Copenhagen, Denmark by Taia Mendenhall

Hej! My name is Taia Mendenhall and I am a senior majoring in Biology, currently located far from home! I am originally from Santa Cruz, California but I am currently studying BioMedicine abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark.

If I were to list some facts about Denmark, you’d need no convincing of why it’s ranked the second happiest country, only behind Finland. I’m going to list some cool facts about Denmark anyways, just to entice you:

1. Copenhagen has claimed the top two spots in the 2021 “World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards”

2. Tivoli Gardens, the third oldest amusement park in the world is in Copenhagen

3. Biking is HUGE, Danish citizens cycle the equivalent of going around the Earth’s circumference 35 times A DAY!

Not only is Denmark a happy country, but it’s also extremely safe. Copenhagen, where I have the pleasure of living for the semester, was ranked the safest city in the world, and the citizens surely act like it by demonstrating some acts that would strike you as odd if observed in America. In my first week here I was startled at the site of a crib parked outside a bakery, which wouldn’t have been odd if there wasn’t a baby in it…To my surprise, I found out this was a normal practice of Danes. They bundle their babies, put a monitor in the crib, and park it outside in an effort to reduce crowding in the shops.

Another thing that struck me as odd after living in South Carolina for three years was that nobody, and I mean NOBODY, J-walks. This seems to be a common practice in Charleston, especially when there are no cars in sight, but nope, not in Copenhagen. When I asked one of my professors about it, his response was “Because we are law-abiding citizens,” which was a little stab at America.

In order to live like a local, I have had to pick up on some of the Danish slang, which thankfully has been taught to me by both my host family and my Danish friends. “Little Friday” A.K.A Thursday has been my favorite so far. Speaking of Friday, most Danish families reward themselves with what they call “Friday Candy”, which is exactly what it sounds like. While adopting this slang I have also come to the realization that, even though English is most Danes second language, their English is way more proper, for example: instead of saying “me too” it is “me as well”, and instead of “it’s nice” it’s “quite nice”.

In order to blend into Danish society and culture, you must restrict the wearing of sweatpants, leggings, or any too-casual clothes to the comfort of your home. If you’re going to class, the store, or a walk downtown you’re expected to dress nice. After years of rolling into CofC classes in leggings and a T-shirt this was a shocker, but alas I have adapted. One of the things that have stuck out to me the most is the ease and efficiency of the public transportation system. I live with a host family in a suburb right outside of Copenhagen, so it is necessary for me to take a train or bus into the city. All I need is my commuter card and with the help of this life saving app Rejseplanen, I can hop on any form of public transportation and get wherever I need to go. I have been in Europe for a bit over a month and I have traveled to the following places: Sweden, Netherlands x 2, Brussels, all over Denmark, and I am currently sitting in the airport in Germany waiting for my flight to Prague. I am going to Norway next weekend and after that, I am spending the week in Portugal with one of my classes! I have traveled with friends in my program, friends from Denmark, and friends from CofC to museums, castles, cafes, and more. Throughout my travels, I’ve realized the ease of traveling in Europe and was in awe that I didn’t need to take my shoes and jacket off to walk through the security line.

Europe has been a blast so far, and can’t wait to share more with you in the future!

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