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Photo by Jean Pichot

6 months back in the US, Emily Arent still can’t stand people standing on the left sides of escalators and drinking pretentious beers.

IT’S BEEN SIX MONTHS since I abandoned my life as an expat in Copenhagen. That year was sweet for a lot of reasons, and seems even sweeter now that it’s out of my reach. Almost imperceptibly, Danish culture became a warm, comfortable space that felt like home.

Some habits died as soon as America was again my cultural reference point, but other habits died harder.

Lesson #1: Bikes are better.

When I was living in Copenhagen, I had a love affair with my light-blue, Føtex bike. It took me places I’d never been before; it carried my groceries; it escorted me home safely from Meatpacking District dance parties at 4am. I practiced my graceful mount and dismount until they were perfect.

That bike took me everywhere I needed to go every single day. And best of all, it was the cheapest, greenest, most-convenient transportation option in that bike-friendly city.

I tried to console myself with my 80’s era Schwinn when I arrived home to the Denver suburbs. I woke up on my first day at home, three days after swimming in the Dead Sea, and decided that I was going to bike at altitude in the Mile High City. And there isn’t a single bike lane in my town.

Photo by illustir

A woman driving an 8-passenger Hummer slowed down to get a good look. She was the only passenger in that monstrosity of a vehicle. I continued up the hill, trying to mind my own business while she pumped Hummer exhaust into the atmosphere to get her fat ass around town.

A few weeks before, I was living in a city where SUV’s are virtually non-existent, where suited business men pedal a wheel-barrow full of children to daycare in the morning. Now I was being stared at by people who retired their bikes in the 7th grade and watched me like people watch a public drunk — with a mixture of pity and fascination.

People honked. People stared. I was sweating like an animal, my lungs screaming for more oxygen, my ass aching from the bumpy sidewalks. I arrived home drenched in sweat, and stood in my garage staring at the Schwinn with my hands on my knees. I realized that my days of cycle commuting were over. It was also the day I started having elaborate fantasies of running Hummers off the road.

Lesson #2: Being alone in public is liberating.

When I moved to Denmark, I was the first to join the PIPA parade. I threw on my trench coat and perfected the art of staring straight ahead at nothing in particular. I could waltz around in heels that made me a 6’3” monster girl, and still no one glanced in my direction.

I wore the same heels and heavily-scarved ensemble to a shopping mall in suburban Colorado and people stared at me like I was wearing sweatpants in a Straedet boutique. An over-friendly sales woman welcomed me in a high-pitched chirp, and snuck up on me every two minutes to make sure I was still “finding what I needed.”

I began feeling a bizarre sense of nostalgia for the cold and fast saleswomen in Copenhagen who actively ignored me unless I asked them for help, and when I did ask for help, tried to ignore me for as long as they could feasibly pretend not to hear me.

During my first couple of months back in America, I would return from a jaunt in public with a chip on my shoulder. It turns out it was a combination of the man who didn’t place the divider behind his purchases at the grocery store, the middle-aged woman who tried to strike up a spontaneous conversation about the magazine I was flipping through in line, and the cashier who asked me how my day was going without ever making eye contact.

I missed the Danish way, and needed time to be re-socialized into the American culture of friendly (if not at times superficial) public interaction.

Lesson #3: We all have boobs, bellies, and asses.

The Danes have no qualms about being naked in front of strangers. Small children run around naked at the Harbor Bath and no one cares. Women strip down to swim at Amager Strandpark like no one is watching.

Children are raised to perceive the naked human body as just that: a body. The Danes and Americans share the same hyper-sexualized media, but each culture seems to have absorbed it differently.

Americans, on the other hand, are taught to be almost heartbreakingly modest, to be ashamed of their “flawed” bodies while fake, airbrushed bodies are thrown in their faces on the daily.

In Copenhagen, I was initially astounded at the behavior I witnessed in the ladies locker room after yoga class. Women of all shapes and sizes stripped down to shower and walked around naked, wrapping the towel around their head. Two women carried on a conversation ass-naked, one of them bending over mid-sentence to slather lotion on her legs. Meanwhile, I squirmed awkwardly in the corner, trying to pull up my underwear while covering myself with a towel.

But one day, following a particularly grueling session of bikram, I said “fuckit” and walked my naked, pasty ass straight into that communal shower. And guess what? It felt pretty damn good, and no one cared.

I was in the midst of changing in a locker room shortly after arriving home. A woman my age rounded the corner and muttered, “Woops, sorry!”

I continued undressing.

She stood blinking into her locker for a minute, and then gathered up her clothes to change in the nearest bathroom stall.

Lesson #4: Men can be fiercely stylish…and they should be.

To all of you Danish gentlemen out there, I just have to say, “I miss ya, babe.” You in the trench coat, you in the cuffed jeans, you in the suede Clarks. I’m talking to you.

I used to date the hairiest hippie boys I could get my hands on. My favorite wore baggy teal pants to meet my mom for the first time. But goddammit, I loved that kid so much he could have worn anything. And then Denmark went and raised my sartorial expectations, and made me kind of a bitch.

I only ask that you don’t wear a baseball cap to a trendy bar. Or your tennis shoes. Or cargo shorts. Or a short-sleeved button-down shirt. Anyone from Colorado knows that I can ask for one or two of these rules to be followed at a time, and everything else is fair game. My friends tell me to get over myself.

You can blame my pretentions on every man in Copenhagen, and I refuse to apologize for them. You’re pushing 30 and you’re dressed like my high-school boyfriend in public. Buy a pair of dress shoes and get your shit together, man.

Humor

 

About The Author

Emily Hanssen Arent

Emily Hanssen Arent is a writer and traveler who has found a home in Boulder, Copenhagen, and Jerusalem. She is currently a graduate student of Middle Eastern Studies in Tel Aviv, Israel, where she writes, studies, and struggles daily with Hebrew and Arabic. You can follow her @emilyharent.

  • http://twitter.com/_TravelDiaries_ Travel Diaries

    I love this post. It made me laugh and it strikes me that here in the UK were are fairly similar to both Denmark and the USA at the same time. For example, whilst out shopping if a shopkeeper comes and talks to you its probably because you are doing something wrong and being asked to leave, it’s very unusual for someone to strike up a random conversation in the street or in a shop, I guess it’s a European thing? 

    Then on the other hand we are very much like the USA, as we tend to be uncomfortable being naked around strangers or in public. Whilst in Japan with my family we went into an onsen, and it would be unusual to wear a bathing suit there so we did it the normal way and went completely naked. At the age of 11ish it was strange but it’s funny how comfortable it gets after about 10mins. Anyway, In the UK I find that a lot of people have problems with nudity, it’s just the way things are but I really do love the danish/asian way of thinking in that regard! 

