Show cover of How to Live in Denmark

How to Live in Denmark

Life as an international in Denmark, one of the world's most homogenous countries, isn't always easy. In Denmark’s longest-running English-language podcast, Kay Xander Mellish, an American who has lived in Denmark for more than a decade, offers tips for enjoying your time in “the world’s happiest country” plus insights on Danish culture and how to build friendships with Danes.

Tracks

Why Danes Find Compliments So Awkward
A story I’ve heard over and over again when I talk to internationals working in Denmark is this: They thought they were going to get fired. They’d been working for a year or so at professional-level job in Denmark, often one they’d been recruited for, but they’d never heard any positive comments from their manager. They started to worry. They were doing their best, but maybe it just wasn’t good enough. Were they going to lose the job? Were they going to have to go back home, humiliated, and explain the whole thing to their friends and family? Expecting bad news This was what was on their mind when they went into their annual employee review. They were expecting some pretty bad news. Instead, they got a promotion. And a raise. Their manager thought they were doing great. But the Danish approach to employee feedback is generally – “No news is good news”. You have a job, you’re doing that job, we’ll let you know if there are any problems. Positive feedback is uncommon in Denmark, because Danes themselves are often uncomfortable receiving compliments. The façade of equality Compliments run smack-dab into the Jante Law, which says specifically that “Don’t think that you’re better than us.” When you give someone a compliment, you lift them above you, if only for a moment, and that disturbs the equality, or at least the façade of equality, which is so important in Denmark. So compliments are not a natural thing in Denmark, either on the job or in your personal life.   Read more at www.howtoliveindenmark.com
07:12 3/24/24
Romance in Denmark
Denmark’s doing a big recruitment campaign now, trying to get young professionals to bring their skills to Denmark, and a lot of them are single when they arrive. If they want to meet someone and don’t meet someone, and if they want a serious relationship and a family but can’t get started, they often go home again. So, in the name of economic development, here are my tips on romance in Denmark. Bringing your own dating culture I talk a lot in my speeches about how people bring their own work culture with them when they come to work in Denmark, but they also bring their own dating culture. The way you expect to meet a potential partner, to flirt, to show you’re serious, to take the relationship to the next level, these are expectations you bring with you to Denmark from your home culture. When you get here, you will meet Danes who have very different expectations. #metoo hit Denmark hard Dating apps like Tinder, Hinge, and Bumble are one of the main ways people meet each other in Denmark these days – the other being friend circles, which as an international can take a while to get into. People used to meet at work, but #metoo has made a big imprint in Denmark. It’s taken down both male and female business leaders and political leaders who couldn’t keep their hands to themselves at work, or at parties after work. So, people are a lot more cautious around their colleagues these days. Lots of skin On dating apps, generally you’re there to show your best side – but unlike some other dating cultures, in Denmark people don’t show off their wealth, their car, their watch, or their powerful job. They try to show that they’re funny and down-to-Earth, that they can laugh at themselves. I'm on the apps myself, and I do see a lot of the Danish version of status-seeking, which is time off to travel to exotic locations and engage in extreme sports – lots of windsurfing and scuba-diving photos. I also see a lot of skin, which, since I’m dating in the over-40 category, isn’t always something I want to see. The line between sex and romance is ill-defined But this is the tricky part about dating here, because the line between sex and romance in Denmark isn’t very well defined. Some daters want to have sex right away and then decide if they’re interested in getting to know each other emotionally. There’s no stigma to this the way there can be in some cultures – but it can be rough on you if you’re a sensitive person who’s really just looking for love. “Kæreste” is a flexible term One thing I find interesting about the Danish language is the flexibility of the word kæreste, the Danish version of “boyfriend” or “girlfriend” which translates directly to “most dear one.” Your kæreste can be same-sex or opposite-sex. You can have known each other for three weeks or thirty years. But if someone is your kæreste, it means you’re not dating anyone else. You’ll often hear Danes talk about the time they became kæreste, which is the time they committed to each other monogomously. You could go on and get married at some point if you like. Many people in Denmark do. You can certainly buy a home and have kids without being married – the Danish government will even pay for your fertility treatment. The Danes don’t see a big difference between having a committed kæreste and having had a wedding ceremony. Read more at howtoliveindenmark.com.
