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Nov 1, 2016

3 Reasons Why Denmark is Leading among Other Countries in the Sustainability

After the Paris Agreement in December 2015, sustainable life and green energy should be emphasized and improved in many ways in many countries who signed the agreement. Having lived in Denmark for a couple of years and working within sustainable energy, I have found two articles that highlight the sustainable life and energy in Denmark that can be a great example to be implemented in other countries.

In the article “Denmark’s Collaborative Culture Makes it a Breeding Ground for Sustainability” in The Guardian, Oliver Bach says that what distinguishes Denmark from almost all its European peers is the proactive approach of successive governments to sustainability issues. The country's environmentalists point out that Denmark was the first in the continent to establish an official environment ministry (back in 1971, almost three decades before the UK). She also points out that in Denmark there are tax incentives for low-carbon technologies and renewable energy generation. All in all, she concludes that proactive government, social responsibility and a willingness to collaborate have put Denmark ahead on sustainability.

Photo credit:

Recycling culture is also very popular in Denmark, from recycling waste, clothes, until home furniture. In the article, "Recycling is a Hit with the Business Community", Rikke Brøndum says that in Denmark, large corporations have put a spotlight on the so-called circular economy which is all about reusing waste or selling it on. Just as an example, Carlsberg, the Danish beer company, has decided to develop a 100% degradable fibre bottle which can be reused as cardboard and which will not harm the environment. Rikke continued saying that packaging accounts for almost 50% of the beer giant's costs, so if it wants to be able to continue to offer beer at a reasonable price around the world, the company has to keep the costs down.

Based on my review of these two articles and my experience living in Denmark and working within a sustainable energy, there are 3 reasons why Denmark is leading among other countries in terms of sustainable:
1.       Renewable energy at its best
As stated earlier, there are tax incentives for low-carbon technologies and renewable energy generation. Furthermore, wind energy is very popular as in 2015, 42.1 percent of the country's energy needs being met by wind power according to the state-owned energy company Energinet as posted by Treehugger.
2.       Recycling culture
The recycling habit of the citizens, by buying, using, selling, and giving secondhand items is also followed by the large corporations as an effective business and or CSR strategy.
 3.       Proactive approach of successive governments to sustainability issues
The Danish governments also support the green transportation solution, for example by providing excellent bike lanes in most cities. Even Copenhagen municipality has a goal to become the world’s best city for cycling.

Sustainable energy and environment will be more massive and be considered as lifestyle soon or later. Thus, learning from the pioneer in these areas can be beneficial for many countries following up the Paris Agreement.

Ethenia Novianty Windaningrum is a Marketing & Communications support at K2 Management, a Danish-based wind energy consultancy company with international presences. She is currently taking a Social Media Specialization at Coursera and Northwestern University. She is interested about sustainable, digital, and marketing and can be reached out on LinkedIn:

Mar 21, 2016

Why Denmark? Unique Facts You (Might) Never Heard about Studying and Living in Denmark

When this article is written, I have been living in Denmark for 1.5 year and now I am studying Master’s in Corporate Communication at Aarhus University, Denmark. When people knew that I moved to Denmark, both my friends in Indonesia and new friends that I met here in Denmark were quite surprised as to why I chose to live or to study in Denmark. I meant, I think we are all know, that the most attractive study destinations for foreign students are usually the English speaking countries like England, United States, Australia, and Singapore. Otherwise, for Indonesian students if they want to study to a non-English speaking country, many of them would choose Germany, Netherlands, or Japan.
So why is it Denmark then? Denmark is a small country situated in northern Europe with approximately 5 million populations, doesn’t sound very international, and seems like cold (because it is in the north). Below I will mention you some of the things that I hope would intrigue your mind and probably are appealing enough for you to consider moving here.

