Living in Denmark

Half a year has gone by since I moved to Denmark to pursue a Masters degree at DTU and lazy me has not chronicled anything about this extremely exciting change. That there is a world of difference between how my life used to be before August '15 and how it is now is an obvious conclusion. Denmark and India, or North India to be more precise, are worlds apart when it comes to the obvious geographical and social parameters. But, what do I feel about these differences? And how do they affect my daily life? Are they really so huge or do we tend to augment them using our imagination? I will try here to identify a few and write about them, hoping to make it a light and informative read.

So, here goes:

The Food
It is only when you step away from the comfort of the home-cooked, adequately scheduled meals that you realize what a life altering factor food is. But, since I am no stranger to living far from the security of mother's morsels, the food factor did not pack much of a rude shock for me. I still eat pretty much the same as I used to back in India (which is whatever can be easily bought and prepared). For those accustomed to the more traditional Indian cooking, Copenhagen does offer most of the ingredients you'd need for a nice meal. The grocery stores are in fact well stocked with ingredients for many types of world cuisine. There's only one thing that I dearly miss: paneer. The stores do have cottage cheese on offer, considering how huge the dairy industry is here, but it is not the same consistency I am used to. I guess the people here are just not too fond of this variant of cheese.
Copenhagen is pretty cosmopolitan when it comes to eating habits. The streets are full of cafes and eateries offering pizzas, french hot dogs, kebabs, samosas, shawarma, falafels, etc. I can't say I've tried much of Danish cuisine except for their legendary open sandwiches, but Copenhagen does have some of the highest rated restaurants in the world. One of the best places I have visited for street food so far is the Paper Island (Papiroen). Set inside an old, vacated paper mill, this place invites street food vendors from all over the world. You can have American, Danish, Italian, Middle-Eastern, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Turkish.... the list goes on. Even the canteen at DTU offers a variety of multi-cultural cuisine on a daily basis.
Inside Paper Island. Photo Courtesy:

The bottom line: if you're picky about your food habits, you might have to work a bit hard to replicate the situation you're used to. Otherwise, there is a wide variety of stuff to try and it is mostly delicious!

The Weather
When I was planning on moving to Copenhagen, the one feedback that I constantly received from all and sundry was that Denmark was going to be bitterly cold and I would not see the sun for weeks. Well, it is nice and sunny today. :) Of course, Copenhagen is not sunny like Tahiti (or New Delhi in March, April, May, June, July --- October) but the Sun does peek through regularly, bathing the city in it's gorgeous glow.

Sunny in Copenhagen :)
The long and dark winter days did not bother me as much as I had imagined they would. It was cold but not the bitterly torturous sub-zero temperature cold other countries in similar climate zones have. I had always enjoyed winter back home and the extended version of it here only made me increase the frequency of warm winter treats and cozy winter reads. This was also my first experience with snow and I loved how the city transformed into a winter wonderland.
The one outstanding feature about Copenhagen's weather though, is it's unpredictability. A day would start off as sunny, proceed to cloudy before mid day, the afternoon would be wet (you might even have hail or snow) and by evening it would have all settled down again.

Winter Wonderland in my backyard :)

The most valuable piece of advice I have received about the weather here is to always, always carry an umbrella/rain jacket and an extra sweater.

The Population (Or the relative lack of it)
Coming from one of the most populated cities in the world, this aspect is a welcome change. Nowhere is this difference more apparent than on the streets. No long queues, no crowding, no jostling, no traffic jams and honking cars and much, much more breathing space. Even when using public transport during rush hour, you are guaranteed to find a place to sit within five minutes. Of course, the story is much different in India. I can only use pictures to describe this.

Denmark, on a whole, has a population of around 5 million people. Approximately 2 million of these are residents of Copenhagen. Compare this with New Delhi where the population is nearly 16 million, if not more. This factor also greatly benefits the Danish society as it obviously makes for much better and efficient administration.

So that's it for now, a short succinct summary of the most obvious differences between my life in Denmark compared to India. I shall continue this with more about my cross-country experiences.

*Picture Courtesy: Wikipedia