08:43 2/6/24
Finding light in the Danish Winter Darkness
Many internationals newly arrived in Denmark struggle with the long Danish winter.  The darkness that starts to fall in the early afternoon means that 5pm looks just like 8pm, which looks just like midnight, which looks just like 5am. Dense, inky black sky. During the daytime there’s a dim grey light, sometimes accompanied by a soupy fog of tiny raindrops. It’s tough to handle - even for Danes. Many people living through this time in Denmark describe feeling low-energy – sløj is the very descriptive Danish term. It translates directly to “sluggish”. Others feel deeply depressed. Some eat too much, or drink too much. Some sleep all the time. It doesn’t have to be this way. Here are my tips for handling these dark months, which generally stretch from November until the end of February.   Enjoy the brown charm of Danish winter nature It’s important to get outside during the brief period of light every day. Even if it’s just for 15 minutes on your lunch hour, it really helps.  Walking in nature is wonderful this time of year if you have right clothing, in particular the right footwear. A good pair of solid boots and you can even go out when it’s icy. Don’t neglect second-hand stores in Denmark. You can usually find a lot of good winter clothes there for not very much money. Parks, botanical gardens, forests – they all have a certain charm this time of year. A brown, winter charm, but a charm all the same.   The secret sauce: a project or a list with things you can check off Go see how the winter animals are doing. Deer parks are good, see what the deer are up to. And most Danish zoos are open year-round. Go see how happy the polar bears are when the weather is freezing! But my top tip for making it through the winter is a specific project, like learning how to knit, or learning how to make something out of wood, or even better, a list. If you have a list, you can check things off as you go along, and you get a feeling of progress as the dark months drag on. Read more at howtoliveindenmark.com.  
07:10 1/10/24
New Year's Eve Traditions in Denmark
It’s almost Week 1, in the weekly numbering system that’s widely used in Northern Europe, where the year starts with week 1 and runs through to Week 52 or 53, depending on the calendar. It’s very efficient for planning, so you don’t have to say something messy like “What about that week that starts Monday June 3…” Week 1 starts on January 1, and everything follows that in perfect order. But before January 1 we have New Year’s Eve, a day that fills me with trepidation to be honest, because in Denmark, New Year’s Eve is all about amateur fireworks. Cannonballs, Roman Candles, Ding Dongs, Triple Extremes, these are the fireworks you can purchase and set off yourself in a local parking lot, terrifying any nearby dogs and cats.  Having a family member in the hospital business, I can’t help but think that today, December 26, there are a few amateur fireworks fans who have perfectly well-functioning eyes and fingers right now who won’t have them on January 2. The Queen's Speech New Year’s Eve celebrations start at 6pm, when the Queen Margrethe gives her annual speech, live.  To the uninitiated, this looks like a woman sitting at her desk reading from a pile of papers – she refuses to use a TelePrompter – but it’s all been intricately planned, from the clothes to the jewelry to the flowers to the text itself to reflect the themes and priorities of the year gone by. There’s even a website that gives odds on what words and themes will appear.  The Queen now keeps her pile of papers together with a paper clip. In past years, she left them loose, and on one particular occasion they got out of order and she had to desperately search through them on air to find her place. The comedian Ulf Pilgaard, a large man who dressed up as a colorful burlesque imitation of the Queen, used to make this incident part of his act, throwing papers up in the air like Harpo Marx. Just as an aside, when this comedian who imitated the Queen retired last year, the Queen herself showed up at his final performance and shook his hand. Having such a good sense of humor about herself is why Queen is so beloved, even by people who do not really like the monarchy.  Some Danes even stand up to watch the Queen’s speech on TV. It always ends with “Gud Bevare Danmark”, God Protect Denmark. "Wreath cake"  After the speech, it’s dinner time, followed by a very sweet cake called kransekage – which translates to “wreath cake.” It’s made of a lot of rings delicately placed on top of each other, in a little tower. There’s lot of marzipan involved in this cake. I’m not a marzipan fan myself, but if you are, you’ll like this cake.  Read more at howtoliveindenmark.com
