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A Spring Break Full of ‘Hygge’

A Spring Break Full of ‘Hygge’

God efftermiddag!

I just returned  from a wonderful mid-semester vacation in Denmark!  (hence, the Danish greeting)  I stayed with a former Rotary Exchange student of my family, Karoline, her husband, Mads, and their two daughters, Silke and Rosa.  My five days with them were filled with relaxing on their family farm, puzzles at their beach house on the North Sea, and just experiencing the true Danish culture.


Besides also catching up on sleep, I accompanied both Karoline and Mads to the classes they teach in the town of Skjern.  As both an aspiring journalist and university student, I thoroughly enjoyed getting to see the inner-workings of the Danish education system.  It was amazing to see Karoline’s work teaching refugee students the Danish language, helping them acclimate to the local culture.  I was able to not only sit with them and work on my basic and very limited Danish skills, but also interact with them one-on-one.  Let me explain…

There was a Colombian woman in my learner class who spoke Spanish.  It was apparent just watching her from across the room she was comprehending hardly anything the instructor said.  When we went on break, I mentioned off-offhandedly I spoke a bit of Spanish.  For the rest of the day, I sat with the Colombian woman translating instructions and teaching her how to use a computer, for I’m pretty sure she has never seen one in her life.  And she is only one of the thousands of refugees the country takes in everyday.  It’s inspiring. The social system in Denmark, while it may still have its kinks, is astounding in its ability to educate and provide opportunity to every one of its citizens. But I digress…

Trying to speak Danish is incredibly difficult!  I picked up a lot on my visit, but it has to be one of the hardest languages to pronounce.  Karoline and Mads definitely humored my attempts 🙂   Although, it’s not imperative to learn Danish when you visit anyways since nearly all students are required to learn English.

In Denmark, I also found out that I love Danish food.  Karoline made it her mission to cook authentic Danish dishes for me almost every night, including making a full Christmas feast with pork roast, three kinds of potatoes, and my new favorite dessert, rice pudding with cherry sauce! For people unfamiliar with Danish culture, pork and potatoes are the main food staples.  And for people unfamiliar with my eating habits, I LOVE pork and potatoes.  I’m also  a new fan of the Danish brew, Carlsberg.  I was pretty happy about the situation.


Overall, my trips were filled with hygge.  ‘Hygge’ is a Danish word meaning the warmth of spending good time with good friends.  Karoline explained it to me on my very first night, sitting in front of a fire sipping wine in their beautiful farmhouse. It’s a Danish word that has no English equivalent and describes perfectly my time in Denmark.




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