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Gratitude in Denmark

November is here, marking a transition into darker, shorter, and colder days. As we brace ourselves for winter by investing in ‘happy’ lights, copious amounts of Vitamin D tablets, and lots of aerobic exercise classes (or maybe that’s just me!). But, we at The International believe it doesn’t have to be all bad!

Photographs: Unsplash

Text: Katharine H Noyed

We asked you your top reasons for experiencing gratitude for your lives here in Denmark. Some of the responses we received were relatively light— citing the sweet treats of Danish bakeries or the lack of particularly life-threatening animals (ingen specielt livsfarlige dyr) as reasons for feeling gratitude, while others pertained to the fabric of Danish society. But, overwhelmingly, and regardless of nationality, we encountered two overarching themes that we present below:

It’s no surprise that both Danes and internationals alike expressed gratitude for the system we contribute to here in Denmark. For instance, the opportunity to take an education regardless of one’s economic background paired with Statens Uddannelsesstøtte (SU) or the grant to help alleviate the financial stress of studying equated to many thankful residents. Moreover, universal healthcare, dagpenge, and a system preventing most people from falling through the cracks of society were cited at equal rates.

In addition to the vast state support people enjoy here in Denmark, many responses pertained to the work-life balance linked to Danish society. Between the 37.5-hour fuldtid work week, six weeks of paid vacation a year, and the prioritisation of family life through 52 weeks of paid barsel, feelings of gratitude were abundant among our readers. One individual informed us that because of this strong work-life balance, she has found her calm here in Denmark— which we can understand!

Although November marks the transition into darker, colder times, we truly have much to be grateful for here in Denmark. As you go through this month, we at The International challenge you not to dwell on life’s small challenges but rather be mindful of the things that make your life a bit better. Whether this is the sweet taste of Studentebrød from your local bakery or the support of the Danish government when times get tough, there really is much to be grateful for!

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