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The biggest difficulty in assimilating to Danish culture is getting used to being in a state of perpetual relaxation. Denmark is a utopia; everything here just works. Everywhere is reachable by bicycle, your classes don’t start until quarter past the hour, the rush hour is over by 17.30 in the afternoon, and there is a great sense of communal living; everyone here is working for the collective good of the country’s citizens.
Speaking of course hyperbolically, I really do get this sense that one is physically incapable of having anxieties here. Relinquishing the constant worry and concern about work and university and what awaits thereafter and instead living in the moment, just as the Danes do, has been an unexpected but welcomed challenge.

Although, my arrival in the middle of winter meant I was too frozen to realise all of this until several weeks later. Coming from a 40+ degree Celsius heatwave in Sydney I thought the half hour walk to my university in -9 on my first day would be the end of me. But, I survived! Turns out I was just very unlucky with the weather that week J Biking in the snow is actually a lot of fun. Warm clothes really are a must in this country, but as soon as the temperature reaches double digits prepare to see the Danes walking around in a t-shirt and shorts.

I think the perspective that Danes like to keep to themselves and aren’t really receptive to unfamiliar people is an inaccurate and unfair perception. Sure, you probably won’t have a barista who loves a chat and knows your name and order by heart but the Danes in your classes at your university and orientation week will be more than willing to welcome you to the city. Also, be prepared for their English to put your monolingual self to shame.

I have an enormous appreciation and gratitude to the Danes for letting me live in their country and experience their culture. I had truly never expected to be this north of the equator but am grateful for the privilege of being here and the opportunities it has afforded me. Many exchange students I’ve met say that they wish they were Danish and I understand their sentiment. Though, I don’t think ‘being Danish’ is exclusive to the genetic pool of Viking descendants. Being Danish is about being comfortable with who you are and whilst this is not easy, Danes accomplish this effortlessly. It is this effortless confidence in one’s self that is the biggest difficulty, but I think if you get past that threshold you are on your way there. Also, being able to bike really fast helps 😉

I hope you enjoy the below photos, I must thank my dear friend @amiradeus for photographing me.

Please also feel free to contact me if you have further questions 🙂

All the best,
Eleanor Flanigan
B Laws / B Arts (Communications)
Copenhagen University

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