The Cougar Chronicle

Hailing from the land of salty licorice and sarcasm

Shirly Najjar shares details of her life in Demark and its comparisons to her time in the United States.

Shirly Najjar shares details of her life in Demark and its comparisons to her time in the United States.

Sara Freitag

Sara Freitag

Shirly Najjar shares details of her life in Demark and its comparisons to her time in the United States.

Sara Freitag, Staff Writer/Photographer

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Shirly Najjar, an International Business Communication major and native to Aalborg, Denmark, is studying abroad at CSUSM this semester.  

Najjar gave insight on the experiences she’s had in the month spent at CSUSM, as well as fun facts about Danish culture. One fact is that a favorite snack of the Danes is salty licorice with a cold glass of milk.  

When asked if this was true about Danish culture, Najjar laughed in recognition of the delightfully quirky snack.  She said that it is true, but she typically eats the salty licorice only.  

If you get a chance to meet Najjar, don’t be fooled by her sweet and soft-spoken nature.  She can pack a punch of sarcasm.  Danes are known for their strong sense of irony; if rated on a scale from one to ten, Najjar would place herself at a six.  Most of her friends speak this way, as within Danish culture, irony is normal.

Enraptured by the beauty and diversity of California, Najjar said that Denmark has next to no hills or mountains…however, this is very conducive to its excellent public transit and bike system (they bike everywhere…rain or shine!).

“Even in snow, there are so many on the roads,” she said.  

Though it has been difficult for Najjar to become accustomed to Southern California’s lack of public transit, she has fallen in love with other aspects of this culture.

She has thoroughly enjoyed the beaches as well as trips to downtown San Diego and L.A.  Najjar said she is ready to take up the challenge of surfing; and, being an avid walker, she looks forward to hiking Double Peak, a hiking spot down the road from our campus.

One of her favorite aspects of Southern Californian culture is people’s friendliness. She said it is nice to have strangers strike up a conversation with her.  

“People are really friendly…so many times, when we can’t find the right roads…people approach us and will be like ‘hey do you need help?’” she said.  “They’re so nice…they’re so kind.”

Najjar mentioned some peculiarities that she has noticed, namely how much fast food is eaten here.  The amount of traffic has blown her mind.  Once again, where are the buses?  And those portion sizes!

Danish culture is simple.  Minimalism is their lifestyle, not a fad.  Danish people are known for being very happy, and Najjar believes it’s due to contentment with simplicity.

Najjar said she hopes to take a job in Denmark, within the realm of International Relations. Before this, however, she would love to spend time in Australia for her master’s.

To her fellow CSUSM students, Najjar says, “It’s awesome that people are so helpful and that the local students are open to new people and new cultures.”  Her advice to anyone interested in studying abroad: “Just do it!”  


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