I didn’t know that much about Denmark before I arrived here. I still don’t know that much, but as a belated intro to my life here in Copenhagen, I’ll share what little knowledge I do have.
Firstly and most importantly: recent studies have rated Denmark as the happiest country in the world. Maybe everybody’s so happy because they all know each other – this country has the general size and population of Maryland. And it has a queen. Which is pretty cool. Some DIS students went to the Royal Ballet last week and she was there, so the dancers bowed twice – first to the queen and then to the audience.
Happiness doesn’t necessarily translate to friendliness though, because (unlike Wofford) people don’t greet each other on the street or even say “excuse me” when they bustle by and knock your shoulder. The word for ‘please’ doesn’t exist in the Danish language. There are polite ways to order food and ask for favors, but the Danes simply don’t use one of the two magic words. Not to say that Danes aren’t nice – I’ve found that, overall, they’re a rather welcoming and fun group.
I’ve heard that these behaviors stem from the Protestant, socialist core of Danish society – which, above all, favors equality and rejects any form of hierarchy. Including calling bosses/professors/the queen/the janitor by anything else but their first name. (*don’t say ma’am don’t say ma’am don’t say ma’am don’t say ma’am*)
I’ve also been told that it’s hard to become Danish citizen, mostly because the benefits are so great (or not, I guess, depending on how you look at it). Citizens pay 60%ish of their income to the government. That chunck of change is counterbalanced by some serious government programs – including “free” health care and a fully funded education, even at the university level. I don’t know enough about the system yet to comment on its worth/success/efficiency, but I do think it’s more complex than it sounds. As a quick example: abortions are legal and therefore funded by taxpayer money. Food for thought.
In Denmark, there exists such a thing as “The Extremely Intense Hour Of The Copenhagen Bike Lane During Which No American Should Attempt to Bike”, commonly referred to as rush hour. The streets of this city are positively brimming with bikes. There might be more bikes than people. In fact, there might be more bikes than people and dogs and pigeons combined.
(^^No, that’s probably not true, but still.)
Denmark, called the Hat of Europe by its friends, is exclusively populated by blonde, blue-eyed people. That’s not racist. That’s an actual scientific fact. The Danes are planners, by nature, and are rumored to be born with an agenda book in one hand and a clock in the other. (Unlike the Spaniards, who just get me and the whole 15-minute-grace-window thing.)
Very Danish foods include meatballs, open-faced fancy sandwiches, hot dogs, and elder blossom juice. The aforementioned food is most expensive where I live: in Center City, the very heart of Denmark’s capital. Interestingly, Copenhagen was planned using a “finger method”. If you flip your right hand over, and hold it palm up, you’ve got the city [in the palm of your hand!!]. I live at the base of the palm – where the thumb bone meets the wrist bone (ahhhh haven’t taken anatomy).
SO. Anyway. I hope that was helpful description of Copenhagen. It’s very different from Granada, and I’m still learning the ins and outs of life in the city. I get a little less lost now that I’ve been here for a month (AHHHHHHH how has it been a month?!). But there’s still work to do – I’m drumming up the courage to order food in Danish, and I’m on the prowl for a run-in with the queen. I’ll keep you posted.