An Introduction to Denmark

Rain, rain, go away… Come again another day.

On second thought, you really don’t have to come back at all.

It is with this new found mantra that I begin my term at Aarhus University, in the beautiful country of Denmark.

The many colours of Copenhagen, Denmark's capital.

The many colours of Copenhagen, Denmark’s capital.

First of all, I have to admit that upon choosing Denmark as my country for exchange, I knew little about it – its customs, its people, or its climate. In all honesty, the only thing I did know when choosing my host school was that I wanted to do a semester abroad in Europe… Anywhere in Europe.

The school I ended up choosing seemed to fit perfectly. Aarhus, the second largest city in Denmark, has a university with a solid psychology program, courses taught in English (my aptitude for languages is, let’s just say, not the best), and a semester that lined up with U of T’s so I could return for my last spring term at home. Jackpot!

When the sun is shining, Aarhus University's campus is breathtaking. I could get used to this!

When the sun is shining, Aarhus University’s campus is breathtaking. I could get used to this!

It was after deciding on Aarhus and beginning preparation for my departure to a new country that I started gaining more information about good old Denmark.

The first thing I learned (something I’m still very curious about!) is that Denmark has consistently ranked within the top 3 of the “happiest countries in the world”. So far, it’s not hard to see why this place is so happy – life here definitely seems a lot more laid-back than the busy streets of Toronto I’ve become accustomed to. And everyone is just so friendly!

That brings me to one of the things I love most about this area of the world – the people. As soon as I stepped off the plane and into Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, I felt a welcoming air from everyone I met. Being the silly foreigner, I had no choice but to ask a lot of stupid questions, fumble a lot with this strange new money (Danish kroner, by the way), and look at everyone with stunned Bambi eyes whenever they tried to speak Danish to me. Everyone I met, however, took this in stride (not to mention with a lot more patience than most of the people I know back home would’ve!), and that made all the difference. Friendly people make going to a strange new corner of the world just that much easier. And Aarhus has even come to gain the nickname “the City of Smiles” – now how you can you not be happy living in a town with a name like that?

Aarhus, "The City of Smiles".

Aarhus, “The City of Smiles”.

Unfortunately, there was one thing that I hadn’t learned about before arriving in Denmark, something I was totally unprepared for… the weather.

Being a self-proclaimed sun worshipper, it was with extreme disappointment I discovered that the long stretch of rainy, cloudy weather we’d been having here in Denmark wasn’t just a fluke – it was a fact of life. Having packed a plentiful supply of shorts, tanks, and sunscreen (perhaps a little too optimistically… it is Northern Europe after all), it’s with sadness (and a little fear) that I continually hear the phrase, “You think the weather’s bad now? Wait until October…”

Regardless of the weather, Aarhus is a beautiful place, rain or shine. It’s a small city of about 300,000, that somehow has the intimate feeling of a tiny European village wrapped up in its hustle and bustle. Turning one corner out of the main and very chic shopping street, brings you right into a quaint, close-knit, village-like neighbourhood. So basically, I can take in the feel of small town Europe, while at the same time being seconds away from some of the country’s best shopping. Definitely not complaining!

I'll leave you with the image of a typical Danish breakfast. Tell me, how does everyone here stay so fit?!

I’ll leave you with the image of a typical Danish breakfast. Tell me, how does everyone here stay so fit?!

In short, it’s with excitement (and without my sunglasses, sadly) that I begin my term, and look forward to an eventful stay in Europe. Let’s see if I can survive this rain, and figure out the secret to Denmark’s happiness!





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