The How To Live in Denmark Paperback Book
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This week's How To Live in Denmark Podcast:
DONALD DUCK, ANTI-DEPRESSANTS AND THE MYTH OF DANISH HAPPINESS

How To Live in Denmark
In the Media

Kay's Stories about Living in Denmark

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.

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‘Best Of’ Podcast: Christmas in Denmark Part 2: Get Yourself an Elf Hat

I’ve been living in Denmark so long I sometimes lose perspective. I forget what it’s like not to live in Denmark. Specifically, I forget that in most countries, adult men and women don’t want to walk around in an elf hat, even if it is Christmastime.

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Don’t mention the flag: What I learned when I studied for the Danish citizenship exam

There was no How to Live in Denmark podcast last week, and I apologize for that. I have been busy studying for my Danish citizenship exam. As some of you may know, Denmark is allowing double citizenship as of next year.

That means you’re are allowed to keep your passport from your home country – in my case, USA – while also becoming a Danish citizen. Personally, I’m a little concerned that this may be overturned if a right wing government takes power next year. Danske Folkeparti, which is now the biggest party in Denmark, is passionately opposed to double citizenship.

So like supermarket prices, this offer may be for a limited time only. I decided to get my Danish citizenship at the first opportunity.

Kings with bad dentistry
To become a Danish citizen, you have to take a Danish language test and a citizenship exam that tests your knowledge of Denmark and Danish culture. That’s the test I will take on Tuesday. It’s only given twice a year, and it costs 700 crowns to take, so you might as well get it right the first time.

So I have been studying hard. Actually, I started out by studying the wrong thing. There were several quizzes online that tested your knowledge of Danish history – like Harald Bluetooth. Did you know your Bluetooth headset was named after 10th century Danish King? I did not. Harald Bluetooth was the first king to accept Christianity to Denmark. Whether or not he actually had blue teeth, which suggests some pretty bad Viking dentistry, remains unknown.

So I took the online practice quizzes, and I learned a lot of other things. I learned about King Christian the Fourth, who build the round tower in Copenhagen.

And I learned about King Christian the Seventh, who was crazy and ended up being portrayed in a movie that also starred Mads Mikkelsen.

I learned the legend of the Danish flag, which is that it fell from heaven in 1214 when the Danes were losing a battle in Estonia. The flag lead Denmark to an exciting come-from-behind victory.

Then I found out that none of this stuff was going to be on the test.

Designed by self-promoting Danish civil servants
Apparently the test has just been redesigned. Everything on the test, I learned, will now come from a pamphlet from the Education Ministry with the catchy title of Democracy and Daily Life in Denmark. I’d like to see Mads Mikkelsen in that movie.

Anyway, the book is 94 pages long in PDF form. It’s produced by Danish civil servants, and it’s basically one long advertisement for Danish civil servants. Faced with a bunch of foreigners who will soon be able to vote to get rid of them, they are eager to show off what they can do and why they are important.

There are sections on income support, housing support, unemployment compensation, old-age pensions, and child care. To misquote John F. Kennedy, the book is not about what you can do for Denmark, but what Denmark can do for you.

Hear the rest of the story in the full podcast Don’t mention the flag: What I learned when I studied for the Danish citizenship exam in your browser, or subscribe to the podcast for free on iTunes.

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Moving to Denmark

Rather read? The How To Live in Denmark book contains transcripts from the first season of the How To Live in Denmark podcast, including 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.’ Buy the paper version of the book suitable for giving, or download the Ebook on Amazon.com and Saxo.com and Apple’s iBooks Store. It can be read on any electronic tablet or telephone, using the free Kindle app or iBooks.

Donald Duck, Anti-depressants and the Myth of Danish Happiness

Whenever I hear that Denmark is the happiest country in the world, I think of Donald Duck.

Donald Duck is extremely popular in Denmark, as he is in all Nordic countries. He is much more popular than Mickey Mouse. He even has his own Danish name – Anders And. Which means, basically, Anders the Duck.

I don’t know how much you know about Disney characters, but Donald Duck – or Anders Duck – is kind of a second-class citizen. While Mickey Mouse is the perfect gentleman, outgoing and take charge, the face of Disney, Donald is lazy. He likes to come up with clever ways to avoid work, or avoid any exercise whatsoever. He’s often short-tempered, and jealous of Mickey.

Donald Duck is an underdog, and Danes identify with the underdog. They identify with the idea of low expectations, and then being pleasantly surprised when things turn out well.

This is the secret to Danish happiness. While Americans might identify with bright, happy Mickey, there’s a lot of room for disappointment if your bright, happy plans don’t work out the way you hoped they would.

Dashed expectations

Danes are OK with dashed expectations, of disappointment. Denmark is a small country, often tossed around by big countries. Denmark hasn’t won a war in more than 400 years, during which time they’ve lost a lot of territory. Parts of Sweden, parts of Germany, all of Norway. And Denmark has long been an agricultural country in a tough climate, with crops that sometimes succeed and sometimes fail.

The Denmark we know now is hip, green, and confident. But 100 to 200 years ago, Denmark was one of the poorest countries in Europe.

So, given their history, Danes have turned this repeated disappointment into a form of humor called ‘self-irony’, the ability to make fun of yourself.

Failure beer

For example, there’s an old tradition called the kvajebajer, or a ‘Failure Beer’. When you’ve made a big mistake or a made big fool of yourself, you treat the people who saw you to a pint of beer. I read in an interview with one of Denmark’s great young ballet stars, Alban Leindorf, that he’d fallen down during practice while trying to do a tricky pirouette. That evening, he bought kvajebajer – failure beer – for all the other dancers who had witnessed his fall.

In the honor-based Asian countries, if you make a mistake, you lose face, it’s very embarrassing. You’ll do anything you can to hide it. In Denmark, if you fail you’re expected to not just admit it, but pretend to celebrate it. It shows you don’t take yourself too seriously, that you don’t think you’re better than anyone else. And that’s very, very Danish.

Hear the rest of the story in the full podcast Donald Duck, Anti-depressants and the Myth of Danish Happiness in your browser, or subscribe to the podcast for free on iTunes.

Download_on_iTunes_Badge_US-UK_110x40_1004

stitcher_banner

rss_icon_tiny

like_us

twitter_button

.

Moving to Denmark

Rather read? The How To Live in Denmark book contains transcripts from the first season of the How To Live in Denmark podcast, including 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.’ Buy the paper version of the book suitable for giving, or download the Ebook on Amazon.com and Saxo.com and Apple’s iBooks Store. It can be read on any electronic tablet or telephone, using the free Kindle app or iBooks.

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