1.      Free healthcare for all residents
When I applied for my student visa in Indonesia, I did not need to take care about insurance matter at all (but not for tourist visa applicants). This is because when you are going to live in Denmark for quite a long term, which could be for studying, working, accompanying spouse, or family reunion, you will get your yellow card with CPR number (registration number for residents) that is functioned as a health card to get a free healthcare. This healthcare includes doctor consultation, surgery, X-ray, and even staying in hospital (tooth care or dentist is not included). I remember when I was in Indonesia, my family and I avoided to go to the doctor if it was just for a little health issue, like cold or headache because the doctor consultation simply would cost money, but knowing that the healthcare in Denmark is free, when I called my Mom saying that I had a headache or flu, she then said “Just go to the doctor there, it is free, right?”
However, as the saying goes, “there’s no such thing as free meals.” Indeed,why the healthcare could be free for all residents (as well as other freebies), this great welfare system are feasible due to the taxes that the government collected, such as income tax. For those with income of more than DKK 40,000 a year, the income tax averages on 40%. But for those with income less than DKK 40,000 a year, they are exempted for paying the income tax.
2.      The flat hierarchy and low power distance
I remember when I was studying in Indonesia, we always addressed our lecturer with “Pak”, “Bu”, or the informal way would be at least “Mas” and “Mbak”. And I guess in many other countries, you should address your lecturer with “Professor”. Here in Denmark, you could just call your lecturer’s name directly, for instance “Michael” or “Lene”. At first it felt a bit weird, but here how it works in every situation is just simply with less hierarchy in both academic and workplace settings. The way to address people is one of the examples, the other examples include how you could talk, discuss, or even argue with them. In the class if you want to give inputs or you disagree with your lecturer, it is acceptable and they would love to hear your reasons and be opened to that.
3.      Group work
In Denmark and other Scandinavian countries, group work is strongly emphasized in the educational system since elementary school until higher education. I think that when I was studying my bachelor degree in Indonesia at University of Indonesia, we also had many group works and many of them were graded. But here, even when sometimes the grade is only determined by the final exam, we still have group works and group discussions in the class. The most shocking part that I first heard about group work is that you are allowed to work in group to write your thesis (both in Bachelor and Master’s Degree), usually for maximum three students in one group; and this is really working together for the same thesis title and project, but you will just be graded individually at the end.
4.      Three times exam attempts (!!!)
In many and most other countries in the world, in university level, when you have an exam then you are failed, then you are simply failed and have to wait for quite long like in the next semester/year to take a re-exam, which is sometimes you are also obliged to participate in the same class for the same subject again. While here in Denmark, the exam attempts are three times, so if you are accidentally failed or are not ready for the first attempt of the exam, you could just utilize and maximize your performance for the next attempt. Even sometimes for some students who are not ready for the exam, they will just hand in a blank paper, and then they will be automatically failed and will be registered for the re-exam. The first re-exam will usually take place in the next 2-3 months and in most cases the students are not required to attend the same class again. Denmark is really concerned about social well-being of the people while also try to be efficient at the same time.
5.      The unique grading scale
The most commonly used for grading and GPA is A to E, and GPA scale of 4.0, but this doesn’t apply in Denmark. Here they have 7 scale grading system, from -3, 0, 2, 4, 7, 10, and 12. You would need to get the minimum grade of 2 in order to pass the subject and of course the maximum grade that you could have is 12, not 10. At first when I heard about this, I felt that this was very weird, because there is a minus grade (-3) and 12 is actually the maximum point. Many Danes here also have no idea why they should use this, so don’t ask me why.
6.      Education is free for Danish and EU citizens
