Like with my About Being Vegetarian post, I wanted to share the common questions I get about living in Denmark.
To begin with I am from Texas, and I moved to Denmark in August 2016. These are the most common questions I get when someone finds out I am from the US:
Do I like it here?
I get this question all time when someone finds out I am from the US, and I find the question very broad. The short answer is yes I like it here. The long answer is I like the weather since there are actual seasons unlike in Texas where it seems to be hot or raining all year. It is fun exploring the cities and visiting the castles. I live in Roskilde, and I like being able to walk to wherever I need to go whether it is the mall or the harbor or just to the grocery store. The public transportation is also easy to use and I can hop on a train and go to Copenhagen or the bus to go to a nearby city. The people are also friendly. The food is good, but I have not tried a lot of the Danish food since most of it is meat based like pålæg and leverpostej, but I have tried vegetarian alternatives. I also like going to the bakeries for freshly baked breads and pastries.
Why did I move?
My boyfriend is from Denmark and after I had our daughter in the US, he was only allowed to stay a few months on his visa, so we moved to Denmark. At first it was a bit of going back and forth from the US and Denmark (since I could only stay in Denmark for a few months too), but now I have a pending residence permit application.
Do I miss my parents?
Yes, but I went to a university that was several hours away from my parents, so I am used to not seeing them every day. I do keep in touch with my parents though, and we video chat every now and then.
Do I have a job?
I do not work here, and I do not have plans to find a job right now. I am planning on attending university to get a master’s degree, and I have submitted applications to the University of Copenhagen as well as two universities in Sweden.
Do I know any Danish? What about my daughter?
I can understand and read some Danish, but I cannot speak any. I know enough Danish to understand the gist of most conversations, unless the person is talking really fast. I can also read cookbooks (I have the largest Danish vocabulary in food), and I like to browse the newspapers since I can understand the main point. When I try to speak Danish, my pronunciation is way off, but I plan on taking Danish classes once I get my residence permit. As far as my daughter goes, she is learning both English and Danish. I talk in English to her and my boyfriend talks in Danish, and also at her daycare she is learning Danish too. For only being two, she has a good English and Danish vocabulary and she can switch languages depending on who she is talking to.
I asked on Twitter if anyone had any questions for me, and these are the questions I received:
While I was still at university, I visited my boyfriend for a month in the summer. During that month I got over any culture shock I had. First off everyone speaks a different language, so it took some time getting used to. My boyfriend was with me wherever we went so he helped with translating. Now I can get by myself since I know basic Danish, and most people can understand English too. Also, everything is measured differently here from weight (kilos), distance (meters), temperature (Celsius), and even time (24 hour clock). I just had to teach myself the metric system as well as everything else, which was not that difficult.
@spectralised asked “What were the biggest changes for you when moving from the US to here?”
Well the biggest change is that I do not live anywhere near my parents. At least when I was at university I would be able to see my parents for the holidays and during the summer. Now that I live in a different country, I have not seen my parents in over a year. The second biggest change is I do not have to drive everywhere, which is good since I do not have a car. Like I mentioned in a previous answer, I can walk to everywhere in the city and I can also use public transportation to go to Copenhagen or other nearby cities.
@spectralised also asked “How long did it take you to understand the currency?”
Well I am still a bit slow at picking out coins, but I guess a few months since the value is a lot different from the US. Right now $1 is equivalent to 6 kr so it took some time getting used to that I am not $6 for this cucumber and instead I am paying 6 kr or $1. However, the bills were easy to figure out since they are different colors and as the value increases so does the size. The coins took more time to figure out since the smallest is 50 øre (half of 1 kr) and the highest value is 20 kr, which is a lot different from the US where the smallest is 1 cent and the highest common coin is 25 cents.
@HogwartsGrad_7 asked “How do the people differ in both places? Attitudes? Friendliness?”
In Denmark there is Janteloven (The Law of Jante) where society puts more emphasis on the collective instead of individuals. People tend to look down on those who show off their success and wealth like reality stars. Whereas in America, society is more individualistic and there is the mentality that if you got it, flaunt it. To go along with holding more emphasis on the collective, the Danes pay taxes that support free healthcare and university education. They do not pay medical bills, and medications are inexpensive. They also do not have to pay for university and they will receive money from the government for books and housing. I would say both the Danes and Americans are friendly and of course you will meet people who are not so friendly, but the Danes do seem a little more friendly and willing to help. Also, you have probably heard of hygge, which is popular in Denmark. Hygge is different for everyone, and it is what makes you feel cozy and warm on the inside. It could be spending time with your family or being wrapped up in a blanket reading a good book. Hygge is not common in America, but it is important for the Danes to unwind. To go along with hygge, the Danes also have a good balance between work and family time. Unlike in the US where you are expected to work until you are done with your tasks (even if that means bringing your work home with you), the Danes value the time with their family and they do not bring home their work. The Danes also have 5 weeks of paid vacation time each year and they also get 52 weeks of paid parental leave after having a child. Not all Americans get paid vacation time, and it depends on where they work if they can get paid maternity leave and the father normally does not get paid leave. Also, Denmark is ranked as one of the happiest countries in the world, which makes sense. Lastly most Danes do not own a gun. Pretty much the only ones who do are the ones who go hunting or do target practice. The gun laws are also pretty strict here compared to the US and to even get a handgun they had to be a member of a shooting club for 2 years, and it is prohibited to carry a gun in public.
Do you have any other questions for me?