Living as a foreigner in Denmark, one of the world's most homogenous countries, isn't always easy. In this podcast Kay Xander Mellish, an American who has lived in Denmark for more than a decade, relates her thoughts about Danish current events, as well as offering tips on how to find someone to talk to and how to find something to eat.
Practical tips for moving to Denmark
While I’m not an authority on the Danish visa or immigration systems, I’m often asked for practical tips about moving to Denmark.
So here are a few things to think about when you’re packing your suitcases or, if you’re doing a corporate move, packing your shipping container.
Number one, make sure you bring money. Denmark is an expensive place to live where you will own less stuff, but better stuff.
Gender Equality in Denmark
Denmark has had two female prime ministers, and about forty percent of the people elected to the "Folketing", the Danish Parliament, are women. But when it comes to private industry, Danish women have one of the lowest participation rates in management in Europe. According to the OECD, only 26.5% of managers in Denmark are female, compared to 39.8% in the US. Is Denmark's generous maternity leave policy a factor?
Danish beaches in winter
It might seem like a counterintuitive time to talk about beaches, in the middle of a long, very cold winter.
But in these times of COVID, beaches are one of the few places in Denmark you are currently allowed to meet up with family and friends.
Beaches, parks, frozen-over lakes: these are the big social meeting points at time when cafés, restaurants, bars, shops, gyms, schools, theaters, museums, places of worship, and hairdressers, barbers, and nail salons are all closed.
Driving in Denmark
It’s frequently said about Denmark that it’s not a car country. You hear a lot of well-meaning internationals say that in Denmark you don’t need a car that you can bicycle everywhere you want to go.
That is true in the big cities - I don’t own a car myself. But most of my Copenhagen neighbors do. And cars are pretty much a necessity in the countryside. There are now 2.5 million cars in use in Denmark, roughly one for every other resident over age 18.
Dining in Denmark: From crispy fried pork to flower juice with champagne
When visiting Denmark, you’ll be offered Danish food, and expressing enthusiasm for it will go a long way towards generating harmony with your Danish friends.
If you’re a carnivore, don’t miss the Danish pork dishes, particularly "flæskesteg". That’s a crispy, fatty fried pork that’s the official national food.
For people who prefer fish, there’s a great selection in this country surrounded by water.
Vegans can enjoy root vegetables or sweet elderflower juice blended with champagne.
Denmark and the Coronavirus Summer
It’s a funny kind of summer this year in Copenhagen, quieter than usual, and more like a family event than a cosmopolitan city.
Coronavirus came early to Denmark, the borders were shut down early, but they’re mostly open now to other Europeans.
But the change came too late for many people to make summer vacation plans, so many of the usual tourist attractions are slightly forlorn.
There are a few Europeans around the Little Mermaid and the Royal Palaces, but not many. And there are no huge cruise ships full of Americans docking at Langelinie, or the busloads of Chinese tourists stopping to take pictures with the statue of Hans Christian Andersen.
Copenhagen has become less of an international city than it was a year ago.
Meanwhile, many Danes are spending their own summer vacations in Denmark, which has one major drawback - the Danish summer weather.