By Kasper Delaney-Petersen
It wasn’t coincidence that I chose Denmark as my situation of arrival for Erasmus.
A semester away in an unknown nation without a single word of the language and an insatiable lust for discovering one’s true self, all riding on the back of “well, it’s different than home so I’m in for a shock!”
It was never really like this in truth. As soon as I was aware of the Erasmus program I knew I wanted to come to Denmark. As a technical expatriate, I hadn’t been since 2010 and I at least knew how to say hello, goodbye, and count to ten.
I also thought Denmark would not be that much of an eye-opener as I grew up ingrained in the culture. While I never learned the language, it never sounded foreign or alien to me. It was like Irish only that the devoted television stations are not absolute dogshite.
I worked ‘relatively’ hard to get my ‘almost’ 60 percent average in second year and I was ready from the beginning of third year to enter the world of almost the same price pints and cheap as dirt ciggies. I have not been this excited for the future in a long time.
I’ve been living up to the stereotypes of the drinking Irishman (except in relation to the Danes man, them fiends can drink like nobody’s business), catching up with old friends and making new ones, and generally just enjoying life. My bank probably hates my guts and the general population of Denmark even more so (I kid…I hope) and I can honestly say I made entirely the right decision.
Of course there are differences that must be noted and while not few and far between, they are immediately noticeable but also easily adapted to. It is here that I will attempt to illustrate the difference between the Irish and the Danish, or lack thereof.
While speaking to a Dane in the student bar, after mentioning that I thought the Danish were wonderful people, I was asked what the difference between the Irish and the Danish really was. I thought for a moment. Ever since I arrived the people of Denmark were unbelievably friendly, so nice in fact, that I thought they felt pity on me for my immeasurably dumbfounded demeanour.
So, I replied, the difference between the Irish and the Danish is that we are both super nice to foreigners most of the time, but the Irish people really fucking hate each other at the best of times. The Dane just laughed and replied, “So do we”.
I will admit that my perception of the Danish had been skewed, not unfavourably, but enough to garner a bit of a shock once I started talking to others. It is true that my interactions with my own Danish family gave me an impression not entirely false, but quite off the mark (kind of like when you have family in a different county so you judge your perception of the rest of the people from that area on your own biased knowledge of your relation).
All I can say is, coming to Denmark is an experience in and of itself and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a bit of craic and getting horrifically drunk many times during the week. Sounds like home, doesn’t it?