As an Indonesian, I am studying in Denmark with a scholarship, but for every Danish citizens they are entitled for a free education until Master’s degree and they will be paid or receive money from the government for studying that is around DKK 5,000 or EUR 700 per month. And for EU citizens, studying in Denmark is also free and they could receive money as well from the government, but they have to work for certain amount of hours per week to be eligible to receive this student grant from the government. This student grant is not a loan, so they don’t have to return it after they graduate. That is why there are so many European students studying in Denmark, which top-ups the quality of education’s reason, of course. For taking PhD in Denmark, PhD students = work full-time. This means, they will be paid as working full-time for the university and this applies for all nationalities.
7.      Five weeks of paid leave and one year of both maternity and paternity leave
In other countries like in Asia and United States, on average, employees are entitled to get paid leave for 12-18 days per year. How about in Denmark? As written by the law, companies grant five weeks of paid leave for all full-time employees. Fortunately, many established companies add bonus by extending the paid leave to six weeks, so this means you could have a long holiday and travel as far as you want. Also for maternity leave, in Denmark and other Scandinavian countries, they are very generous in giving this as a part of their social system. Both the mother and father could take leave for the new-born baby at the same time for the first 14 weeks, then they should take turn or split for the next 32 weeks, which can be extended by another 14 weeks. And this is just for one child, so of course if they get more children, they are entitled to get other weeks of maternity and paternity leave. In this way, parents could really take care of their children and both parents and children could have a better well-being. Also, for the Danish citizens when they have children, they will get support by the government for every baby or little child they have. I guess Denmark could be one of the best countries to raise children and with everyone believes in the value of work-life balance.
8.      Gender equality
In Denmark, gender equality is a very important issue and this will affect so many things. I just mentioned that father could also take paternity leave and this is one of the examples. Since childhood time, girls and boys are trained to be equal and they will have interaction each other. Girls and women are taught to maximize their potential, while boys and men are taught to know on how to treat these women. More and more companies in Denmark are promoting gender-balanced composition in senior leadership position and gender equality in the recruitment process or staffing. In Denmark, it is also normal if for instance, the wife or the girlfriend earns more salary than the husband or the boyfriend. In this condition, the men are not feeling socially or psychologically embarrassed at all. Most of the men in Denmark can cook and would be willing to cook for their partner and the whole family. They would also be willing to do cleaning and other household tasks. While for women, many of them are quite strong both physically and mentally and they are very independent. For instance, it is quite common to find women do gardening in household context and if in general there are women work in restaurant or warehouse and there are heavy boxes that need to be lifted, they could do this themselves without asking for men’s help. However, if it is something mechanical like repairing cars and something very physical like assembling cupboard, this type of works will still be done by men.
9.      Great English speaking skill
When you think that in non-English speaking countries the English skill of the locals is bad, it doesn’t apply in Scandinavia. One of the most surprising things when I arrived in Denmark was that the locals speak very good English and there have never been any problems to speak in English with them. This also applies to most of the elderly. The old people in Denmark are also good in speaking English, especially those who live in a large city. However, in most of the times when the locals (strangers) communicate with me, in university, in the shops, restaurants, etc, at first they will speak in Danish, because in Denmark there are many Vietnamese who first came as refugees few decades ago; so they do this to make me feel included as a part of the society (in case I were a Vietnamese or Danish citizen in an Asian look).
10.  On a side note: Tall and blonde men and women
By average, I think in Scandinavia both the men and women are generally taller than in any other countries. For men, 180 cm is not considered as tall, because there are many others whose heights are almost or more than 2 meters. And most of the locals are blonde with blue eyes. If this sounds exotic for you, then you should definitely consider moving or trying to visit here.
So these are the facts which I thought could be interesting for you to consider studying or working in Denmark. As always, shoot me an email or comment below if you have any questions. This article was published in Indonesia Mengglobal.

