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LIVING WITH A GREAT DANE

PA R T 1

BEING AN EXPAT IS NOT THE EASIEST THING IN THE WORLD BUT BEING AN INTERNATIONAL COUPLE AND LIVING THE EXPAT LIFE IS A WHOLE DIFFERENT STORY. IT IS A LIFE FILLED WITH A MULTITUDE OF POSITIVES AS WELL AS NUMEROUS CHALLENGES. LET US TAKE A CLOSER LOOK AT LIFE WITH A DANE! PHOTOGRAPHS VISITDENMARK - NICLAS JESSEN

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THIS ARTICLE IS based on research I conducted, interviewing multiple Internationals living with Danes. It brings to light their own personal experiences and opinions. Each story is unique, and no two people or relationships are the same. However, when it comes to expat living we often see similarities or patterns that tend to reoccur. I have been married to my great Dane for 11 years now, and having a Cultural Studies background I am always curious about culture, cultural awareness, multicultural couples/families, the similarities and differences, how to navigate in this country that still has a strong grip on traditions and national culture. As a long-term resident of Denmark, I have met and talked to numerous Internationals and my curiosity runs particularly deep with those who are living with Danes. Do we experience similar challenges? If so, why? Are some cultural traits just a part of us and something we are not even aware of? Why is it there are times we are on two completely different planets? How can we make this easier? When I asked about challenges, misunderstandings and cultural differences many answers focused on communication/language, family life and culture.

TEXT KATHY BORYS SIDDIQUI

Sometimes, a small gesture or a thumbs up can turn our day around. We need to be heard and feel that we can allow ourselves to be vulnerable with our Danes. We are here in Denmark, and willing to learn and take on this new challenge but we are out of our com-fort zones. A smile, a longer answer than ‘yes’ or ‘no’, or some comforting words can make a world of difference. Being aware of, and hearing, the challenges of the nonDanish spouse/partner is vital if the relationship is to succeed. Stay tuned for Part 2, coming in the next issue. THE-INTL

KATHY BORYS SIDDIQUI FOUNDER, ACTIVE ACTION

TALK TO ME Being in a relationship requires work. Having a solid partnership is often dependent on the ability to communicate well with one another. When you add to the equation people who come from two different backgrounds, who speak different languages and often the language spoken in their homes is the 3rd language - you are bound to encounter challenges. How you say something is just as important as what you say. Delivering the message is very important and many of my interviews highlighted that the very direct, “no extra sugar” way of speaking can cause tension. Speaking in at times blunt or a curt manner is quite common in Denmark. Other cultures pay closer attention to using extra words to make their message sound gentler. In our house “the tone” is often focused on and discussed. Fluency and the ability to express ourselves in our partner’s language is important. The Internationals I interviewed expressed a wish that at times it would be helpful to feel more empathy from their loved one. Living in a country where, as an adult, you need to learn a language from scratch is tough. Many everyday tasks become very big things to us, especially in the beginning. The difficulty with tackling simple tasks in a new language is at times draining. It is as if suddenly we were taken back in time to our child-hood years when we struggled to express our needs and wants.

WE ARE HERE IN DENMARK, AND WILLING TO LEARN AND TAKE ON THIS NEW CHALLENGE BUT WE ARE OUT OF OUR COMFORT ZONES. A SMILE, A LONGER ANSWER THAN 'YES' OR 'NO', OR SOME COMFORTING WORDS CAN MAKE A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE.

Kathy was born in Poznań, Poland and has lived in four countries and on two continents. Growing up as an immigrant and a cross cultural child she was able to discover a multicultural world that shaped her into the person she is today. As an adult she experienced life as a re-pat as well as an expat and she is not a stranger to the challenges and opportunities that life abroad offers. Just when she least expected it, she met her Danish husband and once again packed her life in boxes and set off to live the happily-ever-after life in the land of the Vikings and Hygge. Over the span of 10 years she has lived on Fyn, in Jylland and currently in Nordsjælland. Kathy has a background in Cultural Studies and also a degree in American Studies. She has been able to combine her passion and profession as a Cultural Transition and Expat Spouse and Partner Specialist at Active Action. A firm believer that if you are lacking something - create it. She is the founder of two International Mom Groups in Denmark, a running enthusiast, active lifestyle advocate, wife and mom. www.activeaction.dk kbs@activeaction.dk

AUGUST 2019 - WWW.THE-INTL.COM

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Profile for the-intl