First impressions: Adjusting to the ‘nutty’ Danes

Eli Kaufman

Nutty Danishes!  Sounds yummy right?  Well, now that I have grabbed your attention, I’m not talking about the delicious pastry that can be found in all of Copenhagen (and I mean ALL OVER Copenhagen).  I am talking about Danish people.

Kaufman ‘15 and Malkin ‘15 abroad in Copenhagen (Photo courtesy of Zoe Malkin)

Kaufman ‘15 and Malkin ‘15 abroad in Copenhagen (Photo courtesy of Zoe Malkin)

During orientation we were told about nutty danishes.  The Danish people, as I have come to realize in my short time here, are a bit nutty. I don’t mean that in a negative sense at all. When you eat a nut, you must first crack the shell and after you get past the hard, crunchy exterior, you get to the good part of the food, the part that is tasty and the part that satisfies your hunger needs.  You can’t do much with the shell, and you come to terms that you must do the necessary work to get to the good part in the center.
When you walk down a street in Copenhagen, you will notice people walking and keeping to themselves.  They do not make an effort to smile or look at you.  The busses that I take for a 20-minute commute to class are completely silent, except for the Americans talking amongst themselves.
First impressions are not everything.  We have always heard this expression, but we often overlook it and find ourselves making snap judgments about the people we encounter.  If I had made snap judgments about Danish people in my first week in Copenhagen, I would have believed that everyone was quiet, anti-social, and depressed (lack of sunlight, grey skies and wearing black could do that to you).
I have found in my short time here that Danes will open up and are actually really nice once someone “cracks the shell”. While riding the bus on my own, I struck up a conversation with the Dane seated next to me and we had a wonderful discussion about the area around my Kollegium (dorm/apartment) called Nørrebro.  By the end of the conversation he said that he really enjoyed talking to me.
Every day on my way to classes, I stop at a little coffee shop and order a latte (cheapest and best in Copenhagen).  I started talking to the owner and every day I have learned something new.
Living on my own in a new city in a different part of the world has taught me so many lessons, and it has only been about a month.  Studying abroad is all about learning about different cultures and meeting new people. It’s not hard to meet people here. It’s not hard to strike up a conversation.  It’s not hard to learn how to fit in while in a new city.
It all starts with cracking a few nuts.



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