How to Live in Denmark

How to Live in Denmark Podcast

Living as a foreigner in Denmark, one of the world's most homogenous countries, isn't always easy. In this podcast Kay Xander Mellish, an American who has lived in Denmark for more than a decade, relates her thoughts about Danish current events, as well as offering tips on how to find someone to talk to and how to find something to eat.

Denmark and the Coronavirus Summer
It’s a funny kind of summer this year in Copenhagen, quieter than usual, and more like a family event than a cosmopolitan city. Coronavirus came early to Denmark, the borders were shut down early, but they’re mostly open now to other Europeans. But the change came too late for many people to make summer vacation plans, so many of the usual tourist attractions are slightly forlorn.  There are a few Europeans around the Little Mermaid and the Royal Palaces, but not many. And there are no huge cruise ships ful...

copenhagen denmark danmark kbenhavn

Animals and Denmark: Swans, pigs, and horses
Among the many cultural questions I ask audiences during my How to Live in Denmark Game Show is “Which animal represents Denmark best?”? There never seems to be an obvious or generally agreed-upon answer. Sure, the bear represents Russia, the elephant Thailand, and the bald eagle the United States. But what about Denmark? Denmark does have a national animal – the mute swan (Cygnus olor) – but an image of a swan doesn’t provoke the kind of immediate association with Denmark that, say, a koala bear does with ...

denmark dansk danmark dyreliv

The Danish Alcohol Culture
Alcohol has a long history in Denmark. The Vikings brewed four types of beverages: ale, mead, fruit wine, and syra, a fermented milk – and for many centuries Danish babies have eaten øllebrød, which is a mix of old bread scraps and beer. Fast forward a few centuries, and alcohol is still part of almost every Danish gathering. Early in 2020, the EU Commission reported that Denmark placed an unhappy first in Europe in binge drinking and that it was one of the reasons Danes have the shortest expected lifespan ...

alcohol denmark alcoholism danishculture


Debt in Denmark
January, February, and March are some of the dreariest months in Denmark – it’s dark, with no Christmas lights to pep it up – and many people are dealing with a heavy load of year-end debt from traveling, parties, dining out, and gifts. Along with religion, personal finance is a topic that is rarely discussed in Denmark. But the country has one of the highest rates of household debt in the world.  And once you get into debt in Denmark, it can be very difficult to get out.   Mortgages, credit cards, text-mes...

debt denmark

Making Danish friends: A few tips based on experience
If you’re newly arrived in Denmark, making Danish friends is not easy – in fact, surveys show that one of the main reasons internationals end up leaving is the difficulty of building a network. The irony is that Danes are actually very good at friendship. Their friendships are strong, reliable, and deep-rooted. Friends can count on each other. But because Danes take friendships so seriously, they like to keep their number of friendships under control. They don’t want to take on more friends than they can ke...

denmark dansk danish danmark

Nudity in Denmark: The naked truth
The relaxed approach to nudity in Denmark can be a surprise for many newcomers. It’s something they’re often confronted with at the local swimming hall, where a very large and strong attendant insists that they take off their entire swimsuit and shower thoroughly before going into the pool. Stripping off in front of strangers is new for a lot of internationals, and some try to place it a larger context of Danish morality. It hasn’t been entirely forgotten that Denmark was the first country in the world to l...

denmark dansk danish danmark


Politeness in Denmark: Some thoughts on Danish etiquette
“Is there politeness in Denmark?”  That was the question I was recently invited on a national TV show to discuss. The implication was that I was supposed to say that Danes were not at all polite, because effusive praise and cheerful agreement make for a rather dull TV show. But Danes are not impolite. They have their own version of courteous behaviour, which is based on reinforcing aspects of their culture that they care about....

denmark dansk etiquette danish politeness danmark

What I say when I'm welcoming newcomers to Denmark
One of my favorite types of speaking engagement is introducing Denmark to some of the smart, motivated young people arriving from around the world to study at Danish universities. Since the publication of my first book, How to Live in Denmark, I’ve been speaking regularly to audiences of new arrivals, and I probably learn as much from them as they learn from me. Among the things I’ve learned is that the aspects of Danish culture that the Danes are most proud of can be troublesome for newcomers....

denmark danish danmark

Summer Vacation in Denmark: The Agony and the Ecstasy
Planning your summer vacation in Denmark is like playing the lottery. You could hit it lucky, with golden days and long, warm evenings, when you can sit with friends in the soft light and drink hyldeblomst cocktails. Or you could get grey day after grey day, interspersed with a little rain whenever it is least convenient. The weather could be chilly, leaving your cute new summer clothes to sit disappointed in your closet while you wear your boring long trousers again and again. I find that locals tend to ba...

denmark summer danmark


April Fool's in Denmark, and the rough game of Danish humor
April 1st is April Fool’s Day – Aprilsnar in Danish – and each Danish newspaper will feature a clever but false story for the unwary to be fooled by. To some extent every day is April Fool’s Day in Denmark, because Danish humor is a rough humor. Danes show affection by making fun of each other. And, as an international, they might make fun of you too. This is a good thing: that means they have accepted you into the circle of Danishness. But it doesn’t mean that the intersection of non-Danes and Danish humor...

denmark dansk danish danmark selvironi

Motivating Danish employees: Tips for Foreign Managers
Motivating Danish employees is very different than motivating other groups of people because there are two big factors missing – hierarchy and fear.  We don’t like to talk about the fear part in our various countries of origin, but the fact is true that in the US, UK, China, India, and in parts of Europe, someone who loses their job can be in a lot of trouble. They may have trouble paying their bills, might lose their house, might not have access to health care, might not be able to send their kids to unive...

