Yesterday I met up with a student named Gandalf from DTU (the other university I’m taking classes at while in Denmark) who will be studying abroad at Caltech in the fall. He and his friend Du (pronounced like “you”) took me to the beach! (note to family: Gandalf and Du are a lot like Chris and Mike. Or Carlo and Jao. So you get the idea.) We were gonna bike there, so Du borrowed Gandalf’s extra bike, and I borrowed Du’s. People in DK being super tall, I had quite a bit of trouble getting ON the bike, which caused general merriment. So to get to the beach, we first biked through this forest-y area called Dyrehaven, which translates roughly to Deer Park. AND YOU GUYS, I SAW DEER. LIKE REAL. LIFE. NATURE. haha.
They made fun of me for taking a picture of this field (which I’ll put up later), because, according to them, it was “just a field.” “Don’t they have those in America?” hahaha oh yes the irony. I thought it was really pretty though so I’ll put a picture and let you decide.
The beach in Denmark is waaay different from Cali beaches:
- There are naked people.
- There are no waves.
- You can see Sweden from the shore.
Okay I guess there aren’t TOO many differences, but they are significant.
A lot of our conversation revolved around our cultural differences. I was fascinated to learn about how Denmark works. While they pay quite a bit in taxes, education and healthcare are basically free. In fact, you are PAID to go to college, the same way you’re paid for grad school in the US! This means that most students take a year or two off after high school, and there’s no huge hurry to figure out right away what you want to do with your life. I feel like in the US there’s a lot of pressure to do that, while here, “starting over” is totally fine. In fact, one of my Danish friends spent four years at one university, before deciding he didn’t like it and moving to another one!
I think a big reason why this more-socialist system works in Denmark (fun fact: the most conservative parties here in DK are more liberal than Obama) is because it’s small. And I’ve seen how small size makes a lot of things possible at Caltech that wouldn’t otherwise work at different, larger universities. So one of the main debates in DK right now is about immigration, and whether it is a challenge to the “Danish way of life.” Again, I thought this was incredibly interesting. I’ll post more about Danish politics later.
Finally, the most hilarious quote of the day: “So at Caltech they have like an altar to Feynman, right?”