vrijdag 8 februari 2013

Join The Club, Part I

This week I gave a talk at Tech Talk Tuesday, the monthly get-together of Open Space Aarhus (osaa.dk) where people give presentations about all things nerdy. My subject: what do expats/foreigners, especially those who are not technically or nerdily inclined, have to gain from joining a hackerspace?

[For those of you who do not know what a hackerspace is, click here ]

In order to explain that, however, let me make a couple of general remarks about having a hobby.

I think it is important to have a hobby. It is good for the soul to be able to focus totally on something you do for pleasure, even if it is just two hours a week, half a day per month or whatever the frequency may be. It recharges your batteries. I remember how happy it made me to play squash on Friday night – even though I sucked big time at playing squash. Or, come to think of it, the joy of reading, even if it is just ten minutes before you go to sleep.

It also happens to be a very Danish thing, to appreciate a hobby for those reasons, I found out (the Tech Talk audience grunted their approval here :-)

Being a foreigner though, is a tiring job. It is unbelievable how exhausted you can get from digesting all the little new things that happen to you in your first year abroad. Finding a new place to live, 'nesting' there, but also finding places to shop, adjusting your eating habits to what's available in Denmark. Or power sockets. The first month here I was just baffled by the power sockets. But I digress.

Why would you, as a tired expat with so much to do, indulge some extra time in a hobby? There is another reason for that: it is to make friends. Many expats complain that it is almost impossible to make friends with Danes in the workplace. I scould say many things about this but the short story is: it is the wrong place.

I encountered the friend-problem, too, and happened to talk about this with a Danish woman. She told me the secret: Danes make friends in school, so very early on in life. Basically, the window of opportunity to make friends shuts down when they end their education.

That made me very sad.

But there is a way to sneak around that, she said. Join a club, get a hobby. You will meet Danes there, and that is where you make friends, eventually.

So the message is: Get a life, get a hobby, JOIN THE CLUB!

(read more in Part II)

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