Denmark is a small european country located in the northern part of the continent and, along with Sweden, Norway, Iceland and Finland, make up the Scandinavia area. I was hosted by a Danish family two years ago for a whole week and I could experience their lifestyle, if just for a short period of time. I could get to know many interesting aspects of their culture as I met many danish young students and Danes, even adult ones, like the mother of my Danish partner. I found out that their culture and ways of thinking are, of course, similiar to their scandinavian neighbours but also pretty different. Let’s say some peculiar facts I discovered during my stay in Denmark:
- Denmark Is Not As Small As You Can Think
Yeah, it is not, believe me! I have already known it before but I got to know it better while I was in Denmark: this small european country is not as small as we could think! Now you are all wondering: WHY? Well, Denmark is a kingdom that includes the islands in the Atlantic Ocean known as Faroe Islands (go checking on the map if you do not know) and also Greenland. I am not sure if you know how big is Greenland but yeah it is actually as big as half Europe xD I am sure, any of you would object saying that Greenland is part of North America…yeah, more than true but ehy, still, if you consider this, it makes Denmark quite huge. Of course, from a political point of view the matter is more complicated because Faroe and Greenland have their own government and high level of indipendence. Greenland has Greenlandic Inuit as official language while Faroe has Faroese, which is more similiar to Icelandic than Danish itself. I remember that my Danish family hosted a Greenlandic girl some years ago so that she could learn Danish since her main language was Greenlandic. If you want to have more infromation, I suggest you to just search for this Danish special government on internet as I am quite bad at handling political matters ahah
2. Danish Cities Are Crazily Quiet
We all know that Denmark is not a densely populated country such as China or Japan but this does not mean that everywhere must be surreally quiet, right?! Danes are quiet people, they never shout or make noises in the middle of the street (I would not agree with this on a friday or saturday night though) so everything is very very quiet. I remember that when I visited Copenhagen, there were a few people on the streets and no noises at all. It is weird to wander around a big capital and not hear or see anyone, while in my city, which is not even half the size, people go around shouting ahah well, I consider this as positive aspect but sometimes, you really need some noises 😉
3. Danes Love Alcohol
I guess this is not a mystery for the most of the people, Scandinavian countries are known for consuming a huge amount of alcohol. They drink especially during parties and they often get drunk. I attended one of these parties but since I do not drink, I was just looking at other getting drunk ahah and one of the girls even threw the water on me because I was trying to make her drink normal water instead of alcoholic drinks ahah A Danish teacher told me that the incredibly clean streets will become very dirty after friday…try to figure out why xD One of the most famous beer in the world, The Carslberg, is actually from Denmark.
4. Danes Are Very Good At Languages
I do not know if this is because Danish is not spoken anywhere in the world or just because they like learning languages but, my god, they really can speak a lot! Danish and other Scandinavian languages such as Norwegian, Swedish are mutually intelligeble, they can understand these languages without sudying them (the mother of my Danish partner told me they can understand more Norwegian than Swedish, Danes out there, let me hear your voice) and sometimes even speak, so this is already enough to classify them as polyglot; moreover their english is even better than the English-speaking people. They know a lot of very high english words and their way of speaking is standard and impeccable. Maybe this happens because Danish itself is a Germanic language like English and they are related and share similiar words. Furthermore, many of them can also speak German because it is widely studied in the high schools and, just like English, German and Danish are alike.
5. Danish Language
I have already said much about Danish language in some of the previous points for example you have already figured out that it is a Germanic language like German, English, Swedish etc therefore they share many similiar grammar rules and phrases. Danish has some quite weird letters like the æ ø å. How to pronounce them? The æ is read as an open A but mixed with E too, it is very hard to explain xD the sound of ø is very similiar to the German ö or the french diphtong œ, while the å is something like the French diphtong au. But this is the best I can tell you, the language pronunciation is much harder and I really do not know the rules, I just know their R is pretty gular. Every Dane I met made me try to say this tongue twister Rødgrød Med Fløde, would you be able to pronunce? 😉
6. Everywhere Is Ducking Flat
The first day I arrived in Denmark, I was quite shocked by the flatness of the territory, it was so flaaattttt, I have not seen any mountains or relatively tall hills while travelling all around the country. I found out that the highest natural point is called Møllehøj, please go checking this place because it is hilarious xD My Danish family told me that when they want mountains, they go to Sweden or to the Alps and when they want to go to the sea, they go to southern europe even though I could see that they have many sandy beaches. I guess it is pretty cold even during summer bathing there, it is the north sea after all, it must be windy too!
7. High Quality Of Life…
Denmark is known for its high quality of life mainly thanks to its nordic model policy: low level of corruption, free education and a great social welfare system. Everyone in the country, if unemployed, can receive a certain aount of money from the government or another example is that the Danes are paid by the schools when they turn 18 years old. When I got to know this from my Danish family, I was shocked D: In Italy you have to pay quite much for the univesity and search for your own apartment while in Denmark, they give you everything for free! It is like heaven! However, I suppose, all of this works well just because they have a limited number of inhabitants that made this welfare system possible.
8. …This Means Super Expensive Prices
This also means that the quality of life is very very hig, as consequence the prices of the goods increase. Danes told me they also have many taxes to pay, I guess this is another reason why some prices are so high. I remember my Danish friends in Italy when they bought some food in a bakery shop, they were like shocked by how low the prices were xD In Denmark I did not have many chances to buy stuff around because the family that was hosting me gave me all the food I needed but I realized the prices of clothes were expensive according to my standard.
9. Large Houses
Their houses look like house-models used in IKEA shops! I am not joking, they are so perfect and clean, nothing is out of its place! You come to my home and you might think that the third world war took place because of the large amount of stuff thrown and left anywhere in the house ahah Danish houses are very large and bright, they are provided with big windows that let the rays of sun coming in the house…the exact opposite of the italian houses, where we use the shutters to stop the sun rays to enter. Every house also has a big garden where they have swings, hammocks and barbecue stuff (they love barbecue). I tell you one funny fact: when I was in my room in Denmark, I usually changed from pajama into my daily clothes in front of the window but, as I am not used to such large and without-shutters windows, I got naked in front of it…everyone could seriously have seen me but luckily the neighbours were out of the house that time ahah
10. Danes And Schleswig-Holstein
Okay, this one I have to explain a bit because this part of history is not very famous outside Germany or Denmark. Denmark was bigger before, as you see from this old map that dates back to the 19th century, if I am not wrong. Denmark owned some territories called Schleswig and Holstein, which nowadays are part of Germany. I write a brief history of these two territories to make you undestand better the whole fact: at the beginning of Middle-Age the Schleswig Duchy was separated by the Danish Kingdom as well as the Holstein, which became another Duchy. They kept their indipendency throughout the time thanks to its belonging to both Holy Roman Empire and Danish Kingdom. These territories’ Germany’s sense of belonging awoke after the Napoleonic wars, originating a rebellion in 1848 and the First Schleswig War. Finally, the area became German thanks to Otto von Bismarck’s win gained during the Second Schleswig War in 1864. So back to what I was trying to explain before, for Danes this is still a weak point in their history and still regret the fact they lost this area. I remember I was discussing with a Danish guy and we ended up speaking about history and stuff when I told him that I knew Schleswig-Holstein belonged to Denmark before…this surprised him so much that he surnamed me the Schleswig-Holstein Girl xD He was very happy that at least someone knew about the struggles they had during the war ahah I suppose that for them this was a big loss as Denmark is pretty small and losing such a large area is like losing half of the country!
What about you? Have you ever been to Denmark? Do you agree with my points? Or maybe you have more to add? Let me know in the comments below 😀