A little bit of Hygge
Coming off the back of a month of travel, I was very excited (and a little nervous) to enter my little room in the heart of Copenhagen. My arrival signalled a significant change in pace from my regular hostel travel and the start of something completely new. I was greeted by a man named ‘Thor’, who unfortunately fell a little short of Chris Hemsworth, but to my extreme delight was still able to tell me about the most ‘hygge’ dinner and bar spots around town.
Hygge? What’s hygge? I first became acquainted with this concept when I read a little book about this Danish philosophy of life that was gifted to me by some close friends. Best translated as ‘cosy’, the word encompasses the smell of an ice cream candle, the crackling of an open fire and that feeling you get when you switch on all of the fairy lights in your apartment after a long day at work. It is the reason why you can feel entirely at home and happy in a place like Copenhagen, which is known for its cold and rainy weather.
It is surprising how quickly you get settled into a life in an entirely new city (especially a cosy city like Copenhagen) and start to consider parts of its culture essential parts of your own life. I now too feel infected with the hygge bug and look for it in everything I do. Cafes on rainy days are hygge, cooking with friends is hygge and warm lights and hot beverages are a must. Already, I feel like I have learnt to make the most of both the sunny and the rainy days and to stop at the lolly aisle every time I exit the supermarket metro.
The Danish Lifestyle
Copenhagen is famous for its food, fashion and attitude. This small place packs a surprising number of fine dining restaurants (that can likely only be explored during parental visits) and bakeries that produce deliciously sugary cinnamon scrolls. Luckily, apps like ‘too good to go’ offer wallet friendly bargains, and homecooked dinners with friends and kitchen mates are common and loved.
It is also very easy to get around the city. There are only two metro lines; however, the easiest and fastest way to get the most out of your commute to work/uni/brunch is via bike. Besides successfully clearing your conscience for skipping your normal ‘leg day,’ bike riding also provides you with the opportunity to quickly and cheaply get to all parts of town, from the open-air food market ‘Reffen’ to the trendy suburb of Nørrebro. My bike Gertrude (or Gerty for short) is purple and sassy and has been able to handle my frequent bad starts and sudden stops in traffic surprisingly well. Although I still don’t feel entirely confident on a bike, I am proud that the idea of draping myself in lycra and riding into the Sydney traffic has become slightly less terrifying.
Copenhangen is also a great shopping destination. Fashion flea markets are frequent and good, and vintage shops are around every corner. The Copenhagen style is comfort meets chic, which is effortlessly achieved by most Danes. It is surprising how good sneakers can look with all kinds of dresses, shorts and jeans, and how easy it is to jump off your bike and head to Uni or a dance club.
Thus far, studying at the University of Copenhagen has also been an entirely enjoyable experience. Both my subjects are taught at a Masters level and technically do not require class attendance or any class participation throughout the semester. I was slightly shaken when I realised that my grade will be entirely determined by my performance in my final oral exam, which I have never done before. However, I have selected subjects that excite me, which means that I am more than happy to cycle to class and invest time into getting to know my Danish classmates (post-class ice creams included).
‘Cope-ing’ in Copenhagen
Thus far, the exchange has been everything that I have wanted it to be and more. I have committed to doing something new every day, which has allowed me to make the most of my time in Copenhagen. Activities have ranged from baking banana and choc chip muffins to taking a trip to Norway for the weekend. When winter finally comes, I am looking forward to making lots of mulled wine and playing board games with my friends in our kitchen. The knowledge that my life is, and will remain, both exciting and hygge for the next three months of my exchange is something that everyone must experience during the course of their degree at UTS.
Bachelor of Business, Bachelor of Laws
University of Copenhagen
For more information about the UTS Global Exchange program please visit: www.global-exchange.uts.edu.au