06:24 12/26/23
How to Handle a Conflict in Denmark
If you are an international who lives in Denmark, or someone who wants to, you have to learn the Danish way of dealing with conflict. This might be with a colleague, or your upstairs neighbors, or the authorities at the commune. In these cases, it’s very important not to lose your temper or raise your voice. And this can be tricky if the culture you come from, your culture of origin, is a passionate culture. Denmark is not a passionate culture. If you hear someone talking about their passion here, it's almost always some sort of hobby, or the summer home they have been fixing up for years. Their passion is almost never a person or a cause. And they generally use the English or French word passion, not lidenskab, which is the rather clumsy Danish translation. So, the keywords to handling conflict here are not strength and passion, they are humor and equality. You have to take the approach that you and the person you disagree with are equals. Your counterparty isn’t someone you can push around, but they’re also not someone better than you that you have to bow down to. One of Danes’ favorite expressions is øjenhøjde, or eye level. They love that concept. When Prince Christian, the future king of Denmark, recently turned 18, several of his birthday greetings from the public said, Remember to always stay at eye level with your people. The person you disagree with is your human equal, even if they’re a teacher or a manager or someone who works for the government. The other best strategy getting a conflict resolved in Denmark is to find the humor in it. If you can make the other person laugh at the ridiculousness of it all, you’re halfway there. Keep it as light as you possibly can, assume good faith, and assume that the other person really would like to solve the problem, and assume that it is solvable, which isn’t always true, but it’s a good first assumption. Humorously acknowledge your contribution to the problem, whatever it might have been, and own your mistakes. Danes really like people that admit they’ve made a mistake and have a sense of humor about it. Be as practical as possible. Danes are practical to a fault. Focus on something that can really get accomplished, not big noble concepts of truth and justice. I have seen internationals in Denmark make disagreements much worse than they have to be by raising their voices, telling the other person they are racist or sexist, threatening to call in somebody’s boss or threatening to expose them online, which is illegal, by the way. Denmark has very strict privacy laws – if you catch someone stealing your bike and you post a photo of them online, you’re the one who will hear from the police first.   Read more at howtoliveindenmark.com  
06:55 12/18/23
Drugs in Denmark
Denmark is getting rich selling pharmaceuticals to other countries, but within Denmark itself, the approach is inconsistent. Getting illegal drugs doesn't seem to be too difficult, but getting legal drugs from your doctor can be.
05:45 9/29/23
Equality and the Electric Bike
When I first arrived in Denmark, you could shut down any dispute in Denmark by appealing to equality and the common good. Solidarity - “solidaritet” -  and “fælleskab”, or community, or even “samfundssind”, societal spirit, were magic words. They still are with the older generation that built Denmark’s welfare state. If you want to convince this generation of anything, just make a reference to solidarity and community and societal spirit. Works like a charm. I’m often asked if the younger generation is as dedicated to these principles as their elders, and if they still follow the "Jante Law". Jante Law is not really a law – it’s like a legend, in which people living in Denmark are not supposed to act like they’re better than anyone else, or smarter than anyone else, or know more than anyone else.  But young people aren’t too keen to put up with that, in particular in an environment where they are competing internationally. For many Danish young people, the idea that all Danes are equal and we must all move together, at the same pace, seems outdated. And one contemporary example is the rise of the electric bike.  What has now been accepted in Denmark’s bike lanes is a concept that is used to be very "uDansk", or un-Danish….that some people simply go faster than others.    This is the 125th episode of the "How to Live in Denmark podcast", and originally ran in 2023. Get all of Kay Xander Mellish's books about Denmark at http://books.howtoliveindenmark.com. Book Kay for a talk to your group or organization at http://events.howtoliveindenmark.com.  
