How Denmark became my home far away from home
My name is Matea. I come from a little, beautiful, sunny Croatian coast where people are welcoming, open, and always smiling.
About 2 years ago, I had this craaaazy idea that I wanted to study abroad because I realized that Croatian universities didn’t have what I was looking for. So, I applied for a bachelor’s program in Business Management in Denmark for the Fall of 2016, and I was accepted. My journey began at Copenhagen airport where I was trying to buy a train ticket to a little city called Kolding. Of course, I couldn`t pronounce the name, so I was so happy that, two and a half hours later, I arrived in the right city, my new home. What I expected from Denmark was COMPLETELY different than what Denmark actually is.
Never in my life had I met a Dane or knew something about them until I moved to Denmark. I was raised to be a good host, meaning that I always invite people into my home and do everything in my power to make them feel comfortable. However, now I was in Denmark, where people are a bit difficult to approach. Their way of thinking is opposite to my own and it was hard to understand why. Do you think that stopped me? No! I was persistent, and I met a few Danes that are now my good friends. I must say that is my BIGGEST achievement, and anyone who has ever been here knowing how truly BIG that is. Probably my best tip for befriending a Dane is to remember that they love honest people who don`t pretend who they are and what they are feeling.
Danish way of living
Another thing that is quite different from what I am used to is the Danish way of living. They are some of the hardest-working people I have ever met. Across from my flat, there is a Danish company, and my roommates and I are always surprised when we wake up at 7 am and they are already at work, without any complaints. I had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see Kolding FILLED with Danes on a Friday. It was 20 degrees and all the pubs were packed with people. I thought that I was dreaming at first so I checked twice, just to be sure. It was just another cozy afternoon, and it turns out that Danes also know how to chill.
I have been here for 8 months, and I still feel like I haven’t been judged by a Dane. This might be what I love about Denmark the most. I have met a lot of immigrants here from all over the world, and they are accepted and not judged, which is pretty amazing in these times. I come from a completely different way of thinking, and Denmark taught me that being different is okay and that one should be one every step of the way. Thank you, Denmark :-D
When I say little surprises, I actually mean that Denmark manages to surprise me when I least expect it. For instance, I didn’t know that Lego was a Danish company. The famous writer, Hans Christian Andersen, and his fantastic stories that are read by generation after generation come from this small yet lovely country.
Another surprise was the Danish hygge, which is their way of enjoying time with their friends and family in the comfort of their home with a certain atmosphere. The perfect example is around Christmas. I had the opportunity to walk along the streets of Copenhagen at Christmas time, and it felt like a fairy tale. I have also experienced the hygge in a small cake and coffee place called Tobbers, which is a little star in Kolding. I often go there with my friends and we play board games and just laugh our hearts out. I definitely recommend coming to Denmark just to experience the phenomenon of hygge.
My journey is not at its end, and I hope that Denmark will manage to make me fall completely in love with her—I am already halfway there.
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