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What I like about Denmark

By Kay Xander Mellish

I got an email a couple of weeks ago at howtoliveindenmark.com from a Danish woman who now lives in Germany.  She says that this podcast helps her keep in touch with life back home, but that she doesn’t really like it.  She writes: “I have to tell you, that almost every story has a negative ring to it when you portray your thoughts on Denmark and Danes. I cannot shake the feeling, that you really deep down, do not like Danes or Denmark. I find this sad, as you have been living there now over a decade.” Lady – I won’t say your name on the air – but you’re full of baloney.  Of course I like Denmark.  Otherwise I wouldn’t be here.  I do have a pretty nice country to go back to.   I like living in Denmark, for a lot of different reasons. One of them is that people here have a lot of time to spend with their children.  There’s a cliché in the U.S. business world of the CEO who quits because ‘I want to spend more time with my family’.  That always means he’s been fired.  But in Denmark, people really do want to spend a lot of time with the people they care about.  I think that’s one reason why a lot of people here are not very ambitious – because getting ahead means working a lot of hours, and they want their free time. The pace of life in Denmark is much slower than it is in the US, or the UK.  There’s much less competitiveness, which can be a good and a bad thing. There’s never a feeling of fighting to get through the day.  Before I lived in Copenhagen, I lived in Manhattan, and there, everybody wanted your job, everybody wanted your apartment, everybody wanted your boyfriend, everybody wanted your seat at the restaurant – everybody wanted everything you had, all the time.  Denmark is much more relaxing.  And people have much less stuff here.  The taxes are so high that you can’t buy a lot of stuff. People don’t go shopping just for fun. So people have fewer things, but better things.  That means less clutter, and less stuff to clean, which is always a positive in my book. Other things I like about Denmark. I like the biking culture, and the mass transport culture.  I do have a drivers’ license, and I enjoy driving a car, but I also like the interaction with people you get on a bike or a train or a bus. And the public transport system generally works well – not always, but generally. Things work well in Denmark, not as aggressively as they do in Germany, where I used to live, but generally well.   I love Southern Europe, but I don’t think I could live there. The disorganization would drive me crazy. In general, I find Copenhagen quiet, but sophisticated. I’m happy living here.  I have no plans to live anyplace else.

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