Foreign cultures fascinate me, and my friend Dara spent her summer in Denmark studying abroad. So I asked her to share some of her experiences in Denmark and among the Danes. Enjoy.
Let me preface this post by saying that this was my first time out of the United States. I was a part of a study abroad program put together by my University for its Master’s students in the summer before their last year. That’s the main reason I picked this program for Interior Architecture. I would be spending seven weeks overseas, immersed in a culture unlike my own. Six of those weeks would be at our home base of Copenhagen, Denmark and one week was taken to do a study tour, visiting Norway and Sweden.
Being a city girl, I adjusted pretty quickly when I got over there. I became acclimated to their metro system which became my main source of transportation, along with the bus, but I loved the metro more. Since I rarely use underground transit in the city that I’m from, I took the opportunity to use this beautiful, clean and fairly new mode of transit.
Now, for those of you who are not familiar with the happiest city on Earth, a healthy portion of the population rides bikes (and by healthy, I mean 75%). There are bike lanes all throughout the city, and the bikes even come with car seats for your little ones! Unfortunately, I haven’t mastered the art of riding a bike yet, so I used public transit, which definitely made me feel more like a city/local girl.
There are two big rules when using the metro:
1) Always get to the right of the escalator.
Whether you’re going down or going up, there is always going to be someone rushing to get to their train or get to their next destination.
2) Don’t be loud.
Danes are very much a refined set of people (at least until about 10pm), and being loud will get you nowhere with them, except for some strong side eyes coming your way.
Another mode of transit that I had the pleasure of experiencing is a ferry. Copenhagen does have a canal system that you’re able to explore via the ferry or you can take the tourist route and do an actual canal tour in which you’re able to see the major sites of Copenhagen.
While I was away, I had to remind myself constantly that I was in the capital city. There are no skyscrapers over there. But there is medieval, classical architecture. That’s something that I miss the most about Denmark.
Schools, retail stores and even restaurants occupy these classic buildings, and people living right on top of them. This doesn't bother a lot of Danes because most of the stores close at around five or six because they actually want to get home to their family and friends and live their lives. I respect that so much.
One of the hardest challenges was meeting some Danes.
Danes are very reserved and can come off cold. Small talk does not exist in Denmark which is one thing America relishes in. Danes can speak English as they are taught from a very early age in school. I was able to meet a wonderful woman at the church I was attending who opened up once I told her that I was studying abroad from America. My suggestion if you want to make friends with the Danes, frequent the same coffee shop or restaurant or whatever else you like to do. You won’t find people wanting to talk to you out of the blue, say on the Metro or on the bus, but once you become familiar to someone, they’ll begin to open up.
If you want to know some more of my personal experience for my first time overseas, I made some Youtube videos you can check out here.
For something more in depth, head on over to my blog: www.brknground.wordpress.com. Check out the Breaking Ground section, and you’ll find all of the posts telling of my fears, triumphs and amazing food that was had overseas.
Eat Well & Travel Often.
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