    Again, great post! :)

  • blah

    when i lived in hungary i remember walking into a dressing room with the same exact experience, naked women happily chatting, while i averted my eyes and rushed to stash my things in a locker

  • http://matadornetwork.com/author/emilyarent/ EHA

    Thanks for reading, Nichole! I appreciate your constructive if not *slightly* over defensive criticism. I’ve written other pieces that have evoked a wide range of over-emotional reactions, so I had no doubt that this piece would be received in a variety of ways. What I’ve found, in life and in print, is the words that provoke the most blindly emotional reactions and defenses often have quite a bit of truth to them. 

    If appreciating bike culture and recognizing single people riding around in 8 passenger hummers as an absurdity is your definition of “acting superior” then you you are quite free to think I am “acting superior.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1249317341 Doug Walsh

    Mid-30′s Clarks-loving guy here who seldom wears anything but short-sleeve button-down collared shirts. Linen. My wife says I’m hot.

    I also bike to/from grocery store regularly.Extended travel makes it tough to come home to. Heck, I was only in Japan for 7 days and found it hard to get used to how loud we USAers are in public after I came home. 

    But I would advise against cherry-picking a few bad incidents and applying them broadly across a country that is 228x the size of Denmark and contains 56x as many people. Perhaps you just need to move to another area?

    • http://matadornetwork.com/author/emilyarent/ EHA

      Thanks for reading, Doug! And I would have to say that you are quite right, a move is on the horizon :)

      I completely understand that not every (or any) point will apply to a single, isolated American. That’s the beauty of Americans (and humanity in general), we simply can’t be categorized neatly. But I feel I made my point of reference clear, and was pretty liberal with the self-deprecation. Keep rockin’ the Clarks!

  • Anne_Merritt

    I admire your guts Emily, in your writing and in your sharing the road with a Hummer. Yikes.

  • Lois

    Hi there.
    THANK YOU so much for this. I have been expat (dane) in Malaysia for 6 yrs now… very different I must say – and a bit different from the States too I recon…Never been that way tho.
    You mention Exatly the things i miss … everything else… dont care … superficial and really not missing Denmark at all….
    But really – thank you for this :) you made me smile
    Take care
    SMILE
    Lois

  • Saralp

    I’m originally from Denmark, but I have traveled and lived in the united states. I loved reading your article, and can agree with almost all of it!

  • http://www.spartanwanderer.tumblr.com/ Seth Barham

    Emily, haters will be haters.  Chalk it up to a lack of understanding.  I, however, was laughing the entire time, especially at the cycling and PIPA sections.  I’ve been home for a mere month and a half after studying in Lund, Sweden and can relate, making the transition from a Scandinavian culture.  My God I miss my bike.  Half of Lund commuted by bike.  I heard a horn maybe 2, 3 times tops the entire time I was there.  Respect for cyclists is of the utmost in Sweden, which is unfortunately the polar opposite of the case in the U.S.  I mean, damn, if you do anything green here in N.C. yer just a liberal Obamy lovin hippy, and not doing the world any good.  As you can see, I may have a small chip on my shoulder as well…

    Returning from the liberal, progressive atmosphere of Sweden to Bible Belt, USA is some type of special hell.  I am part Swede now, and that clashes with everything around me.  Suppose the best I can do is maintain my “lagom” lifestyle and not give a flying truck about the opinions of the 65% that do not hold passports in my state…  Stay strong and carry on, Emily.

    • JamesGraves75

      Not to berate you for not adhering to the standards of a grammar Nazi, it’s utmost you utterly moronic fool.

      • http://www.spartanwanderer.tumblr.com/ Seth Barham

        Thanks for pointing that out.  Intensive purposes vs. intents and purposes is one of my pet peeves, so I’m glad you corrected me on a similar mistake.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Timothy-Tucker/629793026 Timothy Tucker

    Other than the wish we had more bike lanes, really don’t care. Your opinion and not slightly funny. Naked, pasty fat asses, never, it’s in the Constitution. Franklin put it there and he should know.

  • Baudolima01

    I have been to Copenhagen and fell in love with the City immediately! People are so friendly, live there seems to be very peaceful and there is Style everywhere. Going out at night was like entering a new world of dressing culture. Copenhagen made a very big impression on me. Don’t give up your new view of life or lower your expectations! I believe if we see something we like we should not give up on it just to please the world around us. http://madrilicious.com

  • Mtm

    Im from the US and lived almost 15 years in Copenhagen and I can understand your infatuation with much of the Danish culture but…these points are mostly superficial which is understandable having been there only a year. I agree totally with your bike culture and nudity  comments  and found this to be refreshing and liberating.Not so with the being alone in public. Danes have an idea that public space is also private space and find it almost unbearable to be casually chatted to in a public space, such as a supermarket or laundry mat. As a foreigner you might not experience this as you are considered a special case and dont know better but…if you are there any real length of time you will find out that talking to a stranger is seen as an invasion of personal space and frowned upon. I will take the easy “superficial” banter at a US supermarket any day. You do have a choice to engage or not in the US…in Denmark, you are looked with suspicion for striking up friendly conversations with strangers. As for the dress of the men. I was at a party where 5 Danish men stood looking at each others shoes and comparing them and asking where each had bought his etc , I can not think of anything more boring to talk about…but thats just me maybe.I have another take on their “stylishness”. I find the Scandinavians in general very self conscience and   to an extent unable to leave the house without spending an inordinate amount of time in front of a mirror. They are very concerned about what others think. I don’t find this attractive in the least or equate it with growing up or “getting their shit together”. There are a lot of wonderful things about “wonderful” copenhagen but…there are also a lot of problems there. You did not mention that Amnesty international has declared many of their immigration laws to be in violation of human rights. It is not the paradise that it may seem to be at first glance. 

  • StephanieAH

    I couldn’t agree with you more. There are so many fascinating contradictions in American culture, and in every culture. I believe it is a responsibility of our generation to observe these sometimes outrageous behaviors with a critical eye, but also in a way that shows how much we understand we are a part of our own culture, while simultaneously able to adopt elements of cultural identity from other cultures we come into contact with. I didn’t think there was a single point in your entertaining article that I haven’t witnessed at some point or another in my life here in America. I think sometimes our biggest fault as a country is to take ourselves way too seriously… it’s important to look at how silly we can be sometimes. We’re only human, after all. Well done!

  • Bmants

    American men, (too many) have no idea of style and they have come to see style as effeminate. That is unfortunate and extremely lazy. When I see certain men in stores, they have to ask their girlfriend or wife what to buy, thats sick. If you dont need your woman at the car dealer, you should not need her at the shop.

  • Chris

    It’s too bad that great articles get responses like these. It’s the ‘Love America or Leave It’ attitude that keeps America right where it is. What’s wrong with trying to bring some enlightenment back home? Why not try to enlighten other people in your country to other ways of doing things? Why is the only solution to leave it if you don’t like it?

    I loved the article… it made me laugh and think of the awesome times I’ve had going abroad. Coming back to the U.S. always feels like you have to climb back into your shell and put blinders on.