07:47 8/27/23
How to Meet a Dead Viking: The Mummies of Denmark
Many people who visit Denmark are fans of the Vikings, the colloquial name for Scandinavians before the medieval era, although technically speaking the Viking raiders were at their peak in the years 800-1100.  There are plenty of opportunities, especially now during tourist season, to see modern-day Danes dressed up as Vikings, building wooden ships, cooking over open fires, and fighting with swords and shields. Exhibitions like this are very popular with visitors from overseas.  What they might not know is that you can see actual Vikings in Denmark, or what’s left of their bodies. It was common in the Viking era and before to toss sacrificial items and people into peat bogs, which, it turns, out preserves bodies and clothing and hair very well. So there are several places in Denmark where you can see actual humans from the Viking age, more than a thousand years old, and sometimes their clothes and hairstyles, sometimes even the last food they ate, reclaimed from their stomachs.  Some bodies are so well-preserved that they still have fingerprints.  The top spot for this is near Aarhus, the Moesgaard Museum. It’s a huge museum that’s interactive, immersive, almost overpowering.  You will see hundreds of Viking objects and and weapons and skeletons, amid multimedia exhibits. For example, there’s a room that lets you experience of what it was like to be in the middle of a Viking battle, with armed warriors shouting and screaming and running at you from all directions.  It’s overwhelming, because the people it celebrates lived such brutal lives. Sacrificing people, sacrificing animals, killing each other with clubs and daggers and axes to the head in violent raids.  It’s a lot. After a while I found myself cowering in the gift shop. (Read more at howtoliveindenmark.com)   This is the 124th episode of the "How to Live in Denmark podcast", and originally ran in 2023. Get all of Kay Xander Mellish's books about Denmark at http://books.howtoliveindenmark.com. Book Kay for a talk to your group or organization at http://events.howtoliveindenmark.com.
07:21 8/1/23
No ice cream in July: Scenes from the Danish summer vacation period
In Denmark, the right to a long summer vacation is enshrined into law - the national vacation law, which states that all employees have a right to three weeks’ vacation between May and September. Shops close, too. An ice cream shop in my neighborhood closed down for the entire month of July last year. You would think this would be peak time for ice cream, but for the owners of the ice cream shop, their own vacation was more important. This year, I noticed that the bicycle store up the street is closed for three weeks – hope you didn’t want a new bike to enjoy the summer. So is the local "smørrebrød" sandwich shop. Too bad about your picnic. Danes believe that if you take a good, long, Danish vacation, you’ll come back refreshed, with new perspectives. Free time is precious in Denmark – certainly more important than prestige, since people don’t generally use their job titles, and far ahead of money, since whatever you have the government will be taking a big bite out of. Free time is cherished, free time is wealth, and that’s one of the reasons the summer vacation is so prized.  You’ll often hear Danes ask each other how many weeks they’re taking for summer vacation. “So, this year, are you taking 3 or 4?”   This is the 123th episode of the "How to Live in Denmark podcast", and originally ran in 2023. Get all of Kay Xander Mellish's books about Denmark at http://books.howtoliveindenmark.com. Book Kay for a talk to your group or organization at http://events.howtoliveindenmark.com.
07:23 6/29/23
Rich in Denmark
Denmark is a rich country, but does it have rich people? It does, but Denmark’s wealthy tend to keep a low profile, due to the informal Jante Law in Denmark that prohibits too much showing off.  That said, spring and summer is great time to see Danish rich people in their natural habitat. That’s when they put the roof down on their expensive German cars and drive through the medieval old towns, drink rosé chilled in silver buckets at fancy outdoor cafés, or sail through the harbor on their personal boats of various sizes. In the summer, Denmark’s rich come out to play.  There are two types of wealth in Denmark, old wealth and new wealth. Old wealth is the leftovers of Denmark’s nobility, Dukes and Counts and Barons, even though noble privileges were officially abolished in 1849. Many of these families still own their old castles and country houses, some of which have been turned into hotels or fancy restaurants. You can stay there for a weekend with your sweetheart, very romantic. And then there’s new wealth. Denmark’s richest man owns Bestseller, a fast fashion chain that owns names like Vero Moda and Jack & Jones. The heirs to LEGO, which is less than 100 years old, are also quite well off, and so are the heirs to the Ecco shoe fortune. Finance types and entrepreneurs also figure on the list of richest people in Denmark. Every year, one of the local newspapers publishes a list of Denmark’s top taxpayers – the people and companies who have paid the most taxes. In 2020, the top individual was a successful hedge fund guy who somehow ended up paying more taxes than Danske Bank, Denmark's largest bank.  In 2021, the list featured a man who got rich selling COVID quick tests.  While there are small wealthy neighborhoods in Odense and Aarhus, most of Denmark’s rich live in the Whisky Belt, which is the area along the coast north of Copenhagen. It’s called the whisky belt because back in the day, whisky was the most expensive alcoholic drink. Poor people drank beer and schnapps.   This is the 122th episode of the "How to Live in Denmark podcast", and originally ran in 2023. Get all of Kay Xander Mellish's books about Denmark at http://books.howtoliveindenmark.com. Book Kay for a talk to your group or organization at http://events.howtoliveindenmark.com.
