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Building bridges beyond stereotypes

Photograph: iStock

Text: Zachary Marx

Moving abroad can be a difficult process for anyone, regardless of education or experience. Tine Jørgensen, founder of the Facebook group Beyond Stereotypes: Danes & Internationals, experienced these challenges first hand, and from an early age.

Jørgensen, along with her parents, moved away from their daily comforts of Danish life when she was 12. This was not a relatively simple move across the border to Germany or Sweden, but to Kenya first, and then India. She also lived in England and Tanzania as an adult.

This is all to say that she understands the difficulties of living life and making connections as an expat better than most. This understanding is one of the reasons why she founded the Facebook group.

“The point of the group is to bridge the gap between Danes and internationals,” Jørgensen explained. "So, the idea is to do something constructive.”

Jørgensen, through her own acquaintances and friendships – including those she made through Beyond Stereotypes – sees how Denmark can be an especially difficult place to settle down. She’s seen how difficult it is for foreigners to make Danish friends and to navigate Danish bureaucracy.

She hopes that the Facebook group will help both Danes and foreigners alike make new and meaningful connections. Moreover, she hopes the group can be a platform for sharing helpful information about life in Denmark.

“At the moment, our challenge is to create better ways for people to meet up or make acquaintances,” Jørgensen continued. “Our ambition isn’t necessarily to grow. Our focus isn’t on quantity but on quality. We want to make the group as good as it can be. I think what we’ve especially succeeded with –in my opinion, anyway – is to create an open and heart-based environment.”

Jørgensen stressed that the group is equally useful for Danes as it is for expats. She understands that even as a Dane with international experience, she learns and grows from these interactions.

“One of the things about getting to know people from other countries is it inspires you, it makes you think about yourself and your own background. And yeah, we all have something to contribute, which is a wonderful thing.”

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