You Can Leave Your Hat on — The Truth About Danish Graduation Culture and Traditions

Hats, trucks, parties, and drinking

It’s officially summer in Denmark and soon jubilant young adults dressed in white and donning sailor-like caps will be swarming parks, plazas, beaches, and streets across the country. For a long weekend at the end of June, truckloads of teens blasting loud music and blowing whistles will stumble between gardens and courtyards of their classmates’ houses. Especially around Copenhagen, the public is here for it. After all, it’s Danish graduation season. Here’s what all the cheering is about.

Continue reading “You Can Leave Your Hat on — The Truth About Danish Graduation Culture and Traditions”

The Intangible Benefits of Letting Teens Travel by Themselves

In praise of the post-high school Gap Year

High school’s complete. Graduation done. Caps have been tossed and gowns taken off. After all the pomp and circumstance winds down, what follows for many American post-high school kids is a summer of fun, and probably a job, before heading off to university in the fall. But why don’t more kids in the US take a longer break after 12+ years of constant schooling? Why isn’t a Gap Year option very prevalent here? As an American who lived in Europe for nearly seven years, I have raised adolescents both in the States and abroad. I am not unique in this case but offer as backdrop for my own personal opinion. Lots of European kids take an entire year off. To work. To travel and explore. Before they start higher education. And I think more American graduates should consider it. Here’s why.

Continue reading “The Intangible Benefits of Letting Teens Travel by Themselves”

Parenting Teens in Denmark – 5 Things That Were Outside of My Box

WHEN PARENTAL ETHNOTHEORIES CLASH

How we are raised, the cultures we grow up in, and where we are from impact so many aspects of our lives. How we parent is a major one. Studies have been done on “parental ethnotheories” – those unseen cultural expectations, adaptations, and norms that shape our beliefs about the “right” ways to parent children. They become part of our own personal internal processes, so much so that we aren’t even aware. Unless that is, you remove yourself from that culture. You move away. There is no better way to question your own parenting systems and choices than to move to a foreign country.

Originally posted 2016, updated 2022
Continue reading “Parenting Teens in Denmark – 5 Things That Were Outside of My Box”

Pencil Me In | Making Friends in Denmark

How to make friends in Denmark when it feels like every Danes’ dance card is full

Happiness rankings do not always equal friendliness rankings

You’ve probably heard. Seen the news. Read the reports. Denmark, and the rest of the Scandinavia siblings often take top ranks on World Happiness Reports year after year. We could debate all day about what happiness means to you, while the Nordics just keep winning. No matter what. 2018 saw Denmark’s Nordic neighbor, Finland, atop the charts while Denmark came in at number three behind Norway. But really, what does make a country “happy?” Ask a Dane and it quickly becomes quite clear. In addition to a prevalence of personal freedoms – those social democratic benefits like universal free healthcare and free higher education are big when it comes to feeling satisfied, comfortable and content with where you live. Continue reading “Pencil Me In | Making Friends in Denmark”

Walking the Path of a Life Lived Abroad

When you Step Away From a Life You Had Planned

There is a path that you are supposed to follow. For a well-led life. A path that takes you from the boisterous enthusiasm of your sometimes pimply-faced youth through high school and on. To the expectation and rah-rah of those determined and dedicated university years. A path that is supposed to launch you into the world, on newly emergent adult-type wings still wet and unfurling, fluttering, and trying to fly. On your own.

The path may take you through first jobs – possibly slinging pizzas or bussing tables. You’ll find first apartments and first loves and then second loves or third dates and likely devastating breakups, but then when the time is right, the path might propose marriage. And maybe next, a first home. A small painted brick saltbox in Cincinnati, Ohio. You didn’t know when you started on this path where the house might be, but you knew you would likely be in a house. Then potentially another. In another space. With another move. Packing up and moving a life from each place to each place. But it’s still part of the plan.

This same path potentially brings a dog. Then a family. The 2.5 kids. The path is supposed to be stable and for the most part, secure. If you walk it. If you want it. If you ascribe to the unspoken rules. Follow the path. Work hard, raise your kids, buy a house, save for retirement, send them to college, and launch them on their own paths. Work some more. Retire. Happy. Fulfilled. Knowing you followed the path. It is what you were supposed to do. It’s what you are supposed to do. Continue reading “Walking the Path of a Life Lived Abroad”