The sound of Denmark? Quiet. Very quiet
Denmark is a quiet country, even within the cities. Especially this time of year, February, when it’s too cold to do anything but scurry from place to place, when the street cafés are closed and no one wants to eat their lunch in the park. The Danes are hibernating in their homes until the spring. And especially when a blanket of snow covers the cities and countryside. Then everything around you will be beautifully, peacefully, totally quiet. This Danish quiet can freak out a lot of internationals when they...

denmark expat internationals danmark


Tips for Living with a Danish Family
As the new academic semester starts up, some of you may be planning to live in a Danish home. It could be you’ll rent a room in a household, maybe you’ll be part of a Danish host family, or maybe you’ll just be staying with Danish friends. I thought it might be useful to have some tips on living with a Danish family. First of all, if you’re used to having your parents or domestic workers do most of the household chores – things are about to change. Danish families generally don’t have live-in domestic worke...

Christmas gift giving in Denmark: Package games, Almond Gifts, and Why It's OK to Exchange Whatever You Get
Like so many other aspects of life in Denmark, gift giving in the holiday season comes with dozens of unwritten rules and unspoken expectations. Should you give a gift to your boss? What about your colleagues? Will you and your Danish friends exchange gifts? And why does almost every store in Denmark ask if you want a “gift sticker” when you buy something? Here are a few basic tips about gift giving in Denmark....

denmark christmas jul danmark julegave


Autumn in Denmark: The slow fading of the light
Autumn in Denmark actually starts in mid-August, when the kids go back to school. Danish kids have a very short holiday – usually only about 6 weeks. By late August, you can definitely feel a little fall crispness in the air. By September the leaves start to turn color, and by the end of October many of the trees are already bare for the winter. But what really defines fall in Denmark is the slow fading of the light....

copenhagen denmark autumn

The story behind the How to Live in Denmark Podcast: Fifth anniversary episode
This is a special episode, because this is the fifth anniversary of the How to Live in Denmark podcast.The podcast began in the summer of 2013; at the time I’m recording this, it is near the end of Summer 2018. We’ve had more than 80 episodes and around a million streams and downloads. Most importantly, I’ve received a lot of messages from people like you saying that the podcast and the books that have come out of the podcast have been really helpful for you in adjusting to Denmark. I’m so happy to hear tha...

denmark dansk danish mellish danmark

Danish humor: Sarcasm, 'self irony', and failure beer
Having a sense of humor about yourself – what the Danes call “self-irony” – is one of the most important elements of fitting into Danish society and the Danish workplace. In Denmark, if you drop the ball at work, drop your lunch entrée down the front of your business shirt, or make a fool of yourself for any other reason, you’re supposed to be able to laugh at your own bumbling. This can take a while to get used to for foreigners from countries where status or honor or “face” is very important. In fact, the...

denmark dansk danish danmark


Is learning to speak Danish worth it?
Learning to speak Danish can be difficult, even if you speak its close linguistic cousins, English and German. While the written language isn’t too tough to figure out, the spoken language is a headache. Danes pronounce only small bits of each word and smash those small bits together. Even the Swedes and Norwegians have trouble understanding spoken Danish. If you’re only in Denmark for a short time, is it worth it to learn more than just the basic pleasantries in Danish?...

copenhagen denmark dansk danish danmark kbenhavn

What to wear to work in Denmark: Fashion in blue, black, grey, and for the adventurous - beige
There’s no reason to spend a lot on what you wear to work in Denmark. Danes, by nature, are not flashy dressers. In most Danish business environments, you’ll be perfectly well dressed in a fitted pair of business trousers, dark shoes, and a solid-color sweater or dress shirt. Male or female, you’ll never go wrong with quiet colors like burgundy, dark blue, dark green, black or - for the adventurous - beige.  Subtle good taste is the preferred style. Obvious designer labels are considered tacky, but quality ...

denmark dansk danish danmark arbejdskultur

Your first day at work in Denmark: Flowers, handshakes, passwords, and several people named Mette
On your first day at work in Denmark, you may find a pretty bouquet of flowers on your desk to welcome you. (This terrified a Chinese acquaintance of mine, who was accustomed to receiving flowers on her *last* day at work. She thought she’d been fired before she ever sat down.) In Denmark, the bouquet is just a way to say “welcome” and to add some sunshine to an arduous day that is sure to include many handshakes and computer passwords. Someone will probably be appointed as your “mentor” on the first day o...

