So, for those who keep up with ma social media, you’ll have seen that I was recently in Copenhagen. Whilst on a walking tour of the city (in the freezing rain… dedication to the tourism cause), I was told of this Danish concept of hygge.
Pronounced hoo-guh, hygge sums up in one word what would take an American five minutes to explain. While different Danish people have different interpretations of the word, our tour guide explained that hygge is, basically, being really happy with where you are, in the moment you are in, with the people you are with. For example, if you’re in Copenhagen, and the weather is terrible, and it’s happy hour at the hostel bar, and you’ve just discovered ginger honey cider, and you’re having a grand ole time with the new people you are with… that cozy feeling you have deep inside ya? That’s hygge.
I decided a month ago to make the random trek to Copenhagen. There were two main reasons for this:
- The Danish are repeatedly named some of the happiest people in the world. Why is this? Coming from the States, a place where people seem to grumble quite frequently, I wanted to see what it was like to be in real-life Truman Show country.
- Okay, hear me out on this one… you know those tacky shirts that list cities like Paris, Rome, etc all next to each other? Well, for some reason, Copenhagen is always up there on these shirts. WHY!?
I went to Copenhagen with no expectations. I booked this great hostel, and started looking up basics- foods it was known for… and that’s pretty much it. (Let’s face it, I am a
fatass food connoisseur.) Due to the fact that I was sick, I didn’t make an itinerary, I didn’t have a schedule, and I definitely wasn’t out like my normal 8 am to 5 am travel self.
But, I still managed to have a great time. Our hostel had a free dinner every night, followed by happy hour at the hostel bar. It was so easy to form community- and a sense of hygge- when you’re surrounded by all kinds of new people you’ve crossed paths with temporarily. I met an American who quit his job to travel Europe (sounds familiar?) and is also trying to get Polish citizenship. I met an Argentinian who’s trying to find work and introduced me to mate tea (spoiler alert: it looks and tastes like grass). I met a guy from Lithuania who loves to use the Minions stickers in Facebook Chat as much as I do. I also met a genius robot guy who’s 19 and is graduating college in May. And he’s also had dinner with J.K. Rowling (casually, like, he didn’t win a contest to do this, y’all).
My point is, what do schedules and timetables matter as long as there is hygge? Talking culture over a blueberry cider may not be on the agenda for your 9:00pm to 10:00pm slot, but who cares? Find hygge in your day to day life. The Danish know what they’re doing. They are the happiest in the world because they find hygge in the small things. Coming home to the sound of their kids laughing in the living room. Baking a good dessert with a friend. A hot bath. Fresh sheets. A sunny picnic in the park. Not wearing pants to sleep. I love this concept.
Copenhagen was one of those random little cities that you visit and know you’ll be back someday. The people are so friendly, they ride bikes everywhere (which is both intimidating and neat-o), and the weather we had our second day totally made us forgive the chet show of a rainy first day we had. And I left with a new perspective on things- to remember to feel hygge on a day to day basis! Even if this crazy European adventure eventually ends… kidding, #TexasForever. My mother would kill me if I never came home. Already penciling in my calendar for a date with myself that will consist of eating Chick-Fil-A nuggets and a LARGE sweet tea with FREE REFILS AND ICE. I’ll Insta it for you all.