Friday, October 21, 2011

30 differences between Denmark and the United States

I have been meaning to do this post for awhile, but it always felt like it would take more work than just a post talking about what I have done. As I have been here a month and a half I have noticed more differences, but yet it stays somewhat similar.

1. Very little censorship.  It is so weird hearing songs on the radio with swear words in them or seeing adds on tv with swearing and nudity. Here is an add for a cell phone company that was quite a shock to see on daytime tv:
And trust me there are one's even more shocking than this! But in a way I think it is better. The United States is very strict and somewhat prudish when it comes to what can be shown in public, but Denmark is very open about it. There aren't really ratings on movies and just some of the general topics of shows are deemed acceptable here. It just makes everything more comfortable and open to talk about in a way.

2. SO much more freedom. Everyone just gets a lot more freedom, responsibility, and trust at a much younger age in my opinion. Little kids (maybe 6 or 7) ride the regular transport bus home from school and get home on their own. The would never happen in the US. Then parents would be afraid of something happening to the child all the time. Don't get me wrong parents worry about their kids, but they just don't always hold them back, they let them do things on their own. Another example of the freedom is with school. At my school it seems like it is pretty much your responsibility to show up. Of course the school might call your parents if you have too many absences, but really only if it was a huge problem. Not like in California where you miss one class and you get a call home.
Also it seems like a lot of people have jobs.

3. Everyone eats with a knife and fork here. Now don't get me wrong, I didn't just pick up food and eat it with my hands back home. People here eat with the knife in their right hand and the fork flipped over in their left hand. They always keep them in their hands pretty much until they are done eating. It took some practice and lessons, but now it is almost automatic for me. One day I was trying to show some girls from my class how I used to eat, but whatever I did just felt too awkward and I can't even remember how I used to do it. I find it so adorable when I see little kids eating with their knife and fork. They just look so proper. Also, we eat a lot of open face sandwiches here and they are always eaten with a knife and fork!

4. Danish people are a tad more reserved until you get to know them. This is not meant to be rude to Danish people, it is just something I have noticed and had to get used to. In the US I just feel like we talk like we are friends with everyone. We hug each other a lot more and are just extremely friendly from the start. Where as sometimes you have to get to know one another better before you get to that point.
I think Danes try to stay out of one another's business in a way, for example if I were standing on the street looking really confused at a map and looking around a lot no one would really say or do anything different. Whereas in the United States I feel like someone would ask if they needed help or something. It is not better or worse, just different things for me to get used to.

5. People bike EVERYWHERE, no matter the weather. It does not seem to stop no matter how much it is raining. Today it was pouring rain and many kids in my class showed up with the front of their pants soaked, or some other kids wear waterproof pants I have noticed (Katie didn't you need a pair for your orientation? ;)) I have yet to have to bike somewhere, but I know when I move to my second family I live biking distance from school, so I think I need to start practicing before there is snow and ice everywhere! I love it on Sundays though just to see cute, elderly couples out for a bike ride. It just looks so happy!

6. Having your elbows on the table is not rude here. Before I came to Denmark I didn't really know, so I just tried to eat with with my elbows off the table, which is something I rarely do. After a few days and eating with many different people I came to the conclusion that it is not rude, so now I am comfortable just resting my elbows on the table as I eat.

7. The stoplights/ walk signs. First of all stop lights go from green to yellow to red and then back from red to yellow to green, so once the light goes from red to yellow the cars start getting ready to go. I don't know how well this would work in the United States because I feel like people would start going just way too soon with this system.
The walk signs are also different. They still throw me off sometimes. There is a green walk man and a red, don't go walk man, but the light counts down in red and I used to think it was how much time I had to cross the street, turns out it's actually how much time until I CAN cross the street. Good thing I figured that out!

8. Sundays- everything is closed pretty much. Almost all stores are closed all day. Sometimes I can find a coffee shop or something open, but usually only one. Some grocery stores are open, but if they are it is for a very short time.

9. There are so many traffic circles here. In Petaluma there are maybe 3-5 tops (don't quote me on it). Here they are everywhere! I think I go through 4 just on my way to school. I just feel like I am always going through them haha!

Now the rest I'm just gonna list without explanation:

10. winnie the pooh = peter plys

11. they sell beer and wine at the movies

 12. guys wear tunics and capris

13. people eat carrots/cucumbers a lot as snacks at school

14. ketchup costs money at some places and mayonnaise is an option for french fries usually

15. all cars are stick shift

16.  swearing in class is fine.

17. we call our teachers by their first name

18.  you can trust almost every bakery to be delicious. Even 7/11

19.All school stuff is turned in online, you check your schedule online, and everyone brings their computer every day to school

20. emergency number is 112 not 911

21. Once you turn 18 you start getting paid by the government a couple hundred dollars each month

22. Milk usually only comes in 3 sizes and only if you go to the bigger stores

23. Driving age is 18 and it costs a lot to get a drivers license 

24. drinking age is 16 and sometimes beer is sold in vending machines

25. Their aren't really substitutes at my school, class is either just canceled or the students are supposed 
to do the work on their own 

26. the Danish flag is used a lot like for birthdays and other celebrations

27. kids can have their phones out in class

28. we are given breaks in class where it's fine to go out and smoke/ so many Danish teenagers smoke

29. Some public bathrooms you have to pay for

30. Most Danish people love lakrids (licorice). There is everything imaginable in lakrid flavor- ice cream, gum, gummies, sauce for ice cream, and alcohol. 

Well that's all I have for now, but I am sure there will be more to come!
Farvel for nu,

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