Coming to Copenhagen, I had very few expectations. It was the city I had done the least research on, and I feel as though Denmark is rarely mentioned in the US- outside of its happiness rankings. However, my lack of preparation was compensated for upon arrival. Outside of the fantastic plans and info session coordinated by our trip leaders, I also was able to contact an old friend way back from elementary school who was currently studying abroad for the summer in Copenhagen. I reached out to him right when we arrived, and we were actually able to meet up later that night!
Sam had been in Copenhagen for the past two months taking classes at the local university, so he was pretty well versed in the Danish culture- a kind of understanding I feel you can really only achieve through living in a place for some time. Therefore it was really interesting hearing his perspective on the Danish people and their way of life. I bombarded him with questions for probably two hours, and I think I learned about a lot that I otherwise would have had no exposure to.
For instance, I really grilled him on the whole “happiest people in the world” deal. He commented that it’s probably true, but not in the way we would expect. People aren’t all smiling on the streets and skipping around, but they’re truly grateful for everything that they have going on around them. They have a general feeling of contentment about their lives that he felt really contrasted how we live in the US.
Outside of a great conversation, Sam was also able to send my way some awesome recommendations for what to do with our free time in Copenhagen. I really strive to skip the tourist traps and focus on local experiences when traveling, and he was able to help out a lot. One of my personal highlights from our time there was a suggestion of his, GoBoats. Basically, you and a few friends are able to rent a small boat to drive around and explore the harbor in a different, more relaxed way than we were able to on the huge canal boat tour. Here’s a pic from the GoBoat ft. Jacob –
Copenhagen was a wonderful place, and I felt as though I was really able to immerse myself there by knowing someone local. It was a truly unbeatable way to learn about the city and its culture. I hope to one day be able to return!