copenhagen denmark danmark arbejdskultur arbejdspladskultur


Can I date my Danish colleague?
Many Danes meet their future spouses at work. Yet there are also strict laws in Denmark against sexual harassment. Where do you draw a line between harassment and two adults developing tender feelings for each other? -------------- Given the Danes’ fondness for alcohol, many inter-office romances start at the annual Christmas party. Ms. X and Mr. Y drink a bottle of wine or two, wiggle suggestively together on the dance floor, and depart to one or the other’s home in a taxi to complete the evening. The next...

dating romance denmark sexual danish harassment

Understanding your Danish boss: Less like a general, more like a sports coach
In an anti-authoritarian country like Denmark, being a boss is a precarious (social) position. Danish bosses don’t like to flaunt their authority. In fact, when you enter a room of Danes, it is often difficult to tell which one is the boss. The social cues that point to a big cheese in other cultures – the flashy watch, the oversize office, the glamorous yet servile executive assistant – are considered poor taste in egalitarian Denmark. So are the booming, take-charge personalities many foreigners may expec...

management danish danmark ledelse erhverv

The Danish Flag: 800 years old and going out fashion?
People visiting Denmark can’t help but notice that the Danish flag is everywhere. Christmas trees here are decorated with little Danish flags. Cucumbers in the supermarket have Danish flags on them to show they’re grown in Denmark. Whenever a member of the Danish royal family has a birthday, two little Danish flags are stuck on the front of every Copenhagen bus. The Danish flag is closely associated with Danish birthdays. If you have a birthday when you’re working in a Danish office, one of your colleagues ...

denmark flag danish danes


Your free daily banana and five weeks off: Job benefits in Denmark
On-the-job benefits in Denmark come in three categories: the kind every Danish worker gets, the kind everyone at your company gets, and the kind everyone at a certain level in your company gets.  When you talk with a future employer, you can negotiate your salary, but there’s not all that much room for negotiation on benefits. In most cases, as American kindergarteners say, “You get what you get and you don’t get upset.” Fortunately, the benefits tend to be generous. This is a chapter from my upcoming book,...

copenhagen denmark danish danes

Danish gangsters: Night-time helicopters and the risks of a knit hat
If you live in Denmark or follow the Danish media, you’ll know there’s been a lot of talk of gangsters over the past week. One Danish gang is trying to expand at the expense of another gang, and this summer there have been about 25 shootings in Copenhagen, generally in the northern neighborhoods – my neighbourhood. Somebody was shot outside my supermarket, somebody else was shot outside the school near my house, and a couple of people have been shot just walking down the street. Most of the victims are othe...

copenhagen denmark gangs gangsters danes

The Trailing Spouse in Denmark
A generation ago, expat spouses in Denmark were mostly “cookie pushers” – stay-at-home-wives who supported their husbands’ careers with chic little cocktail parties for his business associates. They ran the house and the family while he ran the world. Spouses today are different. Most come to Denmark after finishing their advanced educations, and they are sometimes mid-career. A good portion are men. A lot of contemporary spouses don’t want to stay at home, and even if they did, that’s rarely affordable in ...

copenhagen denmark danish expat


Why job titles aren't important in Denmark
One of the most important words in the Danish language is "ligestilling"  – equality. The belief that all (Danish) people are basically equal permeates every relationship and every interaction. Fancy job titles do not fit into that passion for equality. They suggest you think you’re better than someone else. Which you might actually be, if you’ve worked your way to the top of your field, but that admission is slightly embarrassing. If you do have an impressive job title, it's considered bad taste to show it...

arbejdskultur danskhed jobsoegning

Danish union vs A-kasse: What's the difference?
When you first arrive in Denmark to work or look for work, the last thing you need is another monthly expense. So many foreigners “save money” by not joining a union. And I was one of them. To be honest, joining a union never even occurred to me. In the US, unions are either for hands-on workers – steelworkers, hotel maids – or for civil servants, like schoolteachers and cops. Knowledge workers and creative types are almost never unionized. But that’s not true in Denmark, where engineers, doctors, lawyers, ...

copenhagen denmark dansk danish unions danmark akasse

Networking in Denmark: 5 useful tips for making Danish business contacts
Networking in Denmark is tough, even for Danes. This is a culture where it’s considered bad manners to talk to someone you don’t know, unless you’re drunk, in which case all bets are off. That said, most jobs in Denmark are found via networks. Somebody mentions on their LinkedIn profile that they’re looking for a new team member and the cv’s from friends of friends and old classmates start flowing in. And since “fitting in” is such an important part of the Danish work culture, someone from the network is mo...


