Discussion of Copenhagen
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The general impression varies throughout the year from “I love it” to “I can’t stand it”. At this moment I definitely love Copenhagen: it is very calm, comfortable and cozy.
Proximity to the sea: very close; Copenhagen itself is surrounded by many lakes.
People are reserved. They are not very friendly, but always help if you ask them to (the attitude is the same toward the Danes). In common, they treat other Scandinavians better than foreigners. But I’ve never seen a difference in their attitude toward an American and a Russian.
I think the attitude will be better if you learn Danish – at the moment I can’t support the conversation if someone speaks to me on the street or in a store.
"Positivity is a smart and benevolent towards others. And it is also a prudent, sober and mutual love for yourself”.
This phrase is just about the Danes and the Scandinavians in general. They are indifferent enough not to be too friendly, and at the same time they are sympathetic enough not to be too cold. They are absolutely unaggressive. They appreciate simple human joys, like communicating with family and good weather.
They care a lot for their families. Most Danes from my office leave work at 4:30. If they need to take their child from kindergarten they just quit any work they do and go. Attitude towards family reminds that towards universities – always in a respectful way, no kidding. Wife and children are sacred.
In winter the temperature drops to as low as 0 - +5 degrees, it is chill due to wind and high moisture. But, of course, it is much warmer than winter in Ukraine. Snow falls a couple of times, stays for several days and melts.
Spring and autumn are very long, the temperature is around 15 degrees. However, the same temperature can feel differently depending on the wind and cloudiness. In spring it is mostly sunny. What concerns summer, people say I’ve been lucky with my first summer in Copenhagen – it was very warm, sunny and sometimes even hot, it was possible to swim in the sea. But even in the heat it will be chill enough in the shade – it’s not like in Ukraine. Ukrainian summer was one of the reasons to move here: it is very hard to tolerate with 40 degrees.
There’s no air-conditioning in almost every building, so in the heat it may not be comfortable to work, but it depends on the office. However, many Danes use any opportunity to work from home, so if you don’t want to go to work you may sit at home with your laptop. The same is when the weather is bad.
Education is considered to be free of charge, but for instance, my friends pay quite a lot for the kindergarten. I don’t know anything about schools, however.
Kindergarten. According to my friends, kindergartens are very good. Each week (sometimes even more often) they go on excursions to different institutions: from entertainment like the zoo or the aquarium to different factories where children learn how people work.
School. So far I’ve heard only bad things about Danish schools and the quality of education in them: for instance, people say that even school graduates know nothing about variables. However the children are taught how to communicate, and they study English. The Danes think it is more important than Math, and I can’t but agree with them. Besides, it is compensated with their higher education.
University. The Danes’ attitude towards higher education is very serious, the subject of master’s thesis is a considered to be a normal topic in the conversation. There are no jokes like “we’ve got manuals, let’s go pass the exams”. As far as I can feel the school is for personal development, and the universities are for receiving specific specialization. For instance, if a person chooses to study Math, he will have to study hard. My colleague’s son has made his master’s thesis on a complex mathematical subject and went to MTI to continue his studies.
It is worth mentioning that students get a good scholarship which roughly accounts for one half of my salary; in addition they have many bonuses like preferential rentals and can also look for temporary employment.
Medical services are free of charge, but you need to buy the drugs yourself. What concerns quality, I’ve heard some negative feedback. I can guess why: the doctors don’t tend to prescribe many drugs. I’ve visited hospital four times and I was always told something like “It’s nothing serious, you will recover without drugs”. For me these words acted magically: I really recovered fast. One time the doctors prescribed me some medicine – a standard one, the same as they prescribe in Ukraine. What concerns for serious cases, I’ve got no information. I’ve heard the system resembles ours: there are long queues if you need to undergo some serious analysis.
The hospital itself is much cozier than ours: it is clean and calm, it doesn’t smell drugs. It looks more like an office.
Everyone except for the older Danes speak English. That’s why it is hard to learn Danish – as soon as people understand you are a foreigner they start speaking English.
Many people don’t like Danish and say it is very dissonant, but I can’t agree with them. I love it because I think it’s very musical and soft. It is possible to study it for free the first three years you live here.
