Guest Post by Max Thomas, a Junior at Foster studying Finance and Entrepreneurship. Max studied at the Copenhagen Business School through the Foster Exchange program.
The winter weather in Denmark will hover around 0o Celsius for the entirety of winter. This cold weather and grey skies could put a damper on the first few months abroad, but luckily there were many other ways to find enjoyment. The first couple weeks in Copenhagen felt almost like vacation. There are so many things to see and people to meet that before you realize it, a month has gone by. Eventually, you establish a routine; going to class, going to the gym, and studying. But the average routine while abroad feels different because you spend so much time experiencing new and different cultures. That is one of the ways we were all able to survive the cold Danish winter.
You also may have heard about the Danish lifestyle that has recently gained popularity; Hygge. Before coming to Denmark, I had heard of it but didn’t quite understand what made it so special. According to the Oxford Living Dictionary, Hygge, or Hyggelig, is “a quality of cosines and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being”. After the first few dark months it was easy to understand what they meant. Even though I didn’t live with anyone from Denmark, I still got to experience the hygge that makes Denmark one of the happiest countries in the world.
I live with people from all different walks of life, from fellow Americans, to my French neighbor, to the girls from Hong Kong. We spent time together while cooking, hanging out at night, or exploring the city that was new to all of us. It was a great way to not only get to know about my new friends and their cultures, but also the city of Copenhagen and Denmark. Although I’m still taking classes in school, most of the learning that I’ve done has come through the people around me.
Through my time here, I’ve been able to make friends from Denmark and they embody everything great about the Danish. They can be reserved—until you get them a Carlsberg, they are nice and helpful, and love to ride their bikes everywhere. They also enjoy practicing their English skills and have no problem conversing in English, which to me (someone who doesn’t speak any Danish), is extremely beneficial.
The Danish also have a great understanding of work-life balance. In Denmark, workers often have a lot of flexibility in when they start their work-day and when they leave, as well as a built-in lunch break that allows for a much needed time with coworkers outside of strictly work. There is also a minimum of a 5 week paid holiday for everyone who earns a wage – a stark difference to the US. The focus that the Danes put on enjoying everyday life in addition to working hard is noticeable—one of the things I will definitely be trying to implement in my life after returning back home.