It's all about the cake: The secrets of socializing with your Danish colleagues
When you work in a Danish office, you’ll often find yourself invited to impromptu in-office social events with your Danish colleagues. Somebody’s birthday, someone’s having a baby, somebody has been with the company for 10 years, someone is going on vacation the next day. And they almost all involve cake. Cake is very important in Denmark. Cake builds bridges. Cake makes friends. And when there’s cake on offer, as a foreigner, it’s a good idea to show up and accept it. When I first started working in a Dani...

copenhagen denmark dansk danish danes danmark kbenhavn

The Danish art of taking time off
When I first began working in Denmark, people used to start saying around April or May, “So – are you taking three or four?” What they meant was, are you taking three or four weeks off for your summer vacation?  Now, in the United States, where I come from, even taking two weeks off is extravagant. You always have the feeling that if you’re gone too long, there may not be a job waiting for you when you get back. In Denmark, a long summer vacation is legally required. If you have a full-time job, you get six...

copenhagen denmark danish danmark kbenhavn

The Danish job interview
If you’ve been asked for a job interview at a Danish company, congratulations. Danish companies don’t like to waste time, so they wouldn’t be setting aside time to meet you if they didn’t think there was a solid chance they might hire you. Job interviewing in Denmark is a difficult balance, because the Jantelov makes all forms of bragging or self-promotion distasteful to the Danes. You’ve got to convince the person interviewing you that you’re skilled and capable without sounding like a used car salesman....

interview jobs copenhagen denmark job danmark


Finding a job in Denmark: Cover Letters, LinkedIn, plus two magic words
I often give presentations to job hunters in Denmark, and I tell them there are two words you can add to your cover letter that will virtually guarantee that it will be carefully read. What are those two words? The name of someone you know who already works at the company. Of course, you should only use a current employee’s name with his or her permission, and ask each time you use it. There’s always the chance that your contact and this particular hiring manager may be bitter enemies, or that a company is ...

jobs copenhagen denmark danmark

Looking for a job in Denmark: Your Danish cv (And why you might want to consider a Danish nickname)
When you're putting together a cv for Denmark, titles and grades and long descriptions of examinations (unless they’re required for the job, as they are for accountants, architects and engineers) aren’t a golden ticket to employment, even if you’ve attended an excellent school.   Your Danish cv should focus on projects you've worked on, and how your contributions to those projects relate to the job at hand....

jobs copenhagen denmark danmark kbenhavn

Getting a job in Denmark: Fine-tuning your approach to the Danish job market
Foreigners in general are often trying to look for a job in a way that works well in their home country, not Denmark. Basically, this works as about as well as trying to tell your new girlfriend the same jokes that made your old girlfriend laugh. If the setting is Denmark, the approach has to be Danish. Danish jobs are all about independence and teamwork. It’s not like they need a red Lego brick and you have to convince them you’re a red Lego brick to get the job. The employer has a problem that needs solvi...

jobs in employment denmark working


How to date a Dane: The two-speed bicycle and the flexible word
In Denmark, romance is like a two-speed bike. Speed one is casual sexual affairs with someone you may never see again: speed two is a serious relationship where you’ll be expected to go to all your partner’s dull family events. There’s not much of a middle. And what there definitely is not is dating....

Danes and Beauty: Miss Denmark, the empty museum, and why you shouldn't expect compliments
If you really want to get a Dane all hot and bothered, start talking about some thing that is beautifully designed. In Denmark, beauty is usually found in something practical that has been very well designed. Housewares, particularly kitchenwares, are a Danish design favorite. They don’t have to be from expensive materials, but they have to be simple, streamlined, and work flawlessly. The beauty is in the usefulness....

design denmark beauty

Arriving in Denmark: Some tips from my experience
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 avail...

denmark danes


Danish babies: Rolling Royalty and Tribal Names
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 clot...

Private-equity pastry and the decline of bodegas: How Denmark is changing
Every country changes, and so does Denmark. When I hold How to Live in Denmark events, people often ask me how Denmark is changing, or has changed since I got here fifteen years ago. I could name a hundred things, but the first one that always comes to mind is food and drink. Shotglasses are out, snaps and Gammel Dansk is out, fine wine (almost always bought on sale at the supermarket) is in. The small food stores that used to be on every corner in Denmark – the ‘pålæg’ or sausage shop, the fish shop, the...

Danes and Fear: What is there to be afraid of in Denmark?
In general, Denmark is not a fearful country.  You could argue, what is there to be afraid of in Denmark?  It seems like a safe little corner of the world.  Tax-funded social programs make it unlikely you’ll go hungry or homeless, as long as you have that little yellow social service card that shows you're here legally. Your medical care and education is paid for by taxes – yours or somebody else’s.  Even if you lose your job – and it’s very easy in Denmark for companies to get rid of workers they don’t wan...

copenhagen denmark danish danes danmark kbenhavn


Spring in Denmark: 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: whe...

copenhagen denmark danish kbenhavn aarhus

Danish Birthday Traditions
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’ ...

denmark birthdays danish

Danes and Singing
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 ‘Det Små Synger’, where you can find classics like ‘Se Min Kjole’  (See my dress), Lille Peter Edder...

copenhagen denmark danish danmark


Danes and Inequality: 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, 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, not all.  Specifically, it was my friends and colleagues who work in trendy creative indust...

denmark inequality geni

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 ...

