Thursday, April 30, 2009

What I Like...And Don't Like

I was just in the car on a drive to yet another second hand store when I thought of a list of what I like about living in Denmark, and what isn't so great.  Some of it is food related, but much of it isn't.

First the good things (in no particular order):
  1. Spring.  After the longest winter of our lives, it's about time.
  2. Fjords.
  3. Swans swimming in the fjords.
  4. There are always people outside - even in the rain and cold.
  5. The farm country surrounding our town.
  6. Tractors - for my son - they are everywhere and he LOVES them.
  7. 37-hour work week - since I am unemployed, this one is for my husband.
  8. Excellent child care (Denmark is a very kid-focused/friendly country).
  9. Bornepenge - a mother gets money from the government every quarter just for having a child!  It's to help with food, diapers, clothes, and day care costs, but you can spend it however you wish.
  10. Genbrug second hand stores.
  11. Rugbrod (Danish rye bread - I like it with seeds).
  12. The locals are laid back and relaxed.
  13. Great bike lanes.
  14. Aarstiderne (the CSA we belong to).
  15. Public swimming pools - the cleanest and most well maintained I've ever seen.
  16. Our rental house.
  17. Soft is - "is," rhymes with niece, is Danish for ice cream.  Soft Is is like soft-serve in the U.S. but so so so much better.  And the hard ice cream is delicious, too.  Danes (and Scandinavians in general) are serious about their ice cream.  I enjoy the flavors, texture, and the fact that it is less sweet than American ice cream.  Americans love ice cream, too, but I find most of it cloying.  And that's from a person who loves sweets.
  18. Google translate. My best friend.
  19. Health care.  The quality is good and there is NO paperwork.  Not ever.  You simply swipe your personal ID card at check-in.  It's that simple.
  20. Beautiful sea shells and unusual rocks on the beaches.
  21. Discount markets - I frequent every one of them for one thing or another and they include Netto, Aldi, Lidl, Fakta, and Rema.  Food is expensive in Denmark and shopping at these markets for sale items such as meat, cheese, or wine, can save a bundle.
  22. Excellent dairy products.
Here is what I'm not so crazy about:
  1. High taxes (over 50 percent of my husband's salary)
  2. Goods are expensive - whether it's food or clothes or furniture, the prices are higher than I'm used to paying.
  3. The language.  It is pronounced NOTHING like it looks.  
  4. Close drivers - when someone thinks you are going too slow, they have no problem getting as close to your bumper as possible without actually touching.  It's maddening.  I don't see this behavior in all drivers, but it happens often enough that it's become a pet peeve.
  5. Drivers must have their lights on at all time.  And believe me, if you accidentally forget to turn yours on, the Danes will flash you or shake a finger at you.  I speak from experience. To me it's strange to drive in the middle of summer with my lights on, but I play by the rules.
  6. The radio stations could use some help in the play list department.  Once in a while, I will hear two or three great songs in a row on any of the 7 or 8 radio stations we get. Unfortunately, most of the time I hear way too many songs from the likes of Bryan Adams, Phil Collins, Peter Cetera, Whitney Houston, Debbie Gibson, Tiffany, George Michael, and Wilson Philips.  Forget about classic or alternative rock.  It's mostly bad 80s and R&B.  I know the stations are better in the bigger cities, but I am SO thankful for our CDs.  
  7. Finding a job is hell.  This is probably true almost anywhere, but at the moment it's my own personal hell.  All I hear is "learn more Danish!" Grrrrrrrr.
  8. Where I live it is practically impossible to find international ingredients in the supermarket.  And the only tofu I've seen was in a market 30 km from here and it was pickled.  In a jar.  Too scary for me.
  9. No more eating out for two reasons.  The first is that we don't have the disposable income that we did in the U.S.  (it's tight on one salary here), but more important is that we cannot find a good (and by good I mean one that we would go back to again and again) restaurant to save our lives.  We've tried places that we conclude are okay, but most of the time we are terribly disappointed by what we order and that we wasted our money on it.  I remember a girlfriend of mine laughing when I told her that I ordered a veggie burger and it turned out to be a bun with lettuce, tomato, and cucumber in the middle.  It was especially funny because when I ordered it from the menu I asked the waitress if they make the veggie burgers in-house.  She looked at me in a very confused way and said Yes. Of course they make their own - it's three veggies in between a bun!  My husband has ordered beef burgers at different places in the past and he always ends up with a stomach ache later on.  I know, in fact I'm certain, there must be very good Danish restaurants out there - either we can't find them or they are out of our price range.
  10. Litter.  There is more of it here than I ever would have expected.  Even on the beaches, which is just gross.
  11. Smoking.  I can't tell you how many people smoke here.  I'm so not a fan of it.
  12. The thousands of ads that come in the mail each week.  Remember what I said about the discount markets?  Well, they, along with all the other supermarkets, furniture stores, shoe stores, etc., send out masses of ads every week.  On one hand, I look at my favorites and see what's on sale, but then again, it's such a waste of paper.
  13. Pumping my own gas.  I know, it's lazy of me, but even though I've lived in several states in the U.S. where I had to do it, I never had to growing up in Oregon.
  14. Everyone, and I do mean everyone, has a GPS in their car.  My husband has a little handheld one that he uses for hiking, but the Danes love their GPS's.  I know it's old fashioned, but we turn to Google maps and a pen and paper.  I'm not dissing the convenience (and paperlessness) of the GPS, I just find it odd that they are so prevalent in such a small country.
  15. When I did my first load of laundry here I was shocked at the 2-hour wash-cycle time. Where we live now we have a machine that can do a load in an hour (if you select the short cycle), a much more reasonable time, but the typical wash cycle is very long compared to what I'm used to.  I suppose it's the fact that we like everything done fast in the U.S. and the Danes are in no hurry at all.  I think their way is better, but it takes some getting used to.  Incidentally, the clothes come out cleaner, so I guess that says something.
  16. The weather and darkness of winter.  October through March is hell.  Cloudy, cold, rainy, gray, and just plain dreary.
It's funny.  I see that the number of things I like outweigh the number I don't like, however, the second list is longer (with way more description!).

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