    • Gary Deezy

      No, its ‘Love America’ or ‘quit whining and do something to make it better.’  Did she mention trying to get bike paths built in Denver?  No, she complained about the lack thereof.  Did she offer to teach a community education class on European fashion for men? Nope.  And so, on…

      • http://matadornetwork.com/author/emilyarent/ EHA

        For someone who calls it whining you sure spend a lot of time whining about it in return. I think that the younger generation of Americans is much more open to criticizing our country than your generation or generations before it. It’s no longer unpatriotic within a very large segment of the American population to point out flaws, absurdities, or silly little habits that some or all of us fall victim to. To me, and many of the young, opinionated people that I know, that in itself is the first step to making it better.

      • Steven

        Gary,

        You’re confusing whining with publicizing and issue.  She stepped forward and brought an issue to light.  It’s on the internet and now people are talking about it.  She could go write her representative and she would be one letter which would probably get tossed in the bin.  By creating this blog post, she IS doing something to make it better, and for that effort, you just attacked her.

        What you should be doing is congratulating her for opening a dialog on the issue.   Your response however was to try and beat her down and discourage her from doing so.  Open discussion is a good thing.  Things have a way of getting life and taking off when they hit the internet.  You are assuming that she hasn’t called a representative about bike lanes.  Maybe she has, maybe she hasn’t but one should not jump to a conclusion just because it wasn’t mentioned. 

        I have traveled abroad enough to know that there are a lot of things where the US is simply looked upon as backwards thinkers.  Unfortunately there are too many closed minded people here that will shout down anyone that tries to bring up a conversation simply by reverting to the mindset of USA #1.   We are #1, in prison population and military budget spending.  On just about every other major issue, you can find another country that does it better.

      • Joey

         She wrote an article about it, which is something!

      • homesickyank

        For heaven’s sake, Gary, the author is just describing her reverse culture shock, which almost everyone who has lived in a foreign country for a while experiences upon returning to his/her native land.   

        I have lived at least a year in seven other countries;  just because I appreciate that those countries each handle a few things in a better manner than we do in the US  doesn’t mean that I hate the US.  And likewise, I don’t hate those countries because we do certain things better than they do.  Almost every country has its advantages and disadvantages.  

        Grow up and drop the jingoism, Gary.

  • https://odkin.myopenid.com/ Odkin

    Please move away, you hate-filled “liberal”.  America is better than you.

    • Bmants

      I am not a liberal, I am a human. How do you describe yourself?

    • Mike

      “Liberal”.  You must be one of “those” types.  You let yourself be put into a group and labeled.  Now you can be manipulated via that label into disliking any group that has been put into another label, such as liberal.  Likewise you might find yourself in the “liberal” group and now you can be conditioned to hate “tea party”, or “neocon” or other groups.  It’s fun but sad to watch the politicians play chess with all of the pawns in the country.  They tell you to think like them, then they tell you how to hate.  Their side is always right 100% of the time and if you aren’t with them, well then you must be a “group” loving traitor.

      You know what’s really fun?  When groups take this so far that they start to eat their own.  Suppose you’ve felt so desperate in your life that you let yourself be labeled so you can fit in.  My group!  Yes!  We rock!  You all are evil and stupid!  Great.  Now, suppose a big backer of your group happens to have a different opinion on one issue than the rest of your group.  Do you say, well he supports us 95% of the time, we love him?  Or do you crucify him the moment he disagrees?

      If you’re an extremist whackjob, you rip him down.  Take Bill O’Reilly a poster child for the right wing party.  He dared to disagree with the million mom march (of which there are maybe 40K) about their wanting Ellen fired as a spokesperson for JC Penny.  All of a sudden he’s on the hot seat being attacked.

      So all of you who are gung ho about your political clique.. Ask yourself, what happens if you suddenly find yourself on the wrong side of one issue.  Hows that going to work out for you?

      Perhaps it’s time to start being people and stop being political pawns.  Think for yourself.  Be yourself.  Stop trying to fit in with the loudest people or people who have a ton of money and don’t care about you because you’ll feel left out otherwise.  It’s time to be people and not campaign slogans.

      Sigh.  It’s sad that this conversation is taking place in an article where one woman just wanted to share her experiences.

  • http://matadornetwork.com/author/emilyarent/ EHA

    Hey now. She made a fair point up until the frivolous “rescinding your citizenship” comment. We’re all allowed to have an opinion, but there’s no need for that language. 

    I continue to be astounded by how comically infuriated people can get from a little cultural criticism. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_LHGWPP43IJAEJGISG6Z2L4LYTU Zack

    It’s the duty of the person waiting in line to put up a divider between their and the other person’s food.  You come off as a pretentious ass.  Try getting out of Colorado if you want to be around people that bike, men that care about fashion, and people who love to be nude.

    • http://matadornetwork.com/author/emilyarent/ EHA

      Anyone who’s lived in Copenhagen will actually understand that reference, and laugh their ass off.

      • Leneamdi

        Definitely. Because everyone seems pretty damn laid back, doing their own PIPA thing and then BAM: Nothing will make social frost form quicker than people not doing their bit to further the efficiency of the queuing system. And by that I mean, you get The Stare.

        • Sif

          :D As a Dane, I’ll say this. I once read an article (well, hadn’t time to rea the article, just rad the headline and subtitle) of a guy who had lived in Denmark. He summed it up beautifully; “Everyone thinks Danes are laid-back. And they are! Until you break the rules.” ;)

    • http://www.spartanwanderer.tumblr.com/ Seth Barham

      Damn.  I enjoy biking, not looking like a slob, and am fairly comfortable with my body image.  Guess I’m a pretentious ass.

  • DKisGreat

    It’s a fun article, especially for me an American living in Denmark.  I do think the article is crap though.  The only reason Danes ride bikes is because cars have a 180% tax on them.  Every bike loving Dane I have seen when they finally have enough money in their life to get a car never looked back.  The fashion is merely a method to try to differentiate from the crowd and look well placed in society.  In Denmark the culture is so monolithic that people really have to try to be different and they are so broke that they want to look rich.  Heck, orange juice is 5 times the cost and so are many other things.  I do love Denmark but it is no better than the US.  It is just different.

    • http://matadornetwork.com/author/emilyarent/ EHA

      Cars are certainly expensive in Denmark, but to argue that expensive cars are the only reason that Danes bike is a false, oversimple, and downright lazy interpretation. Run that theory past your Danish friends, and I’d venture a guess that they would heartily disagree with you. Copenhagen used to be a “car city” too, until serious changes that had nothing to do with car prices were made.  Check out CNN’s Future Cities piece on Copenhagen, you might learn something about the city that you’re living in ;)

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OvtDJ797lLI&feature=related 

    • Abe

      I ride my bike in CPH because then I do not sit in a traffic jam.  I also ride my bike because it provides my body with MOVEMENT. I also ride my bike because it does not pollute. I also ride my bike because it does not make ANY sense whatsoever to travel around in a car like the Hummer. Why would you move tonnes of steel just to move yourself? Open eyes and adapting to the greats of other cultures would do everyone good in this world.

