Erasmus in Denmark

Author: Zuzana Ruscakova

I love Denmark!  It doesn’t have anything so well-known like wine and Eiffel tower in France or pizza and Venice in Italy, but maybe this is also a reason why this country surprised me so much. Not only is it silent and not so well known, but also very beautiful and interesting to experience. I spent 6 months in Esbjerg as an Exchange student within Erasmus program. Therefore, I want to share my impressions of this country, lifestyle, nature and other things I got familiar with during my stay there.

The first thing that surprised me was that I saw nothing else but a flat and boring snowy land as I traveled by train from Copenhagen to my city on the west coast of Jutland. But it is normal here – Danes have no mountain (the biggest hill is something around 170 metres above sea level). Countryside is boring and monotonous on one hand, but on the other hand, when it gets green it is amazing. Fields with barley, wheat, rye, carrots with little farmhouses on their edges, fields with cows and sheep, flower fields; some of them also with windmills standing between the crop.  Architecture style also greatly fits to this shape – houses are small, flat, with no more than one or two floors. What was spectacular for me was that people don’t put curtains in windows. So if you walk on the streets, you can see people inside having dinner together, watching TV or reading. They are not ashamed and they don’t care. I was told it was a habit from the past. When Danish men were working at sea, often sailing far away from their wives, women would put curtains aside for the other people to see and prove they are not cheating on their husbands.

In general, nature in Denmark is very clean. People take great care not to pollute it. They collect glass, paper and metal very carefully, use bikes daily and produce green energy. Also, in Esbjerg a big company Vestas is located, the biggest producer of wind turbines in the world. They are everywhere- at the seaside, near the coast, in fields etc. But it is quite natural as Denmark is windy as hell.:) But this is really one thing I like. After Chernobyl explosion they took radical steps and forbade nuclear plants. As a result, Denmark produces 20% of energy from the wind today and it makes them number 1 in this field. Another strong aspect of country is oil and gas. There are some resources of oil and gas in the North Sea and it makes the country independent from other countries and also brings money to the government. Oil and gas research is on a high level right now – among other things, scientists try to find out how to extract oil from rocks, once the reservoir is empty. It is estimated that rocks contain approximately 70% of all oil, so it’s a big motivation for them and if they manage to find some solution how to extract the rest, they will be oil-safe for next decades.

People here, or let’s say consumers, are very interested in a healthy lifestyle. They are able to pay 3x more for eggs that are produced ecologically. They don’t care if it is – 5 °C, they still go jogging and ride a bike to school or work. You can meet whole families, students, working men, mothers with children in sport prams running or even groups of elderly people having warm-up trainings and see them jogging together in parks. Maybe that is also the reason why there are not so many fat people, even the elderly ones look vital.

What also surprised me was that unemployed people here get about 2000 EUR per month from the government. Compared to the amount of money the unemployed get in Slovakia it is much money. But also we can’t compare it so directly; Denmark is a richer country, people earn much more money and goods and services are also more expensive than in my country. But anyway… if I could choose where to be unemployed, I would definitely choose Denmark. Talking about expensive services, we must necessarily mention high taxes. If you buy a car here, you will have to pay very high tax – it will make 180% from the price! I think this is very extraordinary.

What is different from my language (Slovak) is the use of 3 special letters:  ø, Å and Æ. They sound funny and are hard to explain. Generally speaking, the whole Danish language is quite complicated. I attended few free Danish lessons but I can say it didn’t help a lot. Pronunciation is really difficult and words are hard to remember. But at least I met beautiful people from all over the world and learned about Danish culture.

Many many years ago Norway and Denmark were one country. As nations they feel quite close until now, also their languages are very similar, we can say, for example, like Czech and Slovak language, so they can more or less understand each other.

The greatest place in Denmark for me was Copenhagen – the old historical city, the magnificent train station, the hippies district Christiania, the long and overcrowded shopping street, the wide river with yachts and ships, the monumental opera house, windmills, museums and for me the most interesting – Carlsberg´s museum. This museum is dedicated to the most famous Danish beer Carlsberg which has been made here for more than 150 years. We visited all parts of the old brewery and at the end we could taste different types of this beer in a local pub. The combination of sightseeing and tasting this delicious beer with the group of my international friends made this trip unforgettable.

Denmark will always stay in my mind. I found great friends there, learned about the culture, travelled and saw beautiful places. If somebody asks me now whether to visit this country, I would definitely say yes. You will not fall in love with it at first sight, but after you experience it, you surely will.

This is one of the winning articles of the Mladiinfo Article Writing Contest. The content of the articles does not necessarily represent the view or the position of Mladiinfo.

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