Three things I’ve been loving this month:
- Furniture Stores – for anyone with an affinity for Trumpian chic Denmark surely is a nightmare. You can’t find any ornate, tacky junk that screams nouveau riche insecurity anywhere! Instead, everything is understated elegance. Oh, how I love Danish design… Every single furniture store I go to is full of beautiful clean lines. You really can’t go wrong. Furniture shopping has been one of my favorite activities this month.
- Not Having a Car – car culture in Denmark is practically non-existent. People own cars, of course, but they don’t have to. Transportation is excellent and stores are scattered around, so that you are always within walking distance to one. I have not missed having a car, AT ALL. I don’t mind going to the grocery store here, and I loathed it back in the US. I now actually look forward to it! Even when it’s raining!
- Drinking Laws – what drinking laws? You can buy alcohol at any time, pretty much anywhere. It’s inexpensive. The wine (all imported, of course) is good and very affordable. The beer is excellent. You can bring alcohol to a park, drink it on the street, give it to your kid. (One of my new friends here, Qin, who’s Chinese but married to a Danish guy, was telling me how she noticed her 10 year old nephew drinking beer. She told the mother: “Your son is drinking beer!” and the mother responded: “Oh, that? He’s just having a taste.”) Sounds awful, right? And yet, for all its permissiveness, the Danes just don’t seem like alcoholic, stumbling drunks to me. I don’t mean to minimize the fact that some do become alcoholics, but I just don’t think this is any more of a problem here than it is back in the United States. On a weekend, if you’re taking the train late at night, you’ll inevitably run into some fool passed out across three seats. But hey, at least he isn’t driving. [As a moderate, social drinker, I am advocating moderation here and the freedom to bring a bottle of wine to a park with you. Not irresponsible behaviors. For more on how alcohol is affecting the Danish society – vs. the US, where drinking is tightly controlled and policed – I went to two reputable sources:
Three things I have not been enjoying during the month of July:
- Motorized vehicles in bike lanes – sometimes, when I’m in a bike lane, scooters will whizz by. Sometimes they’re little scooters and other times, they look more like motorcycles, with big fat tires and dudes wearing leather. I was told that these are allowed on the bike lanes because they don’t go very fast. Still, faster than me!
- Laundry – the washer is tiny. Okay, so I won’t be able to wash my comforter. Like, ever. But why or why does the dryer never actually dry anything?! To better understand this European clothes “dryer” phenomenon (this isn’t my first encounter with European dryers. I had the same experience in Finland, when I went to school there, and in Prague, when I stayed there in an apartment once – instead of a hotel), I’ve done some research. So… Here’s where those pesky environmental laws come in. The reason why the dryers here are just glorified wetness reducers is that the European dryers consume only about half the energy that the American ones do. Here, you also can’t even buy dryer sheets. They just don’t sell them. At first I thought of bringing some over in my suitcase, like some illegal contraband, but then I realized I’ll be pulling them all soggy out of the “dryer”, so what’s the point? So… I’ve learned to hang clothes up. So retro.
- Setting up banking – the concept of going into a bank and opening an account by simply showing an ID is foreign in Denmark. Here, you will be scrutinized, will be providing extensive documentation, your background will be checked, you will be asked about your future bank transactions (planning on transferring any money to any foreign bank any time soon?) and then you will wait… and wait. After about a full month of waiting my kids finally received their bank cards. But no pin. You can’t set up your own pin, by the way. It’ll be the pin that they give you and you’ll memorize it and you’ll like it.