Travel Thoughts: What makes you proud of your country?

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When travelling, whether for work or for holidays, there are certain things I’m curious about when it comes to the locals. Like which traditions they have, what their interests are, and how they see mine and other countries – but especially what makes them proud of their own?

Is it the National football team’s latest championship? Their political system? Its capital city? Or something completely different? And these questions lead back to my own emotions about my home country, Denmark. A country I generally feel has a relatively high status among European countries, although also being an ‘unknown’ to many people due to its humble size – not at least for people outside of Europe.

Honestly, I’m not extremely patriotic when it comes to my own country. That is unless our National icehockey team is playing of course, as I’m a huge fan of this ice cold sport. But I generally try to keep an “objective” an open mind when it comes to national patriotism, which I like in the sense of celebrating our different cultures, symbols and traditions – but dislike as soon as it becomes too focused on ‘us and them’. After all we had nothing to do about where we were born.

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The Danish flag ‘Dannebrog’ is more a symbol of celebration than nationalism

I also believe that living abroad naturally opens your mind and makes you see many things in a different perspective, and I have been extremely fortunate to be able to try and live in Wales, England and Spain, besides Scandinavia.

While living abroad and while travelling, I have always been confronted with how others see Denmark and what they know about our little Nordic land – and among the classics are Carlsberg, Lego, a few football players and bacon. While the list have recently grown to include a stream of popular TV series and the trendy term “hygge”.

So, are these the same things that makes me proud to be Danish? Both yes and no. I do love that the Danish way of “hygge” (coziness) is connected to us as people, because I think it is a big part of what makes us Danes who we are. I also like the fact that even though we’re a small underdog-country, we do surprisingly well when it comes to producing a wide range of sports stars – being represented at top levels in Tennis, Badminton, ice hockey, handball, football and Formula 1, just to mention a few.

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Green energy is a big deal in Denmark / photo:

Mostly I’m proud of my country for being a front runner when it comes to environmental issues and green energy. Something that really makes a difference. I’m also happy that Denmark is generally a safe, civilized and well organized country – and I feel very lucky to have be born on this small spot in the world.

The thing is that many people tend to focus on what’s wrong or what they dislike, and often forget to appreciate how lucky they are and focus on what they’re grateful for instead.

So what makes you proud of your country?

Let me know if the comments below, or on Travelooney Blog’s Facebook page.

By Brian Schæfer Dreyer