07:26 5/26/23
What Newcomers to Denmark Ask Me
When you’ve been an international in Denmark for a while, as I have, you sometimes forget what it was like to arrive here for the first time and know nothing. I remember arriving just about this time of year and being astonished by all the public holidays in spring. I’d arrived to work, but the office kept shutting down. Now one of my various gigs is cultural training for newcomers, paid for by the big corporations that bring them here. The questions they ask bring me back to the time when I first arrived. One of the most popular questions is pretty basic: How do I send a letter in Denmark? What does a postbox look like? Where do I buy a stamp? I also get a lot of questions about Danish bicycle culture, which the Danish government promotes so heavily in its tourist campaigns. A nice man newly-arrived from Russia asked me: Will it be possible for me to get a bicycle in Denmark? I said yes, it would. But hey, there are no dumb questions. (Would it be possible for me, Kay, to get a bicycle in Moscow? I have no idea.) Bicycle culture is often exaggerated in Denmark – the truth is, the number of kilometers cycled each year keeps falling, and the number of cars keeps increasing, even thought it is very expensive. You can still get by with only a bike in Copenhagen and Aarhus, but in the less urban parts of Denmark, life will be uncomfortable without a car.   This is the 122th episode of the "How to Live in Denmark podcast", and originally ran in 2023. Get all of Kay Xander Mellish's books about Denmark at http://books.howtoliveindenmark.com. Book Kay for a talk to your group or organization at http://events.howtoliveindenmark.com.
06:57 4/30/23
Denmark and Butter: A Love Story
The hottest competitive sport in Denmark over the past year hasn’t been handball, or football, or badminton. It’s been chasing cheap butter in the supermarket. Recent inflation has doubled the price of butter – in some places, up to 30 kroner – but if you rush, you can get…a package of butter for 10 kroner at one supermarket…wait, only three packages per customer…hey, this competing supermarket has matched the price…look, this other one has it for only 5 kroner…ohhhhhh, it’s sold out for today. Better come earlier tomorrow. Butter chasing is how even high-achieving, high-earning Danes have been spending their time. Nobody wants to pay 30 kroner for butter. ----- Butter is a part of the Danish soul. The Danish word for butter is smør…you might be familiar with smørrebrød, the famous open-faced Danish sandwiches. Smørrebrød means buttered bread. So even though inflation has hit Denmark recently just like everyplace else in the world, supermarkets use low, low butter prices to bring in customers who will buy their other goods. Butter is big business in Denmark – it is one of the world’s top 10 butter exporters – and dairy in general is a big part of the traditional Danish diet. There used to be corner shops called mejeri, dairy shops, that only sold dairy goods and eggs. Evolutionists would tell you that Scandinavians evolved to get more Vitamin D from food, since they don’t get much from the sun for most of the year. ----- If you’re learning Danish, look up all the expressions that begin with the word “smør.” I counted about 30 in Den Danske Ordbog, Denmark’s official online dictionary. One well-known expression is smørgris – butter pig. That’s someone who loves butter so much that they eat great amounts of it, with gusto. Or smørhul, butter hole. A butter hole takes its name from the hole in the middle of a bowl of oatmeal. You make a hole so you can put the butter inside. But smørhul has a bigger meaning. A ”butter hole” or smørhul, is a way to describe a very nice place, safe from the tumultuous world around it. A “butter hole” is the way many Danes see Denmark itself.   This is the 121th episode of the "How to Live in Denmark podcast", and originally ran in 2023. Get all of Kay Xander Mellish's books about Denmark at http://books.howtoliveindenmark.com. Book Kay for a talk to your group or organization at http://events.howtoliveindenmark.com.