  • Anonymous

    You can’t want to be naked in front of people and expect others to dress nicely. These two points contradict each other by their very nature. To be naked is to be free from the constraints of clothes. Did it ever occur to you that people don’t like to dress up because it’s not who they are? Some snob who thinks everyone should act like her doesn’t make it right.

    • http://matadornetwork.com/author/emilyarent/ EHA

      There’s a difference between a swim in the sea or a gym locker room and a swanky bar or at the office. I think that’s a pretty simple and obvious distinction. But maybe you don’t. And that’s fine by me ;)

  • Philbillie

    I don’t know…I’ve spent lots of time overseas and love it every time, but while there are certainly some lame things about our culture, it’s usually pretty nice to get back home…
    to SAN FRANCISCO! 

    • Abe

      San Fran rocks. It is a great, open-minded city where people have great, open minds. As a European, I felt at home there.

  • Gary Deezy

    I started to like your story – the first section on biking vs. Hummers sounded reasonable and warm.  The rest, sadly, is mostly whining.  We have our challenges in US culture, but based on your article, so does that other country.  Go back there if your prefer it, please. Have a great life, and Godspeed.

    • http://matadornetwork.com/author/emilyarent/ EHA

      Thanks for reading, Gary! I knew that baby boomers in baseball caps would hate this piece. You can’t please everyone, I guess! 

    • Joan

      “that other country.”  Gary Dauphin:  I guess you mean Denmark.  I know it’s hard to keep all those other places in the world figured out.  Please don’t ever leave America.  Have a great life, and…well, just don’t expect to evolve.

    • Mortenrichter

      Strange how people get offended by her praising another culture. If I didn’t knew better I would think you all came from some middle eastern country…

      Denmark and it’s culture is highly inspired of the american. Danes in general love and admire the US. Is it really so unlikely that americans could actually find a tiny bit of inspiration in danish culture? Or did you got everything right and created the perfect society? 

      Not everything is perfect in denmark far from it, just as everything is not bad in the US as well. but if you never look abroad for inspiration, how will you ever evolve as a society?

      Am sure the author could have made a blog post about all that is wrong with Denmark, and how certain things are better in the US. She choose to write about what she found positive and inspiring. You guys then tell her to fuck off and leave the country because of it… How small minded can you get?

  • Priyanka kher

    You know Emily, while reading this article has been enjoyable and I did see the humor in it completely (cause I am neither American nor from denmark!), what I have really enjoyed more the anything are the reactions..My God, what a tight ass world do we live in!!

    I mean for god’s sake guys, there are two sides to every coin and we all know that. There are good and bad things about both the US and Denmark and taking everything so personally is beyond stupid.

    Then again, I am from India and probably better equipped to take such things in my stride as everyone from the native, to the expat to the one-time visitor has an opinion about my country. Which btw is not always good.

    Far out!!!

    • http://matadornetwork.com/author/emilyarent/ EHA

      Thanks Priyanka! The way I see it, if something I’ve written touches people to the point that they feel they HAVE to react and leave a comment, be it a word of support, or to call me a snob, I’ve done my job. I’d much rather write controversial material  that elicits strong reactions than safe, vanilla material that elicits a handful of tepidly supportive comments. I know how to dish it, and thankfully, I know how to take it in return. Thanks for the twitter mention! I’m always looking forward to your next article on the network :)

  • Dave

    Perhaps you couldn’t get past point 3 because reading and being educated to the world around you is too much effort.  People who are intellectually lazy are what’s wrong with the US.  It pains me as a US citizen to see people defend the stupidity that abounds in this country rather than strive to improve it.  Being fat and illiterate and ignorant are the new US standards and I am embarrassed for us.  The rest of the world looks at us and laughs.  We are perfectly capable of being one of the best places in the world to live, but we’re so arrogant as to let things go to hell and defend our position there rather than let anyone else suggest that we improve.

    • http://matadornetwork.com/author/emilyarent/ EHA

      Thanks for reading, Dave! Your point is a little harsh, but true. I’ve been laughing to myself all day because the people who are reacting so negatively to this piece seem to be treating it as though I ranted about uneducated, war-mongering Americans. Rather, I wrote about dress shoes and naked butts. People need to get a grip, and learn to laugh at themselves.

      • Dave

         It was harsh because the person replying to you was harsh.  You wrote a great article and the person then tore you apart due to their own arrogance.  If they didn’t like it they could have just closed their browser, instead however they felt the need to try and berate you just for discussing your experiences. 

        I’m not sure where the disconnect is on locker room dress however.  It’s not uncommon in men’s locker rooms to see men walking around naked.  This is particularly common among people who have hit the golden age of “I don’t care what anyone thinks”. 

        I’ve seen men engage in how shall I put it.. “personal grooming” in the locker room in front of everyone, and personally I think that’s a bit over the top.   Perhaps women’s locker rooms are a bit more restrained in regards to walking around.

    • Omegageek

      We are one of the best places to live. At least we aren’t taxed to death (yet) like the Europaeons, though the current regime in Washington is trying to remedy that. As for your “advantages” that Denmark has, well, I don’t see them as pluses at all. Denmark is tiny. The US is big. I need a vehicle to take me over long distances quickly, and carry my tools to work, and groceries home. Here, a grown man riding a bike to work is a sure sign of someone with a DUI. Responsible men have cars. The road taxes I pay built the roads I drive my truck on. So please keep your silly toy bike, that you are driving on my road for free, out of my way. The sales people leave her alone in Denmark because they are lazy. They probably can’t be fired for poor performance, so why even try? Is it any wonder the Europaeon economy is perpetually in the crapper? I’m glad we have laws in this country that prevent me from having to look at my neighbor Bertha’s saggy boobs and butt. Keep America Beautiful! There are stylish men in America. They are the gay ones. Makes it easy to recognize them.

      • http://matadornetwork.com/author/emilyarent/ EHA

        Hehehehe. Did you really, REALLY just call out the Europeans for having an economy that’s in the crapper? An American…daring to comment about another country’s crappy economy? You just won the prize for proving a point that I never intended to make, but that this string of conversations has succinctly brought to the fore. 

        Ok let me guess. You…think that global warming is a myth. Aaaaand, you think that body shaming is necessary because nudity leads to premarital sex leads to pregnancy out of wedlock leads to the breakdown of American family values? Eh?…eh? :)

        • Omegageek

           Emily, are you really calling me out on my criticism of the poor Eurozone economy? Come on! That is the one verifiable fact here. Everything else everyone has written here, including you, is just opinion. Have you somehow missed out on the whole Greece-Spain-Portugul-Ireland axis of default story? Why is it that these bit-player countries are on the verge blowing apart the whole Eurozone house of cards? Because almost all their underlying economies, except Germany, are in the crapper, and have been for a long time. Their GDPs are terrible. Their productivity is terrible. Their sovereign debt is terrible. The US economy is cyclical, but Europe just keeps getting sicker. The result of too much socialism for way too long. Why in the world would you want the US to be more like Europe?

