Podcasts, Stories about life in Denmark

Danes and Fear: What is there to be afraid of in Denmark?

 
I was walking towards my home in Copenhagen the other day, when I walked past a kindergarten. It had a big, open playground with lots things for the kids to climb on, but nobody was climbing. The kids were all gathered around a giant, open bonfire. Now, these kids were 3 to 5 years old, and the flames of the bonfire were probably twice as tall as they were. But there was no restraining fence or barrier to keep them away from it. Just a couple of adults and some pails of water.

Big open fires, which are called bål, are pretty common in Denmark, even around children. Sometimes the kids even roast little pieces of bread over the fire, or rather, a long piece of dough curled around a stick. Snobrød, it’s called. Kids grow up learning not to be afraid of fire. Maybe that’s a legacy of Denmark being such a cold country; fires were once very important to staying alive.

Even at Tivoli in the winter, you’ll see open containers of flaming hot coals – you know, the sort of things you usually see in depictions of Hell in Dante’s Inferno. But at Tivoli Danish parents are carefully showing their children how to warm their little fingers over the hot coals. No fear.

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National Museum of Denmark shop book
Book, Stories about life in Denmark

Get your ‘How To Live in Denmark’ book at the National Museum of Denmark

Stop by the shop at Danmarks Nationamuseet /The National Museum of Denmark to get a paperback copy of the ‘How To Live in Denmark’ book in English or Chinese.

Denmark’s National Museum is located in downtown Copenhagen, and it’s got a great collection of Viking artifacts as well as a wonderful kids section where kids can dress up as Vikings and ride in a play Viking ship.

You can also buy a copy of the book at the Politiken Bookstore on Radhuspladsen, or at Made in Denmark on Brolæggergade 8. It can also be special-ordered from any bookstore in Denmark, although you may have to wait a couple of weeks.

Not in Denmark? You can get the How to Live in Denmark Book sent anywhere in the world, or download the How to Live in Denmark eBook right now!

Podcasts, Stories about life in Denmark

Danes and Spring: Hot wheat buns and highly-educated drunks

 
It’s spring in Denmark, and spring is by far my favorite season here. The wonderful white Scandinavian sunlight is back after the dark days of the winter, the flowers are coming out on the trees, and everybody’s in a good mood. The outdoor cafés are full of people again – sometimes draped in blankets to keep warm, but outside all the same.

April and May are often the best months for weather in Denmark, along with September. Summers can be rainy. And April is when Tivoli opens in Copenhagen. (Side note: when you see a man in Denmark with his trousers accidentally unzipped, you quietly inform him “Tivoli is open!”)

Tivoli is one of the world’s great non-disappointing tourist attractions – it’s constantly updated, with new shops, new rides, fresh flowers and fresh restaurants. And in the spring, it’s not as crowded as it is in the summer. You can hang out all day, have a picnic, ride the rollercoaster, even hear some bands play.

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Podcasts, Stories about life in Denmark

Danish Birthdays: Flags, Queens, and Remembering to Buy Your Own Cake

 

It has been said that Danish birthdays are the most important in the world. Adults, children, even the Queen of Denmark make a big deal about birthdays. And there is specific set of birthday rules and traditions for every age and role you play in life. Let’s face it, Danish birthday traditions are a minefield for foreigners. Get it wrong and you could make some serious birthday faux pas.

For example, if the sun is shining on your birthday, you may find Danish people thanking you. ‘Thanks for the sunshine’ they’ll say. This is because in Danish tradition, the weather on your birthday reflects your behavior over the past year. If you’ve been good, the weather is good. If you’ve been bad….well, then. You get depressing, grey, Danish rain.

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Events

The How To Live in Denmark game show event: Aarhus

How to Live in Denmark Jeopardy

If you’re in Aarhus on Wednesday, May 27, 2015, join us for the ‘How to Live in Denmark Game Show.’

We’ll be playing the game show at the Lakeside Lecture Hall, Aarhus University, 17:00 – 19:00. Admission is free!

We use the format of TV game shows – which are popular around the world – to put participants at their ease and get them interacting with each other. ‘How To Live in Denmark Jeopardy’ is one of our most popular games.

The Game Show host

A former staff member at Danske Bank, Carlsberg Breweries and Saxo Bank, Kay Xander Mellish runs her own communications consulting business in Copenhagen, Denmark. She is behind the podcast series ‘How to Live in Denmark’ and is the author of the book ‘How to Live in Denmark‘, available in English and Chinese.

Corporate bookings

If you represent a corporate or business group and would like to have Kay make a presentation at your location, please get in touch via this site’s contact form for more information.

How To Live in Denmark intercultural events are designed to make international employees feel more comfortable in Denmark, help them understand the Danish mindset, and give them something to chat about with their Danish colleagues besides just ‘shop talk.’

Contact Kay via this site’s contact form for more information, or download a PDF flier about How to Live in Denmark events to share with friends and colleagues.

This event has previously been held in at the main library in Gentofte, at DTU in Lyngby, at Studenterhuset in Copenhagen, in Esjberg and in Sønderborg.

