I can reply to the question about feeling foreign, but not in a national context. For me being foreign is something existential. There is so much absurdity in the world. Mass migration of refugees on the Danish roads defies logic. You are confronted with the absurdity of the world, and it evokes a kind of existential alienation.
There is something absurd in the way one perceives “hygge” as a unique Danish phenomenon which cannot be translated. As if no one else feels quite as well as us. A British journalist nails it when he points out that “hygge” is equal to consensus.
You sit around the dinner table and talk about some TV show or something else completely and utterly harmless, but if somebody dares to bring out something substantial, like someone starting a discussion about Denmark as a belligerent nation, all the “hygge” vanishes. I need space to be different, think alternatively and talk about matters which are not necessarily in consensus. Otherwise it becomes uninteresting. I am a social person, but also a restless one. The social must make sense. There is something valuable about experiencing some kind of spiritual intimacy with people you do not know. Integration depends on human interaction. When I came to Denmark in the early ‘90s, I met a friendly state but a hostile population. Today it is the other way around. The voluntary work - the fact that people meet and care about each other - ensures that the country does not collapse.
37 years / female / single / MA. in Intercultural Studies / self-employed / Copenhagen N / from Iran / came to Denmark in 1989 / applied for asylum in 1991 / residence permit in 1992