          And no, I don’t think that seeing my neighbor Bertha’s saggy nude body would lead to any pre-marital sex and unwanted pregnancies. Quite the opposite really. That would really kill the mood. Hey, you may have just hit on the cause of another of Europe’s big problems. Why is their birth rate so low that they have import lots of “guest workers” from Asia and the Middle East just to keep all the basic services running? Maybe it is because of all the pasty, flabby, saggy, naked bodies parading around and killing the libido. Just a thought.

          • None

             Are you in pain? I’m only asking because you’re whining like a little bitch.

          • Abe

            Why can’t you just accept that other countries has superior ways of doing certain things, as well as US has superior ways of doing certain things? I would pick the Danish model ANY DAY over the US system. I know both systems. You don’t, but you should. Ignorant fool. This US ignorance will make you fall, and become even more Chinese.

          • liz

            Goodness, “This US ignorance will make you fall, and become even more Chinese.” SERIOUSLY? how can you call someone ignorant (which he is btw) when you go ahead and say something like this. “become even more Chinese” What does that mean? Why do you think the West is superior? 

      • Martin Leblanc Eigtved

        Taxed to death = free education and medical care :-)

        • Omegageek

           There’s no such thing as free. Somebody always has to pay the freight. People should be paying their own bills, not expecting their fellow citizens to have to pony up for them.

          • http://matadornetwork.com/author/emilyarent/ EHA

            How did a post about bikes, clothes, and naked butts turn into this? If there’s one thing that really grinds my gears, it’s tight-assed, political pawns trying to turn light-hearted cultural commentary into their divisive political fodder. Take your griping to a political blog and put us out of our misery. 

          • Abe

            Omega, you should try and get a passport and take a trip to somewghere else than Wal-Mart and McCrap. I am sure it would do you good. It is pure ignorance to believe that you are #1. This ignorance will be your fail. Mr. My Country Is Basically Owned By China Because We Bought All Their Plastic Crap. 

          • Mtm

             No, there is no such thing as free Omegageek. People in Scandinavia understand that and consistently vote in support of welfare system because they see it as them collectively paying for the welfare of their society. Scandinavia standard of living is extremely high. Health care and eduction are seen as benefiting society just as you probably see the roads built by your taxes as benefiting society…or, do you have dirt roads that you built yourself around your farm which is totally self sufficient? I guess you do since no one is “ponying” up for you, right?

      • DanishJacob

        Now you’re just being ignorant and lumping all of Europe together in one. Denmark has very flexible labour laws and very little job protection. Look up flexicurity – it’s all the rage at the moment.

      • Eli_Allan

        I can’t quite tell if this is sarcasm, or if you’re just genuinely an ass.
        Either way, we do pay lower taxes, but the Danes get free health care, free education and high functioning public transport.  What we get for paying our taxes is harder to see. Personally I’d rather pay 25% higher taxes than $40,000 in student loan debt and $2200 a month in health insurance bills.
        That and the Danish economy currently outperforms our economy in nearly every metric, lower unemployment, higher wages, etc.
        Recognizing the success of other countries does not mean you hate your own, it just an honest observation.  The Danish have done well for themselves and perhaps we could benefit by learning from their success.

      • LeAnne

        The sales people don’t bother her because they are actually being productive and working instead of standing around chatting.  ;)

      • Mtm

        Wow…are you for real? Do you understand that there is no need for everyone to have a car in Dk because the taxes go towards a fantastic public transit system which makes for a very nice city center free of cars where you can walk in peace. They are “taxed to life” you could also say since noone is denied medical care…university education is largely paid for and is of a very high quality and child care is subsidized to free up parents who can work if they choose. The sales people are not lazy…they are just not annoying as they can be in the US with the fake smiles and scripts they are trained to parrot…that is a fact in large chain stores in the US. Denmarks economy is not in the “crapper” any more than the US’. And in general…the ups and downs of Europe in general are no worse than the US’. Was it not the US who started this world wide financial collapse? Or have you forgotten that? I am not a hater of my native country, the US…nor am I a lover of everything European but your criticisms are just so laughable…I guess maybe you are just being ironic and are not serious…at least I hope so. But, part of me thinks your serious…if so, well…you are the part of the US I am happy I have left behind.

        • Asf_12aw

          Like. Ps. Taxes
          also gets college students  about 850 USD
          a month to live for so they don’t have to work so much while they study.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joe-Kenny/100000778164044 Joe Kenny

    I’d rather live in Denmark than Colorado too. Colorado brings all the excitement and pizzazz of the shape it has on the map.  The coasts are where it’s at. Especially the west coast. 

  • http://twitter.com/vadimosya vadim oss

    Emily, i share your care for Copenhagen for the same reasons. First, I thought that Amsterdam is da place, but that was before i visited Denmark. At the end i realized it’s safer when not all bikers around you are high, perhaps i am just getting old and more sentimental about my personal safety:).  I tried to walk in Denver once. Oh boy, was it a stimulating experience! It’s not only bike unfriendly but can pose some major difficulties for pedestrians too. That’s probably why i ended up in New York city where i don’t feel alienated by riding my bike or seeing good looking, well-dressed men (i care less that most of them are gay as long as they don’t violate my PIPA rights at a grocery store’s cashier line, just the way you described in your other post:) ). As far as “hummer lady” concerned, perhaps that fat ass was driving an electric hummer. That’s why she couldn’t get your pure expression of love to our planet. Either way i bet a car salesman failed to mention that 90% of electricity in the US of A is produced by burning fossil fuels, so it’s not much of a help to the planet. Bikes rule, hummer stinks!

  • Jeff Sware

    im from Canada and I think I love you.

    • http://matadornetwork.com/author/emilyarent/ EHA

      I love you too.

    • Abe

      Jeff, we all love Canadians. For example; you have just as many guns per citizen as the US do. However you don’t go around shooting people with them. You also travel, observe, and learn. We love you for that.

  • http://matadornetwork.com/author/emilyarent/ EHA

    I also think it’s really cute how you threw your blog address in there at the end, Nichole. Had a feeling that this would be popular/controversial and thought you would throw in a frivolous passport comment to get the party started? For that, I sincerely thank you, because I live for conversations like these. 

    I’m sure you’ve had a little increased blog traffic the past couple of days, due to the morbid curiosity of open-minded people who couldn’t resist checking out the crazy lady. I definitely did. And I just have to say, I’d much rather be writing controversial material that gets people talking than spend my days writing safe, boring content for a blog that few people have ever or will ever, hear of. If you put even an ounce of the passion into your own work what you put into your responses to other people’s work, maybe you wouldn’t have to promote yourself in such a silly, transparent way.

