This blogpost was first written on February, the 8th in 2018, but we have published it again recently because the content can be useful still.
It has been a while since I first thought of starting a blog in English, of creating a corner where I could tell about my life in Denmark (as an addition to the one I am handling in Italian - you can visit it here). Why in English? Well, it is the language that most of you understand out there as well as the one that most of the travellers use when visiting Copenhagen. It is no coincidence that I am posting now: five years ago today my Danish life began. Five years ago today I would get on my flight to Copenhagen, one way. On the 8th of February 2013 I would land to the Danish coast at 16:30 and a little after I would reconcile with my better half, who was looking forward to my arrival at the baggage area. Maybe holding a bouquet of roses. Definitely waving a Danish flag. In this post I shall not dwell on who was I before moving, and who am I now, on why did I move and so forth, but I will reveal you the reasons why today I am happy for living here. I will tell you why I love Copenhagen so much precisely five years after my moving. This is my way to recall my life over the last, approximately, 2000 days of Denmark.
If you follow the news, you might know that Denmark has gained the title as "happiest country in the world" already three times (in 2013, 2014, and 2016) on The World Happiness Report, published by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network. News, magazines, books, newspaper have been explaining the reasons by addressing to the GDP, the welfare system, the cultural secret corresponding to "hygge" and so on, but I am now going to explain you my simple reasons why I love Copenhagen so much:
Copenhagen is for everyone
Copenhagen is quite a liberal and tolerant city. Danes accept generally others' choice, always that it doesn't cause damage to people and things. Denmark has been the first state in Europe to legalize homosexual civil unions in 1989, and 90% of the population tend to agree with the statement that "LGBT people should have the same rights as heterosexual people". In terms of gender equality, Denmark is working hard day by day to balance society more and more. Also, there are a number of benefits for people with disabilities as well as for whom might experience a down phase in their economic life.
Photo taken during Copenhagen Gay Pride, August 19th, 2017.
People trust you
I cannot hide the fact that I have considered even naive the Danish behaviour in several occasions. I have been trusted by the shop assistant when I returned a pair of trousers even if I had removed the paper tag; when I cancelled a meeting; when I told the bartender the total amount of beer to be paid; that one time the ticket inspector surprised me without a valid ticket; also when I declare my income, SKAT (Danish Tax Agency) trusts me. This behaviour, which is not at all "naive" as I thought at the beginning, is exactly the way to educate you to trust and not to lie by taking advantage of the others.
Copenhagen is safe
Denmark is listed among the safest countries in the world, as a matter of fact crime levels are generally low. It is safe to move around its capital at night, also by feet or by bicycle. I have had to go back home late at night, alone, and I have never feared it because the city never gave me the reasons to do so over these last five years. Neither did my girl friends nor the women with whom I happened to talk. I love not having to worry about whether it is a good moment to go out or come back home. In Denmark people tend to keep an eye on each other so that, if something happens, they can help. I love the feeling that even when I am by myself, I am actually with so many others. This explains to me the Danish sense of community, which is so important when talking about safety.
Biking is the way to happiness
I have never biked as much as I do in Copenhagen. It is not a matter of having a good/new bicycle or feeling like biking, it has to do with proper infrastructure. Providing roads with safe bicycle lanes, and squares with decent parking spots for bicycles. Offering the possibility to enter your bike in the subway (in the local trains is even free to do so) and educating people to have respect towards the most defenceless on the road, namely cyclists and pedestrians, this really is what makes it a pleasure to bike. I am still not completely Danish (and I will probably never be) as a matter of fact I would rather take the bus when it pours rain or snows, but otherwise I love biking all around and this is a reason why I love Copenhagen so much. Here, the bicycle is the way of transport that best fits with the city's scale. Thanks to it, I do not have to worry about finding a parking spot, about paying it, arriving late at work, or having to leave in advance for the fear of not arriving on time to a meeting and so on. My bicycle gives me freedom, and, at the same time, it is a way for me to make a little contribution to reduce pollution.
Life is cheaper anywhere else
This might make you smile, but it is true: almost anywhere else I have traveled to I found cheaper prices. That's fantastic! Life is quite expensive in Denmark for most of the travellers, not if you live and work here (except for real estate market, maybe). That's why if you earn money here, you can enjoy life to the fullest when travelling abroad!
Copenhagen is multicultural
As many other capitals in Europe, Copenhagen is multicultural, as a matter of fact my circle of friends is international. Even if you do not work in incoming operations, as I do, you can easily build an international network, in general. Copenhagen is full of students from all over the world, it is experiencing a growing tourism and a lot of big events take place yearly. Thanks to several established communities, it is also possible to eat authentic food from around the world, speak languages other than Danish, and experience other cultures. I love being able to do all that. By the way, another reason why I finally decided to start a blog in English is to let my international friends and colleagues understand what I am writing about!
Photo taken during the inauguration ceremony "Århus European Capital of Culture", January 21st, 2017.
This was a short list of reasons why I love Copenhagen. They are based on my personal experience, and there are of course exceptions. When talking about safety, for example, I am referring to major crimes. In Copenhagen, as well as in all other big cities, pickpockets and bag-snatchers unfortunately operate, overall during the high season and in crowded areas.
Last but not least, this article is thought to spread knowledge about Copenhagen's strengths seen trough my point of view. It is clearly not my aim to state that there are no weaknesses in Denmark. However, all the reasons that I have listed here above help me overcome obstacles such as the boring weather, the lack in the variety of fruit and vegetables, and the attitude of the locals lacking in spontaneity.
I hope you have enjoyed the reading! Feel welcome to share your thoughts and experiences in the comments! And, now, there's nothing for me, but celebrating my Copenhagen fifth anniversary! Looking forward to meeting you again in the next post!