I think one of the biggest differences between Denmark and the U.S. I have experienced so far, is the way the two countries look at alcohol and late night outings.
In Denmark, you go out on Fridays and Saturdays (and if you’re a student on Thursdays, and you are able to handle your hangover). In the U.S., you go out on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. It doesn’t really matter what day it is.
In Denmark, you go out at 1 or 2 a.m. and you dance the whole night until the bars and clubs are closing at 5 or 6 a.m. In the U.S., you go out at 9 or 10 p.m. and the bars and clubs are already closing at 2 a.m.
In Denmark, you are allowed to drink alcohol everywhere. You can enjoy a beer in the park, drink wine at the beach and have a drink in the middle of the street if you want to. We actually have a concept called “a walking beer,” which is a beer you drink on your way to the bar.
In the U.S., you are not allowed to drink in public and therefore you hide your alcohol in brown paper bags or “American Pie”-style red plastic cups. In the U.S., you can’t get into a bar or a club if you are drunk and in Denmark it would be weird to go out without being drunk.
In Denmark, you are allowed to start drinking when you turn 16 and you can go out when you turn 18, in the U.S. you have to be 21 both before you can buy alcohol and go out.
There is a big difference between the alcohol cultures in the two countries, but I don’t think one culture is better than the other. I think there are pros and cons about both cultures.
One thing I miss about Denmark after moving to the U.S., is enjoying a cold glass of wine in the park or at the beach, but at the same I like that I am not tired after a night out in San Diego because I come home early.
What I like about the alcohol culture in Denmark, is that we have a really relaxed relationship to alcohol. Many social arrangements in Denmark always include alcohol and sometimes it brings people together.
For example, when you start at the university in Denmark, the first week is called the “Rus-week,” and is basically about drinking seven days in a row. Pub crawls, drinking games and a new party every night are part of it. The “Rus-week” brings the students together and you talk about that week for the rest of your study time.
Another typical Danish thing is the Friday bars at both the university and the workplaces. At the university, there is a Friday bar every Friday where the students drink beer and play games after class and every study has their own Friday bar. Also, the different workplaces have Friday bars where you can have a beer and play foosball with your co-workers after work.
On one side, it is nice that people in the U.S. can be social without drinking, but on the other side, I think that it is a shame it has to be illegal to enjoy a glass of wine with your friends in the park or to drink “a walking beer” on your way to the bar.
Mathilde Rousseau Bjerregaard is an editorial intern with San Diego Community Newspaper Group, who is from Aarhus, Denmark. Contact her at email@example.com.