    Cheers to you! I’ve been smiling all weekend.

  • Joan

    “that other country.”  Gary Dauphin:  I guess you mean Denmark.  I know it’s hard to keep all those other places in the world figured out.  Please don’t ever leave America.  Have a great life, and…well, just don’t expect to evolve.

  • Sasch

    I very much enjoyed reading your piece, as well as the comments. As a dane who’ve never been to the states, it’s both fun to hear about your perception of the differences in our countries and also see the responses from your fellow americans.
    I’m very pleased to live in one of the cities in the world where bikes are more common to own than cars. I’ve practically grown up sitting on a bike, and I honestly feel more comfy biking than walking. Though I have a drivers license, I’ve never wanted a car and it’s very rare that I miss the benefits of one (as when transporting kite surfing equipment or furnitures with public transportation). So I’m definitely arguing against DKisGreat regarding the bike situation.
    Must say I’m in a pickle with Lesson # 2 – It can feel nice to be allowed to wander around being totally yourself and looking like whatever you feel like – but.. I do agree slightly with Mtm – the danes are a closed culture in a way that is a bit over the top and in my opinion to self absorbed.
    We could learn a lot from other cultures when it comes to being polite in public, though my impression is that american culture is maybe a tad to superficial in that way. Somewhere in between would be ideal. 
    I work in a shop where we have many foreign customers and one day I spoke to an american woman who told me it was very nice to talk to me, because I actually asked her sincerely about her stay in Denmark and what it was like compared to her home. I rarely have such a pleasant conversation with a danish customer as I had with her, cuz it’s simply not normal to interact with strangers that way in Denmark. She also thought especially Los Angeles was a superficial place, but she really missed the interaction with people, as people in Denmark didn’t even smile to one another on the street (which is true unfortunately).
    The third lesson is funny because I never knew the naked situation was different in both the US and England (as Travel Diaries mention). When being raised with nakedness on the beach and everyone being naked in saunas and public baths, it’s not something one considers at all. Ha :)
    The man thing is just a matter of taste I guess. Personally I like a man in loose jeans and a tee better than suited up with expensive outfit etc. Again I must agree somewhat with Mtm, that the Danes tend to be too self-conscious and trying so hard to both blend in and be one of a kind, that many fail to just be themselves, instead of someone they think others will acknowledge more.
    I’m glad that your year was a good experience and that it lead to writing for the rest of us to appreciate :) 

  • Jehdoyle

    So true! On Saturday, my facebook status was:
    “Two
    things I’ve learned at the Nordborg swimming hall: 1, snorkelling and
    2, to be comfortable with so much public nudity. Yes, lady in the sauna
    doing stretches while lying on her back with no towel, I’m talking about
    you.” And like you, I was quite fine with the nudity and have come to think it is better! (Nordborg is in southern Denmark).

    • http://matadornetwork.com/author/emilyarent/ EHA

      Hehe, thanks for reading, Jehdoyle. The first time I lived in Copenhagen as a student, one of my expat friends was traumatized when her host family took her to the swimming hall on one of her first days in the country and all of the female members of the family from ages 10-70 ended up naked in the sauna together. She describes it as one of the most intense slaps of cultural whiplash she’s ever experienced!

  • Jeff Muller

    I began feeling a bizarre sense of nostalgia for the cold and fast saleswomen in Copenhagen who actively ignored me unless I asked them for help, and when I did ask for help, tried to ignore me for as long as they could feasibly pretend not to hear me.

    I find it really weird that this is what you miss.

    I only ask that you don’t wear a baseball cap to a trendy bar. Or your tennis shoes. Or cargo shorts. Or a short-sleeved button-down shirt. Anyone from Colorado knows that I can ask for one or two of these rules to be followed at a time, and everything else is fair game. My friends tell me to get over myself. 

    Get over yourself.

    • http://matadornetwork.com/author/emilyarent/ EHA

      Thanks for reading, Jeff ;)

  • Martin LeBlanc Eigtved

    We miss you too, Emily!

  • Jenn

    AMEN GIRL! I just moved to Germany and I am not missing my car at all!

  • Simon Nicholson

    Emily, I just wanted to say that you’re article is great, well written and I am glad you enjoyed staying here in Denmark. Of course there’s negative reactions, but don’t let it get to ya. Be who you are and enjoy your life :)

    See ya next time you’re here!Simon

  • Tim Pedersen

    Cool stuff Emily, you are welcome back, drop the dull US, get back to Denmark, from a Danish guy.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=505827647 Mark Rees-Andersen

    Nichole, I find it funny how you get “bitching about america” from the same article that I found was mostly about praising the Danish culture… But then again, you do come off as the type who’d equate appraisal of a foreign country with being anti-american.

  • http://twitter.com/FakeItBarbie Hannah Emilie Fanøe

    This is a fantastic article, I laughed reading it! I live in Cph but I’ve been to the States and Canada loads of times — and all the things your article states is so true! Especially the lack of style in men, euwh! Keep up the good work and don’t let the rude comments bring you down, they just don’t know what they’re talking about!

  • Nobody

    “You’re pushing 30 and you’re dressed like my high-school boyfriend in public. Buy a pair of dress shoes and get your shit together, man.”

    Oh, piss off. I’m pushing 40, yet I wear t-shirts and cargo shorts as much as I can because I value comfort over trying to impress superficial twits. I’m also a self-employed homeowner who raised my stepchild by myself for nearly a decade, so I suppose I can be said to “have my shit together” by whatever metric you care to use. Preferring a certain style as a matter of taste is one thing, but equating snappy clothes with maturity and success just makes you look like a vapid idiot.  

    • http://matadornetwork.com/author/emilyarent/ EHA

      The truth always touches a nerve, otherwise you wouldn’t have taken the time to register and type out a comment. People who are too insecure to take a joke are always the ones to jump down my throat without paying attention to how self-deprecating the article was. I don’t give a shit about your cargo shorts, as long as they’re not in an office or a trendy bar. I do, however, care that you learn to be a little less transparently reactionary ;)

  • Fran Drebo

    You’ve obviously never been to the same Denver that I live in. There are bike lanes all over the place, and thousands of people commute by bike – by road and on the hundreds of miles of bike lanes.
    See bikedenver.org or denver.bcycle.com to get caught up on 2012

    • http://matadornetwork.com/author/emilyarent/ EHA

      I live in the suburbs, Fran. Which I’m quite sure the article mentioned :)

      No bike lanes here! It’s also worth considering that while using examples of American cities in which biking is popular among a small percentage of the population might seem attractive, it MUST be admitted that these examples are anomalies. They are a handful of abnormal blips in a country that drives.

