14 Habits You’ll Pick Up Living in Copenhagen

June 6, 2015

The nostalgia I have for Copenhagen is constant. I fell in love with the city, with my bike, and with 4 a.m. shawarma.

I miss looking out of my window and seeing the crimson and olive houses set against a scarlet colored sunset, and listening to the rhythmic creaking of bike chains rattling against their rusted metal skeleton. I began to take for granted the lack of open container laws, and miss walking around with a Carslberg beer in one hand, and a “fancy” hotdog in the other. 

Its been a little over a year since I left Copenhagen, and looking back on my experience, I’ve come to realize just how much Copenhagen changed me, at least for the time that I was there. Needless to say, I miss every part of it.

Assimilating to the Danish lifestyle is inevitable; here are 14 habits you’ll probably pick up while living in Copenhagen.

1. You’ll wear black tights and sneakers almost every day of the week

The Danes are fashionable. Very fashionable. They’ve nailed both style and comfort at the same time, and I’m not talking about glittery sweatpants. A lot of the Danes wear tights with sneakers, either casually or out at the bars. They make it work and make it look good. The color of the sneaker doesn’t matter, either. It can be black, or turquoise with pink rims; you’ll see both. 

You’ll suddenly start to notice that you’re wearing black tights and sneakers, too. This combo is comfy, fashionable, and can be worn anywhere, any time of the year. This is one of the first habits you’ll pick up living in Copenhagen. 

14 Habits You'll Pick Up Living in Copenhagen

2. You’ll become an Olympic level biker 

You’ll bike everywhere. You’ll master the art of holding 4 bags of groceries and biking. You’ll even master the art of lighting a cigarette while biking.

You won’t ride in a car for months. You’ll start to believe that cars are inefficient, and that biking is the way to go.

You need to be somewhere that’s 12 miles away? You could do that in your sleep. 

Most of the Danish population bikes to school, work, and everywhere in between. If you’re in Copenhagen, you must rent a bike: it’s convenient, effective, and cheap.

After you get the hang of it, however, you’ll start to notice you may have the same annoyances you have when driving a car.

You’ll also start to learn the rules of the road, for example, slow bikers on the right, fast bikers on the left. No one wears helmets, and you have to walk your bike across the street when you’re going in certain directions.

You won’t even notice you’re following these rules. It’ll become so much of a habit, that you might even start dreaming about it. 

3. You’ll use a fork and knife to eat your burgers

After a while, you may not even notice yourself surgically cutting your burger with a knife and picking up the pieces with your fork.

When you first started doing it, you were concerned that the delicious burger might not taste as good if you’re not shoving it into your mouth with your hands and letting the grease drip down your face. Finally, you’ve realized this is not so.

Eventually, using your hands becomes an unacceptable, barbaric way to consume a burger. Who does that, anyway?

14 Habits You'll Pick Up Living in Copenhagen

4. You won’t think twice about biking in a full blown snowstorm  

Biking in a snow storm? No problem.

The only thing you’ll be concerned about walking out of your door, into the blizzard, will be if your coffee will still be warm by the time you get to school.

You’ll master the art of biking on a few inches of snow and knowing exactly when to push the breaks incase you slide a few inches forward on ice. You’ll also master covering every part of your body except your eyes for maximal warmth when biking. You’ll barely spill any of your open coffee cup on your morning commute over bumpy roads and piles of snow. 

This habit comes quite in handy during the long winter days and months. 

5. You’ll start to like black licorice

It’s everywhere. The Danes love their licorice. The first time you tried it, you may have been disgusted and spit it out on the floor. How could anyone enjoy this? I’m sticking to red, thank you very much. 

After a few tastes, you’ll come to love the bitterness, and even ask for the licorice shots when you’re at the bar. You’ll come to realize that you may be eating it too much, and wonder if you’ll suddenly develop an aversion to this interesting candy from eating it every day. 

14 Habits You'll Pick Up Living in Copenhagen

6. 4 a.m. shawarma becomes a ritual 

You’ll leave the bars with your stomach grumbling, and make your way to one of the many late night shawarma shops in Copenhagen.

You’ll make love to the greasy lamb, white sauce, and pita bread stuffed with things brought down from heaven every time you go out. Maybe it’s the reason you’ll even go out.

