Language Barrier

Denmark is a wonderful place to study abroad because although Danish is a difficult language, nearly everyone here speaks English.  Linda, my visiting family mom, explained to me that Danish children are required to learn English for a number of years in school.  It is not unique for a European country to have a mandatory English education.  What makes Denmark stand out, according to Linda, is that American movies and TV shows are broadcast on Danish TV in English.  Other European countries dub over American and British shows with their own language.  Almost every Dane I have spoken to has had almost perfect English skills.  The only exception was the bicycle mechanic with whom I got in a mimed argument over how much I wanted my bike seat lowered..

This morning, I had a totally Danish experience.  I attended the church where my visiting sister, Liane, sings in the choir.  Between my knowledge of Christianity and my incredibly elementary Danish language skills, I was able to understand the gist of things..sometimes.  Most of the time I was clueless. Everything just sounded beautiful and I appreciated the musicality of a language that can sometimes sound harsh.  My Danish teacher always talks about the “music” of speaking a Danish sentence- I think I might understand what she means now.

In many ways, church is church no matter what language or country you’re in.  Here are a few details that were different from what I’m used to.

1. The priest was a woman

2. The colors and artwork were very “modern” as Linda described them

3. There were children playing quietly with toys in the corner of the room.  This is a huge difference from the US where most children wouldn’t be mature or independent enough to occupy themselves quietly for over an hour in a public setting.

4. There was a boat hanging from the ceiling.  When I asked about it after the service, I was told that many Danish churches have boats hanging in them. Boats are a very important symbol of Danish culture and livelihood but they also symbolize the unity of the church community.  It was described to me as “we are all in the same boat, heading toward God.”  Pretty cool.

After church, I had a wonderful lunch with Linda, Lulle, and Liane and Linda and I took their dog Mollie for a walk by the water.  Now I’m back in the city, trying to decide whether it’s worth staying up until 4am to watch Beyonce tonight.  I mean, the Superbowl…

The inside of the church I attended with my visiting family

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Note the floating boat

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We stopped on the way home so Linda and Lulle could show me the church they regularly attend.  It is a less modern church, built in 1790. Fun fact: Linda and Lulle were married here!

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Our delicious lunch

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