Danish Culture Shock Part II: Things that I STILL find ‘different’ to this Alaskan girl living in Denmark.
As you know, I’m this Alaskan girl living in Denmark. I love my Danish family but I have been shocked to say in the least. There are good, bad and downright strange things of Denmark:
Everything is expensive– This includes gas, which is about three times as much as the norm. Electricity, they say is one of the world highest to ‘encourage’ conservation. AND cars…(lort!), if you want a car here you will pay upwards of 180% of the value of the auto as registration tax. (Hence biking).
Minimum wage– Last I heard the national minimum wage was about $25/hour. Thank goodness or people and families would starve. Now if only I could get a piece of that action.
Maternity/Paternity leave– New moms are granted one year….ONE YEAR of paid maternity leave! That is amazing considering the US doesn’t support any type of leave, its dependent on how much ‘paid’ leave you have accrued (saved) to use. When it’s all used, moms have to go back to work. Denmark even has Paternity leave, FOR MEN. No words.
Nakedness– Danes don’t think anything of being naked. I found this out last summer when women were sun bathing topless and/or naked on the beach. Babies are running around naked. There’s no really stigma around it. It’s no big deal but I still look away really fast when I see some old lady swimming topless. 🙂
Store hours– Stores generally have limited hours and are closed on Sundays. So if you are thinking about getting some more rugbrød at the local 24 hr. grocery store (liken to the US), you are shit out of luck. No really, as a rule, stores close around 5-6 on weekdays and Saturdays. Sundays, forget about it. Nothing is open. I think things are changing but this is still the norm in most places.
Futbul– You either LOVE futbul (soccer) or you are shunned from society. Just kidding! Since I’m not really a fan but since my whole family is into it and you hear (just randomly on the street or cafes) about the next match or who the national team is playing against, it’s a part of life here. Actually, its huge all over Europe. The US and actually Alaska is NOT into soccer, its more about football and basketball. Personally I love hockey.
Amazon– I LOVE Amazon. But Denmark is a ‘boutique’ nation, that doesn’t have their ‘own’ Amazon. I have to order stuff from Amazon/UK or Amazon/DE (Germany). Which is a pain in the arss and time-consuming to find things. Why? Because I have to check both the UK/DE sites to see who has what, which is cheaper, decipher the language (Deutsch-German) and then check the shipping prices and then who is cheaper again. It’s a process. AND shipping anything to Denmark is expensive! Soooo, I always have to weigh the prices vs. the shipping when I order anything from either site. But, coming from America where Target and big-box-stores have everything all in one place, I’ll take Amazon because most times I can’t find what I’m looking for here or I have to go and hunt for it. No thanks. I <3 Amazon. Now get it together for the Danes.
Rich history– I’m still taken aback by the centuries old castles, churches and houses, the cobble stone streets and the documented history of Denmark. Danes really love their Viking history and it shows in how well they’ve preserved it.
Public transportation– The metro, the train and bus systems are amazingly efficient. Most people bike and take the trains as the main mode of transportation. I’ve found it most pleasant. Not unlike the bus system back home. I think I’ve only every used the bus when I had no other means. It was a last resort because it wasn’t clean, safe or dependable. But, here in DK, I’ve had nothing but good experiences, aside from the shoving;)
Lakarids– Or licorice. The Danes are gaga for it. It’s in candy, gum, drinks and ice cream. Its bitter and salty, not a combo that I like so I’m so not a fan. But it’s everywhere here and Danes dig it.
Burning the witch– This event is held on the 23rd of June and its considered a national event to celebrate Midsummer and enjoy one of the shortest nights of the year, or another reason for people to meet and drink. Its called ‘Sankt Hans Aften,’ it’s where a witch stands in effigy on top of the bonfire (think a scarcrow-like version) of a witch on top of it and they set her on fire. According to the Danish tradition, witches fly to Brocken, the highest peak in the Harz Mountains, so they light fires to keep the bad spirits away. Personally, I’d just smudge some sweet grass;)
Pigs- Did you know that pigs, a.k.a pork and bacon are a major export in Denmark? I didn’t know that until I moved to rural Denmark. Yes, in the country you don’t necessarily SEE pig farms, AT ALL. But boy you do SMELL them. It basically smells like shit. I mean this in the most literal sense. It’s especially bad when it’s about 38˚C out and there is no wind. It has burned my nostrils. And oddly, you don’t even see pigs for the most part. They are kept out of the public eye. On one hand, I feel bad for them. ON another, I love bacon.
Tending to the Garden– Danes really really and I mean REALLY care about their gardens (their yards). Seriously! You will see people raking, mowing, tending to their gardens on any given day. Especially if its nice out, they are out in full, trimming the hedges, hauling the shrubs to the ‘recycling center,’ weeding and tidying the front of their gardens. I think there is an actual ‘ordinance’ that states you have to keep your garden tidy, especially the front, facing the street/road. I could be wrong but I’ve heard of this at the summer houses. Once, I asked a lady that was about to retire what she was going to do. She got downright giddy about working on her garden full-time. I’m not into it (yet) but to each their own.
See Danish Culture Shock III…yes there’s more.