Thursday, November 20, 2008

Character of Copenhagen - part 1

Many people very quickly create their own stereotypes about Danish culture and Copenhagen lifestyle.
I've been living and working in Copenhagen for almost 3 years now. As a part of my everyday life one experiences a lot of different aspects about Denmark and Danish culture. Below is the list of some impressions that expats perceive about Denmark.
You are welcome to agree or disagree with anything written here. Just leave the comment to the post.

1. Everybody in Denmark speaks high level of English. In two years time I've met more then a thousand people and only 2 of them did not speak any English.

2. When you meet people on the street, they are always polite and ready to help you or answer your question. There is a feeling or responsibility embedded in every Dane that it is correct to be useful and help people when they need your help or ask you for something. Note: don't go to far with expectations. This is still very limited kind of help - you'll get your answer and that's it. It is your responsibility afterwards, and there for don't expect anything more then information.
One more important thing is: you won't get information nor help unless you explicitly ask for it. So, don't be shy and go and ask. But still be moderate and don't ask too much as nobody likes to bothered too much. Remember, everyone still have his own life and his own problems, so you have to be aware of that before judging people for not doing what you expect them to do!

3. Danish people are generally self-oriented and tend to their own independence. They start working at early ages as student workers and support. This way they earn their own money and start their independence from their parents. In general, indenpendancy is very import thing specially at the ages of finishing high school. That's the period when most of the danish people move out to live alone, away from their parents.
I've also met some danish young people below eighteen, still going to high school, working part time jobs in shops and other places who are paying a rent to their parents from the part of their salary. They answered me that they are helping their parents as living in Copenhagen is thought as expensive.

4. In Denmark you can experience all seasons: Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter. I was thinking that winters around here are very cold, but it turns out that it's not that bad.
I was also expecting that at least during summer there will be some hot days, but it was never above 28 degrees Celsius.
Almost everyday you can feel cold and strong (well, not that strong) wind coming from the sea.
But to be honest, you get used to the weather very quickly, and then you learn how to appreciate when the weather is really nice :)

5.Summer houses are very popular within Danish families. People simply want to run away from the traffic jams and city noise.

To be continued...