14 Habits You'll Pick Up Living in Copenhagen

7. You’ll wear black all day, every day

Colors? On clothes? Never. As I said above, the Danes are fashionable. Black is a part of their wardrobe, and you’ll start to notice that your clothes have shifted to mostly black. Even your underwear. Wearing black will become so much of a habit, that your friends from back home may get concerned, especially if you used to wear a lot of color. 

You’ll start to praise black, and comment on how it goes with everything. You can wear black to any event, and can wear black in any type of weather.

You’ll start to believe that colors were only meant to be in nature, and black was meant to be worn.

14 Habits You'll Pick Up Living in Copenhagen

8. You’ll keep to yourself more

Danes keep to themselves a lot. They’re private people, and would never try and pry you for information or try to get into your private life.

You may find yourself doing just that- keeping to yourself. While you’re on the metro, biking, or out in public, you may find yourself wanting to only keep to yourself. It’s quite a relief, actually, not having to worry about walking down the street and being approached by someone you don’t want to talk to.

9. You’ll find yourself shouting “skål!” when others shout “cheers!”

The Danish word for cheers is skål (it almost sounds like “skull”). It’s a fun word that I still shout to this day. You may find yourself shouting this all the time, even if you’re somewhere where no one speaks Danish. Who cares, though. 

10. You’ll eat half of your week’s calories in pastries

Danish pastries are fresh, cheap, and delicious. You’ll find yourself at Sankt Peders Bageri every single morning, purchasing your daily pastry from the oldest bakery in Copenhagen.

The warm, doughy goodness makes your tastebuds tingle whenever you take your first bite. It may be cinnamon, chocolate, or vanilla, but whichever flavor pastry you choose, you’ll be lost in the aroma and taste for days. 

14 Habits You'll Pick Up Living in Copenhagen

11. You’ll start to drink beer all day, every day

Since there’s no open container law, you’ll find yourself drinking a beer on your way to the bars, drinking a beer on the way to dinner, and just drinking a beer to drink a beer. You know how to drink (now) and can hold your liquor. 

You’ll start hanging out at the Studenterhuset around mid-afternoon, which is where a lot of the young Danes tend to relax. There are beer specials for students too, which you take advantage of. 

12. You’ll become more punctual

Noon means noon. Not 11:59. Not 12:01. The Danes are punctual, and when they say a time, they mean it. You’ll start to realize you’re on time for everything; not a minute early or a minute late.

You’ll take pride in the fact that you’ve become more punctual. Maybe this will get carried over to your home country. Maybe it’ll even help you get a job.

14 Habits You'll Pick Up Living in Copenhagen

13. “Hygge” will become a part of your winter

Hygge is a word that doesn’t have a direct translation, but it means coziness, warmth, and friendship. You’ll find yourself lighting candles, grabbing blankets, and hanging out with your friends in the wintertime as you wait for the long nights to end.

14. You’ll start to prefer a smørrebrød over a regular sandwich

The smørrebrød, or, the open faced sandwich, has finally found its way into your life. There are so many different toppings and sauces to choose from, you wonder how you survived off of the standard cheese and turkey sandwich for so many years.

You’ll start exploring new smørrebrød options, even the egg and shrimp one, which you’ll soon fall in love with. You’ll promise yourself that you’re going to ditch that extra piece of bread and stay true to the smørrebrød forever.

Copenhagen, I will be back for you one day! Until then, I will hold on to these small changes you’ve instilled in me.

If you’re visiting Copenhagen and looking to do something a bit differently, check out my posts: 10 Non-Touristy Things to do in Copenhagen and 10 Non-Touristy Things to do in Copenhagen (Part II)! And for those of you on a budget, be sure to check out my other post Copenhagen on a Budget: the Free and the Cheap, for even more things to do around Copenhagen. 

Please share on Facebook and Twitter, and comment below with your thoughts!

