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Hello Heritage: Danish culture for newcomers

A new Copenhagen festival hopes to teach expats, foreign students and visitors about Danish humour, music, food, pornography and more with three days of events exclusively in English.

Hello Heritage: Danish culture for newcomers
The new mini-festival is aimed at English speaking audience. Photo: Hello Heritage.
The annual Golden Days Festival is billing itself this year as the 'Festival of Important Shit' but its not just the catchphrase that is in English. As a subcomponent, the three-day Hello Heritage mini-festival will put on a series of events in English directly targetting expats, international students and tourists. 
 
Organizers hope that the inaugural edition of Helle Heritage will reach all newcomers to Copenhagen, especially those wanting to get a deeper understanding of Danish culture.
 
“Hello Heritage is tailor-made for tourists or people who are not Danish speakers, so it is like a 'best of' of Danish culture,” festival manager Josefine Albris told The Local. 
 
Hello Heritage will offer various activities meant to introduce key elements of Danish culture. Those interested in cooking traditions can try their hand at making traditional smørrebrød while learning about the history of the iconic open-faced sandwiches. There will also be a guided tour of Carlsberg for a history lesson on another mainstay on Danish tables. 
 
If that sounds too tame, you could opt for a look back at the sexual revolution in Denmark, which became the first country in the world to lift a ban on pornography. The theatre Husets Biograf and the sex toy shop Lust will team up for an erotic trip down memory lane to the early days of Copenhagen's sex industry, complete with rare footage of early pornography. 
 
Danish humour, not exactly the easiest thing for a newcomer to grasp, will also be explored through a look at the 160-year history of the Danish comedy staple ‘the Revy’, or variety show. There will also be an introduction to the life and work of humorist and artist Storm P. 
 
In total, there are more than 30 talks, concerts, workshops and other events that organizers hope will give non-natives a chance to dive into Denmark's cultural heritage and legacy. 
 
Albris said she hopes expats and foreign students will embrace the new concept. 
 
“Now that you are here, why not dig deeply into the culture that surrounds you? Taking part in the local culture is such an important part of being in a new place,” she said. 
 
The Hello Heritage mini-festival will take place in Copenhagen from September 18th to 20th. Some of the events are free while others require an entrance fee. 

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EXPAT

Ten surprising things that happened to me after moving to Denmark

Relocation expert Melanie Haynes shares ten things she wasn’t prepared for when she joined the Danes.

Ten surprising things that happened to me after moving to Denmark
A shameless approach to public nudity caught the author off-guard. Photo: CandyBox Images/Iris
Moving to Denmark is a great experience but there are some things that catch most expats out at some point. So here are ten of the things that have surprised me most in my first few years here.
 
1. I had a hard time mastering the local lingo
 
Remember that episode of ‘Friends’ when Joey thinks he is speaking French? That will most probably be you at the start of learning a new language. You hear what your teacher says, repeat it exactly how you think it sounds but she still looks at you with a complete lack of comprehension. Eventually it gets better, and you might even be ‘complimented’ by being told that you sound like a peasant or a Norwegian (even though you are neither).
 
2. I learned that not everything is as it seems
 
Careful what you pour in there! Photo: dimakp/Iris
Careful what you pour in there! Photo: dimakp/Iris
 
Things at the supermarket look like they should until you get home, ready for a hot drink and find yoghurt plopping into your well deserved caffeine injection. Yep, Europeans love yoghurt and it comes in litre cartons, just like their milk, so be vigilant.
 
3. I found out suppositories are a thing
 
You're putting my medicine WHERE?!? Photo: erllre/Iris
You're putting my medicine WHERE?!? Photo: erllre/Iris
 
Babies are not given oral medication. Yes, that means paracetamol for your baby (and up to the age of two) needs to be administered at the other end. My shock at this was not understood by my doctor.
 
4. I got hooked on salty food

Pass the salt, please! Photo: Sebastian/Iris
 
When I first moved to Denmark I found the food excessively salty. Now I immediately reach for the salt on the table when in the UK as I moan about the lack of seasoning.
 
5. I had to accept that nudity is no big deal
 
Danes have a relaxed attitude toward nudity. Photo: Dmitri Maruta/Iris
Danes have a relaxed attitude toward nudity. Photo: Dmitri Maruta/Iris
 
Changing in a Danish swimming pool can be an awkward experience for people from more conservative countries as there are rarely many or any private changing areas and the changing rooms are full of naked women (or men) wandering around, showering and enjoying a sauna. Eyes down is the best policy if you are shy and remember no one is looking at anyone else – we all have the same bits. And try not to be bothered by the mums who look like super models in bikinis at the baby swim classes.
 
6. I discovered that doing laundry can be an eye-opening experience
 
Shared laundry rooms can tell you more about your neighbour than you'd care to know. Photo: Brenda Carson/Iris
Shared laundry rooms can tell you more about your neighbour than you'd care to know. Photo: Brenda Carson/Iris
 
In some old apartment buildings in Northern Europe you have a communal laundry room with drying lines. You’ll never look your staid neighbour in the face again after seeing her sexy undies on the line.
 
7. I have no shame when it comes to getting what I want
 
You may have to occasionally go to extreme lengths to get your point across. Photo: zoryanchik/Iris
You may have to occasionally go to extreme lengths to get your point across. Photo: zoryanchik/Iris
 
I mimed being a duck (with added quacking) at a Berlin department store butcher’s counter when they couldn’t understand me when I was out shopping for our Christmas dinner. The assistant didn’t even crack a smile but showed me where they were. Luckily here in Denmark this is less of an issue.
 
8. I learned to prepare early
 
Want champagne for New Year's Eve? Best to be safe and buy it in early December. Photo: tiero/Iris
 
Shops selling champagne will be closed by 4pm on New Year’s Eve and those that are open will be sold out. But you will still be able to buy fireworks to fire off on the streets, willy nilly. Before any public holiday make sure you have what you need as many shops will be closed.
 
9. I found the search for everyday things to be harder than expected
 
I just want one of these – how hard can it be??? Photo: Pabkov/Iris
 
The search for an everyday item like a drying rack can become a mission of epic proportions with people in shops looking at the picture of what you want as if you are looking for a mythical creature. Two weeks later you haemorrhage a huge amount of money for one in the best department store in Europe as it’s the only place you find one.
 
10. I learned to be wary of the Danish love of liquorice
 
Danes not only eat liquorice by the handful, they also sneak it into everything from ice cream to beer. Photo: cyclonebill/Flickr
 
Ice cream that looks like Oreo cookies? Nope, that’s liquorice. Ice lollies that are called Kung Fu that look fun? Again liquorice. Learn the word lakrids before any other when moving to Denmark to avoid inelegantly spitting out something you hoped would be lovely or having wailing children with mouths on fire.
 
Melanie HaynesMelanie Haynes is originally from the UK and has lived in Copenhagen for eight years. She writes about life in Copenhagen on her blog Dejlige Days and after experiencing relocation to Copenhagen and Berlin, she runs a settling-in service aimed at expats called Dejlige Days Welcome and works with Copenhagen Housing to offer an integrated settling-in and home search service. Her ebook, 'Dejlige Days: A Guide to Relocation', is available now.
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