An American Student's Survival Guide to Cold, Dark Danish Winters

Denmark is great and all, but the wintertime is not very fun. It now gets dark before 4 pm and is super cold, windy, and rainy! Fun stuff! The cold isn't as bad as back home in Jersey, it hasn't gone below freezing here yet, but it's the darkness that really gets you. It gets dark so early now that our bodies just don't know how to react to it. At 4 pm my body is telling me it's time for dinner, at at 6 pm it thinks I need to go to sleep. This causes a seemingly never-ending cycle of lethargic, dark days. I need sunlight but it's so cold and windy outside, I don't want to spend a lot of time out even on sunny days.

But don't worry, there is a way to fight through the literal darkness and make the most of Danish dreariness. Danes have gotten pretty good at coping with this (they have their own word for coziness in the winter, "hygge"). So I've come up with a list of survival tips for braving a Danish winter, if anyone has any other tips please let me know!

The best way to stay warm is in a cozy cafe with a hot drink. I like to go to a cafe once it's gotten dark, since they're good environments to get work done and forget how miserable it is outside. Some of my favorites around DIS are Paludan Bogcafe, Buzz Cafe, Living Room Cafe, Next Door Cafe, and Studenterhuset.

Pro Tip: Go with friends for an even cozier time. Be productive or procrastinate together!

What better time to make hot chocolate, grab warm blankets, and watch a movie with friends? Since we're all back indoors around 4 pm now, there's plenty of time to watch a movie (or two!). There are so many new Christmas movies out on Netflix now, but don't forget to also leave time for the classics!

Speaking of Christmas, let the holiday cheer warm you up! Copenhagen is beautiful right now with all the lights and Christmas markets up, so get a hot cup of gløgg, some aebleskiver, and decorate a little tree! We got a little Christmas tree from the Glass markets, ornaments from Flying Tiger, and candles from Normal to decorate the room. 10/10 would recommend having a holiday decorating sesh.

Cold, windy days = really dry, sad skin. I find myself putting on lip balm basically every half an hour, and feel like I need to slather my dry skin in lotion every day. So listen to your skin and take care of it! Maybe make some time to treat yourself and do a spa night to revitalize!

Finals season means lots of studying and working with headphones in, so why not let your music warm you up a bit too? I've found that listening to bright, happy music really helps me stay cheerful in the cold and dark. Put on your favorite playlist while commuting, working, or hanging out with friends. Christmas music is at the top of my list right now, but I also have a few other of my happy music playlists ready to go.

The wind means you need to really bundle up here, so having some solid scarves is a necessity. It makes it a little more fun if you have a few choices and throw in some fun colors! Danes seem to like bright colored scarves, I've especially seen lots of orange scarves around, so don't be afraid to throw on a cheerful color to add a little brightness to the day. I bought a large pink scarf in Amsterdam, and love wrapping myself in it while doing work and drinking tea :)

I really did not come prepared on the sock front. I only brought thin ankle socks, not even considering the fact that I would need long, thick socks. My toes were always freezing even in my boots, so I finally bought a few warm socks the other day. Also I always recommend having at least one pair of super fuzzy socks to wear while at home, they make everything cozier.

Cake always cheers people up! It's super fun baking and sharing cake with friends. The other day my friend and I impulsively baked a cake at 10 pm with limited ingredients and lots of eyeballing measurements, but it turned out incredibly and everyone in the LLC loved it! It's fun to do, and it's also nice to surprise others with a slice!

Wanting to come home at 4 pm has it's advantages. So much time back in the room (and not wandering around Copenhagen) means more time to be productive and do things (like write this blog post!). This is especially good now since we're getting into finals season and have lots of papers, presentations, projects, and exams to prepare for. This weather made me really lethargic before, but now I'm finding that it's slowly making me more productive because of all the time I spend inside.

See, there really is a silver lining to everything, even the most horrible Danish weather. It might be cold, windy, and dark, but there still is so much joy and warmth in the season if you look for it! There are only a few weeks left of this semester, so I don't want to let weather get me down. Every last moment here counts, so let's make as many of them good as possible!

Stay warm, stay happy, stay cozy!