Opinion: Coconuts vs. peaches

Interpersonal differences between Danes and Americans

“Hygge” (hoo-ga) is a Danish word and concept of spending time with the people that you love and having a good and cozy time. 

It has been an eye-opener to experience a new culture. 

— Staff Writer Agnes Sorensen

After being in Georgia for 10 months as a Danish exchange student, I feel like a part of me is American. I have learned a lot about you as a people and your country. It has been an eye-opener to experience a new culture. 

The other day I was talking to other Danes. We shared all of our thoughts. We agreed that Danes are like a coconut. We have a hard shell and it is difficult to get through small talk, but once you do we are easy to talk about anything. 

An example of Danes being coconuts is, when we have people over we spend the entire evening together. We sit down at the table and eat, pass the food to each other, and adults usually have some kind of alcohol even at a kid’s birthday. 

We are very close to the people that are close to us and practice hygge. In Denmark most families always eat dinner together. If everyone is home we might even eat breakfast and lunch together. We adjust to other family members’ schedules to spend that family time together every day just like the good stuff inside a coconut. 

In a perfect world we could take parts of each country and create one perfect country, but that is not how life works.

— Staff Write Agnes Sorensen

Danes like to talk, but mostly only if we have to. Like being in the line at the grocery store. We are kind of annoyed if the person in front of us is slow, whereas Americans engage in a conversation. 

In Georgia, people are more like peaches. People are very sweet and friendly, but once you get through that they are hard in the middle. It is not easy to talk to Americans about difficult topics such as politics, healthcare, money, and society. 

Life here is busy and people go from one thing to another. They help others and are sweet and nice just like a peach. In Georgia, they eat from a buffet and eat from a paper plate with a plastic fork while they are standing all around the house. They do not sit down to talk about deeper topics, because of their hard core of the peach.

Don’t get me wrong, I love being here. I think cultures are very interesting. There are no perfect countries. In a perfect world we could take parts of each country and create one perfect country, but that is not how life works. 

I was quite surprised when I first came. People were really nice. I know that the South is different from the North, but the friendliness made me feel very welcome as a foreigner. Y’all greet strangers like they are your best friend. I love that.

If an exchange student would tell a Dane that they are an exchange student I think that the Dane would not be as welcoming as here. People have been very nice and welcoming to me whenever I tell them that I am from Denmark. 

Cultures are fun. We all see things differently and do not really think about the fact that other countries do things differently until you are a part of it. It takes time to adjust but you gain cultural awareness. 

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