Cafés? Cold? Commute? Cozy?
After being in Copenhagen for two weeks now, I’ve come to realize Copenhagen is a large city with a small town feel. There are people walking around everywhere, the buildings are not tall at all, and I hardly ever see traffic anywhere—nothing like Philly and I love it. But what makes Copenhagen…Copenhagen?
I bet you probably guessed it, but the ‘C’ in Copenhagen should stand for all four things…here’s why.
There are cafés EVERYWHERE. No matter what block I find myself on, I can be sure that I will find a café to go into. The Danes not only love their caffeinated specialty drinks, but they also love their pastries, sandwiches, and oatmeals. The cafés themselves are very clean and the baristas are very kind. Actually, the baristas walk around and pick up your trash (or should I say rubbish?) and your plates and utensils. As much as I wish I spoke some Danish, I have come to appreciate the fact that the cafés all have English menus for those of us who look clueless when trying to read their main menus. Maybe one day I’ll be able to order without needing an English menu! Whether after class or in between errands, I always get pulled into a café for a caffeine boost and a chance to warm up.
Denmark may be the most southern Scandinavian country, but that does not mean it is any less cold. As someone who is from Pennsylvania, I’ve experienced cold winters and I would say Copenhagen is definitely colder, but not by much. In fact, this past week it was 20 degrees warmer here than it was back home. Granted, I’ve been told by the Danes that winter is just getting started and that it probably will get a lot worse as February begins. Yay… It sporadically snows here, but rain is more common. Every morning I find frozen snow and ice on the ground and can guarantee a minimum of a drizzle later on in the day. If you’re guilty of texting and walking like I am, gloves are a must here. Actually while I’m at it, make sure to have a hat, a scarf, and thick socks on as well. The US is cold, but Copenhagen is a different type of cold. It’s cold cold.
As the #1 bike friendly city in the world, Copenhagen means business when it comes to commuting. Everyone here bikes. And when I mean bike, I do not mean like just ride a bike on a sidewalk into the city for fun. I mean that there are literal bike lanes everywhere. There are more bikers here than cars. I’ve been told there are more biking accidents that occur than car accidents. No matter what time of day or night, the bikers are out. Thanks to a student discount, I was able to rent a bike for the semester. When I first rode my bike to class at 8am (their rush hour), my anxiety level was at an all time high. I had to be aware of the hundreds of bikers around me, I had to use my arms as turning signals, and I had to try and navigate the streets without a GPS and no street names in sight. I feel as though to fully immerse oneself in Copenhagen, biking everywhere is a great idea and I’ve been loving it so far! Even if you’re not biking, you’re probably taking the bus or metro to work or class. Through DIS, all students get an unlimited transportation pass to use on the buses and metro. So, if I wake up and it’s too cold for my liking to bike, I can walk across the street and simply get on the public bus that takes me to my classes. There many more efficient and environmentally friendly ways to travel here in Copenhagen that makes having a car here not very necessary unless you need to travel outside the city often.
The Danes have a cultural phenomenon known as hygge. This translates to a life of contentment or a mood of being comfortable with one’s well being. This probably contributes to why Denmark is often ranked as one of the happiest countries in the world. The Danes take time to take care of themselves and enjoy their existence everyday. This hygge comes in many forms, such as sitting in a café, grabbing a drink at a local pub after work, or just simply spending time with family. The Danes do not eat out often and prefer to make meals back home with their families. Through DIS, I got matched with a visiting host family. A few days ago, I met with my visiting host dad and I’ve been invited to visit their home for the day and for dinner this upcoming weekend. Stay tuned as I get to experience how a Danish family practices their hygge from home!
I’ve seem to understand overall themes of Copenhagen, but I’m looking forward to really experiencing the life of the Danes in a more immersed way in the upcoming months. Continue reading as I continue to explore Denmark, my home for the next 5 months! What to expect: what is DIS, host family, biking in Copenhagen, and more!