Tuesday, June 5, 2018

So Your Character is From Denmark ... Featuring Michelle Ofelia @ #ofeliasbookshelf

It's time for this week's So Your Character is ... Post! This is a weekly segment where I interview lovely volunteers from around the world to give you a firsthand account of being a citizen of their respective country or having a disability. I'm hoping to encourage international diversity, break stereotypes, and give writers a crash course on how to write a character from these different places on our planet. If you haven't checked out last week's  So Your Character is from Costa Rica ... be sure to hop on over there and give it a read!

Disclaimer: The content below may be culturally shocking to some. Each of these posts is as uncensored as possible to preserve the authenticity of the cultures of each of the interviewees.

(None of the Images are Mine)

My name is Michelle Ofelia and I was born and raised in Odense, Denmark. I’m a Danish major at the University of Southern Denmark. I read a lot of books, and I love writing as well. I’m a book blogger and a bookstagrammer and I just love to work with words. I lived two years in Spain when I was a kid, and I really miss that, so I have a dream about moving back there someday. I live in a lovely apartment with my hamster Jojo. 

What do you feel is unique to your country? Landmarks? Celebrations?
A unique thing about Denmark, and especially about my town (Odense), is Hans Christian Andersen, the famous author. I grew up 10 minutes away from where he was born, so I find this really unique. Here in December, we do have a huge Christmas celebration, which is so amazing. 

Also, here in Denmark, we celebrate Christmas on December 24th. We spend the whole day together with our family. We eat our traditional dish, then we dance around the Christmas tree before we open over gifts. After all of that, we have dessert, and you can actually win an extra gift if you find the almond in the risalamande. When we are done with all that, we relax with a drink and enjoy the rest of this wonderful day.   

Tell me about your country's environment. What are some of your favorite places?
This is a tough question. There are so many places in Denmark I love. We have a lot of nature, our cities are small and old. In Odense, which is my city, we still live and use the houses from the seventeen century or older. We only have about 5,5 million citizens in Denmark, so everything is small here. Some of my favorite things and places are our small forests, our many creeks and no matter where you are in Denmark, you’re always close to the beach. One thing I wish we did, was washing and cleaning our streets a bit more. Compared to other countries, our streets are just dirty. 

Tell me about your country's food. What are some of your favorite dishes?
My all-time favorite dish is actually the Danish traditional Christmas dish. It’s roast pork with brown potatoes (small potatoes caramelized in sugar), Red cabbage and brown sauce. And then we have ‘’smørrebrød’’ as the only country in the world, which is also very delicious. 

Tell me about any different speech patterns in your country. Slang? Idioms? Words for things such as “biscuits” instead of “cookies”?
We actually use a lot of English words when we speak! We’ve adopted quite a few words from English, which is now in our dictionary, and I actually find that a bit funny. We have different dialects as most countries, but if you go to southern Jutland they have their own dictionary, no one in Denmark understands what they are saying, which is extremely hilarious. We are such a small country with only 5.5 million citizens and we have about 6 different dialects. I don’t really know anything about slangs since I don’t use it myself. 

Describe briefly a regular day in your country.
It depends on what you do. If you work, then most people wake up at 6 A.M then they work from 8 A.M to 4 P.M. We stress around a lot in Denmark. We wake up, go to work or school, then we go out straight from work to buy groceries, then we come home, make dinner relax a bit and then go to bed. 

How does your country compare to others, especially the States since my audience is primarily American? Environmentally? Politically? Culturally?
Well, a thing we are well known for is out free healthcare, our free education system (we even get paid when we are studying) and our taxes are pretty high. I don’t have any interest in politics at all, so I can’t say much about it, but we have democracy in Denmark and most of us really love the royal family. We also have so many deferent cultures represented in Denmark, so it depends a lot on who you are. 

Briefly describe three of your country’s historical events that you feel are important.
The first most important event in Danish history is probably the "The Constitution Day’’ on the 5th of June 1849. 
The second is when Denmark was freed from the German soldiers in the second world war on may 5th 1945.  
The third one was on the 5th June 1915 where women were granted to vote for the first time.  

What are some stereotypes about your country that irk you? What media portrays your country badly be it a movie, a book, or a TV show?
Well, the two books The Little Book of Hygge and The Little Book of Lykke portrays Denmark as the most perfect and the happiest country, and honestly, I don’t really think we are happier than others. The words don’t make us better than others. It’s not like it’s a bad thing that people think that Danes are happy at all, but I think you’d be a bit disappointed if you moved here and expected everything to be shining and perfect. It sounds like I don’t like my country, but I do. I really love Denmark and I love living here. 

What media portrays your country well be it a movie, a book, or a TV show?
Shakespeare has written Hamlet, which takes place in Denmark. It’s set in the 17th century, so it doesn’t portray modern Denmark. But there’s one thing from this play, that still exists, and that our monarchy. But I do believe that if we were to go back in time, this play would be how Denmark was. 

Who are your top three favorite fictional characters native to your country in books, movies, or shows?
I don’t really know other Danish fictional characters, other than the ones from Hamlet, so I don’t really have a favorite. 

Since the Little Mermaid was written by Hans Christen Anderson it was originally set in Denmark.
Thank you, Michelle Ofelia, for this very informative post! Come back next week for a post all about Luxembourg!

Are you interested in participating in this project? Check out the tips archive to see which countries have been filled and if you're from a different country, shoot me an email at howellvictoriagrace(a)gmail(dot)com. I'm especially looking for Cuba, Venezuela, Switzerland, Zimbabwe, and Iraq.

Do you have any characters from Denmark? Did this inspire you to write a Danish character or set a book in Denmark? Are from this or been to this country and you have further input? Feel free to share! Do you have any questions for Michelle Ofelia? Be sure to thank her!

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