01 November 2016

8 Ways How to be a Dane

Danes are the happiest creatures on earth, people said. I know, the starter is so mainstream, but that's all that I can think right now. Living for a year and (still) more with Danish family opens my mind and eyes to know their culture better. In my opinion, Danes are happy because they know how to manage time between working and having fun at the same time. They are laid-back towards life, have a strong connection with their old friends, and enjoy the comfort of how Denmark gives them.

Danes love their country so much! I know, some Danes hate to be Danes and sometimes want to be judged as an international person by foreigners. But don't get me wrong, they still love the privileges of Denmark system that they're hard to refuse (even living far far away now).

If we're living in Denmark and thinking of being a local, the key point is learning Danish first. Trust me, even Danes would think we are part of them if we could say some phrases in their language. Even your face is so Asian, like me, normally they still speak Danish to you. Unless you excuse yourself to do not speak Danish, they keep asking and talking in Danish after your short attempt like "Ja, tak" or "Jeg skal ha' en kop chai latte".

Oh ya ya, you don't like Danish. It's an ugly language. It's hard to learn. Okay, I know those such excuses. How about give Danes the picture of us immersing their culture even with no words of Danish outspoken?

1. Go biking

Danes realize that taking public transportation can break their bills every month. If you are living in or close to Copenhagen, it's better to buy or rent your own bike. Go biking around Copenhagen in good weather, bad weather, even when you have no intention to bike! Do not forget to equip the bike with a powerful lock. I know one of the girls (who isn't Danish), bought her bike with super cheap price but an expensive lock. She was tired of losing bike in the town, even the price itself not so expensive. So, it is all about the lock now.

What if I don't live in Copenhagen? I told you, go biking! That's how Danes do to reach the workplace, shops, or school within 5 to 10 kilometers.

2. Down to earth

Another happiness secret of Danes is actually being down to earth. Danes are rich, but they never call them so. Instead of "rich", they prefer word "comfort". Danes know buying a car and paying for the insurance will be freaking expensive, but they still afford it. They buy a car based on what they need. They don't really spoil themselves with the luxurious sport cars if there's no point to drive them in the countryside. Even though they have one, I have never seen Danes drive their cars fastly in town just to show off. Of course, I've seen odd people played the music so loud with windows down. But the cars are so-so. Meh!

Not only about cars, Danes are also not so thrifty buying expensive furniture for their houses. They buy those things, again, not to show off to their guests. But it's just because, they know they have money, they can afford it, and they also realize people can afford it. So, why they should show off something which another Danes could also buy?

3. Wear too much black

I have no idea why this colour is on the top of any colours for Danes. I've learned that, to look expensive, choose black among any colours you can see. To look elegant, think black again. If you're in doubt, just wear black. Heeey!

I can see Danes love black undoubtedly. It's not the colour for winter only, but they wear black all the seasons. It's not necessary to wear black from head to toe to be a hardcore Dane. I've ever worn a black blazer with a white t-shirt, and one of my Romanian friends just spotted me somewhat Dane because of my (boring-yet-neutral) colour.

4. Go to gym or and do exercise

Danes take care of their body a lot. Fitness places are in every corner of Denmark and Danes don't mind to pay the subscription every month to be fit and well-shaped. In some offices, they even provide the employers with fitness equipment.

Since my host dad is an owner of fitness equipment company, they also put some expensive types of equipment at home for exercising. The funny thing is, they're still hard finding out the time to exercise independently at home. Afraid of lacking motivation by exercising alone, Louise, my host mom, subscribed herself in a gym about 2 weeks ago.

It's difficult scoring guys in Denmark with obesity. Okay, must be there are some guys have beer-abs outside there. But still, young guys and girls are mostly well-shaped with good abs. If not, at least, they are fit and slim. Not every Dane loves working out in the gym, though. Instead of building muscles and hot body in the gym place, they'd rather do marathon or bike a lot. They run so far and still do it at the lower temperature.

