Diversity in Copenhagen
CIEE wants all our students to feel welcomed, supported, and empowered to succeed while studying abroad. On this page, local CIEE staff have provided details about conditions and cultural attitudes that students with specific identities might encounter at their location.
The information below is just a broad overview so if you have specific questions or concerns not covered here, please email email@example.com. We would be glad to have local staff share their perspectives, talk with you about accommodations, connect you with resources, and/or put you in touch with a program alum who could speak about their experiences navigating a program in this location.
No matter where you choose to study abroad with CIEE, our staff—all of whom receive regular and comprehensive training in diversity, equity, and inclusion—will be on hand throughout your program to provide advice, resources, and support regarding these issues.
Notions of the stereotypical Scandinavian is often someone blond, tall, and thin, perhaps harkening back to the imagined stature of the Vikings. But in fact, you will find all body-types on the streets of Copenhagen. Danish society is like most Western countries, still not fully inclusive of diverse body-sizes and types. Things are improving, with more fashion made available to a broader variety of sizes and representation in the media is also becoming more size diverse. Regardless of body size and type, students can generally expect to feel safe and be respected by Danes, as Danish social norms do not include staring or commenting on other people’s physical traits in public spaces.
Like most old European cities, much of Copenhagen’s sidewalks and old buildings can be difficult to navigate for mobility or sight-impaired students. However, the city has made great strides in that area in recent years, and the major pedestrian thoroughfares, public transportation, many museums, and most other public institutions are now fully accessible.
Societal attitudes towards people living with disabilities are generally friendly and helpful. While Danes may not always immediately lend a helping hand, if asked to help someone cross the street, get on an escalator, or something similar, they will most likely be very happy to help. Please note that the Danish word handikap is not considered derogatory, so if a Dane uses this word in English, instead of disability, this will not be done as an offense.
In Denmark, the welfare system model means that Danish citizens who live with one or more disabilities or are neuroatypical will have the right to receive support in a number of ways. There are also several Danish organizations working to further the rights and well-being of people who experience living with disabilities. Students are encouraged to provide as much information as they can related to their specific disabilities (or related needs) prior to arrival so CIEE staff can assess potential challenges and arrange for appropriate accommodations.
Copenhagen is a relatively expensive city – eating out, coffee on the go, and buying the toiletries you are used to may be a challenge on a student budget. There are, however, also a lot of strategies that may be used by students to save money on everyday items! The Copenhagen study center will introduce you to community dining and cafeteria options, great flea markets, discount grocers, as well as free and cheap student events. Strategies such as bringing your own coffee in a travel mug, making your lunch, and taking it with you to the Institute, and planning group dinners with your roommates can go a long way to keeping your spending within reason.
Gender and Gender Identity
Visitors to Copenhagen will generally find an open and tolerant attitude toward gender norms and expressions of gender. And while binary gender norms also exist in Denmark, they may well be experienced as less restrictive than in the US. Expectations around dating, parenting, a person’s abilities, and life choices are becoming less influenced by the person’s sex and gender.
There is generally a high but also still growing awareness of issues pertaining to women’s rights and gender equality in Denmark. In recent years the global me-too movement has influenced the broader conversation on gender-based discrimination in public and private spheres. At a political level, policies are being revisited to promote more gender equality.
Students identifying as transgender and/or non-binary may experience a generational divide in the extent to which Danes are familiar with identities outside of the gender binary; older Danes may not be accustomed to using gender neutral pronouns. However, students can overall expect Danes to be welcoming and respecting of all gender identities and expressions.
Students who disclose their Danish, or even just Scandinavian ancestry will likely be asked to pronounce the classic Danish tongue twister “Rødgrød med fløde” (a desert) – and then experience the Native Danes have a good-hearted laugh when you mispronounce it, which you most likely will. Danes are almost always extremely impressed when anyone who is not a native speaker tries to speak any Danish, even if it is just the simplest pleasantries like hello and goodbye.
Denmark is considered one of the least religious countries in Europe, and while it may sound oddly contradictory, many Danes will identify as Christian but not religious. The Danish State religion is Protestantism. Many people consider Christianity as part of their cultural heritage without necessarily identifying as religious. While the number of people choosing to baptize their children is declining and the same trend is seen in the number of Danish youth’s taking communion, there are still more people who do choose to take part in the religious rituals than choose not to.
Religious freedom is part of the Danish constitution and aside from Christianity, Islam is the second largest religion in Denmark. There are many smaller religious communities and students wanting to connect with a particular group may ask the study center staff for help finding their contact information.Despite having a state church, students will likely experience Denmark as secular, as religion to most Danes will hold little to no influence over their life choices.
Denmark is one of the most queer-friendly countries in the world and LGBTQ+ students can generally expect to feel safe and welcome.
The rights of LGBTQ people in Denmark are some of the most extensive in the world. Denmark was the first country in the world to grant legal recognition to same-sex unions, in the form of registered partnerships, in 1989. In 2012, the law was replaced by a new same-sex marriage law. Like its Scandinavian neighbors, Denmark has become one of the most socially liberal countries in the world, and Copenhagen is considered one of the most LGBTQ-friendly cities in the world.
Programs in Copenhagen
Live from Copenhagen
The capital city has a population of approximately two million in the metropolitan area with a cosmopolitan city atmosphere and rich cultural offerings. Learn more about programs in Copenhagen