Life in Denmark Compared to the US


Last Fall, I traveled to Denmark to Study Abroad at the Danish Institute of Study Abroad. It was an extremely engaging experience, and I was able to experience living in a completely different country for four months. This was the longest I had ever lived outside of the country and also the longest that I had been away from home. While there were many things that I enjoyed and did feel quite similar to home, there was a lot that was extremely different from not just the school experience but also the culture and society that I was engrossed in.


By far one of the biggest changes I experienced right away was in how I got around Copenhagen. There was no shuttle for me to take to get from my housing to campus like at Moravian, and instead, I had four ways that I could get to my classes situated about 2.5 Kilometers from my housing. I could walk, take the bus, take the metro, or bike. I had the choice before going to DIS if I wanted to have a bike or be given a commuter card, and I chose the bike. 

Biking is an extremely popular mode of transportation in Copenhagen and I was really glad to have the opportunity to experience it. Most streets have a separate, elevated bike lane that makes it easy to safely bike without being too close to cars and trucks. Even then, the streets that didn’t have that separate bike lane like the ones in the city center were too small for it had very little car traffic since there wasn’t really anywhere to park, and then some streets were also blocked off from cars. Additionally, everyone follows the rules of the road extremely well. You aren’t allowed to turn at a red light unlike in the states, and I didn’t really see anyone disobeying this law.

Copenhagen also had an absolutely amazing public transit system. The metros are always running constantly, far more often than in other cities like New York or Philadelphia, or other cities with good metros like London. Metro trains ran almost every 5 minutes at the longest, and some lines came as quickly as every 2½ minutes at times. My dad came to visit in November and, after just a day, said he was frustrated having to wait 3 minutes for a train. 

Copenhagen’s public transportation systems were absolutely amazing. Very few people drive in the city as there aren’t many places to drive to which helps to keep the cities not just walkable but also quite quiet and safe. Many Danes do still have cars but they use them mostly for long distance travel rather than just their daily commute.


I went into Denmark not expecting the food to be that different from what we had here, and for the most part, I was correct. If I was craving most foods I love, it wasn’t hard to get them; pizza was quite common and popular, I was able to get pasta at every grocery store, along with any other necessities I needed, and could cook at home. While there, I even got to experience lots of new foods.

Cocio became one of my favorite drinks; a chocolate drink similar to chocolate milk but also kind of like cold hot cocoa was always a go-to. The hot dog stands had actually very good hot dogs and were quite popular, one of my favorites was wrapped in bacon. I quickly became a very big fan of Wednesday Snails as well, a tradition at bakeries where on Wednesday, Cinnamon rolls had a special deal where I was able to get 2 for $3.50 and they were amazing. Lastly, I was introduced to the wonder that is Kebab. I absolutely loved kebab and had it almost every week. I had a class that was Monday and Thursday until about 7:30, so I didn’t want to cook when I got in and walked down to the kebab shop, where I got a Kebab, Fries, and Drink for  good value. Danish Sodas were also quite fantastic, and I became a big fan of Faxe Kondi, Orange Squash, and Lime Pepsi Max; I certainly drank far too much of them though as I was also definitely missing some foods from home.

Two things that I didn’t expect to crave and miss as much as I did while I was in Denmark were Hoagies and Italian Food. Being from Eastern Pennsylvania, there were so many occasions where I desperately craved a Wawa run in Denmark, and there weren’t really many ways to get a hoagie if I was craving one. Another style of food that I’ve taken for granted around here is there was not really access to Italian and Mexican food. I had a good craving for penne vodka and tacos that I was not able to get while in Denmark.


There is a common stigma that the Danes aren’t the friendliest of people, and in some ways, it is very true, and in others, I strongly disagree with it. Danes are not directly friendly. There is no word in Danish for please, and they are very direct. Danes also don’t try to make small talk and are very forward with you. However, they were also extremely helpful and friendly. If I ever needed directions or help at one point or another, they were more than happy to help assist me. 

Overall I found Denmark to be an extremely enjoyable experience. It was a great step out of my normal comfort zone and I was able to get to try a lot of new things while also still having access to those things in my comfort zone that I could trust and rely on. My biggest complaint about my time in Denmark was that in November it got dark around 3 PM and was sitting in single digits Fahrenheit and was very lucky to have brought lots of warm clothing.