34 comments

  1. Comment by Adam @ Travelideaz

    Adam @ Travelideaz June 6, 2015 at 7:46 pm

    From a quite rare medical condition – viking finger. I know, it’s weird, right? – and my general build, I’m pretty sure I’m of Viking descendancy but have never managed to figure out just which part of the Viking lands I might have come from. There are definite traits here that make me think it could well be Denmark. Namely the love of bikes, beer and pastries! Thanks for the insight. 🙂

    • Comment by Globe Trottica

      Globe Trottica June 6, 2015 at 11:36 pm

      Wow, I’ve never heard of that before! And that’s so interesting, that part of your life is still a mystery. Haha, there is definitely a big chance- maybe you have some Danish blood! 😀 Thank you for stopping by :]

  2. Comment by Karin Larsen

    Karin Larsen June 11, 2015 at 11:50 am

    As a Dane from Copenhagen, I loved you blog, to this day I miss my hometown every day and I have been in Canada for many years.

    • Comment by Globe Trottica

      Globe Trottica June 11, 2015 at 4:27 pm

      Thank you so much, Karin! Hopefully one day soon you will be able to go back :]

      • Comment by Globe Trottica

        Globe Trottica June 20, 2015 at 2:53 pm

        Awesome! Thank you for showing us that, Marianne! :]

  3. Comment by bgiust

    bgiust June 11, 2015 at 2:31 pm

    You wait for the light to change at crosswalks even when there are no cars coming.

    • Comment by Globe Trottica

      Globe Trottica June 11, 2015 at 4:28 pm

      YES! That’s a great one, haha! I would always wait for the light to change before I ever crossed! 😀

      • Comment by skattebasse

        skattebasse June 11, 2015 at 4:56 pm

        I disagree. In Nørreport station there are peope who gets impatient and don’t wait for green light anymore. I was actually surprised. And it’s the locals! 😀

        • Comment by Globe Trottica

          Globe Trottica June 11, 2015 at 8:13 pm

          Hahah! They’re much braver than me!

  4. Comment by Mona Petersen

    Mona Petersen June 11, 2015 at 3:08 pm

    I love your blog, you are so right I still miss the danish wienerbrød, pølser fra “Pølsevognen”.
    I remember that was the best thing to do after an evening out at the end of the night to finish off with a warm pølse with sennup, no matter what time. I have now been in Australia wow.45 years. Yes I’m always on time. Thank you for your insight.

    • Comment by Globe Trottica

      Globe Trottica June 11, 2015 at 4:31 pm

      Thank you so much, Mona! Yes, definitely, it was such a delicious way to end the night, and like you said, delicious at any hour! Thank you for reading 😀

  5. Comment by Reflex Reactions

    Reflex Reactions June 11, 2015 at 3:39 pm

    It took me 12 years to get back to Denmark after my first trip there, and I dreamt of smørrebrød every single day that entire time. I tried to replicate some of them but it was mission impossible just to find the right bread.

    • Comment by Globe Trottica

      Globe Trottica June 11, 2015 at 4:33 pm

      Oh my- I know exactly where you’re coming from! I still dream about smørrebrød, and I wish that I had eaten more of it when I was there, haha! Ahhh yes, the endless search that never has any good results. That bread is one of a kind!

  6. Comment by Hanne Lohde

    Hanne Lohde June 11, 2015 at 11:00 pm

    I’m amazed by how many of the Danish habits you have captured in such a short period of time. It gives me fond memories to read your blog.(: It is almost thirty years since I lived there but exactly these days my son is introducing his girlfriend to Denmark and they will be going to school there next year together to experience it firsthand themselves.

    • Comment by Globe Trottica

      Globe Trottica June 11, 2015 at 11:08 pm

      Thank you so much, Hanne! I love Copenhagen so much and spent so much time learning about Danish culture that I adopted these habits pretty quickly 😀 I really hope to move there one day!

      That is really great to hear, I’m so glad! And that sounds amazing, your son and his girlfriend will have an incredible time, and I’m sure they’re going to fall in love with Denmark! :]

  7. Comment by Gayatri

    Gayatri June 12, 2015 at 6:13 am

    I will be staying in Denmark for a semester, your blog post definitely gives an insight of the place. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

    • Comment by Globe Trottica

      Globe Trottica June 12, 2015 at 11:40 am

      Thank you so much for reading! I’m glad you found my post helpful 😀 That’s so great that you’re going to be there for a semester, enjoy every moment!!

