8 Reasons to do an Exchange in Denmark

1) The People

You might have heard Danes are the happiest people in the world—I believe it. Although they may be paying close to 50% of their paycheques to taxes, this contribution covers all the things most North Americans save for: tuition, healthcare, university living expenses, maternity leave, and childcare. As a country that’s almost entirely made up of middle and upper middle-class citizens, Danes have it good when it comes to finances. Beyond their amazing social benefits, they are incredibly humble and kind. I found that Danes were always happy to help, had your best interest at heart despite being strangers, generous, and were genuinely kind people.

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2) Baked Goods

Can y’all say kage? OK, probably not. It’s pronounced kay-yuh, which leads me to my nickname, Kagelynn. Forget it’s namesake, danishes are not Danish by any means. They’re actually called wienerbrød—direct translation: Vienna bread. Aside from that tiny misunderstanding, Denmark is crawling with tasty baked goods. Think rum balls (romkugler), marzipan-filled pastries (kringle), the vast array of kage (shoutout to Danish kagemands for being the best birthday cake I’ve ever had), and do not even get me started on Danish Christmas cookies. Just go. Go and have it all.

3) Student Life

Danish students are given the equivalent of $1000 CAD (5000 KR) per month to just live. They are expected to literally be a full-time student—living in a kollegium, attending Friday Bars, sipping on cheap beer, and supposedly studying. I already miss living in a dorm, its respective parties (Tour des Chambres, anyone?), watching movies in each other’s rooms, and my wonderful flatmates that had basically become a family to me. I even miss going to our dorm’s creepy old basement to do laundry (I used to tell people it looked like an insane asylum.)

4) Bikes Everywhere!

Upon my arrival in Aarhus, I distinctly remember asking, “What happens when it rains? Do you still go biking when it rains?” My Danish friends would narrow their eyes at me—probably wondering just how big of a sissy I am—and say, “Well, yes.”

Duh.

Those days are long behind me. I actually miss my bike. Besides the fact that biking is the cheapest and most convenient way to get around, who doesn’t love the sun on their face, hair blowing in the wind, and how badass you feel biking in torrential downpour (which is pretty badass, in my opinion)? I especially miss the midnight adventure time on bikes with my friends. In Vancouver, I’d most likely die in a tragic car accident if I were to venture out on a bike and into 3-lane traffic. The North American lifestyle with cars, freeways, and a lack of proper
bicycle lanes is just exponentially more sedentary than that of Scandinavia’s.

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5) Cheap Beer

At home, I pay $5 CAD for beer and a liquor tax. In Denmark, I could buy half a dozen of beers for the same price (and a liquor tax would be blasphemy). Also, Denmark is home of Carlsberg and Somersby (I know that’s an apple cider but it’s still very tasty). I’ve never drunk more beer in my entire life, and it was awesome.

*Honourable mention to the game Klub 100. It exists in North America as Centurion, but the fact that Klub 100 exists in Denmark just makes me laugh.
What happens is that you drink a shot of beer every minute for 100 minutes. I have thrown up every single time I’ve played. The Danish soundtrack on SoundCloud, however, is perfection.

6) Dansk Jul (A Danish Christmas)

Is there any kind of Christmas that compares? OK, probably yes—but a Danish Christmas is simply magical for someone coming from such a multicultural country such as Canada. I’m smitten by all Danish Christmas traditions—the marzipan, all the festivities associated with lille julaften, julefrokost, and just the endless amount of Danish Christmas foods. And as a tribute to my Danish friends, I will even miss taking shots of schnapps every time “Last Christmas” by Wham comes on.

7) Nature

Denmark is 70% agriculture. I kid you not. We were roadtripping to my flatmate’s sommerhuse (Danish summer house), and it was just farm after farm after farm. One of my best friends in Denmark actually lived on a farm. Although lacking in mountains like my home in Vancouver, Denmark is green for days. There is an abundance of countryside, beaches, and fun places to bike to and simply bask in its natural glory. I personally love the Risskov beach in Aarhus, as well as the beaches in Thy. Ridiculously good-looking.

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8) Hygge
The best reason to study abroad in Denmark is the hygge. Hygge is essentially an untranslatable word in Danish culture, but at most, I can describe it as the warm cuddly feeling you get snuggling under a blanket during a chilly night combined with the gooey warm feeling you get when surrounded by excellent company. The closest word to it in English is cozy, but it’s so much more than that. It’s generally induced by a hot cup of tea, some form of delicious freshly baked good in the oven, and great friends. I can’t wait to go back to Denmark for some more hygge til!

 

 

 

Kaylynn looooves travelling. After a 9-month stay in Europe, 6 of which were spent in Denmark—she lives and breathes missed trains, delayed flights, cheap beer, good wine, and an incessant supply of freshly baked bread. She also enjoys giant sheet cake, playing klub 100 with Danish beer, the occasional game of foosball, and being called Kagelynn or a tykke hobbit.

 

 

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