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This week's How To Live in Denmark Podcast:

How To Live in Denmark
In the Media

Inequality in Denmark: Private Schools and Migrants Who Sleep in Sandboxes

I was on Danish morning TV recently, which isn’t really something to boast about. In a country of 5 million people, 10 guests a show, 365 days a year – you do the math. Just about everyone gets on TV sooner or later.

Some of my friends and colleagues mentioned that they had seen me, stumbling through with my imperfect Danish, trying to promote my book, How to Live in Denmark. But just some of my friends and colleagues. Specifically, it was my friends and colleagues who work in trendy creative industries – advertising, app designers, actors.

That’s because I was on TV at 8:45 in the morning, when people in those industries are just getting out of bed in preparation to roll into the office around 10.

My friends who have more conventional office jobs, like working in a bank, have to be their desk at 9am, so some of them had seen teasers – you know, coming up next, someone who doesn’t speak Danish properly, trying to promote a book – but they hadn’t seen the show itself.

And my friends who do real, physical work had no idea I was on TV at all. Airport tarmac staff, postal carriers, builders. They start work at 7am. Or even earlier, as you’ll know if you’ve ever had your deep sleep interrupted by a Danish builder banging on something outside your house at, say, 5:30 in the morning.

While there’s no official class system in Denmark, there is when it comes to working hours. And working clothing – people who work with their hands often wear blue jumpsuits to and from work, or painters pants, or bright fluorescent vests if they work outside in the dark. People in the creative industries wear aggressively ugly eyeglasses, and unusual shoes, and the men have chic little Hugo Boss scarves around their necks.

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Cat Bites and Dental Vacations: The Ups and Downs of the Danish Health Care System

I’ve just arrived back in Denmark after a couple of weeks in the US and the night I got back, my cat bit me. This was not just a little affectionate peck – Fluffy used her sharp teeth, her fangs, to create four bleeding puncture wounds in my leg. I suppose it was partly my fault – I put a call on speakerphone. Fluffy doesn’t like speakerphone, because she can hear a person, but she can’t see one, so she assumes I’m some evil magician who has put a person inside a little glowing box, and she bites me.

So I was bleeding, and I did what I did the last time she bit me….which was a couple of months ago, the last time I used speakerphone: I called 1813, the Danish government’s non-emergency line for off-hour medical situations.

I waited about 5 minutes for a nurse to take the call, and she asked me some questions about the size and location of the bite, and whether or not I’d had a tetnus shot recently. I hadn’t, so she made an appointment for me at the local emergency room for about an hour later.

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I speak Danish. I have lived in Denmark for more than a decade, and I speak it reasonably well, or at least well enough to appear in my daughter’s school play in a Danish-speaking role. Other foreigners frequently ask me for my advice on how to learn Danish.

It wasn’t easy. For the first few years, I made plenty of mistakes.

Like, for example, the time when I was forced to quickly leave a sublet apartment, and told everybody that I was not thrown out (smidt ud) but thrown out the window (kastet ud.) Or like the time I went past the Fødevareministeriet (Agricultural Ministry) and, getting fødevarer confused with fodtøj, wondered why Denmark had such a big ministry for shoes.


If you love the How to Live in Denmark podcast, you’ll love our first book. It contains transcripts from the podcast’s first year, along with extra content about why and how Kay came to Denmark. Enjoy text versions of popular podcasts such as ‘How to Date a Danish Woman’ ‘How to Date a Danish Man’ and ‘No Planned Hangovers: 14 Years After Moving to Denmark, Here are Some Ways I Won’t Fit In.’ Paperback, 144 pages. It’s a perfect gift for someone new to Denmark or thinking about coming to Denmark. The author will be happy to autograph the book at no charge on request.