Monday, 24 January 2011

This one time, in Denmark...

Blockbusters smell the same all over the world. True story.

I have Rotary meetings at 5pm on Wednesdays, and when I take the bus I can either get there with 5 minutes to spare, or with 25. Back in the summer the busses were really reliable, but lately with all of the snow and such, sometimes they run a little bit late, so last Wednesday I took the early bus, and of course it came early, so I got to the station almost half an hour early. The hotel is a three minute walk from the station, but I didn’t want to be the first one to show up, so instead I walked around the main street for a bit. It was pretty cold, so I went into the first store that caught my eye, which just so happened to be Blockbuster. And as soon as I walked in, it was like I was right back in Canada. The movie selection was very small, and the movie backs were all in Danish, but overall it was almost exactly the same.

Right now I’m at my family’s summerhouse in a small town about an hour from Taastrup. There isn’t internet, so this won’t be posted until Sunday, but right now it’s Saturday and I’m sitting on the couch in the living room, a fire roaring in the fire place, and candles as our main light source. It’s just my host mom, Carina and me here, which is really nice and quiet. And with no internet, it’s a really good chance to just relax.

After 24 hours though, relaxation is turning into restlessness, so I thought it would be a good chance to sit down and write another blog post. One of my new years resolutions was to update this thing more often, so hopefully I can to stick to this.

This blog is going to focus on the small quirks that make Denmark unique from Canada. Things that at first were strange, but now make up the small parts of daily life here.

Breakfast food. Eggs? Bacon? Hash browns? Try chocolate, bread, cheese and meat. When I first got here Danish breakfast just didn’t do it for me. The first morning at intro camp when we walked into the dining hall, I was all geared up for the breakfast regulars, and was really disappointed when I saw the buffet. The idea of having bread and salami for breakfast wasn’t super appealing. And the over load of chocolate was a little bit overwhelming. (Even for me!)

But now I don’t even flinch as I grab two rolls, one with butter and salami or ham or something, and the other with nutella or pålægschokolade.(Shown in the picture on the left.) In fact, it’s something I look forward to now. I love Danish brunches.

On weekday mornings they have the regular cereal and whatever, but when it comes to family brunch, they focus on the lunch side, rather than the breakfast side, like we do in Canada. I think it’ll be fun when I get home to have a big danish style brunch and see what people think about it.

Stop lights, stop signs, crossing the street etc. I was with some of my classmates once in Copenhagen, and it was around midnight and the roads were dead. As in, there wasn’t a single car in a ten kilometer radius. The ‘don’t walk’ sign was flashing, but I still stepped into the road. And oh my goodness all hell broke loose. “Andrea! Stop! You’re going to get hit! You’re going to die!” Did I mention there were NO CARS anywhere? Back in Canada my friends and I went off campus every day for lunch, and we always took the ‘walk’ and ‘don’t walk’ signs as more of suggestions. As in, it’s telling us not to walk, and there is a bus approaching, but let’s still cross the street at a snails pace. But cars in Canada stop for you. Cars in Europe do not. Even if it looks like they’re about to stop, they don’t. Sometimes when I’m bored I’ll play the ‘can I get across the street before the car gets to me’ game. It’s a risky little game, but it gives me a nice rush.

And on the topic of the ‘walk’ and ‘don’t walk’ signals, in Canada, as soon as the light turns red, the ‘walk’ signs comes on, even if no one pressed the button. (You know the button you press a million

times because it only makes sense that the more times you press it the faster it will turn?) Well, in Denmark, the ‘walk’ sign won’t come on unless someone specifically pressed the button. Once, when I first got here, I was riding my bike into town, and it had been raining and the area surrounding the button was flooded, so I didn’t bother to press it. And the traffic light turned red, but the ‘walk’ sign never came on. And I couldn’t figure out why. I think I sat there for a good ten minutes, confused, before I just crossed the street and hoped I wouldn’t get hit. And then stop signs. They don’t have thered stop signs here. They have little arrows on the street that tell the cars to stop. And it still confuses me. The big red STOP signs are so obvious, but these little arrows on

the street are so easy to miss. And also, cars here don’t stop until the last possible second. So I’ll be on my bike just riding along, and I’ll be sure that I have the right of way, but that car is cutting it awfully close, and then I get all nervous and at the last second we both stop and I end up looking stupid. And my bike is from the dinosaur age, so when I stop it makes a horrible squeaking noise and all but falls apart, so people stare, which makes the situation even worse. But I mean, you don’t wear helmets here, so getting hit by a car is not something that I’d like to try.

Lunch. My first week in Denmark one of the Rotarians took me out for the day, and for lunch we had typical Danish smørrebrød.

Pronunciation? Stuff your mouth with oatmeal or a potato and that’ll be your best bet at saying it even remotely right. It’s pretty much an open faced sandwich on a very dark rye type bread called rugbrød. Again, at first I was craving good old fashioned sandwiches with two pieces of toast and normal meat and lettuce. But now I’ve grown to really like these very danish lunches. Before I came to Denmark people told me that Danes LOVE liver paste, and I was sure that it had to be gross. But now, “leverpastej and rugbrød” is my favorite lunch. It’s funny how your eating habits can change so drastically so fast!

Bikes. I don’t have too much to say on this topic besides these are a year-round-any-weather-any-temperature mode of transportation. After out first major snowfall when I figured people would put the bike away for the winter and start taking the busses. I was wrong. People ride through snowbanks here. They do not quit! It’s insane! And it’s not like they have hardcore mountain bikes either, they ride these cute little old fashioned one gear bikes. These things would never survive in Calgary with all of the hills. One of these days I will take a picture of the bike parking lot at my school. There are at least 20 times as many bikes as cars.

Moam and Chocolate Milk. Moam is almost like starburst, and it’s the cheapest candy you can get

here, and therefore is my favorite. And chocolate milk. Oh my goodness Denmark has the worlds best chocolate milk. Matilde and Cocio make the best chocolate milk I have ever had. (And on the topic of milk, Denmark has amazing milk! At home I never really liked milk, but here it’s almost sweet, and I really like it. And I think it’s thicker or something, because at home I hated skim or 1% milk because it was too watery, but here I only drink 0,5% or 1%, and anything higher than that is cream.)

TV. TV itself is the same in Denmark, but the big difference is that censoring is foreign concept here. Everything goes. TDC is a phone company here, and here are a couple of examples of their commercials that are played on a regular basis. My first night I was watching TV with my host mom and one of these commercials came on and I was like, this would never happen at home...

So I think that’s all for now. I hope you had fun seeing some of the quirky things that make Denmark so special. There are lots more, and I'll keep a list and do another post like this sometime.

Have a good week!


  1. Seeing your update pop up on facebook in the middle of a boring Norwegian class just made my day :)

    I was like nooo..facebook's messed up, she doesn't post this often..and then I was like YESSS


    Love it, as usual. Especially the part about the breakfasts!
    It's neat to see differences and similarities between Denmark and Norway

  2. Andrea, You officially made me miss just about everything i miss from Denmark. That being said, I loved your blog!

  3. :D
    So, you're officially awesome. We have that starburst-ish stuff here in holland too, I love it! Your blog made my day