Are Americans scared of dogs, or of one another?

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Dragana Gordic on Shutterstock

A bit over a year ago, an off-duty Secret Service agent fatally shot a neighbor’s dog outside of our building in Brooklyn. When I looked out the window, the dog was lying on the sidewalk with a leash still attached to it.

Later, the man explained that the leash was dragging on the floor, presumably giving him a permission to shoot. To my horror, in a heated media debate that followed, some people were justifying the agent’s actions.

While many people raged at gun violence in America, I had a different issue on my mind: why is America the only…

And what America can learn from them

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by R.D. Smithon Unsplash

A little over a year ago, my husband and his two daughters moved from Denmark, voted the second happiest country in the world, to America, the eighteenth country on that list. Here’s what they think so far.

American schools look like jails

When my 10-year-old step-daughter joined a (well-ranked) public school in Brooklyn, she asked me why schools in New York looked like jails. I got defensive, but I knew what she meant. Bleak corridors, colorless rooms, barred windows, lack of fresh air, metal fences around the building — nothing about her school was “cozy,” the word so loved in her home country.

Back in…

We can’t all move to Denmark, but we can bring some of it to us

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Maksym Potapenko on Unsplash

When adjusting to life in Copenhagen, I noticed that things were very different in Denmark from back home in New York City. Locals seemed more relaxed, less addicted to their phones, more present with one another. Streets were quieter, shops and restaurants played gentle music on low volume. It’s almost as if people there didn’t need distractions from their reality.

Was it just the famous work-life balance and social welfare system or were there other, lesser known, reasons for their contentment?

When America is more gloomy than ever, I decided to look at some small, and big, habits we could…

Cleaning out my life made space for happy changes.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by on Shutterstock

i German-American architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe famously said:

“Less is more.”

What’s true for architecture is true for our lives, too.

Three years ago, I was an American running back home to New York from a foreign country, broke and scared for my future, wrapping up yet another unhealthy relationship.

I was 34 and shattered.

If I were to get better, I needed radical changes. Somewhere around that time, an idea that less is more got stuck in my head. …

I was the least likely woman to marry a Scandinavian man

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Orange Vectors on Shutterstock

I was 14, growing up in post-Soviet Russia when our school teacher took a group of girls from my class to a local park for a walk. She sat us down on large stones and asked us to listen. The reason she brought us there was to talk about our “lives as women.” This wasn’t a talk of empowerment. We were to learn how to take good care of ourselves and our husbands. Because “that’s what Russian women did.”

She explained that we had to shower regularly, smell well, cook well and never ever wear a stretched robe when our…

In an attempt to simplify this complicated world for her

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Evgeny Atamanenko on Shutterstock

Since the birth of my daughter six months ago, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want her life to be like.

The world, and the world of parenting, has become an increasingly complicated place. With so many choices, distractions and opinions, it can take ages to sort through the noise before you finally figure out what is actually meaningful. I know it did for me.

I want my daughter’s world to be a less complicated and a more comfortable place. For that, I’ll help her focus on what’s important right from the start.

She doesn’t have to be successful

I once asked a friend…

How I learned to indulge myself in Denmark — the land of candy, smoking and tanning salons

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Shalom Rufeisen on Shutterstock

In America, we’re told that smoking is bad for us. We’re told that drinking is bad for us. So bad, indeed, that we’re not allowed to do it until we turn 21. Sugar is bad for us, too. And so is fat. Or tanning salons. Stay away from these things and you’ll be good, they say. But is it so?

When I first landed in Denmark, voted the Second Happiest Country on Earth, I was surprised to find out that not only the Danes seemed content, quiet and strikingly good-looking, they were also filthy smokers and drinkers, obsessed with candy…

She’s “not sure it can be saved” but she has some ideas

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Jose M.on Unsplash

I love talking to children. They’re honest, unbiased and very observant. They tell you how it is. My husband and two step-daughters relocated from Denmark to America a a little over a year ago. Since then, we’ve lived in two states and visited another dozen. What a year it has been.

My oldest step-daughter, now 13 and very opinionated, looked around with a critical eye, taking it all in, the good and the bad. On our weekly long neighborhood walks, first in New York and then in Los Angeles, she voiced her opinions to me and gave some suggestions for…

A secret to Scandinavian happiness is in happy childhoods

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Deepak Joshi on Shutterstock

Childhood in Scandinavia is a very serious business. Moreover, it’s an investment that Scandinavian governments, and citizens, take very seriously. After all, a secret to a happy adulthood is in a happy childhood.

Perhaps, it’s one of the main reasons why these Northern European countries top the list of the world’s happiest nations year after year.

Since the birth of my (Danish-American) daughter I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the major differences in how Danish and American societies accommodate their children’s needs.

Here are just a few things that I noticed Danish parents prioritize for their kids.

Ability to explore and take risks


We discovered that restrictions can be freeing too

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by zabavina on Shutterstock

They say when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. The year of stay-at-home orders, broken Amazon deliveries, store closures and social isolation hit my family hard. The pandemic caught me pregnant, with four people and two dogs stuck at home, and a cross-country move on the horizon.

But I wouldn’t be the optimist I am, if I didn’t look back at 2020 and found the good things that came out of it all, at least for our family. Luckily, we still have our health. The rest is my undying commitment not to give up or give in.

Here are some…

Anastasia Frugaard

Writing about different countries, cultures and people.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store