There are so many things I have found that are extremely different than they are in the US. One of the first things I noticed was the shops here only stay open until about 10 PM. Which isn’t a bad thing but when you are used to there being several stores which are open 24 hours a day, you take it for granted that you can go buy eggs or Excedrin whenever you have the need, not just during certain hours.
If you need allergy meds or aspirin you can not find them at every grocery or shop that looks like a Walgreens. For anything like that you have to go to a pharmacy or as it’s more typically called here, apothecary.
Just about everything has a “take a number” stand here. For a country that is so focused on recycling and using clean energy I was surprised they would use a system that uses so much paper.
Everything uses the metric system here. now I wish I had paid more attention to that when it was covered in school in the 70s.
Surprisingly the one difference that really bothered me for some reason was the brooms here. When I first got here to Denmark, I wanted to buy a few things for our home. One thing on my list was a broom. How my husband managed to live here for a year without I broom, I don’t want to know. I mean, seriously, we have hardwood floors, we open the windows practically everyday for fresh air even now in winter, all the floors get dusty. I am sweeping at least once a day. But that is another post altogether.
So, I wanted to find a broom. I went to about every shop in town I could walk to searching for a broom. Not one had a broom shaped like I the brooms you typically find in the US. Every broom I saw here was shaped like what we call a “shop broom” in the US, only smaller. For some reason, it really bothered me that I couldn’t find a broom like the ones I am used to. I will admit that the broom here seems to work better but it’s just another daily reminder I’m not in the US anymore.
There are the expected things that are different here: electrical plugs, DVD formats, the language, etc. I am sure you can fill out a whole list on your own. There are things here that surprised me as being the same though. They have so much American television here. Sadly it’s not really the shows I ever watched. Though, to be fair, they do show The Big Bang Theory once in a while. Unfortunately, the show a lot of, what is in my opinion, the American trash TV like The Kardashians.
Music was also a surprise. Almost all of it is in English. In fact, most of what they play on the radio here is by American artists. I was actually a little disappointed about this. It is nice to be able to turn on the radio and hear the familiar music I love but I know they have talented European artists over here because I’ve heard a few. They just don’t seem to promote them very well. It’s actually a little sad.
Food is very different. One thing that is very good about the food here is it has significantly less sugar. You can really taste the difference and I happen to like it. One thing I miss is iced tea. I am a big fan of iced tea and it is just not thing here. I miss getting iced tea when we go out to dinner.
Stevia is a popular sweetener here which I love. At home you basically had to search to find good Stevia. In the US, the food industries seem to have an aversion to just producing plain Stevia products. They put out products like Truvia which are a blend with Stevia in it.
I was really surprised that soup in cans is not available here. There is soup. You find it in bags or tubes, usually in the freezer section. The selection is limited compared to the US. I have had to adjust several of my recipes due to this fact. I had to start baking pumpkins too. There is no pumpkin puree in cans here. I have had to do much more prep for cooking here than I ever had to do in the US. I never realized just how many convenience things we have available in the US until I got there and couldn’t find products.
The differences here are making me miss being in the US. I had a friend tell me once that they understood how I feel because they had been a military wife and were stationed overseas for awhile. I started thinking bout that. It’s really not the same at all. My sister’s husband was stationed in Japan for three years and we got to visit them. When you are on a military base it’s like living in a US town that is just dropped in the middle of a foreign country. Your neighbors are all Americans. They all speak English. They all celebrate the same holidays you would find people celebrating in the US. When you go to the commissary it’s filled with American products and are labeled in English so you can read ingredients and directions. They have restaurants on base which provide a lot of food that is typical for American customers.
When you move to another country and you are not on a military base you are immersed in that foreign country. My neighbors here are not Americans. Only a few people in our apartment building speak English and only one seems to speak if fluently besides my husband and I. When I go to the store I either have to ask for help reading packages or use a translator program on my phone, which can take a while to type a lot in. Mistranslations can be a big problem. I happen to be a vegetarian so if I can not be certain that a product does not contain meat or animal products I will often just not buy it. Directions can be an issue too. My husband bought a corn muffin mix. He really had been craving corn muffins. I mistranslated the directions and used too much oil. I basically made oil sponges. It was disgusting.
While the differences here to do not make me want to leave they do make me miss the US. I actually dreamt last night that I was back in Kansas shopping, in of all places, Walmart. Now, I’m not a fan of Walmart. I try to avoid it when I can but if you are going to pick a place to symbolize the abundance of choices available in the US, it is an appropriate dream symbol. I do miss the endless variety of choices that are available in the US but I do think the quality of the things available are better here.
In the end, I miss the US. Things are not so different here that is makes it unbearably so. I will get used to the differences and hopefully as I get to know the language and culture the differences won’t be so obvious anymore. But for now I struggle a bit. Today, I think I would just about kill for a real Fig Newton and a large iced tea!
Next: New Year, New Home?