About Living in Denmark

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 pΓ₯lΓ¦g 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:

@Rei_Al3amri and @rebelxglam asked “Was there a culture shock? If so how did you overcome it?”

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 ΓΈre (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?

33 thoughts on “About Living in Denmark

    1. My favorite food would definitely have to be the desserts & pastries. A few of my favorites are hindbΓ¦rsnitter (they remind me of pop tarts), aebleskiver (people say they’re Danish pancakes & they’re round puffs that are served w/ jam & powdered sugar) & the strawberry cake (it’s made during the summer & it has a layer of marzipan, chocolate, cream & strawberries on top) πŸ˜„
      I wouldn’t say it’s impossible to migrate here, but it’s really difficult. The easiest way is if you’re studying or working here. I’m getting a permit through family reunification (my bf is Danish & our daughter is getting her Danish citizenship) & even w/ that connection & meeting all the requirements, my permit has been denied twice & I had to get a lawyer. They also keep changing the requirements to make it even more difficult to get a permit. If you want to live in Scandinavia, I would suggest moving to Sweden b/c I heard it’s much easier to get a residence permit there than here (a lot of Danes who have a foreign partner move to Sweden b/c it’s easier for them to stay)

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I’d not heard of hygge…how fascinating! I cannot imagine how difficult it must have been for you and your boyfriend not to have had residency permits in each other’s countries and I am very glad thst you have found the way to be together as a family all the time. Well done to hour daughter on being able to switch languages already. My two year old boy says everything half in English and half in French (and not often in either recognisable language). I have to translate everything!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hygge is a great concept & it’s all about finding whatever helps you unwind & relax πŸ˜„
      It was very difficult especially w/ traveling w/ our daughter who was only a few months old! Luckily she handled all the flights well.
      Your son will hopefully get the hang of French & English!
      My daughter would always say wap for water/vand & it took her forever to learn the correct words, but now she knows 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It sounds very sensible! I hope so too – his dad speaks to him only in French, and he hears French at nursery. He has only started to speak intelligibly very recently. I think boys are later than girls generally at speaking.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve always admired those who can up sticks and move so far from home, whilst I moved away for University, my parents were very determined to have me back afterwards, I don’t think I could have coped with the guilt of staying away, even though it would have made better sense for getting a good job.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve heard of hygge but never quite understood what it was. The Danish just seem like such lovely people and it’s wonderful that you’re having so much fun there, considering how different it must be from home for you xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hygge is hard to explain b/c like I said it is different for everyone, but everyone should have something they enjoy to help them unwind!
      It is very different from the US, but Denmark is a great place to live 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I studied at the University of Copenhagen. I first lived at Taasingegade 29, in Copenhagen. Then, we moved to Tingbjerg πŸ™‚ Tingbjerg is amazing place. I lived at the students collegium there. I then moved to Husum, where we had our second daughter πŸ™‚ my first daughter studied at Korsagerskole πŸ™‚ … and my second daughter was at the De Syv have kindgergrten … my daughter was born at the Herlev hospital … I have so much to tell about DK and life there. I am composing a blog about it. I will share with you

        Like

    1. I agree! I’ve used Duolingo before & it’s helped a lot w/ reading Danish, but as far as hearing it, living here & being around people who speak Danish has helped the most.
      I still can’t speak any though πŸ˜•

      Like

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