Danish Culture Shock Part III

Original post: SEPTEMBER 15, 2018 (Edited April 2020 to reflect changes)

This is the last part of the three-part series of things that I STILL find ‘different’ to this Alaskan girl living in Denmark.

Now that you’ve read Part I and Part II of my Danish Culture Shock, I feel as if I have to tell you:  I’ve come to like my life here in Denmark. It’s not all peachy roses and it definitely goes without saying, no place is perfect.  But I live here now and I am building my life here with my Danish family.

So, let’s get to the 3rd part of my Danish Culture Shock of the things that I STILL find ‘odd’ but not necessarily bad to this Alaskan girl living in Denmark:

Proud of their actors– Ever heard of Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (GOT), Connie Nielsen (think Gladiator), Viggo Mortensen (Lord of the Rings), or Mads Mikkelsen (Bond movies).  Well ‘Game of Thrones’ comes to mind but that’s only because I LOVE it. But to most, it would not strike a familiar cord. BUT in Denmark?!? They are basically national treasures.

Stick shift– Most cars come in the standard ‘stick shift.’  Which was surprising to me since most autos in the US are automatic.  Thank goodness I already knew how to drive a manual ‘stick shift’ car.  It was a bit of a transition though.

Red light district– Yeah- apparently they have one.  I’ve heard of it but I’ve never ‘seen’ it but it’s there.  Now I want to go and find it;)

Mobile pay–  What a fantastic way to pay!  It’s like ApplePay. You pay through an app called, ‘MobilePay,’ where you enter the vendor’s mobile number and the amount and boom!  You’ve paid. You’re done. It’s quick and simple. No cards, money, coins, just your phone and done.

Shoving– It’s no big deal if you get shoved.  The first time it happened to me I was getting off the metro (train), I was shocked.  As a gal who grew up with rowdy cousins, if you shove me, I shoved you right back. SOOOooo when I got shoved the first time, I was very pregnant and holding my then 2 yr. old son’s hand.  I lost it and told ‘said’ woman exactly what I thought of her. She didn’t even look fazed. So now, if I get shoved, I don’t take it personally, I just call them a dick (in my head) and move on my merry way.

Hygge– Even though there is no direct English translation, I’m sure you’ve heard of it, “Hygge.” (Prounounced ‘hyougaa’) It became a worldwide phenomenon but I didn’t really get it until I moved here.  It just means to relax and get cozy. To me, it means lighting candles, curling up with a good book and a glass of wine, a nice dinner, essentially just celebrating the everyday moments and not taking it for granted.  I didn’t notice things like being ‘hyyge’ or saying, “oh that’s hyggelig,” until I lived here. Anyways- it’s the Danish way of living. 

Babies sleeping outside– When I moved here pregnant, I said I would NEVER let my child sleep outside alone.  In the US you’d get ‘Child Services’ trying to put you in jail for leaving your child alone. This is besides the ‘fear’ of someone taking your baby.  But my music man put it this way, “Why would anyone want your snotty crying baby?” Well that’s mostly true. But here, its common to see baby carriages outside of café’s and in gardens (people’s yards and/or apartment balconies), and it is completely normal and safe.  They say that babies really do sleep better outside in the ‘fresh air.’ Now I’m a fan and my baby actually did prefer to sleep in her barnevogn (baby carriage) when its nap time.

Lice– It’s common here, especially in kids, and is considered NO BIG DEAL when someone gets it. As an expat coming from Alaska, it’s a HUGE deal if your kids get it.  I have horror stories of getting it as a child. Everything had to be cleaned, washed and sterilized. Hair was cut short and you were told NOT to ‘play with the kid that have lice.’  So coming here and getting it from the kids was a nightmare. It was four days of treatments, combing, and more treatment. It was awful and not to mention SO expensive.  We waste a lot of time and money for expensive treatments.  Anyways, it’s considered ‘NOT A BIG DEAL’ here. I don’t think I will ever get over this one. 

The language– The Danish language is just plain hard to learn and speak. BUT I will say that the Danish language school helped. You must invest a lot of time and energy into learning the language if you want to get it though. The struggle is definitely real if you don’t know the language.

The style– I’ll probably be condemned for even saying this since there is a big fashion industry here. But- coming from a large corporate world of suits,  heels (which I was never really comfortable wearing anyways), and ‘trying’ to dress better, I find the style here in Denmark a bit different.  Let’s just say that I don’t ‘get’ the boxy shirts and dresses, or the shirt/pants that are all in the same floral lace prints. I guess it’s all relative though. What do I know…I live in my yoga pants now.

Lego’s– Did you know that Lego was born here and its like a birthright to have legos…like a A LOT OF LEGO?!? It’s also a must for Danish kids to go on a pilgrimage to Legoland like it was thee trip to the Holy Land. Now don’t get me wrong, Lego’s are great for kids to play with and build.  It fosters the imagination, I get it. But I am continuously stepping on them, finding them in every nook and cranny.  It’s also sacrilegious to throw them away or get rid of them. So here I am with about 58 million pieces of Lego and kids that can’t seem to put them away.

In conclusion, I hope you enjoyed my series of all the things that I find different for this Alaskan girl living in Denmark.  If you want more, please join my email list and continue to follow my unconventional expat life.

Tak! (Thanks in Danish:)


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