Danish or Dan-ish: The life of a European super-commuter

Adam Walker has been commuting to Copenhagen every week from his home in rural Sussex – here's what he's learned from his time in the Danish capital.

Danish or Dan-ish: The life of a European super-commuter
A year spent travelling to and from Copenhagen has made the author appreciate the Danes' easy-going ways. Photo: Justin Cremer
One year into what I thought would be a brief sojourn to Scandinavia and the Danish nation; I am still here and continuing to rack up the air miles on a weekly basis!
It is fair to say that living and experiencing what life is like in Denmark is in stark contrast to the things I take for granted as being the norm in the UK. Cleanliness, excellent public services, cutting-edge design and architecture are high on the list of priorities for the Danes.
The winter is long, dark and cold so as soon as the sun shows itself in the spring and summer months, by 3pm work is pretty much emptied-out.
Meetings are reorganized and long evenings are spent on the beach, harbourside or simply as quality family time at home. For me of course this has proved a challenge being as my family have not accompanied me on my weekly commute, therefore I read, cycle and explore the sites of Copenhagen.
The other day, as I cycled into work from my rented room on the outskirts of Copenhagen, a colleague actually commented as I passed him “you’re even starting to look Danish!”
So what did he mean?
I thought to myself and here’s what I came up with; perhaps he was not so far from the truth:
• I cycle to work every day on the bike provided by my employer
• I embrace the climate – both good and bad; “there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing”
• I dress down (smart-casual) to work
• I consciously eat healthily, drink alcohol minimally; the cost is prohibitive in Denmark for a reason
• Embrace regular breaks, especially for cake; Granny’s House patisserie is simply extraordinary
• Work and life balance is more important than ever; happiness is attainable
• Education is the key to succeeding in life; play hard, work harder
• Embrace hygge, the Danish word meaning ‘a good time with friends or family’
• Family first
The more time I spend in this wonderful country, I am mindful of the fact that my outlook to life is developing and changing all the time, for the better – the Danish Way.
Adam WalkerAdam Walker is an experienced Subject Matter Expert in the field of Biometrics. He has a keen interest in the adaptation of technology to real-world data reporting; specifically within Clinical Research. With a background in Pharmaceutical Sciences, he has worked for both Pharma and Contract Research Organisations globally, in a career spanning more than 20 years in the field; working presently as a Consultant; Copenhagen, Denmark. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.

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How hygge is misunderstood in the English language (in one Twitter thread)

An incisive Twitter thread took apart misunderstandings of the concept of hygge and its dubious grammatical usage in English. See whether you agree with the analysis.

How hygge is misunderstood in the English language (in one Twitter thread)
Hygge? Not necessarily. Photo: Ólafur Steinar Gestsson/Ritzau Scanpix

Hygge entered the Oxford English Dictionary a while back now, and countless numbers of Anglophone books have been written about the concept.

But while the concept remains an interest – and aspiration – for many in the English-speaking world, the word itself is more mundane than you might think when used in its original language.

London-based Danish comedian, author and activist Sofie Hagen ripped through what she called “making a wrong about ‘hygge’” in a sharply-worded Twitter thread, posted in response to a headline in the Observer which incorrectly used ‘hygge’ as a countable noun.

Hagen did not hold back on incorrect pronunciations she has come across and wrote that she had even been corrected for pronouncing the word in her native tongue.



She then explained that hygge does not just mean 'cosy' as it is often translated, but encompasses a wide range of expressions and situations.



The comedian also had a few things to say about Danes' ability to cut through polite niceties and get to the point.



She was also prepared to voice criticism of her home country.

A commenter noted that, in their defence, the Observer may have been trying a pun with 'hygge' standing in for 'hug'. That did little to make the London-based Dane feel better about the offending headline.


What do you think? Should English-language media and publishers rein in their hygge fixation — at least until they understand it properly? Or is it okay for a concept to take on a new form in other cultures and languages? How do you view Hagen's assessment of Danish attitudes to feminism? Do you appreciate the directness of Danes or do you miss hearing words like 'please' and 'pardon'? Let us know — we'd love to hear your thoughts.

READ ALSO: It's official: 'hygge' is now an English word