Events

Book a “What is Danishness?”/”Hvad er Danskhed?” event

What does it mean to be Danish? Or, put in local terms, Hvad er Danskhed? In this intercultural event, Kay Xander Mellish will discuss Danishness from a foreigner’s perspective, and suggest ways that Danes and foreigners can understand each other better.

Kay Xander Mellish arrived in Denmark 14 years ago. A trained journalist and a former member of the communications staff at Danske Bank, Carlsberg Breweries and Saxo Bank, Kay runs her own communications consulting business in Copenhagen, Denmark. She is behind the podcast series ‘How to Live in Denmark’ and is the author of the book ‘How to Live in Denmark‘, available in English and Chinese.

Book Kay for your group

If you represent a corporate or community group and would like to have Kay make a presentation at your location, please get in touch via this site’s contact form for more information. Or download a PDF about How to Live in Denmark events you can share with colleagues.

This event was originally held at Politikens Akademi in Copenhagen.

Podcasts

Danes and Singing: Danish drinking songs, party songs, and foreigners who try to hum along

 

There have been very few international singing stars from Denmark, and that’s a surprise, because Danish people love to sing.

Joining choirs is very popular, and Danish schoolchildren often start the week with a song – in my daughter’s school, all the grades get together and sing something from the school’s common songbook.

There’s actually a kind of common songbook for all the children of Denmark, called De Små Synger, where you can find classics like Se Min Kjole (See my dress), Lille Peter Edderkop (Little Peter Spider) or Oles Nye Autobil, (Ole’s new car). Ole’s new car is actually a toy car that he uses to run into things, like his sister’s dollhouse. De Små Synger

In general, the Small Songs are a throwback to an older Denmark, a quieter Denmark where most people lived in the countryside. Many of the songs refer to green hilltops, or forests, or baby pigs or horses, or happy frogs that live in a swamp. And of course, all the humans in the Small Songs are entirely Danish – or ‘Pear Danish,’ as the local expression goes. One out of five children born in Denmark today is not an ethnic Dane, but there’s no such thing as Little Muhammed Spider or Fatima’s New Toy Car.

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In the Media

How To Live in Denmark in Politikken

In an article about whether the Danish reputation for being the ‘world’s happiest country’ helped attract tourists, Politikken asked Kay Xander Mellish what she thought.

»Jeg får mange spørgsmål fra folk i udviklingslande, og for dem er lykkemålingerne ikke så vigtige – de vil bare gerne til Danmark for at tjene godt. Men jeg får også mange spørgsmål fra folk i USA og andre lande, hvor mange i forvejen har det godt, og blandt dem er der stor interesse for, at danskerne er verdens lykkeligste folk«, siger Kay Xander Mellish.

Hun har netop udgivet en humoristisk guide til udlændinge om at bo i Danmark. Hendes forklaring på dansk lykke er, at man i Danmark har tilrettelagt livet, så mange har tid til både job og familie.

»I Danmark har man en balance mellem arbejde og fritid, som man slet ikke har, når man som jeg boede på Manhattan i New York, hvor alle konkurrerer med hinanden om alt fra jobs til lejligheder og kærester«, siger Kay Xander Mellish.

I sin bog ’How to Live in Denmark’ gør hun dog også op med misforståelser om danskernes lykke, som mange har.

»Især venstreorienterede amerikanere er meget optaget af, at sundhedsvæsnet og uddannelsessystemet i Danmark er gratis, som de siger. De sætter sig slet ikke ind i, at man faktisk betaler en langt højere skat og moms for at have det på den måde«, siger Kay Xander Mellish.

Read the Politikken article featuring How to Live in Denmark

Events

Book a “How to Find a Job in Denmark – even as a foreigner” presentation

Finding a job in Denmark is often a long, frustrating process – particularly if you’re not Danish. In this ‘How to Find a Job in Denmark’ presentation, we offer a few practical tips about how to research the Danish job market, how to network, and how to balance the enforced modesty of ‘Janteloven’ with promoting your skills at a job interview.

Kay Xander Mellish arrived in Denmark 14 years ago. She’s searched and found jobs at small Danish media agencies as well as Danske Bank, Carlsberg Breweries and Saxo Bank. Kay runs her own communications consulting business in Copenhagen, Denmark. She is behind the podcast series ‘How to Live in Denmark’ and is the author of the book ‘How to Live in Denmark‘, available in English and Chinese.

Book Kay for your group

If you represent a corporate or community group and would like to have Kay make a presentation at your location, please get in touch via this site’s contact form for more information. Or download a PDF about How to Live in Denmark events you can share with colleagues.

This event was originally held at Studenterhuset in Copenhagen.

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In the Media

Go’ Morgen Danmark welcomes HTLID

See the video: Kay Xander Mellish sat down with Go’ Morgen Danmark host Ida Wohlert to discuss the How to Live in Denmark book and what it’s like to be a foreigner in Denmark.

Ida and her team had put together a ‘foreigner’s survival kit’ that included a bicycle helmet – to protect yourself against Viking Danes in bicycle lanes – plus some Riberhus Mellemlageret cheese and a hammer, since Danes love to talk about their home renovation projects.

Watch the Go’ Morgen Danmark segment featuring How to Live in Denmark