Public transport is really good, the roads are well-maintained, and the infrastructure for cyclist is great. In Copenhagen public transport can take you anywhere anytime, and it is very comfortable. It is very expensive to own a car, few people with whom I work do so. One American I know has sold his car, and he’s quite happy. He says it’s hard for him to imagine life without a car, but here in Copenhagen there’s no need in it. Public transport and bicycle is just enough.
Travelling abroad: Schengen Area. Copenhagen has a good airport with convenient metro/trains/buses that go directly. It takes around 15 minutes to go to the airport from my house by metro; the metro is automatic and comes every 3-5 minutes, so early departure is not a problem. If you have a good job, good place to live and good salary, you may invite your friends with a visitor’s visa. The invitation is filled online, there’s no need to go somewhere and fill in the papers. I’ve made 5 invitations this year, in all cases my friends received the visa quickly and without problems.
At first everything seemed quite expensive, but know I’m already used to the prices. The products don’t seem expensive, if you don’t buy premium-food only. It is possible to find something cheap. The employer often pays for lunch and other snacks like breakfast – that is enough to eat at home in the evenings only.
Café and restaurants are quite expensive though, but an average salary is enough to eat out almost every day. Public transport is also expensive, but you may go on bike.
Clothes cost the same as in Ukraine. Furniture costs almost nothing if you buy it online or in Ikea.
Everything involving manual labor or human involvement (all kinds of services), especially work on weekends or in the evening, costs really a lot. For example, I was quite shocked by the prices for veterinary medicine and opening closed locks.
A talented programmer will find a job here easily. What concerns other types of work, the situation is really bad, the competition is very high. It may take many years to find a job. It is better to find work before moving here.
The Danes leave offices early (at 16:00 – 16:30), the vacation is long, there are many spring holidays and a long Christmas week. Attitude towards work is calm, they do not strain a lot and do not strain others.
In general, every newcomer rents a flat. It is really hard to find a good accommodation for reasonable money, but everyone manages to do that in the first month. Rental fee is as high as 1000 – 1500 euro per month, it’s around one thirds of the minimum net salary of a programmer.
Quality: for the same money you may find a great flat or a really old one. But old flats also differ. For example, my house was built in 1886 and has been renovated in 1956. It looks good, has high ceilings, there are no problems with electricity, heating or cold and hot running water.
What is unusual for us is that WC in Danish houses is really small, normally there’s no bath (just a shower), the shower sometimes is situated just above the toilet bowl. However, in my flat WC is big and has a big window. So it is possible to find what you want.
The houses are situated in “squares”, inside each square there’s a courtyard which is locked. A courtyard is usually a small and cozy place with trees, flowers, parking space for bicycles, barbecue, deck chairs, playground and so on. There are two staircases in the house: one goes outdoors and another goes to the courtyard.
I’ve never seen any crime scenes. What is surprising is lack of aggression, even drunk and inadequate people are not aggressive. You shouldn’t only left your things unattended because otherwise they’ll be gone – I said goodbye to my iPod after I left it in a gym, and to my comb and sports dress left in the basket of my bike.
Since I’m a girl, I’ll speak about people in general, not only women. People here are very beautiful, I often recall one humorous article about the Danes – “no matter how you try, how hard you exercise in a gym and how hard you go on a diet, you will never look like Danes with their Viking genes”. The sense of style is in people’s blood. Most Danes have a muscled and slim body. People appreciate natural beauty, healthy body and healthy skin, so you won’t see Danish girls with make-up and on high heels (only if you don’t go to a night club). Older women do not paint their hair and look elegant. Men in general are very beautiful, tall, handsome, muscular, they wear stylish clothes and hairstyles. Unfortunately, our Ukrainian men lose them to a tee.
The Internet is awful. My company pays for my Internet around 40 euro per month for 5 Mbit/s. I’ve also got a free Wi-Fi network at home with the same speed. It is very slow, so I’m thinking to change something. On the contrary, 4G (LTE) mobile internet is really good. It is very fast and costs around 40 euro per month.
I haven’t been here at the time when crisis struck, so I’ve got no idea how it coped with it.
Skype is preferable, my nickname is foramigos. Feel free to write me and ask any questions, I’d love to help you.
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