Denmark is ruining my writing skills!

An example of what walking into the Student Assistant room looks like. We love to pound on the keyboard!

Friday is typically a work day for me, which means I come to the office and sit down at a computer in a room full of student assistants and we all vigorously beat at the keyboard carrying out our various Student Assistant tasks. A lot of my tasks have to do with writing emails, which is nothing new. I think I got my first email address when I was 13 and the rest is history. Sometimes it’s crazy to think about how email is such a huge part of our lives, but that’s a topic for another blog entry, I guess. This particular entry is about the way that Denmark has corrupted my writing skills… and to be honest, I kind of like it!

Before I came to Denmark, I tweeted about my acceptance to Aarhus University and a friend of mine made a remark about how everyone can expect a lot of 🙂 in the future. Now, perhaps it was just because it was Twitter and you’re limited to a certain number of characters, but I remember thinking, “Oh funny – the email with my acceptance letter did have a smiley face in it!” And it’s not because smiley faces are weird – it’s just because I would never have thought to have used them in professional emails. And I’m sure there are numerous people who would state that they have no place there, but at the time I didn’t think much of it because who would have known it would take over my life?! Fastforward 2 years later and almost every email I send involves a smiley in some way or another. And in order to show just how much it has taken over my life, I’m not going to lie to say that I have been tempted to include smiley faces while writing an exam. Sometimes it’s just what you need in order to make the point!

I’m not sure if it has anything to do with the fact that Denmark is consistently rated as one of the happiest countries in the world or just because emails are not seen of as being so formal (or perhaps smileys are completely okay in formal emails?), but I constantly catch myself adding a smiley face to the numerous sections of emails, whether it be the greeting, numerous places in the body of the mail, or somewhere near the closing with “I hope to hear from you soon! :-)” And it doesn’t end there! Now, it’s moved on from not just smiley faces but also ;-), :-P, 😦 and whatever else there may be. Now, I wouldn’t be so alarmed if it were just the occasional urge during an exam (that I have so far successfully repressed) or in emails back and forth with colleagues I have been writing with forever; but now that I’m beginning the big giant thesis, my life has become a series of note taking and reading. And right after those notes comes a series of smileys or winks or whatever else to indicate that this idea is a good idea and this is something I should use. So far, my supervisor hasn’t mentioned anything – perhaps he just thinks that it will go away. But little does he know…. 😉

As I begin the process of perhaps moving back to the USA after graduating, I’ve come to find that the smileys I constantly add to emails and papers here in Denmark aren’t necessarily appropriate in the emails that I would send to future landlords or questions about jobs in the US. Honestly, I think it’s a bit of a shame. Why not share the happiness? It’s all about hygge anyway! Now if I can just try to bring this concept back to the US, my habit of adding smileys to everything will fit perfectly. Any US readers want to help continue this trend? 🙂

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4 thoughts on “Denmark is ruining my writing skills!

  1. haha! I’ve never heard of smilies being a cultural thing. Could it be anything to do with the Danish language and whether it’s any tougher to get across intent, and then that travelled into English correspondence in the country?

    Interesting at any rate! 😉

    1. Hmm – could be! Perhaps it’s also influenced by the fact that I work at the International Centre and you just have to be happy when dealing with so many different cultures and people. Or maybe I’ve just been lucky and have dealt with very pleasant people during my entire time here. 🙂 Regardless, I can’t help but like it! It’s actually the worst when it spills over into Facebook and every single message has some sort of emoticon attached. When it comes from both people, it’s an emoticon explosion!

  2. I didn’t know other countries didn’t overuse the smileys (smilies?)? How can they not? I mean, it’s a smiley! 😛 🙂

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