06:16 4/10/23
Randers is not a joke
It seems as if every country has a city or region that it is the butt of jokes. The rest of the country makes fun of the locals’ unattractive accents and supposedly low-end behavior. In Denmark, that city is Randers. Randers is a city in Northern Jutland, about a half hour away from Aarhus. It used to be bigger than Aarhus, and bigger than Aalborg too, but it was a manufacturing town, and when manufacturing fell apart in Denmark after the Second World War, so did Randers. The stereotype of Randers today is...muscle meatheads, possibly criminal... possibly in some sort of motorcycle gang... with a rough, gravelly accent... lots of tattoos and leather. And that’s just the women. The men are the same but with shorter haircuts. Listen to hear more about Randers and how Danish urban planners ruined what was once a very nice medieval town into a paradise for very fast cars and Mokaï, a canned alcoholic fruit cider sometimes called "Randers champagne." Find out how you can spend more than DK1000 on a pair of gloves in Randers, and how you can visit a full replica of Elvis Presley's mansion Graceland nearby.    This is the 120th episode of the "How to Live in Denmark podcast", and originally ran in 2023. Get all of Kay Xander Mellish's books about Denmark at http://books.howtoliveindenmark.com. Book Kay for a talk to your group or organization at http://events.howtoliveindenmark.com.
07:51 9/21/22
The Bridges of Denmark
A country like Denmark, with so much coastline and water, needs a lot of bridges - and there have been 5 new colorful, stylish bridges built in Copenhagen alone in the past decade. And because this is Denmark, and people love design, each bridge has its own special look. You can’t just put up a few bridge supports and a deck on top for traffic. You need style, and you need a colorful name. Consider, for example, the multicolored Kissing Bridge in Copenhagen. It’s not named that because you’re supposed to kiss on the bridge, although you can if you like. It’s named that because it breaks in half on a regular basis to let ships through, and then it’s supposed to come together again like a kiss. The Kissing Bridge has needed to visit a relationship counselor, however, because there have been constant problems getting it to kiss. It wasn’t quite aligned the way it was supposed to be. It seems to work now, although it’s rather steep and a difficult ride for bicyclists, which is rather a shame, because it is a bicycle and pedestrian bridge only. There are no cars on it. The Bicycle Snake and the Brewing Bridge a little further down the harbor are also just for cyclists and walkers, and so is the Little Langebro bridge.
07:48 9/1/22
On returning to Denmark: Swimming in Copenhagen harbor, picking wild blackberries, and admiring Danish law and order
After some time out of Denmark, Kay returns and finds a whole new list of things to love. Swimming in Copenhagen harbour is a delight - the once-industrial waterway has been cleaned up enough to become a giant swimming zone.  The wild blackberry bushes are ready for harvest, and there are plenty in public spaces - like near the railway and S-train tracks - where the blackberries are totally free, first come, first serve. Wash them well and they make for a wonderful blackberry pie,  a blackberry crumble, or even a blackberry smoothie. And Kay even finds something to admire about the Danish cops, who are more likely to approach miscreants with sarcasm than with guns drawn.  
06:26 8/17/22
Ballad of the Danish Royal Teenagers
It’s hard to be a teenager no matter who you are or where you live, but spare a thought for the two teenagers of the Danish Royal Family. 16-year-old Christian - the future King Christian XI - and 15-year-old Isabella have to deal with family photo calls and media events, leaked Tik Tok videos, and a TV documentary this week accusing their boarding school of being a toxic environment.
07:39 5/14/22
Tivoli vs Bakken: How two amusement parks show the two sides of Denmark
Denmark has several amusement parks, including the original Legoland, but the ones I know best are the ones in Copenhagen - Tivoli Gardens and Bakken. Tivoli and Bakken show two different sides of the Danish character.   Tivoli is the sleek, confident, high-end image that Denmark likes to present to the world: it has exquisite flower gardens, fancy shops and restaurants, and a theater that hosts world-class performers. Bakken is more homey, more quirky, a little shabby, and a bit more hyggelig, under my own definition of hygge as “unambitious enjoyment”.  The differences between the two parks also illustrates the class differences in Denmark – even though Danes like to pretend there are no class differences in egalitarian Denmark.
