Experiencing different cultures and customs in ìthe happiest country in the world”

I chose to study in Copenhagen, Denmark because it is considered to be the happiest place in the world.† Therefore,† I was confused when I was warned that the Danes are ìvery cold.”† Now understand why this is said but also why this statement is false.

I have to commute 30 minutes by train every day to class. †My first day I sat next to a Danish woman ó she got off about three stops before me.† When she was getting out of the seat she didnít say anything, she just pushed past me and knocked my bag to the floor.† I thought to myself ìokay, rude,” but then realized no one† on the train was saying anything.† It was completely silent. Just everyone shuffling and squeezing up to the door.† The only thing that could be considered cold about the Danes is that they donít say ìexcuse me” or ìsorry” when moving past people.† Punctuality is very important in Danish culture.

Everyone needs to be somewhere at sometime; so why apologize for getting to your destination? This cultural change took a little getting used to, but the more I think about it, this idea actually makes a lot of sense.

A major difference that I still am not comfortable with is the fact that everyone here does not seem to be easily offended. All of my professors use profanity in the classroom, and itís no big deal.

Besides using certain words or being late, there are very few things that are considered rude.† It is strongly encouraged to speak your mind, just get to the point ó donít sugar coat things.

At a pub one night a guy made a comment to me that probably would have caused a lawsuit in the United States.† When I looked at him in disgust he said ìWhatís on your mind?”† I told him how I really felt; and instead of walking away he just started to talk to me about something else.

I have never been more confused in my life. I learned quickly that if a Danish person wants something, they let you know. And if you donít ó just say it.† Itís not embarrassing or rude (on either end), no one is offended, its just another point in a conversation.

I almost wish the United States was more like this; there would be a lot fewer awkward moments, mixed signals, guessing games and wasted time trying to get your point across.† Ultimately, I believe this results in a lot less drama.

The Danish people are extremely interested in US politics.† A hot topic here is definitely the Obama administration and the proposed healthcare system.

There are extremely high taxes in Denmark which result in basically everything being covered by the government. I was told this was so the Danes could follow their dreams and not have to worry about if they can provide basic needs for their family.† Not one Dane I have spoken to is in the least bit jealous of the United States; one man said ìItís just so backwards, I canít even begin to understand your systems.”

The Danes have already got me thinking about US philosophy. Do we overthink our actions? Are we too emotional and easily offended, ready to file a lawsuit at any minute? Is it silly to have the ìAmerican dream” of money, instead of our own individual dreams?

I suppose I have more time to learn and think these things over.† However, I can honestly say I am looking forward to living in the happiest country in the world for the next four months.