Top Five Best Things about Denmark

The UN has run the regular “Stoicism Survey”, where they ask people in different countries “Is your life basically ok?” and people in war-torn famine-ridden failed states answer “What drugs are you smoking currently? No, really!” while people from developed countries say “Well, I’d be more ok if I replaced my 30″ tv with a 32″ tv, why do you ask?” and people from Scandinavian socialist paradises answer “Mustn’t grumble. Things are alright I suppose. I’m more satisfied than Jens next door, whatever he says. What did he say?”

Denmark 2011
Jeg sagde, at jeg var tilfreds. Hvad sagde du?

In response, the Guardian has published yet another puff piece praising Denmark as a place you should definitely move to immediately. Bless the author. Denmark really suits her and it will definitely suit YOU too. *

Her Top Five Things about Denmark:-

  1. Childcare: Subsidised heavily.
  2. Health service: She really likes same-day doctor appointments. (I had those in London and Cardiff too, so wtf?)
  3. A compact capital: Copenhagen is small, so you can cycle around it.
  4. Architecture and design: Fair enough.
  5. Public spaces: Clean beaches and parks.

My Danish Boyfriend’s Top Five Things about Denmark:

(He rebelled at first and said “Low corruption” and “Good weather” and then laughed)

  1. Free education from primary to university: there is a way for really poor people to get a university degree
  2. Health care coverage and quality: he acknowledges I might have a different view because I use it a lot more than he does. He would improve it by giving more comprehensive dental coverage.
  3. Not as many homeless people/destitute people as in other countries: the way the State will help you out if you are in the shit.
  4. And then he dried up and said he’d need to see how other countries were run in order to compare.

My Top Five Things about Denmark

  1. The people I have met here. Sure, not many of them are Danish but it is quality not quantity right?
  2. The libraries. OMG, I love my library, it’s so awesome. And you can get any book from any library in Denmark. ANY BOOK! (I have heard a story about a British guy getting refused a card because “Foreigners steal books” but my experiences have always been tip-top.)
  3. The work-life balance (even as a teacher). Sure, it’s changing now but my guess is it’ll take a few decades before it is anywhere near as fucked as back home.
  4. The way that even children from shitty backgrounds have an ambition to better themselves (and are able to): Their counterparts in the UK dream of being “famous”, Danish children with shocking backgrounds have ambitions like “become a politician”, “get a respected qualification and have a profession” and they take steps to make it happen. CAVEAT: the Muslim children I know have the same dreams but they say they will have to move countries to make it happen because “No one in a hijab goes to university!” “What about in Indonesia? Isn’t it wall-to-wall hijab there!” “In Indonesia(!) Not here.”
  5. The innocence: They trust the authorities. They trust people around them. They trust everyone to have good intentions. They have not realised that approximately 10% of people are most likely psychopaths (there are no figures on how many of the population are fuckwits). They dismiss as anomaly: corruption, favouritism, poor decision making and brutality. This means that when something is good, you do not have a group of Danes trying to find the downside, they just appreciate it. It’s cute, (most of the time).
*Unless you understand what is being said about you, “look” foreign, are poor, like to question things, have uneven/poor health, want to stay-at-home with your kids,  move from non-EU country to be with a Dane, do things a bit differently, sincerely miss the absence of diversity, have to promise to integrate or want to have a job other than “freelance journalist” (*cough*blogging on tumblr*cough*).

5 thoughts on “Top Five Best Things about Denmark

  1. I’m sorry, I’m a bit hungover and I reported your comment on the Guardian site for “excessive sarcasm …” or maybe it was “irony…” or something. I hope they won’t take it seriously.

    Glad that you’re back.


  2. I have to agree — the library system is amazing. I am so pleased with it. You really can get ANY book and within a few days as well. Definitely one of the best things I have experienced here.


    1. The libraries are filled: but what about education? The US philosopher Martha Nussbaum notices that alla Scandinavic countries have given up for humanistic education in high school teaching long time ago. No Latin or Ancient Greek is seriously offered as an educational option nowadays in Denmark. As a consequence, teaching of history, which is the basis of all higher education, including the scientific one, is very basic and superficial in Denmark.
      The consequences of this? Look at the hospitals: all major “overlæger” are not Danish. Because nowadays Danish young people do not want to study a difficult a difficult subject like Medicine: they are not trained during high school, for this. Thus, the Danes hire experts from abroad.
      Yes, libraries are filled with books: but are the Danes sufficiently educated to read those books? You should know what are the major newspapers sold in Denmark: BT and Extra Bladet….


      1. Education is pretty poor here. Not just because they aren’t taught enough facts but because they aren’t taught creativity, critical thought, deep understanding of ANYTHING. They’re just taught how to get along with a small-to-medium group of their peers, how to write three types of documents (which, face it, are all fucking essays even if they have different forms) and give presentations.


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