In Sweden, I spent 2 nights with a friend from Moldova who studied at UWEC for a year (as the story goes with 99% of my friends abroad). She is doing her masters in Lund, a tiny University town across the sea from Denmark. It is very small and cute and I quickly realized you could see everything there was in 2 hours. That wasn't too helpful when I was trying to spend an afternoon out of her dorm to give her some time to focus on her thesis. After 45 minutes listening to a choir and orchestra rehearse in the town cathedral, an hour wandering up and down the same empty streets (at a snail's pace...I think even the Spanish would have been whizzing by me), and 30 minutes sitting on a bench reading a magazine article about new condom design ideas... I was cold and bored and needed to return to social interaction. Swedish people, at least in Lund, are exactly how you imagine: BLONDE. EVERY. SINGLE. PERSON. I have never seen so many yellow-white blonde heads in my life. Blondes on bikes, blondes on bikes, blondes on bikes. The biking culture is amazing. More on that in a minute.
|Stayed warm and entertained listening to their rehearsal|
|Seas and seas of bikes!|
I can say I knew nothing about Denmark, and Copenhagen, before I went. We joined the free walking tour (which I am now a loyal fan of, despite my "no plan" travel philosophy) and I got a speed lesson on Danish culture and history. The main thing that I am (still) fascinated and in love with is the tax system. Pay attention, my American readers. According to our guide, the LOWEST tax bracket pays around 39% income tax, while the highest could be somewhere around 60. Yes, you read those numbers correctly. How un-American!! Those high numbers guarantee that EVERY SINGLE PERSON has access to FREE higher education and FREE health care. Free. Everyone. Forever. Recently, the government took a poll of the Danish people asking if they would like their taxes lowered, to which the majority said no. Learning this information made my American blood boil...because I was thinking about the crippling affects the trillions of dollars of student loan debt is having on my generation and the negative effect that will inevitably leave on the economy. Not only that, but recently I had a conversation with my mom about the lack of care my grandpa is receiving at his assisted living home. I said to her "If you can get him on a plane, send him here. It's free." Isn't it amazing that the "freest" nation on the planet leaves its people in invisible chains?
|Sash and I in front of New Harbor in Copenhagen, one of Hans Christian Andersen's points of inspiration|
|Rosenberg Castle in Copenhagen|
|That's a REAL Danish pastry|
|Getting cozy with the freely roaming deer in the Aarhus Deer Park|
|We watched a Viking club train for their Viking fighting competitions|
|Sun, cookies, and some coffee is really all I need for a great vaca|
If it weren't for the weather and what I perceived to be a cold and closed attitude from Danish people, this would be a top destination for me to relocate to. I think it's amazing that people are willing to overlook a percentage on their tax form because they can see the bigger picture of the benefit that comes from a nation full of well educated and healthy people who care about helping their neighbor without needing to know what's in it for them. I can think of one big blob of land to the west that could really learn something from that.