to cry on the inside. Denmark has it going in when it comes to minimalistic, aesthetically pleasing homes where things are actually stored away.
Firstly, why do people leave so many things out on the bench here. There are cupboards for a reason. Secondly, crazy bright curtains, 1990’s oak furniture and huge oriental rugs have a place in the world… but it’s not your home.
Further to that point, after living in a land of meticulous cleaners, it’s true what they say that kiwi’s don’t notice mess as much as Europeans. People here miss the small things like cobwebs in the corners of rooms, or stains on the top of the rubbish bins. In all honesty, I sound pedantic now, but four years ago when I had to clean a Dane’s house they were abhorred by my lack of attention to details.
Now I distinctly remember leaving Denmark and one of my legitimate worries was if I would be attracted to Kiwi guys again. The truth is yes… but it’s more few and far between. I used to complain about the lack of ‘Bear Grylls’ types in Denmark but when people such as Adam (above) show up on Tinder, I think I spoke too soon.
And while I did consider a ‘dating the Kiwi’s’ column, it just wouldn’t have the same impact as Dating the Danes. The other night some friends and I were talking about some funny dates we’d been on and one guy mentioned something about how a girl wanted to split the bill and he was like “agh this is weird”. So when I said I once paid for a Danish guy’s dinner he was like “oh no we’re talking about dating” and I was like “yea so am I”.
What also surprises me is how traditional people are here. I guess I always knew this, but I thought I may have just been slightly exaggerating it for the column. However a girl I met the other day was legitimately wondering if it was okay if she asked a guy out (instead of him asking). I felt like asking her if we were in an episode of Pride and Prejudice.
It’s funny because I was totally in a state of being prepared for an awful case of reverse culture shock but I’ve actually experienced the reverse. A huge appreciation for the country I’m from and a culture I truly love. There are elements of Denmark I miss and always will and it’s easy to underestimate how easy life is in a culture you understand.
And as much as I try and not be the girl who starts sentences with “ When I was in Denmark…” I totally am. But it’s not at all for bragging rights, it’s more for the fact that I find the depth to which culture influences you fascinating. Plus, it’s hard not to chat about your second home that you’ve been in for four years.
And that’s exactly what it is – a second home – and it always will be.
Oh and did I mention that I came home to meet my new niece? The new love of my life.