Living in Odense, Denmark in the Time of Coronavirus

How are you?

Like many all over the world, we heard reports of fighting over toilet paper in Odense. So un-Danish! Thankfully, we didn’t experience it ourselves (and there is little else that makes my partner, who grew up in a country where bidets are widespread, so mad).

All right, fine, I asked him to get one extra package of TP. I admit it.

Even food stockpiling and panic buying has shown trends based on local tastes; for example, the rye bread shelves were completely looted.

So very Danish. 😉

You have to find reasons to laugh, after all.

It’s a Friday tradition in Denmark to buy self-serve bags of discounted candy. For health reasons, this practice has been suspended.

We are not under as strict lock-down here as in, say, Czech Republic. At least in our isolated corner of Odense by the university, it’s very easy for me to take walks every day. (Which is encouraged! Yes, it’s okay to get out of your house and headspace as long as you stay 6 feet / 2 meters from everyone!)

The problem is when people don’t. And in my little microcosm, I still see a lot of people irresponsibly jogging right next to each other and exercising – with outdoor gyms and no gloves or hand sanitizer in sight – together. I mean, who do you think is cleaning that?


We’re mainly young students here, but even we’ve heard of potential cases across the street in the dorms. Many people are self-quarantining.

It’s been very difficult to get information about the cases on Fyn or in Odense. The Danish government has slowed down testing to people who show only the most severe symptoms, in order to free up the hospital care. Czech Republic continues to test more widely.

Still, I definitely sense a general feeling of faith that things will be okay, people will be taken care of. There’s belief in and support of the government, unlike in the U.S., where many are out of work and tons of industries can’t support their employees.

But there are some bright spots, like Vermont and Minnesota classifying supermarket staff as emergency workers. I 100% agree. I told my local cashier I thought he was a hero and it made him smile.

Lines of cars picking up pre-ordered groceries stretch around the block.

Here’s a link to the latest going on in Denmark.

Meanwhile, I was wondering about all the mask photos I was seeing on the Facebook pages of my Czech friends, and found out about the initiative “Šíje celé Česko,” or “All of Czechia sews.” This akce aims to get the many skilled informal tailors of the country – my mother-in-law included – to sew extra masks for the elderly and health professionals.

What could be better than to unite a country behind a common goal?

At the end of the day, we have to keep in mind what’s really important. Take care of our loved ones – maybe from a distance. (I’ve never been so thankful for virtual communication.) Support and help those who are worse off than us.

And if we get a little bit of a break for social good by social distancing and staying home, maybe we’ll come back refreshed to take on life’s challenges. Even though so much of society has been overturned so quickly, and so much of what we were looking forward to has been “canceled.”

In translation:

Family isn’t canceled. Nature isn’t canceled. Music isn’t canceled. Reading isn’t canceled. Entertainment isn’t canceled. Singing isn’t canceled. Laughter isn’t canceled. Hope isn’t canceled. Let’s enjoy what we have, and not worry about what we can’t change.

Pretty good philosophy, huh? For the good times and bad.

People are clearly in need of some extra sweetness these days.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to look into the eyes of the people, young and old, I encounter on the path during my daily walks as we consciously stay clear of each other, share a knowing smile, and just acknowledge that we’re in this together.

Here’s some good reading while we wait it out:

I’ll end where I began: How are you? ⭐


  1. […] In Denmark, masks were never compulsory – unlike in Czech Republic or even in New York, for example. As an expat, it had been strange and surreal to witness the differences between my beloved heart-homes: How they approached the pandemic, what they had to do to fend it off. But I couldn’t relate. Although Ondra and I would wear masks in the most crowded places, we would receive stares. Since Danes felt they didn’t need to wear masks, they thought the people wearing them were sick themselves, rather than trying to protect those around them. […]


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