August in Denmark brings the first signs of fall: a crisp chill in the air, the changing color of the leaves, the annual posters warning drivers to be aware of small children riding their bikes to school for the first time.
And foreign university students in the local 7-11, asking that their buns be warmed up.
I saw a newly-arrived young American student in my local 7-11 this morning, asking that her newly-purchased bun be warmed. The 7-11 clerk told her sorry, but there were no bun-warming services available at that branch.
She wasn’t too pleased, but it’s always a mistake to expect U.S., U.K., or Asian-level concepts of customer service in Denmark: in this egalitarian country, nobody serves anybody, and if they do they are frequently grumpy about it. You and the store clerk are equals, and nobody’s going to warm anybody’s buns unless it was agreed to in the original deal.
Denmark is a small country, and Danish people tend to think small things are good. Small cars. Small homes. Small ambitions when it comes to international team sports. But one thing in Denmark is never small – a baby carriage.
Danes seem to believe that a carriage (or pram) for a new baby should be roughly the size of a hotel room on wheels.
Inside, baby will be wrapped up warm with a fat feather blanket – even in the summer. There will also be room for pillows, books, toys, snacks, diapers and extra clothes in the giant baby carriage.
Danish babies are like rolling royalty. Everything they need is at their tiny fingertips.
Have you ever seen the movie The Wizard of Oz? It’s a classic. When Dorothy arrives in the land of Oz, the first thing she’s asked is – are you a good witch, or a bad witch?
I was having lunch with a friend this week. Over club sandwiches she said, its a shame there’s only one word for foreigner in Danish, when actually there are two types of foreigner here.
I got her point, even though I think there’s only one word for ‘foreigner’ in most languages. What she was really saying is, there’s no single way in Danish to say, Are you a good foreigner, or a bad foreigner?
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.
In general, Danes are not gossips, particularly about the sex lives of people they know.
It’s partly the Danish fetish for privacy, partly the basic acceptance of all things sexual, partly the lack of naughty excitement about all things sexual.
Danish politicians, for example, don’t have sex scandals. French politicians have sex scandals. American politicians have sex scandals. Danish politicians have tax scandals.
They could be bedding down every night with a chimpanzee and the Danish media wouldn’t touch it.