Are they so different?
Yes. Yes they are.
Having lived in Seattle and currently living in Copenhagen, it has been fun to compare the two cities. Besides the obvious difference in language and surface-level similarity in weather, there are so many elements of both that make them such unique places.
Throughout Europe, we see old, beautiful buildings lining the streets. In Seattle, the Space Needle scrapes the sky and stands among other giant buildings.
In Copenhagen, we don’t see many skyscrapers, as many of the people here do not wish for the sky to be blocked in that way. In the rare case of a tall building, the top floor must be accessible to every person so we can all enjoy the view from the top.
Here are some examples of the buildings in Copenhagen:
In Seattle, the financial district is inundated with massive skyscrapers, each of them making up the famous Seattle skyline. Other than the skyscrapers, the city turns to be very residential, but still is much more modern than Copenhagen’s homes.
Here is what Seattle looks like:
Clearly the streets of Seattle and Copenhagen aren’t identical look-wise, but the people here are pretty similar to Seattlites.
Maybe it’s because of the constant grey skies or the aching chill of the winter-time, but the people in Seattle and in Copenhagen keep to themselves most often.
In both cities, if you’re walking on the street, no one will glance at you or try to interact in any way. Most of the time, people have their own agendas and only want to focus on that, rather than stopping to compliment a stranger or even share a smile.
In both cities, this concept of a “freeze” is pretty foreign to me, as my hometown is the kind of place where everyone knows everyone and you say ‘hello’ when going on a walk in your neighborhood.
To put it very generally, Denmark has a pretty homogenous population. When you walk around Copenhagen, for the most part, the majority of people are white.
This is not unique to Denmark, but is actually reflected in Scandinavia as a whole. Now, this isn’t because of social laws or anything like that, it just so happens to be this way.
In looking at Seattle, it is the place in which I have experienced the most diversity in my life, which I think has been very beneficial for my growth.
Walking around campus or the city, there is variety in race, sexual identity and orientation, and background. It exposes what the real world looks like through the openness of the city and is something that I cherish deeply.
Living in Copenhagen, I bike just about everywhere: to school, to the grocery store, to a nearby cafe…and this is because of how bike-friendly it is here. The bike lanes are either away from the main road traffic or elevated so you aren’t riding with the cars.
I mean, there are more bikes than cars here! I think that speaks for itself.
In Seattle, people are either driving their car or taking the bus for commute. For me specifically, I tend to walk everywhere or take a Lyft, but biking is never a big consideration.
Seattle is not built for bikes (part of which could be because of the hilly nature of the city), so you never see anyone riding them. Seattle, in regards to transportation, seems to have a greater negative environmental impact.
Whether it’s meeting up with Elinor at The Little Yellow Coffeeshop or thrifting with Conner and Herm at Lifelong, both Copenhagen and Seattle feel like home to me. I am very lucky to have the opportunity to live in both of these beautiful cities and am excited to see what I learn about each of them as time goes on.