Independent University Newspaper
Copenhagen Business School

Popular searches:

Independent University Newspaper

Copenhagen Business School

How Danes taught me to listen

Attentive listening was never really my forté, as anyone who knows me would agree. I tend to talk too much and listen too little. Denmark and Danes changed this for me once and for all.

When I first stepped foot in Denmark, there was an obvious culture shock and a big part of it was the language. Yes, you can literally go anywhere in Denmark and speak to practically everyone in English and they will understand you and help you out if need be. However, when you are walking down streets you’ve never seen and immersing yourself in a new way of being and living, Danish plays a huge role.

It was a language I couldn’t speak, understand or even make out what they were trying to say. I couldn’t make jokes; I couldn’t express myself and I couldn’t articulate my feelings. It felt like I had duct tape on my mouth at all times. It may seem normal to experience this if you don’t speak the language of the country you are entering.

But I have a burning passion for languages, and I wanted to learn to at least understand parts of it so that I could unravel another part of Danish culture.

I didn’t go down the traditional language learning path at first. I decided to take solitary walks in the park, sit on the benches and just listen. Listen to all the people walking by, trying to make out what they were talking about. Listening and trying to make connections with any of the other languages I was familiar with

Words on billboards started to make sense

At the end of this exercise, don’t expect to be fluent. Not even close. But because you are looking for talking patterns you soon start to find them: parasite words, the tempo of speaking, melody of the language, which parts of the sentence are accentuated, how people change their voices depending on the mood of the story they are telling, etc.

Attentive listening then became a habit that was easy to maintain. Listening paired with Danish courses unravelled a whole new Denmark I was previously unaware of. Like, for example, I started to better understand Danish traditions when I heard their explanation in Danish, I understood some jokes and I started to understand the Danish work environment better.

Words on billboards started to make sense, ads in the streets would speak to me and I finally understood what the bus driver was saying and why we needed to leave the bus (which can be extremely helpful if it is changing directions :D)

I felt at home.

For me, learning bits and pieces of Danish was what put frames on the portraits in the national museum, what gave the old Viking ships I saw in Roskilde their colours and what gave monuments their historical meaning. I was like a painter discovering a whole new palette of colours that I was previously unaware of.

But language is not of the essence. It is (truly) listening. And this simple lesson was taught to me by an elderly lady I met on a bus. She started talking to me, but she could tell that I was struggling with Danish and having a hard time holding a conversation. I felt embarrassed about not being able to understand and speak the language of the country I was living in. She just looked at me, held my hand for a second and just continued telling her story as if she didn’t see the language barrier between us. Then I understood and I felt understood. I smiled and I just listened until her stop came, and we parted ways. Then and there I felt integrated, welcomed and accepted.

I felt at home.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

How Danes taught me to listenby

  • News

    Staff layoffs: What happens if you’re fired

    The clock is ticking. On Thursday morning (5 October), CBS employees will know if they are up for dismissal or not. But what will happen on the day? What emotional stages are you likely to encounter? And who will be there to pick you up when you are feeling the blow of being laid off? CBS WIRE has talked to HR and the consulting agency Actief Hartmanns to provide you with answers.

  • News

    Network, network, network – CBS graduates advise on getting your first job

    There are many approaches to finding your first job. Three recent CBS graduates talk about how they landed theirs. Their approaches were quite different, yet they all highlight networking as a key element.

  • News

    A-Z of the dismissals

    In these final days of September, the fate of a number of CBS employees is being decided. The final amount of money saved on salaries via voluntary severance agreements (aka redundancy packages, Ed.) and senior agreements will be known.  After this, the actual number of employees up for dismissal will be decided by management – and then the individuals will be selected.

  • News

    Layoffs break the crucial trust between organisation and employee

    CBS is laying off a number of employees soon, which will affect our university in different ways. When employees are fired without having done anything wrong, it shatters the trust between the organisation and employees, while also taking a toll on productivity, according to a CBS expert. Layoffs also affect the ‘survivors’, who are forced to adapt to a changed workload and the loss of cherished colleagues.

  • News

    Here to help – at the touch of a button and at Campus Desk

    Exam anxiety? Lost student card? I’ve wedged my car between a Fiat 500 and a lamp post, can you help? You never know what you’ll be asked next. But that’s just how the Campus Desk team like it. And if they can’t fix your problem, they’ll know someone who can. CBS WIRE asked the team about the whole range of topics they advice on every day.

  • Gif of the week
  • News

    CBS Quiz Time: Unraveling the success story

    A successful university environment such as CBS is often associated with academic pursuits, but campus life extends far beyond the classroom. At CBS Quiz Time, a student society motivated by creative thinking and social engagement, students join in a refreshing range of creativity, excitement, and social interaction. CBS WIRE talked to Celine Møller-Andersen to find out about the society’s vision, strategies and the factors that are driving its rapid expansion.

  • News

    Why so sudden? The CBS financial crisis explained

    Employees and union representatives have posed many questions in the wake of the 17 August announcement of a firing round. In this interview, University Director Arnold Boon explains how Senior Management has been working with the budget and a change of financial strategy since the fall of 2022, and why layoffs are now necessary.

Follow CBS students studying abroad

CBS WIRE collaborates with

Stay connected