'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.   In Denmark, the red and white elf hat is part of any Christmas activity where alcohol is involved, and a few where when alcohol isn’t involved. Children occasionally wear elf hats, which are called nissehue in Danish. But you’re more likely to see an elf h...

copenhagen danish danes danmark kbenhavn


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 home country passport  - 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 part...

Donald Duck, Anti-Depressants, and the Myth of Danish Happiness
Hello, and welcome to the How to Live in Denmark podcast.  I'm Kay Xander Mellish.  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....

Danes and Environmentalism: Why a country that loves green tech is the world's fourth-biggest polluter
It's been a beautiful autumn here in Denmark.  Warm, with golden sun, blue skies, red and yellow and orange leaves on the trees.  Just gorgeous.  And unusually warm for Denmark. It's always exciting when, instead of wearing your winter coat every day from October to April, you can wear it every day from November to April.  But this unusually pleasant weather can’t help but spark conversation about global warming.  So far the biggest impact climate change has had in Denmark are some severe rainstorms, when e...


Are you a good foreigner, or a bad foreigner? How the Danes categorize newcomers to Denmark
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, and, over club sandwiches she said, its a shame there's only one word for foreigner in Danish, when actually there's two types of foreigner here. I got her point, even though I think there's only one word for foreigner in most languages.  But what she's was really saying is, there's no singl...

The 8:00 meeting is not an 8:05 meeting: Do's and Don'ts in Denmark
I did a little crowdsourcing for this week's podcast.   I asked some of our listeners, and some people on Facebook - what were some of the small cultural mistakes  - the dos and don'ts, the faux pas - you made when you first arrived in Denmark? I got a whole selection of answers.  Don't keep your shoes on while entering someone's home was one thing.  Don't arrive even a few minutes late was another. The 8:00 meeting is not an 8:05 meeting.  Trying to bum a cigarette - not done in Denmark.  Calling after 9:3...

The Little Match Girl and the Fur Industry: Danes and China
Normal.dotm 0 0 1 18 108 KXM Group 1 1 132 12.0 0 false 18 pt 18 pt 0 0 false false false /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-fam...


How to make friends in Denmark; or 'Friendship in Denmark is a slow-growing plant.'
I was in London this week, and did a little fall wardrobe shopping.   I got tired after walking for awhile, and it was lunchtime, so I sat down in a pub.  I had a beer and a fish and chips and a British guy next to me was also having a beer and fish and chips and so we just chatted through lunch.  We talked about politics, the weather, the job market.  After lunch, we waved goodbye and I went back to shopping.  It was a fun lunch, but I never found out his name. The reason I mention this is that it never co...

Danes and English, or "Can I live in Denmark without speaking Danish?"
I get a lot of mail at the How To Live in Denmark podcast, and some of it is from people who want to move to Denmark, but they’re not sure what to do to make money once they get here.  But, I do speak English, they say.  Can I make money in Denmark just off of just speaking English? Generally, no.  No you can’t.  I mean, I do, but I was an experienced journalist before I got here. But English is not a rare commodity in Denmark.  Danish children start learning English when they’re six years old.  And because...

copenhagen denmark danish expat danmark kbenhavn

Danes and Authority: The giant penis on the wall, or how to deal with Danish civil servants
When you think you’re talking to the authorities in Denmark, you’re often not talking to the authorities. If it comes to bus service, train service, unemployment compensation, homeless shelters, construction, even fire protection and ambulance services – you will be talking to a private company hired by the authorities. At any rate, some things are still run directly by the government, like the immigration service and local affairs.  So there are some times when you do need to speak to civil servants in Den...


What I like about Denmark
I got an email a couple of weeks ago at howtoliveindenmark.com from a Danish woman who now lives in Germany.  She says that this podcast helps her keep in touch with life back home, but that she doesn’t really like it.  She writes: “I have to tell you, that almost every story has a negative ring to it when you portray your thoughts on Denmark and Danes. I cannot shake the feeling, that you really deep down, do not like Danes or Denmark. I find this sad, as you have been living there now over a decade.” Lady...

More thoughts on Danish summer: The downside of the 'light times'
If you’re in Denmark right now, you’ll know that we’re coming up on the year’s longest day this week.  June 21.  You know it because it starts getting light at 4 in the morning, and the sun doesn’t go down until 10:30 or 11 at night and then you’re up again at 4 in the morning. In between it never gets really dark, just like in December it never gets very light. During the dark times, I know that I wait and wait for the light times to come.  Sometimes I count – only 3 more months until the light times! Only...

Danes and Swedes: The world's worst haircuts are Swedish
Hello, and welcome to the How To Live in Denmark podcast.  I’m Kay Xander Mellish. I don’t regret many things in life, but I do regret not going to a party I was invited to almost 14 years ago. That was in 2000, when I first arrived in Denmark.  It was a party to mark the opening of the Ørseund Bridge, which connects Denmark and Sweden.   There were no cars on the bridge yet, so you could easily walk or bike between these two countries that had been bitter enemies for hundreds of years.  At one point, Crown...


