It blows my mind that I’ve been here for a little over 5 months already. Where does the time go?! For those of you who have been following my move from the very beginning, you already know my previous updates have been a series of gushing, glowing praises for Denmark (but especially Copenhagen). I mean sometimes I feel like I have to tone down how openly obsessed I am with Copenhagen because it makes me sound very naive, ha.
The corona situation is not looking too great in Denmark at the moment, though we are not entering a full lockdown (yet?). I’ve had a close brush with Covid-19 too – I had to get tested recently (results were negative, thankfully) because someone in my wider social circle had it, and I worked from home while waiting for the results. I isolated with my partner so it felt like a bit of a staycation to be honest! 🙂 I feel lucky to be here during the pandemic, and especially to have a close partner through all these changes, and to also have some friends I can talk to. But it does make me realise how much I relied on group gatherings over the summer to hang out with new people. The fact that this isn’t really possible now (the recommendation is to ‘pick’ up to 10 people to be your social circle) highlights my own lack of a fixed friends group, and it definitely makes it challenge to get new close friends.
I’ve also just had my first cyclist collision and experience with Danish paramedics. I walked into a cycle path in the dark without seeing any cyclists coming my way, and before I knew it, I had landed face-first onto the pavement and busted my lip open (I definitely looked like a halloween zombie then, dripping blood onto my clothes). But other than a couple of swollen limbs and bruises, I was luckily not badly injured. The paramedics took my vitals to make sure I was fine and I was sent home. I’ve definitely learned my lesson about idly walking out of my lane in the dark!
Something I noticed is that it’s been very hard for me to gain any confidence to start practising speaking Danish. I’m taking lessons now and all, and realistically I think my pronunciation is really not horrible, I would daresay comprehensible to a Dane with a willing ear, but the problem is that Danes are extremely good at English. It’s all too easy for a Dane to speak back to you in perfect English than to painstakingly conduct a conversation tolerating your bad Danish. On the one hand this is great because it’s less effort for the English speaker, but not so great if you are actually trying to learn and could do with a little bit of local encouragement and conversation!
I must say something that surprised me, also, is how much of a ‘bubble’ Denmark is. It’s sort of difficult to explain. I don’t consider myself particularly activist/political, but compared to the UK I’m finding it very easy here to avoid critical dialogue on many social issues. I know part of this is because I don’t speak Danish, and can’t follow all of the Danish news channels. And it’s not that there aren’t socially conscientious people – I’ve met plenty of young people who are. So I’m not exactly sure how to frame this anecdote – it’s simply a ‘feeling’ that I have here in comparison to the UK. I suppose on account of Denmark being overall a nice country, with good social services, it’s easy to take almost too much pride in that and take what is good for granted. When you hear bad news, it’s easy to adopt the logic of “But Denmark is fine” or “That kind of stuff happens elsewhere, not in Denmark” and brush various issues under the rug as if it doesn’t affect Denmark. I’ve seen this kind of attitude surface with Covid-19 measures, for instance. I haven’t ‘heard’ much about the US elections either, or current events elsewhere. The risk with privilege, and being in a supposedly socially forward-thinking country, is that it often comes with ignorance and complacency. As a relatively privileged, young, able-bodied immigrant-minority-woman, I’ve had my fair share of bureaucratic nightmares, paranoias about my legal status, brush with hostile environments, and existential struggles – as a ‘foreigner’ and otherwise. So as much as I want to ignore what’s bad in the world, the social issues that affect all of us today – yes, that applies to Denmark as well – are not problems that I have the luxury to pretend doesn’t exist. I’ll just leave it at that.
So, that’s it from me – an honest look at the good, not-so-good, and different experiences I’ve encountered here. Stay tuned for more beautiful, photo-heavy posts (if there’s one thing I can’t complain about, it’s how great Copenhagen is for photography lovers! I think I’ll never run out of posts to line up…) and see you soon for a half-year life update 🙂