      I’ve used a bcycle in Denver before. I also felt pretty unsafe. Anyone who’s ridden a bike where bicycle infrastructure is a priority will tell you that a few bcycle stations won’t cut it. It’s just as much about changing how drivers think about bikers as it is about adding lanes and stations.

    • Fran Drebo

      Bike paths I meant !

  • Eli_Allan

    You shouldn’t insult Colorado just because Denver sucks.  Denver is barely even part of Colorado, no one wants to say it but Denver should be part of Kansas, its flat, conservative, and boring.  Southern Colorado is where its at, Durango, Buena Vista, Telluride, all fun beautiful bike friendly places that make Denver look like Cleveland.

  • http://www.dmuth.org/ Douglas Muth

    #5: Baseball bat-wielding hippos in Denmark are WAY cooler than the hippos we have in the US:

    http://youtu.be/M9mN-KuLPEU

  • Jen

    I enjoyed this article!  I actually felt the same way after studying abroad in Germany! 

  • lslencrypted

    Someone challenged your lifestyle, oh-emm-gee, what a horrible thing to do!

  • Sarosh

    Hi Emily,

    Like your posts… very funny and highly entertaining!

    regards,

    Sarosh

  • guest

    Dress shoes are for squares. Colorado isn’t known for it’s city life. I’ll take my little mountain town over Copenhagen, where the women don’t care for gelled up jokers in expensive clothes. Denmark sounds like a lovely place but Nichole has a good point.

  • liz

    I agree with you on so many points! I’ve been complaining for ages that we don’t even have sidewalks paved continuously. It’s not just inconvenient it’s dangerous! and especially frustrating!

    But  then, there are things about the US that I miss when I’m in other countries, such as small talk. The other day I was shopping for pvc pipe to build a camera rig and a man asked me if I was “into plumbing.” I’m a five foot 21 year old girl. (not that women can’t be plumbers). I thought it was quite funny. It can be ridiculous at times, maybe a bit superficial, but sometimes that positivity and optimism is nice.

    And Americans are slobs (including me) – I’ll go to class in sweatpants which is something you won’t see anywhere else in the world – even in third world countries like India where I’m from, people will wear their best and look their best when they go out. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1084252316 Allan Chin

    Ahhh, Føtex… Thanks for your article, Emily. I was curious to know just how long you were in Cph… I spent 2010 at a rural folkehøjskole near Århus, and am now back in NYC, a little more progressive than the rest of America, to be sure, but even here we have a long way to go… While in DK I learned to speak Danish, and happened to pass the PD2 exam. I hope to find some way to get back there longer term.

    I don’t really have anything to say except that I can relate to a lot of your experiences. Being bicultural myself (Asian-American), I find many of the Danish (and European) ways a lot more sensible than some of the American ways ever were.

    Anyway, I hope to read some more of your Danish stories…

  • http://lazybra.in/ Beata A.

    Copenhagen sounds remarkably like New York. Most of the things that piss you off about being back in “America” are hard to find here and in mostly every other urban center in the country where people have places to be and no time for b.s. I stalk around in crazy tall heels by myself all the time. I take myself to dinner at fancy places (table for one, please); no one bats an eyelash. You can see the steam coming out of my ears when people stand on the left side on the escalators and you’ll hear it from the people behind you if you do happen to pause in the fast lane. Men here are fabulous dressers – yes, even the straight ones.

    I’ve lived abroad and traveled a lot. I grew up in “the hood” in ultra-liberal NYC, in a very conservative, very multicultural home. I spent four years at school in a small city in the Midwest. I’ve seen all of the things you describe about “America,” so I *get* the sentiments expressed in your post, but it still rubs me the wrong way.

    Just like many Europeans, you are making the mistake of dumping “America” and “Americans” into one big category, when the reality is that America has a very rich and diverse cultural standard, and the experience you’ll have as an “American” varies a great deal according to the part of the country in which you happen to be. Foreigners at least have some excuse, since they can claim an idea of America based on our politics and our television. As someone who specializes in traveling, learning new cultures, and sharing experiences, you, however, might want to consider treating your own country with a little more introspection. 

    None of this is to say, “Oh America is so wonderful; we are the best.” There are many things in America that need changing, as there are in any country. It’s about your treatment of the subject, which, admittedly, works well for generating buzz and reactions online. If you were to have written out an in-depth, thoughtful comparison of the two cultures, you probably would have come up with a lengthy treatise similar to this comment. :)  

    As it is, it comes across as just another Euro-snob American saying, “Ohmygosh, Europe is so ah-maaazing, America sucks,” which is why you’ve provoked such strong reactions among readers. It is extremely frustrating (and borderline offensive) to have someone make clichéd generalizations about one and one’s culture, pigeonholing half a continent into one city.

    What I think would be a more accurate analysis is, “MY experience of Europe was amazing, and MY experience of the part of America I returned to is kind of sucking for me.” That, of course, is completely understandable – who couldn’t sympathize? 

    • http://matadornetwork.com/author/emilyarent/ EHA

      Hi Beata,

      I appreciate your constructive feedback. You’re one of the very few dissatisfied readers who delivered a comment that wasn’t a knee-jerk defense of America. For that, I thank you.

      I still, however, disagree with many of your points and urge you not to take this article so seriously. It’s filed under “humor” after all.It was written for fellow expats, who left amused comments below. It was written for Americans with a self-deprecating sense of humor, who also left amused comments below.  I made my point of reference clear from the very beginning, so you knew that I was writing with Denver in mind.

      I’ve been to New York City, and I do concede that a few aspects of life in NYC and Europe are similar…but extensive living and traveling in Europe doesn’t allow me to classify them as “remarkably” similar because in my opinion, they just aren’t. It’s all a matter of perspective and opinion. 

      The way I see it, this article WAS written as MY experience of Europe and MY experience of America. What part of the article wasn’t blatantly framed as my opinion, and my opinion only? I guess depending on how defensive of America you tend to be, you can read my tone in many different ways.

      But again, thanks for reading and commenting!

      • Beata A.

        Ahh, touché- I hadn’t seen that this was posted in humor. :) Definitely puts it in a WHOLE different light. The generalizations make sense now.

        It’s partly my fault for not reading closely enough, I suppose (although most readers would be guilty of the same, judging by current internet trends), but it actually took me a while to realize that you were speaking specifically about Denver; I had to double back and check to see where in America you were.

        Like I said, I can appreciate the differences you’ve mentioned. I’ve lived in Europe, and I can take a joke (when I actually know that it’s a joke [facepalm] ).  And I would agree – I wouldn’t say that New York (a city) is “remarkably” similar to Europe (a continent); it was a facetious statement based solely on the 4 points you mentioned. :)And you’re right that this is a more sensitive subject for me because (a) I was disappointed and frustrated to see many of my peers give the subject the same cursory treatment when they returned home from living abroad, except it wasn’t just for humor’s sake, and (b) I work for a foreign company, so combating these sorts of generalizations has become a somewhat regular part of my life.

