If you haven’t traveled to a far away country, you really should.
It’s an amazing thing to be immersed in a culture that is in some ways very similar, but in most ways completely different than the culture we are familiar with. It has, for me, brought me out of my North American culture box and has really opened me up to how another 5.5 million people live.
Denmark is a really interesting country with LOTS of history and a really neat culture. I thought I’d tell you a few things I’ve found really cool and different than Canada, and maybe some things that are similar.
1. State Church. Denmark has an evangelical lutheran church run by the government, which has lots of implications, both good and bad. All kids around age 13 take part in Confirmation classes to learn about the history of the church and most of the politics of it. It’s an amazing opportunity for the church to show God’s love to the young generation, but unfortunately most churches don’t take this opportunity and kids grow up thinking that church is just a religious duty and have no idea of what it’s like to have a relationship with God. We’ve been able to connect with a few churches who are using the confirmation classes to teach kids about having a relationship with Jesus, and share about how our faith has affected our life and how we live it out on a daily basis. Usually the kids we speak to are quite shy, so it’s hard to know what impact our words are having but we’ve had some good conversations with some of the kids and I’m trusting that we’re planting seeds that will be watered by other YFC bands or by the teachers and leaders.
2. Bicycles and Fashion. One thing’s for sure. EVERYONE here owns a bike and there are almost as many bikers on the road as there are cars! It’s actually crazy. Aaron’s been loving it because he’s a huge proponent of bikes as sustainable transportation and I also think it’s pretty neat. We’ve gone down a few walking streets (outdoor mall type streets) and outside stores and in the squares are SO many bikes. And lots of really cool looking ones too. It’s like hipster paradise. 🙂 ALSO, people who ride these bikes, and people in general are so well dressed. I guess that’s what happens when there are FOUR H&Ms in like 1km. It is definitely inspiring. Unfortunately, everything in Denmark (and Europe) is more expensive so I don’t know if I’ll be purchasing anything.
3. Boarding Schools. We’ve played at a few boarding schools so far and have a few more to go to this coming week, and it’s been one of our favorite places to visit. Boarding schools (or efterskøles) are quite common in Denmark for grades 8-10, and sometimes 11 and instead of being something dreaded, where the “bad” kids go, it’s something Danish kids look forward to. They get the experience of living away from home, and they get a really great learning environment because they get to build relationship with their fellow students and teachers.
4. History. In our first week of tour, we played in a church that was built in the 1200’s, and stayed at a house that had a straw roof! It’s crazy to see such an old history still apart of the day to day culture. There’s LOTS of brick, everywhere you look, and lots of very old churches with bell-towers. It makes for a very romantic looking country that kind of brings you back in time.
5. The Danish way of life. I heard once that Danes are the happiest people in the world, and after being here for two weeks already, I can see why that is. Contrary to North America, life is slower and people are in less of a rush. I would say that more than once, that’s frustrated us while on tour because we’re so used to things getting done instantly. It’s an interesting thing to have to adjust to. Full-time schedules are also only 37 hours a week, and people usually take an hour or so for lunch, and get 5 WEEKS of holidays, even in their first year of working for a company.
Those are just a few things you might not have known about this lovely country. I could talk more, but I’ll save that for other blog posts. I promise photos are coming soon! Zoltan’s making them look pretty so it’ll be worth the wait.
Love to all our friends and family, near and far.