Cultural Differences Part Two

My Danish Christmas tree with real candle light

My Danish Christmas tree with real candlelight

After some years in Sweden in the nineties, I got in contact with Russian and Ukrainian families who were invited to our Church in Uppsala to attend bible school. It was entirely new for them to be able to visit a Western country. I soon understood that the children could benefit from the Danish healthcare I had from my training. I attended the families and with an interpreter tried to bring the needed help teaching and showing things and asking about their needs.

The parents longing for material things made them do incredible things like buying things and then have nothing for food or go out and just lock up the children at home.

In that way, there was a lot to talk about.

Of course, I also saw that we had a lot to learn seeing small children eat soup with big lumps of meat and vegetables in it with pleasure and not much attention to their eating.

I longed to communicate on my own as an interpreter sometimes just forgot about the deal and spoke with the family about his personal issues leaving me in an awkward situation.

 Pictures from my trip to Smolensk Russia 1992

I made a huge jump and started to study Russian at the University at Uppsala. We had many subjects, and one was phonetics and linguistics.

From my exams and homework

That leads me to ” O’ kanje “and “A’ kanje”. The art of pronouncing the vocal A more like A or more like O. In Moscow it’s regarded excellent to pronounce it like the open O and out in the country, of course, more like the closed A.

Again this brings me back to my first visit to Manchester England in 1966 where the local dialect had a distinct closed pronunciation of the vocals. ( A bit like John Lennon talked).

 

 

I longed to learn English, so I adopted this style, to the regret of my English teacher back home. I soon stopped. I suppose adapting to dialects has something to do with being musical minded I think.

Potter and Tom K

I have been there twice, and it looks like her illustrations

Betrix Potter at Top Hill

Beatrix Potter at her house in The Lake District

 

Another difference is the style of clothing or fashion even at the same time.

Moving to Sweden in 1990 I saw that the women had very silk like clothes on always shining somehow. In Denmark, we are very “down-to-earth” so that kind of clothes never sells. The same with hairstyles. In Denmark, we usually always have windy weather so we can’t make fancy hairstyles. In Sweden, the climate is a lot more stable, so you see such beautiful hairstyles everywhere.

In Denmark, you don’t see very shiny and diamond sparkling jewellery either. Nobody would like to wear them even if they could afford to buy them. In other parts of Europe, these kinds of jewellery are seen in exclusive shops.

Georg Jensen Bracelet

Georg Jensen Bracelet

If I have been tempted to buy something very different from the Danish more modest or straightforward style, I have not been able to use it at home afterwards but to fit into another country you have to adjust to living there.

The exception is that I loved the Swedish wooden houses, so we had such one built here.

A white Christmas in Denmark is a seldom sight

A white Christmas in Denmark is a seldom sight

This journey takes me shortly to Finland in the seventies. I had met a Swedish speaking Finnish nurse at our everyday work at a ward in a hospital in Copenhagen, and we became close friends.  The stern and grave-looking faces struck me, meeting her friends. I tried to laugh and make fun to see if I could soften up. I think it helped.

The heavy influence of the Soviet Union had made the impact as Finland was forced to buy worthless things like wooden or sheet metal articles for the kitchen. They, in turn, had to export their goods of better quality to the “Big Bear” in the east. Twenty years before my visit the country was worn down by the consequences of the WWII. Most of their children had been evacuated to the Sweden and Denmark, and many had died, and the lack of food was immense.

There is always a reasonable explanation for everything.

 

7 Comments »

  1. I learn from each of your blogs. I too prefer a simple style. My e-mail sometimes deletes things too fast before I have a chance to read them. It seems you are also a marathoner like my grown granddaughter. Here in our town with a mild climate, the children’s school has “tigers on the prowl” at recess. The children count their trips around the track until they complete a marathon and get a shirt. My 7-year old grand. is already on his 2nd marathon this year.
    Happy holidays, Paula

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Didn’t realize you were Danish. Love Denmark. Even took three months of Danish and visited Århus twice (once in December and again in the summer). My huge fascination though are the Skagen painters. I’m sure I lived there in another life. Not as a painter, as a housemaid.

    It’s so interesting to see the differences in style. I identify as French-American (with Hungarian heritage), and even in America the styles varied between regions. One friend’s mother was from the South and she made her thirteen-year-old daughter wear makeup and pantyhose while some of us were not allowed makeup at that age. In Hungary everything is about showing off the brand, but in a conservative way. I grew up in the ’80s and loved the New Romantics, not to mention the 1920s, so you can imagine my style. 😀

    Like

  3. Btw, what you wrote about Manchester reminded me of a childhood episode. I loved Britain when I was a kid. So one day when I was about thirteen or so we’d visited again. There was a huge line off the ferry for cars and buses, so I wandered off. Ended up meeting my pen friend, a boy my age who confirmed my life history with, “so you’re French but live in Germenai.” Took me a few beats to realize what he’d just said. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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