Welcome to Copenhagen!

by Meera Pawale

There is only one thing that Danes love more than beer— it’s bicycling. The first few days after arriving in Copenhagen, before crossing the street, I would whip my head right and left in fear to check if there would be any bikes zooming in the bike lanes. A tinge of fear always coursed through my body as my Danish residents in my dorm told us that unlike cars, the Danish bicyclist will not stop for you. They’ll just run you down. You must be extra cautious. Cycling is the most common method of transportation in Denmark. Every single person living in Denmark has a bike. I’m not exaggerating. In elementary school, kids must pass a biking test to prove they know the biking traffic rules and can bike safely. It is very cute to see little kids biking with their baby bikes around the city but don’t be fooled, because they mean business. They are sneaky fast! Little babies from 6 months old are seen in their parents’ bike baskets, smiling from ear to ear. Babies and toddlers are always seen wearing full body snowsuits, mittens, and hats because Danes will bike through the coldest and stormiest weather. Even old grandmas and grandpas are seen biking. But they have a little extra boost; often riding motorized bicycles.

I’m proud to say I have become a bicyclist in Copenhagen. My gray bicycle with a big black basket in front has become my savior. Every morning, I will unlock my bike, throw my tote bag into the basket, and hustle my way to the city center where all my classes are. I grew up in suburban New Jersey and my previous biking experience was limited to fun rides in the neighborhood with my friends. But coming to Copenhagen, I’ve realized how wonderful and practical biking is. On my route to school I bike across a massive bridge over the stunning canal which has become my favorite spot in the city. I still get a tad nervous biking during rush hour as there will be a crazy amount of commuters in the lanes but needless to say, it’s become a part of my routine. Also the extra exercise added to my day is always a plus.

In addition to biking, Copenhagen is known for plenty of other other things. Forexample, you will hear and learn a lot about the word “Hygge” if you come to Denmark. This word is a mix of coziness, happiness, and being together with friends and family. The fall and winter can be brutal here. Gusty winds, non stop rain, and chilly temperature can really hit you hard. To combat this, Danes invite their friends and family over to their house, put up lights around town, light candles at any hour, and chat in cozy bars drinking beer till late into the night. All of this adds to the hygge part of Danish culture. To me, this has brought a lot of comfort. In my dorm we have so many hygge activities like watching movies together, baking Christmas cookies (yes, I know it’s not even Thanksgiving yet), and cooking dinner together in our common kitchen. Christmas itself is also a really big deal in Denmark. Like, a REALLY big deal. As soon as it hits November 1 st , the streets are lined with stalls to form Christmas Markets that have mulled wine, hot chocolate, shops full of scarf and mittens, and apple skivers which are traditional Danish apple pancakes.

Studying abroad has been so challenging and rewarding at the same time. In more ways than one, I have grown as a student and as an overall person. Moving to a new country is daunting. But Copenhagen has proven to be an amazing home base as the city is so clean, safe,and accessible. In the past few months, I’ve laughed more than I ever have, made more friends than I can count, and explored new places that have left me speechless. When I return back to school (Although I can’t even think about leaving Copenhagen right now), you will see me biking around campus and trying my best to bring Hygge to Wesleyan!