I have just read a fantastic book called The year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell. Like Helen, our family has also come to love Denmark and all things Danish.
Let me ask you a question – out of 10 how would you rate your level of happiness? This question is posed throughout the book as Helen interviews relevant people for her ‘research’. It is always interesting to read the responses and then ask yourself the same question – what would your answer be? I think I’d say I was at least 8/10 at the moment.
Why do we love Denmark?
We first visited Denmark in 1999 when my husband participated in a short cultural teacher exchange. We went again in 2000, this time with our three teenage girls, followed by further visits over the next decade. I wrote a post after our latest trip (in 2014) – in Copenhagen – It feels like we are the set of a Danish TV show.
Helen points out in her book that Denmark is constantly rated as the World’s happiest country. She set out to find out why when she and her husband moved there for a year.
Having Danish contacts, as we do, made the book a delight to read. It’s clever, humorous, full of facts and shows the good, and the bad, of Danish life. It also explained a few things to us.
People often ask us why we like visiting Denmark so much and it’s easy to answer – we have Sophie and her family to visit. Sophie came to live with us in Tumbarumba (Australia) from Denmark as a 16 year old exchange student in 1997/98 and we have stayed in contact ever since. She is a part of our family now. We have always enjoyed visiting Denmark, where we feel welcome and are treated just like part of the family. Our girls have also visited with Sophie and her parents at various times when they’ve been travelling the world.
We also love the history, the style, the colour, the culture and the scenery of Denmark, and Copenhagen in particular. We love Scandinavian TV shows like Borgen, The Killing and The Bridge, so to be able to walk around the places where they are filmed is great fun. As Helen shows in her book, the Danes are very fond of tradition and we have learnt a lot during our visits. We have been lucky to be able to experience family life in Denmark rather than just be a tourist passing through.
One of the funny stories in the book explains the protocol around flying the Danish flag. We have been the recipient of a special welcome complete with flag flying in our honour. We were unaware of the tradition surrounding this event but now feel extra special!
I would recommend this book to anyone who loves to travel, is interested in human nature and has a desire to understand another culture. It is more than a research project – it is a human, funny and personal story. I loved it!
If you like reading, as much as I do, then feel free to check out my page where I list all the books I’m reading during the year, complete with a brief review. You can click these links if interested – Books in 2016 and Books in 2014/15
So I’m keen to know the answer – out of 10 how happy are you at the moment?
It’s been great to read this book and to be able to re-live our visits to this beautiful country full of happy people.
We have to go again soon, as Sophie and Martin have had a little baby boy since our last visit and I want him to meet his Australian family before he gets too big 🙂
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