Dec 13, 2015

Architecture in Aarhus, Denmark : The Iconic Buildings from Traditional to Modern Masterpiece in Pictures

Aarhus, the second largest city in Denmark is the city where I live now. It might not be as famous as the capital, Copenhagen, but there are some masterpieces of architecture that are worth to have a look at.
We will go from the traditional trace first.

1. Møllestien

Møllestien, Aarhus, Denmark

Christmas market at Møllestien, Aarhus
Møllestien is a picturesque cobbled street with a true old beautiful village feeling in the center of Aarhus. This street is filled with colorful small houses in which every house in average has two windows and one door. Most of these houses here were built between 1870 and 1885 and nowadays many agree that this is one of the most beautiful street in Aarhus. In early December 2015, I had a chance to visit the Christmas market at Møllestien and it was a true unique experience that so many people filled this street!

2. Den Gamle By
Den Gamle By, Aarhus, Denmark

Den Gamle By is an open air museum in Aarhus which consists of 75 historical buildings from 20 towns/area in Denmark. Entering Den Gamle By complex, you will feel like you are brought back into the old days. These old buildings are not just for display, because you can (and are suggested) to enter them as every building has its own story, e.g. a house for a shoemaker, bakery shop, etc, Many of the staff here also wear oldie dress and I would recommend to visit Den Gamle By during summer as this is an open air museum, if you know what I mean (yes, to avoid the rain and the cold and the darkness).

3. AROS art museum
AROS modern art museum, Aarhus, Denmark

Rainbow panorama in AROS by Olafur Eliasson

AROS is a modern art museum that is located in the center of Aarhus, Denmark. This is one of my favorite spots in Aarhus as it exhibits many different kind of art that some of them are there for one year or even less than one year. For instance, I just visited AROS in November and they had an exhibition of Monet - Lost in Translation that will just be there until 10 January 2016. This exhibition showcases the selection of the greatest French impressionists, in which one third of them are from Monet. It was a truly beautiful art. although it was not really a modern art (nowadays many people refer modern art with contemporary art). And most importantly, rainbow panorama is one eternal part in the highest floor of AROS that cannot be missed. Rainbow panorama was designed by Olafur Eliasson, a famous Danish-Icelandic artist that designed so many iconic artworks and he is also one of the world's most accessible creators of contemporary art. You could see the view of the city from above with different colors of rainbow from the glass wall.

4. Dokk1

Dokk1, Aarhus, Denmark

Light show at Dokk1 building, Aarhus, Denmark

'Magic Mushrooms' - spectacular miniature of world's landmarks hung in Dokk1's ceiling
The last architecture piece that's just opened in the summer 2015 is Dokk1. Dokk1 is a big beautiful modern urban space that covers Aarhus main library, citizen service, and some offices, e.g. Aarhus 2017 European Capital of Culture. This building was designed by Schmidt Hammer Lassen architects and it is a polygonal glass building with views to the harbor, city, and water. Dokk1 was built quite high from the ground with many staircases heading to the main entrance and it has plenty space of children playground, canteen, mini theater room that can be functioned as a place to organize small concert, and it also has a soundproof reading room. The interior inside Dokk1 is also marvelous decorated with beautiful lamps and other decorative art like the magic mushrooms in the picture above. Dokk1 is located close to the new harbor, so when you are in the Dokk1 you can see what is going on in the harbor. It is my new favorite spot and in my opinion the most beautiful building in Aarhus, especially in a sunny day as you can feel the sunlight comes in from the glass wall. Anyway, during the night Dokk1 also looks spectacular, especially when there is a special performance like the lightning show I saw (It was called Lys Mere Lys or Lights More Lights).

Dec 10, 2015

Being Asian in Denmark and Europe (students' perspective)

As a student and foreigner in Denmark, I was asked so often on how different is between Denmark and Indonesia by people here, and I was asked by my friends in Indonesia about how is it in Denmark, including the student life there. Check this video out to also hear about my funny stories :)

Dec 9, 2015

Christmas at Den Gamle Gy, Aarhus, Denmark

Den Gamle By (The Old Town) is one of the must-visit attraction in Aarhus and in Denmark as it has 75 historical houses from all over Denmark and there also some unique museums and exhibitions, like Danish oldies music and fashion exhibition. I was there in the summer this year, and it was really remarkable. However, Den Gamle By is also very pretty in December when it's approaching Christmas time as they also have many beautiful lights and Christmas trees decorating the complex and most importantly... Christmas market.