  8. Comment by Jan van Eck

    Jan van Eck June 13, 2015 at 11:53 am

    Great motorcycle in your top photo! What kind is it? And do the Danes ride electric bicycles at all, or is it all pedal-power?

    • Comment by Globe Trottica

      Globe Trottica June 14, 2015 at 11:34 am

      Haha! It is pretty cool, but I’m not sure what kind it is- it’s on display at the Danish Museum of Art & Design :] The Danes mostly ride pedal-power. That’s why they’re all in such great shape, haha! 😀

      • Comment by Hans J Andersen

        Hans J Andersen July 8, 2015 at 5:59 am

        The bike is a “Nimbus”. Was manufactured in Denmark in say the 40′ and 50’ies

        • Comment by Globe Trottica

          Globe Trottica July 8, 2015 at 10:16 am

          Awesome. Thank you for the info! :]

  9. Comment by Susanne K. Hayes

    Susanne K. Hayes June 18, 2015 at 4:31 pm

    @ Jan van Eck. The motorcycle is the Danish manufactured “Nimbus”. I believe it’s the only motorcycle brand ever produced in Denmark. My dad had several of them over the years. One of them had a detachable sidecar. Unfortunately, I never got to ride the motorcycle. My dad used the Nimbus during World War II to transport weapons to local hideouts among other things.
    Loved the article – can’t wait to go back home this summer for the Danish Smoerrebroed 🙂

    • Comment by Globe Trottica

      Globe Trottica June 18, 2015 at 5:16 pm

      Oh awesome, thank you for that info Susanne- I didn’t know that! And your dad must have some interesting stories!

      Thank you so much!! So glad you liked it :]

  10. Comment by nancyumlah

    nancyumlah June 19, 2015 at 12:23 pm

    Love your blog, and especially the Copenhagen posts. We go next week for the first time. I’m glad I found your blog today as I dream about our trip.

    • Comment by Globe Trottica

      Globe Trottica June 19, 2015 at 1:21 pm

      Thank you so much! That’s really exciting that you’re heading to Copenhagen, you’re going to love it!! Happy travels 😀

  11. Comment by Ceri

    Ceri July 8, 2015 at 12:09 am

    I feel like I should move to Copenhagen now. Haha. Black tights and sneakers? That was my university years haha. I could definitely go back to that.

    • Comment by Globe Trottica

      Globe Trottica July 8, 2015 at 10:15 am

      Yes! It was the perfect outfit for everything hahah. Super easy and super stylish 😀

  12. Comment by Todd @ Visit50

    Todd @ Visit50 July 17, 2015 at 8:12 pm

    I miss Copenhagen – i was surprised how much I loved it on my visit. Great post, thanks for putting this together!

    • Comment by Globe Trottica

      Globe Trottica July 18, 2015 at 12:38 pm

      I miss Copenhagen so much! I’m really glad you loved it there, too! Thank you so much, Todd 😀

  13. Comment by Hannah Rosalie

    Hannah Rosalie July 25, 2015 at 3:33 am

    I have LOVED reading this blog post. You sound like you fell in love with the city! I go for a short break October 12th and I can’t wait!
    I will definitely pack my sneakers and black clothes!
    http://www.wordsbyhannahrosalie.com
    x

    • Comment by Globe Trottica

      Globe Trottica July 25, 2015 at 12:13 pm

      Thank you so much, Hannah! I’m really glad you enjoyed reading it. :] I did fall in love with it, and it definitely wasn’t hard to. That’s so exciting! You’re going to love it there. Be sure to rent a bike so you can see a lot of the city.

  14. Comment by Sonja

    Sonja December 10, 2015 at 3:58 am

    Ny mom was born in Denmark. It took me 40+ years to get there myself. I loved it and have been back one other time. It would be my dream to move there! I loved it and have many family members there – more than in Canada in fact! Lol!
    Everything you mentioned reminded me of my time there, how much I miss it, and my family and their “quirks”.

    • Comment by Globe Trottica

      Globe Trottica December 10, 2015 at 4:31 am

      That’s so great that you have family members there. If I had family members there I would be traveling to Denmark waaay more often, haha! Thank you so much for reading Sonja!

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