#1- Danes don’t jaywalk. You think I’m kidding, but I’ve witnessed a man in the dead of night at the intersection of a small side street and a dead end wait for the cross walk to cross the street.
#2- People really do bike everywhere in Denmark. It’s currently 30 degrees and snowy/slushy and I’ve seen plenty of bikers out on the streets today. Danes embody the idea that ‘There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing’, which is why Danes bundle up like no other and wear these snazzy rain suits when it’s wet out.
But on the positive note, I got a bike and even though I whimped out of biking in the snow, I’ve loved the days I’ve biked all those 7 km to class. It’s hard to seem obviously American when you’re biking in a throng of 20+ Danes, so it’s nice to blend in, even if only until you try and hand signal and fail miserably.
#3- Hygge is a real, beautiful thing. Even though there’s no direct translation for it, Danes will describe hygge as being wrapped up in a blanket, watching the snow out your window, surrounded by candles and comfort food and completely cozy and content. So basically it’s the ideal situation for every college student. Needless to say, I’m investing in more candles and Danish food to wait out this cold spell.
***This is where I fit in the necessary ‘I Hate Belle’ for how gorgeous it is in Bonaire right now. Well guess what, Belle, we have hygge and you better be jealous!
#4- Danes really are blonde and beautiful. Case in point: a few of my friends here join a gym up the street from our kollegium and had to take a picture for their ID card. Naturally, the first thing they do is fix their hair and check their makeup, etc, so they don’t look like a hot mess in the picture. The Dane working at the gym commented ‘I don’t know what it is about Americans, but you really hate having pictures taken’. Guess what, it’s because Danes roll out of bed as tall, blonde supermodels while we are lesser beings from across the Atlantic. But I guess that makes life interesting.
#5- Danes are very protective of their language. As an American studying in a foreign country, I want to make an effort to try and speak some Danish by the time I live here. And according to teachers/our SRAs, Danes appreciate it when you speak what little Danish you know, even as a small, sad attempt. But at the same time, you will get laughed at, glared at, and maybe even ignored when you inevitably butcher a word.
Example: At an activities fair last week, a Dane wandered in and asked me and my friends where we lived. My friend attempted to say ‘Brønshøj’ but apparently failed, because the Dane just gave her a strange look and said ‘You need to work on that’.
#6- Danes are NOT cold or rude-they’re snarky and whimsical and it’s awesome. Before coming to Denmark, I read up on culture and noticed that many sources describe the Danes as quiet and reserved and even rude. Just because Danish doesn’t have a directly translated word for ‘please’ doesn’t mean that Danes are rude. They’re more difficult to open up, sure, but I’ve met some very talkative and incredibly funny Danes since I’ve been here. Danes just aren’t naturally polite in the American sense because of their culture-here, it’s more polite and becoming to tease/taunt another person than be overly courteous to them.
So basically, Danes are like Americans-when you’re on good terms, they’re snarky and fun and sarcastic.
On an unrelated note, Danes are also practical-sometimes, when it’s cold enough to completely freeze the river that surrounds the northern edge of the city center, Danes will walk/bike across the ice to shorten their commute. Why don’t we do that in the states?
#7- There’s an abnormal number of 7-11s in Copenhagen. I have absolutely no way to explain that, but it’s a fact. They’re everywhere.
#8-Just because Denmark is a European country doesn’t make it easy to travel. Denmark is beautiful and I can’t wait to explore the rest of Copenhagen, but seeing Europe is also a priority to me. Unfortunately, because Copenhagen is an island in an awkward position compared to the mainland, taking a train is a long and tedious ride that isn’t really practical. So flying is the key mode of transportation, and because that’s expensive, it’s cut down on the places I’ll be able to go this semester-like Barcelona, Prague, and Edinburgh.
BUT that didn’t stop me from planning. In the past weekend I’ve finished booking all of my trips, and I can’t wait to start seeing the rest of Europe. The best part about my exams being later in May: I can travel and study during the main part of the semester and then, after finals are done and the weather is nicer, I can spend a solid 3 or 4 days saying good my new home of Copenhagen!
#9- Danes have INCREDIBLE stamina/endurance. I’m fairly sure I’m going to fall into a coma due to sleep deprivation by the end of this semester. Danes are not only blonde and beautiful, but they’re practically superhuman. They bike around all day every day, go to university or work, AND go out 4-5 nights a week, often until 5 AM or later. And because Danes are raised with alcohol, they can drink absurd amounts 4-5 nights a week until 5 AM and then get up and bike/study/work all day before repeating. I haven’t really tried to keep up with this part of the culture yet, but seeing as doing all of this probably involves putting on real pants and being a functional person, I doubt that it’ll happen.
#10- Copenhagen/ Denmark as a whole is BEAUTIFUL. Yes, Denmark is a lesser known European country in the North, and most Americans probably only think of Denmark as a dark, cold country with that prince in the movie ‘The Prince and Me’. News flash: Denmark has seasons! Winter is cold and dark, yes, but it’s still insanely beautiful and reminiscent of it’s rich cultural history. And once April or May comes around, the days will be about as long as in America and almost as warm as a summer in Ohio.
Don’t worry, I’ll keep the pictures coming so you know just how beautiful and unique this city is.
Hej hej! (AKA good-bye AKA one of the few Danish I can currently pronounce).