Danes & IT: Anyone can guess your CPR number
Ordinarily don’t get my technology news from the local newspaper sold by the homeless in Denmark, but I did this week.  First of all, I learned that you can pay your homeless newspaper seller by text message.  If you don’t have loose change, as I often don’t, you can send a text to the newspaper seller’s registration number, along with the amount you want to give him, and the seller gets paid right away.  Secondly, I learned that some homeless people have iPhones.  (pause).  Not my particular seller, but an...

Danes and Norwegians: Bitter envy and brotherly love
Danes and Norwegians were part of the same country for hundreds of years, and they’re still family.  Written Danish and written Norwegian are very similar – so similar that I once tried to find a Danish-Norwegian dictionary and was told there was no such thing.  The spoken language is a little more different, but still Danes and Norwegians can understand what the other is saying.   Danes and Norwegians like each other.  They care about each other.  They even sometimes cheer for each other’s football teams....

denmark danish norway norwegian

Summerhouse or dollhouse? What to expect if you're invited to a Danish summer home
If you live in city or a big town in Denmark, you may notice that the weekends are getting very quiet just about now. The streets outside my home in Copenhagen are empty.  The streetlights just change from red to green and back again, but no cars ever pull up.  Nobody comes to cross the street. It’s a little like a scene a movie right after the zombie apocalypse. This is because all the Danish people have gone to their summerhouses. On Friday afternoons, Danish people like to pack up their cars, drive out t...


Stories of a Salty: Arriving back in Denmark after vacation
When you go back to your country of origin, it’s alarming sometimes to realize how Danish you are becoming. I’ve been on vacation in the USA for a couple of weeks. But I’m back now, and it only takes a few minutes after I arrive at Kastrup airport before something happens to destroy the relaxing effect of 2 weeks off and several thousand kroner spent on spas, hotels and tasty dinners. The jolt back to reality usually happens at baggage claim, when one of my fellow fliers of the Danish persuasion bumps right...

travel usa denmark danish

The Little Mermaid is Highly Disappointing: Better ideas for visitors to Denmark
If you’ve seen it, you know the Little Mermaid is only about four feet tall – that’s 1.25 meters.  You probably own pillows that are bigger than the Little Mermaid.  At any rate, all the Copenhagen tourist boat trips go right by it, so your tourists can get  the photos they need for their Instagram or Facebook feeds.  If they want, they can climb out of the boat and onto the slippery rock where the mermaid sits for a photo.  There are plenty of other things to do in Denmark.  In this podcast, I outline way...

travel copenhagen denmark tourism

Raising children in Denmark: If their social life's OK, academic success will follow
Denmark is a pretty good place to raise children. Working hours are shorter, and it’s perfectly OK to leave work at 3 or 4 o’clock to pick up your kids.  There’s a good system for early childhood health. A nurse visits to your home when your child is a baby, and then there are regular checkups with doctor. If your child has the sniffles, you can take off work and stay home with her – the first two days are paid.  And, of course, there’s the day care system.  It’s not free, but it’s reasonably priced, and i...

travel children denmark expat


The Things I Do Double: Thoughts on Denmark’s offer of Double Citizenship
There was big news this week for foreigners in Denmark.  It looks double citizenship will soon be permitted.  Previously, if you wanted to be a Danish citizen, you had to give up citizenship in your home country. Meanwhile Danes who had moved abroad, say to the US or Australia, and became citizens there had to give up their Danish citizenship. There’s now been a proposal to get rid of all that.  It hasn’t been finally approved, but all the Danish parties say they’ll vote for it, with the exception of our a...

Salaam and Gooddag: Denmark for Muslims
There’s a new mosque opening down the street from me this spring, a big one.  It will be the first mosque with minarets in Denmark, although the minarets are legally prohibited from calling to prayer.  The people behind the mosque are doing everything they can to blend in with the local neighborhood – they even went to observe at a local church service a couple of Sundays ago.  They were probably the only ones there. There are a lot of Muslims in Denmark, about 250,000 out of a population of 5-and-a-half mi...

Danes and Stereotypes: The superficial American and the Copenhagen cheater
As an American in Denmark, I get to experience Danish stereotypes about Americans on a regular basis: we are superficial, too outspoken and direct, and are apparently controlled by a small cabal of right-wing nutcases.  But the Danes have stereotypes about other nationalities as well.  Spaniards and Italians are seen as fun and sexy and romantic, but unlikely to arrive on time. Eastern Europeans work too hard, at wages that are much too low, at least by Danish standards. Asian immigrants are seen as OK beca...