06:30 4/28/22
On the Road: Copenhagen Northwest, beyond the cherry trees
It’s springtime, and the cherry trees are about to bloom in Copenhagen Northwest, which is usually the only time people who live outside Northwest bother to go there. Northwest is a working class neighborhood, so much so that the streets are named after working-class occupations. While other Copenhagen neighborhoods have streets named after kings and queens and generals, Northwest has brick-maker street, and book-binder street, and rope-maker street, and a barrel-maker street.   But there are other things to see in Northwest besides the cherry trees, which have become a bit of a crowd scene since they were reported on by a national news network.
05:36 3/19/22
The Secret Strategy for Practicing Spoken Danish
Newcomers to Denmark often complain that the locals aren’t chatty. Danes don’t want to converse on the bus, or on the train, or in line at the supermarket, or really anyplace that isn’t a designated social zone. Like the company canteen at lunch, or a dinner party at home to which they have invited a precise number of people to match the number of chairs that they own. In general, Danes rarely talk to strangers unless they are drunk, but there is one exception: Danish people over 75 years old. Danes over 75, or even 70 or 65, often live alone, and they are often eager for conversation. Some don't speak much English, which means that spending time with them is an ideal opportunity for practicing your spoken Danish.  Danish municipalities, sensing a match, have even set up special programs to bring internationals and the elderly together.
06:08 3/2/22
Queen Margrethe, Denmark's good-humored, much-loved monarch
No matter how they feel about the institution of royalty, almost everyone likes Denmark’s Queen Margrethe, who is celebrating 50 years on the throne this week. Every New Year’s Eve, the streets of Denmark go quiet as the Queen makes her annual televised speech to her subjects. I find the speeches pretty much the same every year, they’re about being kind to each other, taking care of the environment, and such. The real entertainment is in the Queen’s wardrobe - she designs her own clothes, and often chooses rather un-Danishly bright colors -  and whether she’ll get her carefully written note cards mixed up.  Every year she thanks the Danish military for its work, and every year she makes sure to shout out to the Faroe Islands and Greenland, the farthest flung parts of her kingdom. And she ends every annual speech with “GUD BEVARE DANMARK” – God Save Denmark.  The Queen is the head of the Danish state church, and the Danish state – she still signs all the laws, including the specific law that made me a citizen.  But the Queen is also an artist. She paints, and draws, and has designed stage sets for the Royal Ballet.     
06:00 1/14/22
The Non-Drinkers' Guide to Danish Christmas parties
Drinking, and drinking heavily, is common in Denmark at holiday time. Whether it's the traditional "gløgg" - hot spiced wine with nuts, orange peel and a little brandy - or the specially-made (and specially-strong) Christmas beers, you'll be offered a great deal of alcohol at almost every seasonal social event. But what if you're a nondrinker, or a light drinker? In this episode we'll tell you how to enjoy Christmas in Denmark while avoiding alcohol. 
06:03 11/11/21
Denmark's Big and Wonderful Second Hand Economy
Denmark has a thriving second-hand economy, in part because people generally don't look down on second-hand goods here. The Danes are practical people – why should something be thrown out when it can be used again? And their passion for sustainability means it’s cool to reuse something that already exists instead of manufacturing something new. There is a network of “genbrug” (recycling) stations all over all over the country, where people can leave stuff they don’t want and other people can take it for free. And there's a thriving market for second-hand furniture in the classic Danish design style. 
07:13 10/18/21
On the Road: The Tunnel to Germany
Getting to Sweden from Copenhagen is easy: you take a quick trip across the Øresund Bridge in your car or on the train. Getting to Norway from Copenhagen isn’t too hard: there’s a ferry that runs every day from Nordhavn. Getting to Germany from Copenhagen, on the other hand, is a headache. But in 2029, a new direct tunnel will open between Denmark and Germany. The Danes are building it with very little help from the Germans, who originally weren't too interested in a tunnel that went through an obscure and neglected part of their country.  Thousands of construction workers will be required to build this tunnel to Germany, and many of them will be internationals. But what will this influx and money and people mean to the southern Danish island of Lolland, which is currently one of the poorest parts of Denmark?