5. Meet meat

Even though Danes adore gym place or being sweat, they are not so picky with food. They appreciate the most pleasurable meal are coming from red meat. It can be beef or pork. I notice, my host family eats meat a lot! It's tough struggling in Danish party since they never serve any vegetarian meals for only one person who claims she is. Me.

Well, but it's easy to find vegan options in town. Some Danes are also vegan or vegetarian. But once other Danes notice that we're following this strict religion, they'll be curious, how on earth you could live without any meat on your menu? Meat is so damn good! It brings energy and happiness in your mouth, they said.

6. Drink a lot

Among other nationalities in Nordic countries, Danish have a reputation for being heavy drinkers. They're drunk often. Happiness is also coming from booze. Alcohol makes them open up to strangers whom they cannot approach or talk when they are sober. Although sounds not really elegant, but this is how Danes are.

But, if we come to clubs and bars in Copenhagen, most of drunken Danes are actually young people. It's rare seeing the drunken old guy hands a can of beer throwing up in the corner of the street. I can give the opinion that young Danes experience enjoying their young lives. They just want to be free,wild, and sometimes uncontrollable when they are young.

I can see that old or mature Danes are so responsibility about how much booze go down to their bodies. My host dad stopped drinking alcohol in his 30s. He doesn't like the taste of beer or wine. If only he has to drink alcohol, he's so picky to just drink champagne. In one year living with them, I just saw Brian drank alcohol once in New Year's Eve. It was just because part of the tradition in Denmark to celebrate New Year's Eve with champagne.

If you are young, wild, beer lover, and love being drunk, just do it! If not, be a mature Dane with full of responsibility and keep sober.

7. Clearance all the year

If those things don't bring any joy in your life, just get rid them off. This principle is applied in part of Danish life. Once Danes don't feel or see any joy of having something, they don't mind to throw it out. My rich host family doesn't mind to buy everything they need and then throw it away once they feel no need to have it anymore.

Instead of storing a lot of things in the garage, they will do the cleaning, and put the things away in front of their gates. Normally, there will be a big truck comes to pick up those old things. If not, sometimes there are neighbors who sneak out to take a look what people have thrown away and take the things with them to home.

Not only for things that don't make them happy, Danes also concern and be careful about what they eat. Vegetable or milk has to be fresh all the time. They don't really care if have to go for groceries more than once a week just to make sure all condiments they have are fresh. Vegetables that seem not so fresh-but-for-me-they-are, aren't allowed staying longer in the refrigerator. Milk which the expired date is labeled perfectly on time has to be dismissed as well. Dear Danes, sometimes what you see, is not what it really means.

8. Be part of design lovers

I have ever attended an interesting design trade show in Copenhagen two months back. It was all about Scandinavia's innovative furniture and lifestyle. In this case, I don't have to be a Dane to enjoy design thing as part of joys. I'm not a designer, not even working in a creative industry, but I do love the design. I never realize, living in Denmark brings a bliss for my passion in design and art.

Back to the trade show, I came to one of retails who participated in that event. He talked a lot about his products and how he and his wife work together in their own company. One question from him, "in your country, what people most spend money on?". I mentioned food. He said, in France, people tend to spend their money for good food as well. In Italy, people spend their money to have quality time in the best café. But in Denmark, Danes spend a lot of money on designer furniture.

I have ever had a chance to come into a few Danish houses before. That's true. There must be Danish designer products in their house, like nice porcelain cup from Royal Copenhagen. I understand, Danish design is simple yet elegant. Modern design is part of the Danes' national identity and daily life. Many Danish products have become archetypes or icons of 20th-century design.

Speaking about designer brands, the products are not cheap. But as I mentioned above, Danes have money and could afford everything they need. My host family is not the fan of the design, even knowing nothing about design. But they filled their house with furniture which about 70% come from Danish designers. Danes appreciate their own design and that's enough.

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