Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Thoughts on Denmark

Now is the time!!! I had an overwhelmingly high demand for this post to appear here., over one person wanted me to write about this topic. Today i'll share my thoughts on Denmark - the good, the bad and whatever is on my mind. 

The holiday spirit is still here with me even tho i'm back to my mundane living in chilly Denmark and again having to do work for uni. So where do i start from .... First of all i should mention that i come from a more warm blooded country , so the first and most evident gripe i have about this country is it's weather. For mid-May having the temperature stay at 10-15 degrees for me is way out of the ordinary. This is something you get used to , but you don't get used to all the rain. Rain, rain , rain and then some. It was especially bad during the autumn where it was raining all day. If i remember correctly we had a sunny day once or twice for all of November. 

Another thing i don't like is the people here. I don't know if it's the culture, the way of thinking , but Danes are very, very cold people. Don't get me wrong here, if you ask them something or need something they'll most probably go out of their way to help you. So they are polite , but even when you have to work with them they keep to themselves, stay in their own danish groups and are generally not very communicative. In shops you'll see the cashiers smiling and on the street if you meet somebodies glance they could smile at you. Tho they are almost scared of foreigners, they don't like us and it shows. Also after 8 pm especially on a work day you cannot see almost anyone on the streets, it's deserted. I have been told tho that this is more like a central, northern European thing and not exclusive to Denmark. If they're not students they also rarely go out on weekend nights. Biggest problem i have tho is that it's extremely expensive. It's probably 2 times, or more, more expensive then from my country. It's ridiculous, in the UK it was cheaper for me if i should make a comparison.Also a person from Germany who came here also confirmed it's way more expensive. 

On the other side of things is that in Denmark people pay very high taxes which go to good use. Like my university is free for me as an EU resident. Also very good thing is that they have free medical care and everything seems to be quite clean and organized. Another thing i enjoy, most of the times, is the very relaxed way of living. People here are never in a hurry and this makes for an almost sleepy environment. A big thumbs up also from me is that Denmark is one of the most accepting countries in the world for gay rights. Here you can legally have a same sec marriage, if you want to adopt you have the same rights as a straight couple. Also there are lots and lots of beautiful blond people here, tho it's sad they are very nationalistic and from what i've heard they seldom date people from other countries. Also i like the fashion of saggers here and how they sag low :P .I give them high praise also for their dedication to a green future. I also like that most people speak English and a lot of them have a good level of it. 

I find weird their closed off market. No i don't say there is anything bad in selling danish goods for cheaper than the comparable foreign goods- they boost their own economy. What strikes me weird is that many brands that i was accustomed to see are missing from the danish supermarket. For example you cannot find Becks (beer), or Milka (chocolate), or Head & Shoulders (shampoo) , or Blend-a-med (toothpaste) and many more little examples like this.  It's also funny how they can easily pay for overpriced goods , but if they bring the price of coffee at uni by 1 or 2 krone you'll be hearing about it a lot :P.

Ok this is all i can think of now cuz this post took me around an hour and a half and i don't want to think any longer. I'd love to hear your input. Would be really interesting to hear from Daniel , as a fellow also living in Scandinavia, and Lunario, to see if there are that big differences in culture between 2 neighboring countries. Everyone else's point of view would also be really interesting for me aswell. 

See ya. Until we meet again. :) 


  1. Daniel that's a very interesting post - being from Australia I found it interesting to read about brand names Becks and Milka are the only ones I recognise and even they are specialist imported brands here.
    I had the pleasure of visiting Sweden a number of years ago and found a lot of similarities to how you describe Denmark.
    The main thing I would like to get here is rain - maybe not as much as you describe.
    We came out of a major drought a bit under 2 years ago and it wasn't pleasant - use to dream about rain.
    Any way this is a very interesting post - I always enjoy learning about other countries and cultures.
    Regards Stef

  2. It sounds like fear of outsiders has become more common across northern Europe. The number of people who have come from both within and outside the EU over the last few years has made the locals feel a little threatened by groups who are visibly different. Even in immigrant societies like the US, Canada and Australia people are less tolerant these days. It's sad, really.

  3. Thanks for sharing your impressions on Denmark as a foreigner.

    In comparison to Germany, I would say that your description of the Danish is consistent with the Germans, in general. Most people stick to themselves and their circle of friends.
    I don't have any real-life experiences from other countries, but as far as I know it's very different Southern Europe and most parts of America. I don't know how it is in Africa or Asia though. That would be very interesting to know, IMO.

    However I don't think that the Danish don't like foreigners. Many people think that about Germany as well, but compatriots who don't know each other treat each other just the same.

    The streets in German cities are pretty empty after 8 PM, too, except for restaurants, theatres and the like (and partying teens at certain places, of course). Again, it would be interesting to know what it's like in other regions of the world. At least from South America and the Mediterrannean countries I know that people there are out on the streets much later than 8 PM.

    Your description of the progressive characteristics of Scandinavia (not only Denmark) is what I like very much about those countries. They have a very good education system that doesn't require tuition fees or any other means that hamper people from climbing the social ladder. The economy is more aimed at sustainability and ecologic precautions than those of other Western countries (including Germany, although Germany is still way more sustained and "green" than most other European countries or the US, for example).

    I still wonder why your high taxes work so fine. In most other Western countries, people would be too scared of losing their freedoms or privileges. Scandinaviac countries proove that high taxes can be to the benefit of their societies, which is very respectable, in my view.

    Most goods in Germany are certainly cheaper than in Scandinavian countries. The same goes for Switzerland, which is also quite expensive in comparison to the adjacent countries. Maybe it also has to do with the currency? I don't know.

  4. @ southern - First i must say that i'm jealous of you for living in Australia, it's kind of a dream for me to live there. Melbourne ftw! As for the rain the thing i described was for one month , but it still rains quite a lot during the year. It's interesting how in some regions of the world people are totally fed up with rain and in some people couldn't crave for it more.

    @Billy I could understand why they could be stand off-ish , but when it's more like fear i cannot understand. Also aside from the different language i don't really look that different , but when they hear English you just can see a barrier coming down. If not anything else i'm making a small boost to their economy with money from abroad.

    @ Lunario It's not only my opinion that Danes don't like foreigners. I guess you have to be here to see it, it's probably a special trait of Scandinavians or Danes.
    For the 8pm empty streets i've been talking with friends from back home and we've joked that at 8 we're just getting ready to go out (no matter work day or not). Also here discos work only friday , saturday and a bar that could work on a thursday , but back home they work every night and if you know where to go those places would be full. I guess we southern europeans are a bit more lively :P .

    All in all there are many good things to Denmark but i don't think i'd stay here for my masters degree. :P

    Thanks for all the comments guys , you rock !!!