Friday, March 15, 2013

What Danes do.

I have now lived in Denmark for three months. I've spent a lot of time observing the most important things about Danish culture.  A typical Dane will do the following (without exception):


A beloved Scandinavian treat, licorice comes in many varieties. Salty, sweet, filled with chocolate, in the shape of a Skipper’s Pipe, rolled up, hidden in packaging calling it “original” flavor, on cake, it’s everywhere. I’m quite picky when it comes to my licorice. I either love it or find it repulsive. One morning I grabbed a piece of gum on my way out the door. Wrapped in red packaging labeled “original,” I thought it must be cinnamon, as red is universal for cinnamon. NO.WRONG. It was licorice. Those tricky Danes. I’m glad the neighbors weren’t out to see the look of repulsion I couldn’t manage to wipe off my face. Hoping I was chewing the Danish equivalent of Zebra gum and the taste would fade away in a mere 10 seconds, I powered through. It didn’t go away. I didn’t know what to do! Swallow it? Have it sit in my stomach for seven years (we all know this is fact)? I didn’t want to put the poor plants through the same pain I was experiencing by spitting it on them. Finally, it was too much to handle. I had failed the ultimate test in prolonged licorice enjoyment. What did I do with my gum? Let’s just say there is a dead plant on Jelshøjvænget.
"Re-Freshed" taste. Original MY FOOT!

These are actually good.
I see potential.
ABSOLUTELY NOT. These little salty fish will set you back $4.90.
I can't think of anything worse.
To actually make you feel sicker.

I have spent many hours watching cars pass by while walking around and using my unlimited-rides bus pass. Never was I able to put my finger on how they were different. I figured they were all just European with brands like Peugeot, Opel, Citroen, and an alarming amount of Kias (no, not European, but there are too many). The revelation came to me on a bright, sunny February day in Viby. As traffic started to become congested, I looked at the line of cars waiting to turn left. Oh my gosh. Where’s a trunk?! Kept looking down the line. Trunk? No. THEY’RE ALL HATCHBACKS!!! They were all wagons or hatchbacks. I may have figured out how they look different, but why everyone drives a hatchback remains a mystery.


Anywhere and everywhere. In the bank, in the bus station, at the library, at the bakery. It could be 9:30pm and there is no one but you and the person working at the bus station, and you need to take a number. I have asked on multiple occasions, “Do I NEED to take a number?” Of course the answer is “yes.” Then I asked the lady to change the address on my bus pass because “the misspelling annoys me.” She is never amused by my questions. When there is no number for a line, Danes might create chaos (and by create chaos, I mean create a cluster. Crazy.) and walk right in front of you. This actually amazes me, the amount of people who will not follow order getting on the bus, for instance. OR when there isn’t a preliminary number for getting in the number line, sneaky old ladies could just act like they have a quick question from the number-giver and straight up move you over. Not Danish at all.
At the library.
Police Station. Residence things, no crime committed. Do criminals take numbers? Are those who do not take numbers criminals? Thoughts.
We are THRILLED to take numbers at the bus station.

I’ve discussed the eating style here, knife always in the right, fork in the left. No crossover forking like us Americans like to do, you know, cut a piece of anything with the knife in your right hand, then switch the fork from your left to your right. Notice next time you eat. It’s all I think about when I eat here. When is it okay to have my fork in my right hand? Where do I put the knife when it is resting? Can it be on the table and plate? When do I flip the fork over to scoop things onto it using my knife? How do I hold the fork in this situation? WHY DID I GET PEAS?!?! This brings about an anxiety never experienced before. I have stopped getting a knife and every food I get can be prodded by the fork in my right hand. Sometimes I slip up and get peas. Then I have to use another food item to stop a pea chase from ensuing on my plate, drawing weird stares.

Clearly what I am trying to say is: pick up your burger and slice of pizza. Eating enjoyment will increase tenfold.

Watch Ellen struggle with my daily struggles:


When I was walking around the office the first day, I remember my shock and horror to find a bowl of carrots sitting on the table, unrefrigerated. Maybe it was jetlag, because now I don’t find unrefrigerated carrots strange at all. But what I do still find strange is the amount of carrots Danes eat. For snacking purposes, party purposes, meal purposes. Carrots. all the time. Also, in the US, there are big carrots and baby carrots. Here, they either have gigantic carrots or some weird mid-size carrot. This mid-size reminds me of the carrots used by Mrs. Doubtfire when she orders dinner from Valenti’s. The shape is just so…carrot-like. Imagine that. Look here!
Best snack ever! Fly swatter handle for size reference.


Danes don’t pronounce the ‘e’ in Adobe (Illustrator, Photoshop, Acrobat, PDF Reader, etc.), and when I do, as any American would, they haven’t any idea what I am talking about. Also, if you SLIGHTLY mispronounce a word, they simply will not know what you’re trying to say. The double Rs in ‘Norreport’ (a street by where I live—unfortunately) must sound like you just woke up from wisdom tooth surgery and simply cannot say anything because your mouth can’t function properly. If you make the Rs sound like Rs, such a place does not exist in their minds, and confusion will result. When asked where I live, I let out a small chuckle and smile with a “yeah, right” look. Just as effective as trying to pronounce anything.


It is completely normal to wear the same exact thing the entire week. I love it when my coworker wears his sweater that looks like Fruity Pebbles. Brightens up my entire week. Thanks, societal norms!


Converse shoes are insanely popular amongst the young people here. The American flag ones make me chuckle (no pun intended).

Random things in my life...

What do they call the 6- and 18-yard boxes on a soccer field in Denmark? Naturally, the “little box” and “big box.”

Hot salsa in Denmark is an absolute joke. Not only is it NOT hot, it’s borderline (no pun intended here either) sugary.

Carbonated water is starting to taste normal. I remember saying “I don’t like carbonated water” to someone. They replied “You haven’t been in Europe long enough.” They were correct.

My feet can’t touch the floor of the bus. I am too short.

A large coffee from 7-Eleven is 25kr, or $4.36. I’ve tried to stop doing currency conversions because of things like this.

This is the cup for single people. They had no others. Valiant effort, 7-Eleven, but I am still single.


They still watch and refer to it.

God weekend, y'all! (a little Danish and Southern)


  1. First of all you are hilarious. Second, I am chewing on some raspberry licorice gum. Delicious. I wish their was licorice in France. Does not exist. The French wear the same outfits for a week too, creeps me out. Also, the French love the "take the number" game as well, confuses me. Good observation, no trunks, you are brilliant!

  2. We will have to bring you some licorice when we come to visit. I'll bring you some salty fish. remember that strange sausage thing I ate on the cruise in Finland? related to my next post. hmm. haha