Wow. I am just sitting down after a packed day of five classes, followed by an evening with my Visiting Host Family. I can’t believe how much I learned today.
In Positive Psychology, we talked about the difference between hedonic and eudaimonic happiness. We talked about some things we can do to increase both kinds of happiness. Hedonic happiness is focused on a positive state, such as when we eat delicious food or look at a pretty building. Eudaimonic well-being, however, is focused on a self-involved activity—growing yourself as a person. This includes giving back to your community or reflecting on your travel experiences. We shared with a partner about our happiest experiences in Denmark so far, and we discussed whether these experiences were hedonic or eudaimonic. We discovered that many of the moments fit into both categories. The people who say they are the happiest are also those who have a balance of hedonic and eudaimonic experiences.
In Danish, I learned how to say what I study: “Jeg laesar menneskelig udvikling,” I study Human Development. “Jeg går til universitetet,” I walk to classes. We also discussed some Danish cultural norms. For example, in Danish, there are several different ways to say “thank you,” but there is no direct translation for “please.” We talked about the way Danes view one another is less hierarchical than it is in the United States, and that one reason we say “please” is to lower ourselves in status.
I had an amazing first visit with my host family. Pernille offered to pick me up in the city, which was very nice, and I didn’t have to worry about getting lost. She drove me to her house, and I met her two sons, Oscar and Oliver, who are 21 and 23 years old, and the family cat. We had a delicious meal of salmon, potatoes, salad, and vegetables, and gluten free bread. We discussed all sorts of topics, such as telling each other about our hobbies and places we have gone in Copenhagen. They also told me about their travels to the United States, especially Oliver, who recently studied abroad in upstate New York. We compared Danish and American culture. For example, they asked me if I supported Donald Trump, and while I had been told that Danes typically spoke about politics casually, it felt unusual to hear this question. We discussed the difference between American politics and Danish politics, and we also speculated about some of the pros and cons of a more socialist country like Denmark. The equality in Denmark might be what makes Denmark the happiest country in the world, I think. Here, there is not a great disparity between rich and poor, unlike the United States. Students not only pay to attend a university, but they are paid to receive an education of any kind. People are allotted more generous maternity (or paternity) leaves, and although their taxes are high, they spend money typically to buy healthy food and enjoy time with family and friends. These are all generalizations, but I can’t believe how different these characteristics are from my native country. My host family wanted to know about all my “culture shock” incidences so far, so I told them, and we also talked about how Danish culture emphasizes long meals, quality time, and slow enjoyment. It really is very refreshing, especially coming from somewhere as fast-paced as New York. The values here are a totally different spin on how I saw the world at home, and I can’t wait to further embrace this culture.
We sat at the counter to have dessert of melon, and we talked about our next visit. They may come into the city, and we even talked about visiting a museum or something. Then, Pernille drove me home. I am so filled with love and gratitude to have this incredible, cultural experience while I live in Denmark for the next few months. I can’t wait to see them again!