I had a chance to visit Den Gamle By on December 8th with other fellows from Youth Goodwill Ambassador of Denmark (Aarhus University's representatives) and we also had Julehygge just before the dinner time. The lights were very pretty although when it's dark, it looked a bit spooky. I would totally recommend to go sightseeing in these historical houses during the day as the oldish decoration combined with darkness equal... (you could imagine by yourself - Den Gamle By is also closed at 6PM). Anyway, the ticket price in this December before Christmas for students was 70 DKK and for adults is 135 DKK (but I was very happy to get this tour for free because YGA Aarhus arranged this for us).

Here are some shots I got during the evening Christmassy tour at Den Gamle By....

Big Christmas tree in the center of Christmas area

A shop sells æbleskiver (small round Danish pancake that is very common to be served at Julefrokost / Christmas gathering)

Another shop at Christmas market

Julehygge with æbleskiver and glögg (hot spiced wine that is usually served during winter)

Epic lights after the entrance

Dec 7, 2015

Christmas Lunch in Denmark

On December 2nd, 2015 I got a chance to attend a Christmas lunch / Julefrokost organized by University International Club, Aarhus University. Although personally I don't celebrate Christmas back in Indonesia, but attending an event like this had given me many cultural understandings about Denmark and how Danish Christmas looked like. I came to this gathering with my Indonesian friend, Clarissa, and in this Julefrokost they invited many people from different nationalities and background (Danish and internationals - staff, their spouse, students in Aarhus university) that made this very unique and colorful but we followed Danish Christmas tradition at the end. Btw, I heard that Danes in Denmark celebrated Christmas already before Christianity era and they believe if Santa is from Greenland.

It was not the first time for me attending Julefrokost, because I also had this last year with other students in my faculty, anyway, this might be a bit different because the spirit was more into 'family gathering'. We were asked to bring a Christmas gift for maximum 20 DKK (around US$ 3) and it will be swapped later.

Now let's see how it went through photos....

The Christmas gifts were put under the Christmas tree (also the one from me)

We sang Christmas songs by circling the Christmas tree (and we constantly moved or ran in some movements - in circle or step front and back while holding hands)

We sang these songs: Beauty Around Us, Glory Above Us, Bright and Glorious in The Sky, Silent Night, and the Danish songs too, which were: Enebærbusk (Juniper Bush), 'Nu Det Jul Igen (Now it's Christmas Again), and Jeg Gik Mig Over Sø og Land (I was walking over sea and land). When we sang 'Nu Det Jul Igen we had to step front and back faster and faster and it was so fun. After finished singing, we could pick up the Christmas gift under the tree and the children got the privilege to take it first.

Choose your Christmas gift

And I got a Christmas gift like the picture below...

What's inside this gift? I got a pack of tea bag and a sack of chocolate, hehe. I think I was quite lucky, because they are better than toys for little child if it's for me.

After the gift session, we had a little performance like the picture below. The guy was from Chile if I am not mistaken, and he's in Aarhus because his girlfriend is studying here.

Tough acrobatic action - He was very sweaty after he finished

And then... time to have food. We were served roast pork and pickled curry herring, and I took the herring one. Most importantly, the dessert, my favorite Risalamande. Risalamande is rice pudding with cherry sauce and almond. There's also a little game when we ate this. If we could find whole almond in Risalamande, then we should say it, so we will get a prize (the prize were musical CD or a set of wines). Risalamande tasted sweet and yummy. I really liked it although it was not my luck to get the prize.


We really enjoyed this Christmas experience in Denmark. We also had a chance to talk with other guests, like I talked with couples from China and Japan, and a guy from Germany. What they do in Aarhus University is varied, from being PhD students, post-doctoral, until lecturer at university. Usually people here will have Julefrokost quite often in December with family, friends, and colleagues with food and Christmas gifts included. There's also another game for the Christmas gift that involves playing with a dice (but I didn't play that on that day). Now I am waiting for another Julefrokost with other friends, hehe....

I and Clarissa