COPENHAGEN —  I have only been in Copenhagen for a few weeks now, so it is a little early to understand real cultural differences. But several things immediately stood out:

1.) Biking is the preferred — and most dominant — method of transportation. Bikers have their own lanes and use hand signals to alert other bikers when  they’re turning. Danes are also incredibly comfortable on bikes — women bike in heels, wedges, dresses and short shorts. Parents tote their toddlers in baskets in front of them.

2.) Kids seem to be regarded much differently in Denmark than in the U.S. Glamorous mothers and fathers will walk down the street holding their mini-me’s hand. Mom haircuts, mom jeans and huge diaper bags or other large, obvious signs of parenthood are nonexistent, and strollers are rarely seen. It’s legal to leave a child unattended in the street. A mother will go into a restaurant and have dinner with her friends while she leaves her sleeping baby outside with a baby monitor.

3.) Though it is legal to leave your child unattended for extended amounts of time, it is illegal to carry pepper spray or a pocket knife.

4.) Nearly every dish involves rye bread or smorrebrod (buttered bread). There are also many Middle Eastern choices available, like falafel and hummus, and Danes drink beer and coffee pretty consistently throughout the day.

5.) Danes are very blunt and straightforward. They don't sugarcoat their opinions or try too hard to be polite. There is actually no word for "please" in the Danish language. If you ask someone how they're doing, you should expect them to tell you personal details of their lives.

 


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