Although there are about 406 islands in Denmark (not including the Faroe Islands and Greenland, which is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark), only about 70 of those islands are populated. But that doesn’t mean “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark,” as Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet.
Far from it.
Lying only 101 feet above sea level, Denmark is the fairytale land of Hans Christian Andersen who wrote The Princess and the Pea, The Ugly Duckling, Thumbelina, The Emperor’s New Clothes, The Little Match Girl, The Snow Queen, and The Little Mermaid (yes, that one). It’s where Out of Africa author Karen Blixen/Isak Dinesen came from and returned to after her time as a coffee farmer in Kenya. It’s also where Legos were created, bicycles outnumber cars, gender equality is the norm, and healthcare is universal.
No wonder Denmark ranked as the happiest place on earth in 2013.
For a voice from Denmark, I was lucky enough to find Freja, a 19-year-old Danish college student. She and Najaaraq, the voice of my Greenland post, are classmates in Denmark. She lives in Roende in central Jutland, where she goes to a boarding school. On the weekends she goes home.
Please look out a window in your home and tell me what you see.
I see the school’s parking lot, and some trees. I also see one of the other buildings where some of the students live.
What does a typical school day look like for you?
It’s very flexible, and it changes every day/week. Some days I go to school at 8 am and other days the classes start at 10 am. The school day mostly ends at 2 pm or 3:30 pm. There is no daily routine with specific classes.
What is your favorite Danish food?
Boller i karry (meatballs in curry). It is basically just rice with curry sauce and meatballs made with pork.
What makes you happy?
– My cats. I have 4 cats who make me very happy.
– My friends who i can always be silly with.
– Music which always makes me happy!
What worries you?
School assignments. Not being able to focus on school.
Who are your favorite Danish musicians or band?
Who is your favorite Danish author?
Han Christian Andersen is very famous and has written a lot of great stories.
Who or what inspires you?
My personal idol is Gerard Way (singer). I don’t think that there is anyone (at least not any Danes) who inspire me.
What do you think Denmark does well?
We are very eco-friendly and we have a lot of social events. We have a good and safe social structure and a great education system and free healthcare.
What do you think Denmark could do better?
Be nicer to tourists and each other. We are very reserved. We should be better at talking to other people.
What is the best thing about being Danish?
SU (the government’s support for students): If you go to gymnasium or an higher education (if you are over 18), you get economical support from the government every month. The amount of money you get depends on how much your parents make and whether or not you live with your parent.
What myth or stereotype about Danes would you like to dispel?
Many people think that Denmark is a part of Sweden or Germany. We are NOT. Denmark is small but it IS an independent country.
What is your opinion of the United States? Chicago?
I love the United States. I think that it is a great and proud country but I also think that there are big social differences in society. I also feel bad for Americans for not being able to get an education for free, and to get free healthcare.
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Filed under: Travel
Tags: coffee farm, Denmark, Faroe Islands, Gerard Way, Greenland, Hamlet, Hans Christian Andersen, Isak Dinesen, Jutland, Karen Blixen, Kenya, Lukas Graham, Mads Langer, Out of Africa, Princess and the Pea, Roende, Shakespeare, The Emperor's New Clothes, The Little Match Girl, The Little Mermaid, The Snow Queen, The Ugly Duckling, Thumbelina