Monday, June 3, 2013

Home Sweet Home

My final blog entry: the return home. What a wonderful trip it has been. While struggling through the last bit of my jet-lag I have reflected on my time in Copenhagen. As can be seen from the blog, the four of us have learned so much about Denmark and how different it is from the United States. On the last day of the trip we were asked, "Could you live here?" In all honesty, of course I think I could live in Denmark, especially since I would get such great benefits as a college student (and making money for going to school seems better than the massive amount of student debt I'll be in once I graduate). Unfortunately, I wouldn't get those benefits since I would be an immigrant. Of course the taxes would be a little difficult to get used to, but since there are so many benefits from the State the tax rate doesn't seem as bad.

Since our experience was learning all about how the Danish people are considered the happiest on Earth it would make sense that we discussed this before we left for the States. Obviously the Danes have their own problems, no country can help flourishing in all aspects, but I am not convinced that the people of Copenhagen are happier than we are in the U.S. From the beginning of the course we all took in the spring, growth was a word used to describe flourishing. Even though there are multiple governmental programs that help out the people, none of them seem to promote growth, but rather just to help people reach one certain state and stay there. Growth and achievements are not recognized for the fact that everyone needs to be equal. Equality is a great thing, but while being in Copenhagen I have noticed that equality can hinder growth for people are also suppressed by laws in order to make everyone "equal." But also what of the immigrants? This is now becoming a large problem for Denmark. The Danes stress equality, yet there are many laws that hinder immigrants becoming equal with the Danes.

So maybe the low expectations, sense of trust, and programs offered have labeled Denmark as the happiest country on Earth, but are they really that happy? While I have seen examples where the answer to the question is yes, there are also places where I can see that the Danes may be the happiest on Earth but it is still not happy enough. Should the Danish people be striving for more happiness, or is their contentedness enough? I do not have the answers for all of my questions, but isn't that philosophy? By studying a topic more in depth don't we end up with more questions that we started with? We might have thought we understood happiness and the happiness within Denmark, but from traveling to Copenhagen it seems as though we are far from fully understanding, but at least we have enough understanding to discuss it within our studies.

Overall, this was an amazing trip and I hope future students are able to follow in our footsteps, to try and understand a concept that has turned out to be harder to define than most would think: happiness.