My Danish experience was something else. I did not know what I was expecting as I boarded the plane, but I knew that I was excited for whatever it was. It was my sophomore year of high school and I, along with 24 other students, got to experience a European country for two weeks during the summer of 2016. The first few days we were there, we toured the city of Copenhagen and marveled at the beauty of European architecture. The sun didn't set there until 10:00 p.m., so we were out pretty late. I may or may not have fallen asleep at a restaurant (this was after an eight-hour flight and a few layovers, mind you).
The next day, as we explored the city, we stumbled upon a vintage amusement park called Tivoli Gardens. One of my friends who went on the trip with me had an extreme fear of roller coasters, but she rode her first spinning ride there and actually enjoyed it. I was so proud of her. We also rode some bumper cars and played a few carnival games. She would not, however, accompany me on one of those drop rides that make you feel like your stomach is flying out of your mouth. I don't blame her, but while waiting in line for that ride, I caught a glimpse of a Danish Harry Styles (basically a blonde, straight-haired Dane who happened to slightly resemble the mega star). In other words, he was hot. My friend has since gotten over her fear of roller coasters, and I can't help but think that a reason for that is so she wouldn't miss out on catching a glimpse of a "Danish Harry Styles" in the future. Tivoli was an enchanting little park. I wanted to spend all day there.
Denmark is known as one of the happiest countries in the world, and I can understand why.
In Denmark, healthcare is considered a right, the genders are considered equal, and a strong sense of community is very present. (Not to mention biking is the most popular mode of transportation. Biking makes everyone happy.) People rea;;y do care about each other over there.
My American group and I got lost on the way to a coffee shop one day (we had no Internet to look it up on Google Maps), and a random Dane, seeing how confused we were, helped us find our bearings. He showed us where we were on our paper map and pointed us in the right direction. I couldn't help but think that if we were in New York or any American city, random strangers would have avoided eye contact and passed us by. I discovered that Danish people are the definition of Good Samaritans, as this sort of encounter happened at least three times.
It is true that most people are very kind in Denmark, but I have warm, fuzzy feelings associated with the people there mostly because of the family I got to live with for five days on the small Danish island of Bornholm.
Their daughter, who I will not name for security reasons, is around my age and she accompanied me on my island adventures the whole time I was there. She is such a sweet person, and I miss her dearly. We biked trails, went swimming in a lake, saw the beach, toured the town, and, most importantly, watched 3/4 of the "Twilight" movies. I got to ride my first public bus using a punch card and walk up and down the only escalator on the island. I drank a popular soda over there called Faxe Kondi (it tasted like rainbows), and saw my very first wild hedgehog while playing mini golf on a course overlooking the ocean. I lost pretty badly to the family's youngest child (he had duckling feathers for hair, I swear). I love that family, and I feel so blessed that they let me live with them during my time in Bornholm.
Learning about new cultures and experiencing the lives of people from different countries is one of my favorite things about traveling. I feel that in the U.S., we are so overloaded with the notion that America is the "best country in the world," that we barely even acknowledge the fact that other people have pretty good lives, too. Thinking that the USA is the best without actually visiting another country for at least a week or two is quite a myopic view, in my opinion. I do believe that America is pretty great, but how can any one country be "the best?"
So get out there, experience culture, and really try to understand others without tearing them down.