It is a really strange feeling to know I will be leaving here in only a few days. In some ways I am ready to go home but in other ways I am in no way ready to leave. My feeling is more like being ready to go home from school for the summer; it feels incredibly strange not to know if I’ll ever come back here. Copenhagen really does feel like home after these four months, and while I’ll be pleased to go back to America and it’s endless supply of water fountains and free toilets it is sad to leave here. So through my own first hand experience I have compiled a list of what I think America is better at and what Denmark wins for.
Adorable Danish accents. Not quite as charming as English, but they make sounds that I can’t even begin to imitate, and when they get excited they sound adorably hilarious.
Free waffle cones - The only thing they do not charge extra for in the entire country. Ice cream in Denmark comes in a waffle cone, there are no other inferior cone options. I will never be able to go back to other cones.
No open container laws. This is amazing. I will go through serious and possibly very costly reverse culture shock due to this change.
Lingering. Even if you buy only one coffee and the tables are completely full, you will not be rushed out. You get the bill only when you ask and you are expected to take time. Coffee is a beverage to be drank slowly and accompanied by lots of conversation, and it is a necessary end to most meals. Americans miss so much by rushing in and out of everywhere.
Walkable places. In Copenhagen your own two feet are the best mode of transport, and the walking routes are much more pleasant than in most American cities. Cars don’t whip past. The city was built around people, not cars, and as a result walking is much less of a chore.
People being interested in me. In Copenhagen I am a novelty. “Why are you here?!” they always ask with genuine excitement and interest. Then followed by a barrage of questions about New York city and Obama. I don’t tell them I have only been to NYC twice. The fact that it is possible to live 5 hours away and still be in the same state would just confuse them.
Rugbrød. I hated this stuff when I first got here, but now I love it. The flavor has really grown on me, and it keeps you full forever. One little sandwich made with this stuff is enough to keep me full all day.
Windmills. I like them. I think they are beautiful.
My car. I love the fact that you can get around by public transportation here, but I have spent so many hours at the various bus and train stops that even I will be excited to get my little car back. If I lived closer to the city, or went to school closer to where I live I think I would feel differently. But as it stands I will not miss hours spent waiting for buses that are late, or never come, and take an hour to go 15 km.
Public bathrooms and free water. In Europe you pay for these life necessities. I still hate paying for water at restaurants. I don’t think I will ever get over this Americanism. But I now realize why Europeans are always drinking wine. It is simply cheaper than water.
The American Dream. This gets a little deeper, but what I never realized is the sheer Americaness of the American dream. People here don’t have the same vision for life. In America it is trusted that hard work will pay off. The harder you work is directly correlated to how successful you are. In Denmark mediocrity is accepted - even valued. Don’t work so hard, you are no better than anyone else, and the government will take all your money anyways. The positives of this attitude however, are the 6 weeks of paid vacation for all workers and the title of happiest country in the world.
English. I can’t wait for when I understand everyone and they understand me. Never underestimate how valuable this is.
Diversity. Everyone is the same here. Perhaps that is a bit of an exaggeration, but it is surprisingly accurate. Even Danes will admit this. Hair colors, skin colors, ways of dressing, body builds, and even views on life are so similar in Denmark.
Cheap things. Everything here is so expensive, especially food. I’ll probably go crazy buying “cheap” coffee and sandwiches.