When I first landed in Denmark, a piece of advice lingered in the air: “Your colleagues are just colleagues; they’ll never be your friends.” Coming from a culture where everyone is a potential friend, the idea seemed peculiar, even alien. Back in the Philippines, the whole town could be my Facebook friend, and we’d chat on Messenger as if we’d been best friends since kindergarten.
So, when I moved to Denmark, it was like navigating uncharted waters. Can I invite my colleagues for a cozy dinner at home? Should I suggest a weekend cinema trip? The lines between professional and personal relationships felt blurred, and I was determined to infuse a bit of that Filipino warmth into the chilly Danish air.
One day, I decided to throw a party. An old Filipino tradition we call “salu-salo” – a gathering filled with laughter, good food, and a dash of karaoke.
I extended the invitation to my colleagues, eager to share a slice of my culture and bridge the gap between our worlds. The response was mixed; not everyone was immediately open to the idea. Some seemed skeptical, perhaps unsure of what to expect from this Filipino soirée.
But I persevered. I kept throwing parties, inviting colleagues old and new, hoping to break down the invisible barriers that separated us.
Slowly but surely, friendships began to blossom. We laughed together, shared stories, and discovered common ground that transcended the professional realm. It turns out, Danish and Filipino cultures, while different, weren’t so incompatible after all.
Danish Reserve Meets Filipino Warmth:
In Denmark, the culture is often described as reserved and respectful of personal space. Colleagues maintain a level of professionalism that may initially appear distant to someone accustomed to the open, familial warmth of Filipino relationships.
Yet, as the parties continued and the barriers crumbled, I discovered the warmth beneath the Danish reserve. While they might not shout their affection from the rooftops, Danes express care through small, thoughtful gestures and genuine, direct communication.
Balancing Act: Finding Common Ground:
The key, I realized, was finding a balance. Balancing the vibrant, extroverted spirit of Filipino culture with the calm, composed nature of Danish culture.
It was about appreciating the subtle warmth beneath the surface and understanding that friendship, in Denmark, often starts with a sincere, albeit reserved, nod.
As the years passed, my social circle expanded. Danish friends embraced the boisterous Filipino gatherings, and I embraced the tranquil Danish coffee meet-ups. The fusion of these two worlds created a unique tapestry of friendships that defied cultural boundaries.
So here I am, a Filipino in Denmark, breaking the stereotype that colleagues can’t be friends. In this diverse tapestry of cultures, I’ve learned that while we might express warmth differently, the desire for genuine connections and camaraderie is universal. After all, friendship knows no cultural borders.