  • JanieO

    Biking AND walking!  I’m a relative newcomer to a smallish town in Northern New Mexico and was recently told that if I walk around town people will assume that I lost my driver’s license due to a DUI!

  • ACC

    I tried, I really did, but to me this article is nothing but over dramatic pearl clutching. OMG Americans drive CARS! And they don’t like to SEE EACH OTHER NAKED! And-and the men don’t waste money and time on fashion like I want! 

    What horrors you live with. 

  • AB

    I so can relate I still get asked what does I bike KPH mean and what is CPH here in Australia….still wonder what danes call Danishes. Would sound funny to ask for a Danish from a Dane….then again we have an Aussie Burger at Burger King here…they got rid of it  though too many calories….be the change you wish to see and still commute…by bike…

  • Wilma

    I really relate to what you’ve written, and I’ve never been to Denmark. I lived in Amsterdam in the late 1970s for about eight months, before returning to graduate school in the States, and eventually settling and raising a family here. I can report that, although I have a happy, successful life, and I appreciate many good things here, not a day goes by that I don’t feel a little homesick for the life I left behind in The Netherlands. Every brief visit I make there makes that feeling even stronger. I don’t think I will ever get over it, and for that matter, I don’t even want to!

  • Toobs_bra

    I loved the artical! I spent a year in sweden and you put into words what I couldn’t. It was so hard for me to adjust to Sweden’s ways. But, when I did it was home! On my return home in Maui i felt a loss. It was harder for me to adjust back to American life. Thanks for getting my experience into words :)

  • Anton

    You go girl! Welcome back any time.

    - Danish gentleman

  • Rolledsho

    Move back please

  • Limboslam

    Lady, you are so full shit. I’ve heard of people try to prove to the world that the last thing they are is ethnocentric, but most people make it believable. You actually expect us to believe that the good people of Denver looked on you on a bike as if they were looking at a drunk? Yeah, I call bullshit.

    • http://matadornetwork.com/author/emilyarent/ EHA

      Thanks for reading, limboslam! And for your exceedingly eloquent response ;)

  • Natalie

    sounds like san francisco!

  • Eve

    I agree, there is nothing better than biking.  I happen to live in a bike friendly area in the U.S., but only because it is a college town.  People even take great pride in their bikes.  I personally just bought a gorgeous new bright red Schwinn, but I am coveting some of those cute designer bikes that are coming out!  (here are some pictures of those new bikes, beautiful!)

    • Eve

      Sorry, forgot the link- http://lechictravel.com/2011/10/couture-bikes/

  • Simon

    Emily, love the article, to funny, small world that it ended up being you who wrote it

    • http://matadornetwork.com/author/emilyarent/ EHA

      Ha, thanks Simon! Hope you were able to adjust to nyc easier than i was able to adjust to denver ;)

  • james caan

    I’m surprised people stared at you for riding a bike in Denver. I really can’t walk downtown there without seeing many more bikes than cars at certain times of the night, and it’s the only place I know of where cops actually apply the DUI law to bicycles!

    • http://matadornetwork.com/author/emilyarent/ EHA

      I live in the suburbs where SUV’s rule the road ;) Perhaps there are a few bikes in Denver, and a few more during the summer. But I spend enough time downtown to call you on a gross exaggeration of the number of bikes there. Keep in mind this is written from the perspective of someone who’s comparing it to Copenhagen, where 40% of adults commute to work on bicycle in rain, sleet, snow, or shine.

  • SB

    Emily, the other awesome thing about Denmark is the unwritten honor code: people leave their bikes unlocked and unchained all over the place, for example. This might seem bizarre to any outsider, but it is an amazing example of how a society can collectively construct a virtuous cycle of trust. The other very common instance of this, which is only something Scandinavian countries could pull off, is parents leaving their baby strollers outside of stores while they go about doing groceries and such. The thinking is, of course, why hassle the baby with a noisy brightly lit store, and “why would anyone want to steal a baby”, as my Danish friends so directly put it.

    Oh, by the way, after finding a link to your story about how to piss off Danes on a friend’s fbook wall, I reposted it to a friend who has lived and worked in Copenhagen for many many years. Turns out this person knows you as a former coworker! What a small world! Keep up the entertaining writing!

    • http://matadornetwork.com/author/emilyarent/ EHA

      Hi SB,

      It is a small world indeed, especially so in Denmark!

      I’m curious which former coworker it was…I miss that dynamic group of people every day! Thank you for reading and sharing you insights. Those would all make great additions to the list :)

      Emily

      • SB

        It’s SWH, without giving too much away. She’s a veteran there, having been with them since 2004! And that’s a great employer, by the way, doing some awesome stuff. Power to y’all.

        • http://matadornetwork.com/author/emilyarent/ EHA

          Ahhh :)

  • Anonymous

    Hi Emily,

    One of the sad things about Denmark is that I’ve had people tell me–and I mean nice, social, open-minded people, that they lived there for two years and were never invited into a Dane’s home. Did you actually befriend anyone, I’m wondering?
    thanks for the post.

  • Robert Ingleby

    After 11 years my verdict on Denmark is utterly split. Great place to live, rotten place to try to make a living.

  • Låuren Carter

    Emily awesome article don’t listen to all the haters…( they haven’t experienced the true meaning of hygge) and therefore will never understand the root of our nostalgia. The sad thing is that most of these comments prove your point more, rather than less about American culture…one that I am very proud of 80% of the time. It’s easy to have a love/hate with the country(ies) you live in…pure adoration would just be ignorant.

  • Gabriel Silveira Meirelles

    Great post! I loved CPH as well and Copenhagen is really what you wrote in your post! ;)

  • John Lett

    I am not sure how long you were in Denmark, and perhaps you went to DIS like I did. I miss a lot of things about the vibe of the Copenhagen area, but it really depends on what kind of mood you’re in. It is not a place that you meet a lot of people unless you are a drinker or have a class that will integrate you with lots of people fast. The long-term expat community has a very special vitriol for the place, particularly where it comes to pension contributions and taxation that is not returned if they do not stay, which is an anomaly for guest workers in most countries.

    What I miss is the QUIET. Every profession has its dignity, but if you change jobs, you’re considered very unstable. Relative to income, some restaurants are not that expensive, particularly ANKARA, across from the main library in K. It is becoming increasingly stratified as people consume more cheap products, and also, I noticed that after the EU expanded to 27 countries with Romania and Bulgaria, there was a lot more petty crime going on and people stopped leaving their babies out on the street, which they had done before 2007.
    -’tarotworldtour.wordpress.com’

  • John Rasmussen

    Extremely eloquent and very interesting reading for a native Dane. What you write is also most how I see it (being a patriotic Dane), but some of these things have a flip side too. I very much enjoy going to America because I find it so much easier to speak with strangers there, whether they are the random person you meet in the street or a professional shop assistant. Thank you so much!

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