Danish Names: Why Bent is not bent, and why It's bad to be Brian
Danish names are very strongly stratified by age. Ole and Finn and Knud and Kaj and Jørn and Jørgen and to some extent Poul and Per, are over 50. Their wives and sisters and secret lovers are Inger and Karin and Kirsten and Ulla. Or Bente. Another guaranteed old ladies’ name is Bente. Bent is the male version.  Being named Bent is a problem for Danes who travel, because in many English-speaking countries, ‘bent’ is old-fashioned slang for ‘gay.’ In those countries, if you hold out your hand and say, ‘Hi, I’...

denmark danish expatriate

How to find a job in Denmark: Not easy, but it can be done
Finding a job anywhere is a headache, and Denmark is no different.  And let's be frank, if the employer has a choice between a foreigner and a Dane, they're probably going to hire the Danish person.  The Danish person knows the language, the Danish person knows the culture, the Danish person knows what type of cheese to bring for the Friday morning shared breakfast.  Nevertheless, it is possible for a foreigner to find work in Denmark. Here are my tips for a successful job search in Denmark....

copenhagen denmark job danmark kbenhavn

Dating in Denmark, Part 2: Dating Danish men, a guide for the foreign woman
If you are a romance novelist, the Danish man is not your dream man. He will not write poetry and pursue his beloved to the ends of the Earth. He won't send flowers, he won't buy chocolates. He won't even help carry packages.  That said, if you’re a feminist, a Danish man IS your dream man. He will cook and help with the housework, and spend time with the kids.  He'll respect your opinion, and he won't force himself on you. In fact, you may have to force yourself on him.  But if you do, he’ll usually be re...

copenhagen denmark scandinavia danmark kbenhavn rhus aarhus


Dating in Denmark, Part 1: Meeting Danish women, a guide for the foreign man
A lot of the mail I get at howtoliveindenmark.com get is from men, wanting to know how they can meet women in Denmark. I can understand this.  Danish women are very beautiful.  And I can tell you now, most of them will not immediately exclude you because you have a different skin color.  I know of several babies of mixed heritage here in Denmark.  That said, dating in Denmark is hard, even for the Danes, and it will probably be hard for you too.    That’s because the process that works in much of the rest ...

More Snow Tomorrow: Surviving winter as a foreigner in Denmark
I’m looking out the window as I record, and it’s snowing again. It’s pretty, but it’s not a novelty any more. It’s been like this for the past couple of weeks, Danish winter weather. Nearly every day there’s fresh snow and ice. When I wake up on winter mornings, it’s still dark, and cold, and I can hear the wind whistling outside my window.  Every day I think, ahhhh, I don’t want to get up.  But I do. Of course everyone in Denmark suffers a little bit during the winter.  But I feel particularly bad for peop...

Danes and Vikings, plus: Two words to use to get Danish people to do what you want
I play a little game sometime when I look at Danish people. I imagine them as Vikings. It’s easy now that big beards are in fashion on young men. Sometimes on the metro I’ll look up at the hipster guy playing with his iPhone next to me and imagine him wearing a big fur cloak. Maybe a rope belt, with a sword dangling from it. I imagine him stepping off the boat in Newfoundland in the year 1000, freaking out the local American Indians....


Danes and Work: My vacation flight was cancelled, because the pilot was on vacation
A few years ago, during the peak July vacation season, SAS had to cancel a large number of flights out of Denmark. This is because too many SAS pilots had taken vacation...during the vacation season. In Denmark, the needs of the employee are often more important than the needs of the customer.The post Danes and Work: My vacation flight was cancelled, because the pilot was on vacation appeared first on How to Live in Denmark....

copenhagen denmark dansk abroad americans danish immigrants expatriates danmark udlnding kbenhavn nydansker

Gossip and Scandal in Denmark
While French or American politicians have sex scandals, Danish politicians have tax scandals. Only the Royal Family is permitted to be the subject of really juicy gossip and scandal in Denmark. The post Gossip and Scandal in Denmark - Podcast #22 appeared first on How to Live in Denmark....

copenhagen denmark dansk abroad americans danish immigrants expatriates danmark udlnding kbenhavn nydansker

Sex and Denmark
Even though Denmark is very open about sex, it isn’t very…sexy. Everything’s so accepted, out in the open, so practical, that sex in Denmark is a bit dull. The post Sex and Denmark - Podcast #21 appeared first on How to Live in Denmark....

copenhagen denmark dansk abroad americans danish immigrants expatriates danmark udlnding kbenhavn nydansker


How to survive the dark times, plus: Should I move to Denmark?
Sitting at my desk in grey, November Copenhagen, I received an email from sunny Portugal. Eighteen-year-old Bárbara asks: Should I move to Denmark?...

copenhagen denmark dansk abroad americans danish immigrants expatriates danmark udlnding kbenhavn nydansker

Christmas in Denmark Part 2: Get Yourself an Elf Hat
Wearing an elf hat at Christmas time is a way to show you’ve got a sense of humor about yourself. You’re likely to see an elf hat on your boss, your professor or somebody else you’re supposed to respect. The post Christmas in Denmark Part 2: Get Yourself an Elf Hat - Podcast #19 appeared first on How to Live in Denmark....

