Part I: These are the things that I STILL find ‘different’ to this Alaskan girl living in Denmark
I’m just an Alaskan girl living in Scandinavia wishing I had at least Target here or Costco or Moose’s Tooth (Alaskans can relate:)
Yeah, the struggle is definitely real when I think about all the things that I miss about my home, Alaska. Nothing compares to those mountains, the crispness of the winter air, the native people and the absolute beauty of the summer.
People that have visited Alaska have said that it was, “an experience of a lifetime.” Of course it was! And I took it all for granted. I mean, I left for Denmark and didn’t look back. Now I am still experiencing culture shock.
Well that’s not entirely true, I look back a lot. Yeah, I still miss home. That’s a constant. Especially when I see friends posting photos of fishing, hunting and picking berries. Or photos of friends at my old fav watering holes. You get it. But I am noticing now that time plays a huge role in all this. AND the very fact that I STILL don’t have a job is another HUGE factor.
Anyways, (sigh) I still find things in Denmark a bit shocking and foreign, even after TWO YEARS. Now since my list is long and this Alaskan girl tends to ramble on, I’ve broken it up into three parts. This is Part I:
Biking Everywhere – They say that there are more bikes than people here. I believe it. Denmark takes pride in their bike lanes and ‘cycling’ culture. I do it and I actually prefer it but it never ceases to surprise me to see even elderly people biking (and I mean people knocking on death’s door). Or little kids, even younger than my four-year old biking in the afternoon rush hour bike lane, holding their own. Biking is life here.
Recycling– Danes take recycling seriously. I’ve learned that you don’t throw away everything in one bag. You take that bag to the ‘Recycling center’ and you put all the shit you want to toss into the metal, plastic, glass, paper, tire, bins etc. There is a bin for everything and you put in all in the appropriate bin/area. Also, its important to note that they DO have a great recycling program for cans/plastics where you get money back for all that you bring to the ‘recycling machines.’
Work/life balance– Danes work a max of 37 hours/week. People generally tend to leave work around 3-4 to pick up kids or for other after-work-group activities. This is NOT frowned upon. In fact, its encouraged and they say it leads to more productive people. All I know is that rush hour starts around 3-ish and you watch out for heavy bike and car traffic.
Holidays– Which leads me to all the holidays. Seriously, for an atheist nation, they sure do have their share of ‘holy’ holidays. Even, non-related holidays are in abundance. I guess that’s why they need such high taxes. (insert LOL;)
Taxes– Yeah…living in a socialist country, I am still wrapping my head around the high taxes (20-50% depending on your pay grade). They call it SKAT, like the IRS but they can call it whatever they want, you still have to pay or give a kidney. Just kidding! The giving of organs is optional. Harhar.
Alcohol at 18– Yup kids can drink beer/wine and lovely spirits at 18 years old. Which is funny since I see much younger kids walking around holding beer cans. I think it’s just one of those things that are frowned upon but ‘acceptable.’
Flags– Danish people are VERY PROUD of their country. Its apparent in their rather large display of the national flag waving in front of almost every home. Even for birthdays its customary to put flags everywhere (i.e. on the cake, the walls, the yard and cars). There is even a law against putting up other countries flags. I think you have to get permission to do that. How weird.
Paying to use the toilet– Yes…I have paid to use the toilet. Initially, I was put off by this but you really get what you pay for. When I ‘paid’ I noticed that is was probably the cleanest, nicest and staffed restrooms I’ve ever seen. How efficient. Now, I make sure I have ‘penge’ (money/change) when I’m out and about in the city. May God help me if I need to go and I don’t have any money.
The bread– I’m not quite a fan of this rye bread but it is a national staple. Kind of like how chips are to Americans (I could be wrong…I’ve been away too long). Its called rugbrød. It’s a dark and dense bread that I like to call ‘gravel bread’ since it takes some time to chew. Danes love it and eat it with most meals.
Free education/healthcare– I have mixed feelings about this one. Why? Because my experience with the Danish healthcare system here was not awesome. It’s all relative though. There is free education, however, you still have to take out loans or work through school to pay for life’s necessities (housing, food, living). It’s expensive here. So ‘free’ isn’t necessarily free.
The Danish Monarchy– Yes…the Danes have a Queen and a royal family. They have a monarchy. I guess this is odd because I come from Alaska where this is unheard of. Besides, I’ve only known about the British Queen, so it seems like such a far away concept. Why have one? I think that most Danes believe that the Queen and the royal family opens doors that wouldn’t otherwise be there and their presence attracts tourists. I guess.
See Danish Culture Shock – Part II…yes, I got more intel. 😉