My time in Denmark has come to a close…I’m now back in the States and already missing the home I made Aarhus. How strange to feel homesick for the people and place I have only known for 5 months. It doesn’t really feel as if I studied abroad, but rather just moved somewhere new to give myself a fresh start. Aside from school I had a job, favorite coffee shops and art galleries, and found a beautiful little anarchist/vegan/art community house to live at when things got too damn expensive to stay in my apartment. Never did I expect to so quickly find a niche. It would have been easy to just stay and live there, but I guess it would be just as easy to go back. A tip to all travelers, Denmark is a friendly place for absolutely everyone..and the summertime is filled with art and music festivals (and you get awesome perks if you volunteer for them).
What I liked most about Denmark, though, is that it is nothing like the States. I thought, before coming, that it may not be so culturally different as I had wanted and maybe Spain or Eastern Europe would have given me a better experience. Yes, it is a highly modern, Western country, but aside from that there are many aspects of American culture that Danes just can’t wrap their heads around. Like not knowing what a healthy diet is. Most Danes are very health-conscious and active. Or having to pay for healthcare and school. Marriage has been a right for EVERYONE since 2012–before that, same-sex couples could get registered partnerships. Most of the country is Atheist, but if you want to practice your religion, hell, go ahead as long as you don’t push it on anyone else or bring it into government. Most people take 1-4 years off and travel before going to University. Family and close friendships are highly valued as well as self-care and ensuring your own personal happiness. When the clock hits 5, you are done with work and no one would expect or demand you work longer. Never once while working at the bar did I hear someone complain about working. Bosses and employees, students and teachers, are all equals. In fact, it is highly looked down upon for anyone to think or act as if they are better than anyone else. There are no box stores or large shopping malls. And although things are expensive, people don’t buy a lot of things. They spend money once on something nice and useful and take care of it long-term. You can take a bus or train almost anywhere, no matter how rural, but hitch-hiking is safe and relatively easy. And you can drink openly on the streets.
That was kind of a hodgepodge of information, but you get the idea. And it’s not just policies and lifestyles that make it different, the entire mindset is radically different from that in the States. It’s really something you have to experience to understand and even in the end I was finding something new about the Danes most every day.
They definitely fare well in the welfare state. I don’t think it’s the place I would want to spend the rest of my life…but if you are looking for some peace of mind and a place where you can just be, Denmark will give you just that.
Vi ses to all I left behind, see you someday soon.