Sun, “happiness”, and hygge
I’ve got a love-hate relationship with this place. I’m sitting inside my favorite hyggelige café spot (you really can’t find a better deal than $2 coffee and croissant; my wallet actually shrieks every time I pass by a sign advertising $8 lattes), staring outside the window at students still bundled up in their snowsuits, and memorizing my Russian history as I spend countless hours registering for next year’s courses (am I actually going to be a senior??). As always, thousands of thoughts flowing through my head – what exactly I am going to do in Ukraine next week, how Razkilnikov is planning to escape in Crime and Punishment, possible topics for several upcoming research papers, what’s going to happen next in Game of Thrones (still catching up in Season 2).
I am all over the place, kind of like the weather here. Over the course of a single week, we’ve been showered with wet snow, pulled out the umbrellas for the rain, and sat in parks enjoying the warm sun. It’s hectic, but hardly surprising. As my law professor quipped, we may never actually see the Copenhagen Spring before we leave in May. I don’t think he’s joking.
But there is hope. This semester, I’ve learned to take it all in stride. When it’s cold and dreary, you’ve got to grab a coffee, sit somewhere comfortable and take in the hygge. Sometimes I feel like just sitting on the morning bus and never getting off, circling the city a few times until I finish the chapter I’m reading (I’ve yet to do this). And when the sun decides to come out, I can’t help but go outside. Put away the laptop, buy an amazing sandwich from St. Peter’s and soak up that Vitamin D that I’ve been missing.
That’s the thing I love most about Danes – they really appreciate the sun. Even though temperatures are still hovering around 40, it looks like it’s summer already. They’re lining up at the ice cream shops, opening the Tivoli amusement park down the street, and lounging on the grass at Rosenburg Park.
Sometimes I actually see why Denmark is rated the “happiest country in the world.” Danes tend to make the best of not-so-good seasons and situations, and they hardly complain.
Perhaps they’re not overflowing with happiness. Rather, they seem content – happy not because they are super enthusiastic about everything, but because they are satisfied with what they have and seek nothing more. Though it’s difficult to generalize, Copenhagen strikes me as incredibly passive – sometimes frustratingly so. The city lacks the “edge” that I have been accustomed to. Do I want it back? When I return home in May, I think I’ll find out.