Story by Miracle Olatunji, Study Abroad⎜Photo by Miracle Olatunji
Year after year, Denmark has been consistently voted as the happiest country on earth.
This is in part due to cultural practices that emphasize happiness and the high quality of life that many people here enjoy. The Danes have a cultural practice known as “hygge” (pronounced hoo-gah). Hygge is sometimes defined as “cozy,” but a better definition of hygge is “intimacy.” A cup of coffee with a friend in front of a fireplace might qualify or a picnic in the park on a summer day.
Denmark has such a high ranking on the World Happiness Report, compiled by the United Nations, because of their focus on reducing extreme unhappiness and investing in public goods for all.
However, this comes at a steep cost. Danes pay more income tax than any other nation – as much as 60%. When I spoke to a few Danes about this, they mentioned that they don’t really mind the high tax because the overall well-being of the country and the people living in it is what matters more to them. Denmark is a small country of nearly six million people, and many enjoy a high living standard. Denmark is said to have one of the highest income equality and lowest poverty rates out of any Western nation.
I spent Summer 2 studying in Denmark at Copenhagen Business School (CBS). CBS is considered one of the most prestigious business schools in Western Europe and the world. Danish students can attend the school for free; however, due to the prestige, the school admissions can be very competitive.
I lived in an apartment/residential building called Porcelænshaven which was located in Frederiksberg, a suburban area within Copenhagen. The rooms were studio-style, fully furnished with a kitchen and kitchen appliances.
To get my groceries, on the weekends, I’d go to a local grocery store called Føtex. I think of it as the Target of Europe. I beamed with excitement when I saw Michelle Obama’s book in the store!
On campus, there is also a place to buy food called The Canteen. This is a popular spot for students to go and study, hang out with friends and go during the break in between classes.
Copenhagen is one of the most bike-friendly cities, so many people ride their bikes to class. If you’re planning to get a bike to rent while you’re in Copenhagen for a few weeks, Swapfiets is one of the most popular and affordable bike rental shops/services. You pay a flat fee to rent the bike and they can either deliver it to you or you could go and pick it up. At the end of your time renting the bike, you bring it back to the shop.
Most of the buildings were located close to each other and the architecture was simple and beautiful. There was a lot of green space and plenty of places to study and hang out with friends both inside and outside of the buildings.
Usually, after class, I’d grab lunch with friends. For the first few weeks, we tried different restaurants around the city and then once we identified our favorites, we would decide between them. My personal favorite place to eat was Vintage Coffee, which had delicious falafel sandwiches, smoothies, red velvet cake and other options. We still continued to try new places but we quickly found our favorites, such as Gasoline Grill, Bodrum, and Halifax Burgers.
Post lunch was usually dedicated to studying, mostly at the popular library located on Solbjerg Plads 3.
Afterwards, the rest of the day was usually spent exploring the city and country. My friends and I made a lot of great memories each day. I logged thousands of steps during walks across Denmark – from restaurants in Nyhavn to the vibrant Tivoli amusement park.
Locals were often very friendly. One local saw my friend and I struggle to translate a menu and pointed us to the English menu. We received a lot of great recommendations from local Danes on great places to visit, eat and shop!
In Denmark, there are a lot of accessory shops. One of my favorites was one where I purchased a beautiful silk scarf for myself and one for my mom. The shop manager smiled and asked if I could model them.
After spending the evenings exploring and eating, it was time for bed and I’d get ready for a new day and new adventures!
Although I was able to establish a routine, each day I got to experience or do something special and unique while in the happy country of Denmark.