copenhagen denmark dansk abroad americans danish immigrants expatriates danmark udlnding kbenhavn nydansker

Ørestad, Ørested and Øresund: Why I still get lost in Denmark
I still get confused about Danish place names. A lot of names sound so similar that I am constantly getting lost in Denmark. People's names are tricky, too. The post Ørestad, Ørested and Øresund: Why I still get lost in Denmark - Podcast #18 appeared first on How to Live in Denmark....

copenhagen denmark dansk abroad americans danish immigrants expatriates danmark udlnding kbenhavn nydansker


Voting at McDonald’s: Danish politics, and the posters that will last until spring
I like Danish politics, and I follow it, even though I don’t follow Danish sports or entertainment. I like Danish politics because it involves a lot of intelligent women running things, with men standing in the background to help out. The post Voting at McDonald's: Danish politics, and the posters that will last until spring - Podcast #17 appeared first on How to Live in Denmark....

copenhagen denmark dansk abroad americans danish immigrants expatriates danmark udlnding kbenhavn nydansker

The Two Months of Christmas: Holiday drinking in Denmark begins now
Traditionally, there has been little crime in Denmark, which is a society based on trust. But when that trust is broken, Danes get confused about what to do. They don't like the idea of punishment....

copenhagen denmark dansk abroad americans danish immigrants expatriates danmark udlnding kbenhavn nydansker

Just buy more insurance: Crime and Punishment in Denmark
Traditionally, there has been little crime in Denmark, which is a society based on trust. But when that trust is broken, Danes get confused about what to do. They don't like the idea of punishment. The post Just buy more insurance: Crime and Punishment in Denmark - Podcast #15 appeared first on How to Live in Denmark....

copenhagen denmark dansk abroad americans danish immigrants expatriates danmark udlnding kbenhavn nydansker


No planned hangovers: Ways I refuse to integrate in Denmark
More than a decade after moving to Denmark, there are still a few things I won't do to fit in. I won't cook fried fish balls, or watch Danish talent shows on TV. And I won't plan my hangovers in advance....

copenhagen denmark dansk abroad americans danish immigrants expatriates danmark udlnding kbenhavn nydansker

Danish Design: From spaceship toilets to thieves that steal chairs
The dark days of winter in Denmark last from October to March. The sky is dark when you get up in the morning, and it’s dark when you leave work. If you are moving to Denmark and want your friends and relatives to visit you, don’t invite them to come during the dark times. They’ll get a bad impression of the place. The post Danish Design: From spaceship toilets to thieves that steal chairs appeared first on How to Live in Denmark....

copenhagen denmark dansk abroad americans danish immigrants expatriates danmark udlnding kbenhavn nydansker

Here come the dark times: Winter in Denmark
The dark days of winter in Denmark last from October to March. The sky is dark when you get up in the morning, and it’s dark when you leave work. If you are moving to Denmark and want your friends and relatives to visit you, don’t invite them to come during the dark times. They’ll get a bad impression of the place. The post Here come the dark times: Winter in Denmark - Podcast #12 appeared first on How to Live in Denmark....

copenhagen denmark dansk abroad americans danish immigrants expatriates danmark udlnding kbenhavn nydansker


A thatched roof over your head: How to find a place to live in Denmark
If you want to live in a thatched cottage in rural Denmark, you'll find a lot to choose from. Finding an apartment in downtown Copenhagen is harder. The post A thatched roof over your head: How to find a place to live in Denmark - Podcast #11 appeared first on How to Live in Denmark....

copenhagen denmark dansk abroad americans danish immigrants expatriates danmark udlnding kbenhavn nydansker

Two-Wheeled Vikings and why I own three bikes: Danes and Cycling
For Danes, bicycle lanes are the Vikings' last stand. These gentle blond people - these people who will wait two minutes at a 'Don’t Walk' sign instead of crossing an empty street - armed with a bike, turn vicious and brutal....

copenhagen denmark dansk abroad americans danish immigrants expatriates danmark udlnding kbenhavn nydansker


No food, only stuff to make food: My culture shock in Denmark
At every Danish dinner party, I'm asked a standard set of questions: How did you come to Denmark? Why did you come to Denmark? What type of culture shock did you experience once you got here? In part 1 of what is sure to become a multi-part series, I discuss one major cultural difference: In Denmark, people make their own food....

copenhagen denmark dansk abroad americans danish immigrants expatriates danmark udlnding kbenhavn nydansker


White Socks and the Danish Tax Burden
The price of white cotton socks in Denmark is about five times as high as in the USA. I explain how the price of socks has a lot to say about the Danish economic system....

podcasts


The Deeper Meaning of Pigs
Hear about the role of significant cultural role of pigs - and we mean real pigs, not just people with bad manners - in Danish public life....

podcasts

Summer in Denmark
Hear about summer in Denmark (or what there is of it) and why 'summer herring' sometimes wears a bikini, and sometimes nothing at all....

copenhagen denmark dansk abroad americans danish immigrants expatriates danmark udlnding kbenhavn nydansker