Living overseas: how important is learning the language?

Being born in an English-speaking country has a lot of benefits. As one of the three working languages in the UN assembly, and the language of choice in most international corporations, it means that native english-speakers can virtually travel and work anywhere in the world.

Having said this, I have come to realise that if you really want to assimilate into a culture and live in non-english speaking society, you will be much better off it you at least try to learn the native language during your time there.

From what I’ve observed since arriving in Copenhagen, the danes have a very close-knit community. Perhaps speaking and spending time with those closest to you is so important because it is part of ‘hygge.’ But this also means that when you are foreign to this community and then join part way through, it can make it vey difficult to break into already established social circles.

I’m not saying that the Danes aren’t welcoming – in fact they are some of the most friendly and accepting people that I have ever met. But I can tell that it is appreciated when I at least try to speak and understand a little bit of Danish (even though I’m still pretty terrible at this stage!)

It also makes your personal experience much more enjoyable, as understanding more danish allows you to feel more at home, even if it is just the basics like being able to read the signs on the isles at the supermarket or understanding an instructor in a gym class.

I think that these comments would ring true for any non-english speaking country not just Denmark. So, if you’re thinking of moving overseas, I would strongly recommend looking at language classes you could do too. You won’t regret it!

Est. 2017 (2)

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