After a month and a half in Denmark, spending the majority of my time commuting between the suburb of Helsingor, where I live, into the city of Copenhagen, where I attend classes, I’ve picked up on a few key characteristics that make Copenhagen, and the Danes, different from Berkeley and unique in its own right. It’s a country that prides itself on welfare benefits, public transportation and bicycles. Danes possess the uncanny ability to be content with their lot, something it seems many of us could learn from. Of course, Danes also have their own little quirks, such as only wearing black and not talking or looking at anyone on the trains, buses or metros.
Here are some more observations on just a few of the things that make Danes unique.
1. The Danes eat hot dogs and pastries all the time, yet very few people are overweight.
2. Jaywalking is the equivalent of treason. The best way to stand out as a foreigner is to jaywalk, so you just don’t do it.
3. The Danish royal family is the most laid-back royal family of modern times. They are held to the same standards as normal Danes, and are looked at unfavorably by their people if they do something other Danes aren’t allowed to do.
4. Most people in Denmark are vitamin D deficient. This is because it is so dark and gray in the winter, and no one gets the appropriate amount of sunshine.
5. There are more bicycles on the city streets than cars, which is why you’ll be more scared about being run over by a bike than a car during rush hour.
6. Danish parents leave their babies in strollers outside of cafes while they go inside to eat. They don’t seem at all worried about their baby’s safety, because they don’t need to be.
7. The sun rises and sets while you are in class.
8. Nearly everyone speaks impeccable English, so the real culture shock comes from traveling outside of Denmark and realizing I don’t know any other language.
9. Sarah Palin might have seen Alaska from her backyard, but I see Sweden on my morning commute. It takes less time, and is cheaper, to take the ferry into Sweden than it is for me to commute the 50 minutes from where I live in Helsingor into Copenhagen for classes every day.
10. Coffee is ridiculously expensive in Denmark. It averages between $4-6 a cup, and can be as much as $7 or $8 at some places.
Image source: City Clock Magazine
Contact Rachel Feder at [email protected].