06:54 9/26/21
On the Road: Riding Copenhagen's big yellow "Harbor Bus" ferry
One of Denmark’s cheapest and most colorful vacations is a few hours riding back and forth on Copenhagen’s big yellow Harbor Bus, or “Havnebussen”, a commuter ferry designed to transport ordinary citizens between downtown and the urban islands of Christianshavn and Amager. For visitors to Copenhagen - or residents who need an inexpensive adventure -  the harbor bus can take you from tourist trap to high culture to party culture, from shabby little wood shacks to neighborhoods of chic glass apartment houses with their own private beach. All for as little as 14 kroner, 2 dollars, or 2 euro. Enjoy this audio tour of 7 of the "Harbor Bus" stops - if you like, you can take it along and listen as you ride the waves.
18:06 8/8/21
On the Road in Denmark: Esbjerg, Ribe, and Fanø
When I mentioned going to Esbjerg for a few days off this spring, many of my friends in Copenhagen said - why? Esbjerg doesn’t have a reputation as a vacation spot, even though its fifth-largest city in Denmark and the youngest big city.  For Copenhagen snobs, Esbjerg is a fishing town, which it was 50 years ago but isn’t really anymore. It’s an oil and wind energy town, industrial but very modern. I like Esbjerg, perhaps because it is a very masculine town. If you’re a woman who likes men, if you’re a guy who likes men, really rough and ready type men, Esbjerg is your town, because it is the home base for the oil workers and windmill mechanics who work on the North Sea coast of Denmark.  In addition, all that oil makes for great museums, and Esbjerg is also a great base for visiting the Viking town of Ribe and Fanø, a picturesque fishing island turned tourist attraction. 
06:46 5/19/21
Saving money in Denmark: How to get around for less
No matter what the tourist brochures suggest, you probably won’t go *everywhere* on a bike in Denmark. And along with food and housing, getting around is a big part of the cost of living in Denmark. Here are a few tips to save money on trains, buses, cars, and even bike maintenance.
07:29 4/26/21
Saving money on food in Denmark
Anyone who has spent time living in Denmark knows that it’s one of the most expensive countries around. That’s true when it comes to food shopping, too. One Dane who had lived in the US explained it this way: “In Denmark, every supermarket is priced like Whole Foods.” For those of you who haven’t visited the States, Whole Foods is a high-end grocery chain nicknamed “Whole Wallet” or “Whole Paycheck.” But there are a few creative ways to save money on food in Denmark. Danes hate food waste, so the prices of some food in grocery stores actually drops near the end of the day or right before the item's expiration date.  You can visit farmer's markets, or if you live near the border, go shopping in Sweden or Germany to save cash.
08:43 3/24/21
Books about Denmark from the second hand store
I love old books. I love the kind of old books you get at antique bookstores or on the Internet Archive. And I have a good collection of old books about Denmark. I like old travel guides, most of which are still pretty useful because Denmark doesn’t tear a lot of things down the way they do, in say, Los Angeles or Hong Kong. In Denmark you’ll pretty much fine most castles and monuments right where somebody left them hundreds of years ago.  If you want to see a famous church or square or the Jelling Stone, your Baedecker guidebook from 1895 will work just fine for you in most cases.  But I can also recommend two great old books on Denmark, which you can probably find at your local antique book shop, or on DBA, the Danish auction site owned by eBay. 
06:33 2/27/21
Practical tips for moving to Denmark
While I’m not an authority on the Danish visa or immigration systems, I’m often asked for practical tips about moving to Denmark. So here are a few things to think about when you’re packing your suitcases or, if you’re doing a corporate move, packing your shipping container. Number one, make sure you bring money. Denmark is an expensive place to live where you will own less stuff, but better stuff. That said, there’s no need to bring much furniture, even mores if your furniture is nothing special. You can often buy Danish design furniture cheap at local second-hand stores and flea markets, and for everything else, there's always IKEA - in Denmark, or across the water in IKEA's homeland of Sweden. 
06:19 2/21/21
Gender equality in Denmark
Denmark has had two female prime ministers and about forty percent of the people elected to the Folketing, the Danish Parliament, are women.  But when it comes to private industry, Danish women have one of the lowest participation rates in management in Europe. According to the OECD, only 26.5% of managers in Denmark are female, compared to 39.8% in the US. It’s not unusual to see a senior management team made up entirely of Danish males, with perhaps a Swedish or German male thrown in for diversity.  That said, the majority of adult Danish women hold paying jobs. The Danish tax system makes it very difficult for a couple to survive on one income, even a hefty one. 
05:04 2/13/21

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