8 ways to have a cosy time in Greenland

Greenlanders love to cultivate cosiness – whether that’s by completely enjoying your own company by curling up with the cat, a heavy blanket, and a good book… by feng-shuiing your living room on a Saturday morning… or by inviting friends over for a dinner party. 

I think every culture can recognise the concept of a true comfort activity. Think about gathering to watch American football games on Saturday afternoons in USA with chips, dips and beer. Think about shinrin-yoku / forest bathing in Japan to destress and reconnect with nature. Think about knitting in the Faroe Islands.

Here’s how I ‘do cosy’ in Greenland!

1. Go to Kaffemik (or host your own) – Kaffemik is a get-together of one’s family, friends, colleagues, and acquaintances to celebrate exciting life events like a new baby, a baby’s christening, a child’s first day of school, birthdays, confirmations, weddings, a new house, etc. As host, you spend days baking and cooking in advance to fill your table with oodles of cakes, biscuits, coffee, tea, and all sorts of good things on the big day. The entire day is exciting and joyful with a constant flow of people coming and going. As guest, you bring a small gift for the honorary person. People often make Facebook groups to spread the news about kaffemik, but word of mouth is also just as effective, especially in the small settlements.

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2. Make arts & crafts – Of course, stretching your artistic legs requires that you have artistic legs to begin with, but for me, I have always loved putting energy toward drawing and painting and making beautiful things. The hours just fly by! Here is a card I made one evening for my friend out of plain old sequins, card stock, needle & thread, and a little inspiration from the Greenlandic women’s national costume, plus a few beaded necklaces I’ve made which also pay homage to the colourful patterned nuilarmiut, or pearl collar from the costume.

 

3. Make sealskin crafts – There’s no shortage of sealskin in Greenland, and using it is not only fashionable but functional. I love to make things for others, and what a luxurious gift sealskin is! I once made a vibrant red sealskin belt for my friend to wear at her wedding, and I’ve even made cell phone pouches out of the same. When the temperatures are very cold, sealskin works as a perfect insulator to keep your phone warm – and on! ‘Sewing clubs’ are a common thing in Greenland, but I’ll admit that all the ones I have experienced end up being much more about socialising than sewing – not necessarily a bad thing. Read here about my creations.

 

4. Relax with cosy candles and hot teaSelf-hygge is not always my strongest point. I admit, it can be a challenge for me to make myself stay in because I’m constantly wanting to be active, socialise, and take advantage of the fun events that happen in Nuuk. But when I do finally take that evening to relax with candlelight and a big pot of tea on a cold night, it feels oh so good!

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5. Bake delicious treats – Even if there’s no kaffemik on the immediate horizon, practice makes perfect, right? I don’t think there ever needs to be a ‘good reason’ to make something tasty!!

 

6. Make homemade soap – Okay, this one isn’t my own hobby, and I don’t think it’s that common anyway, but I have assisted my friend with soap-making twice now. It’s pretty fun! We tried a simple and gentle baby soap recipe with light lavender and bergamot scents. There’s something satisfying about seeing your hard work (1.5 hours of stirring with an electric mixer definitely counts as hard work!) come to something useful in a few weeks’ time. PS – the goggles and gloves are just a safety precaution when preparing the first step. The rest of the process is more fun and less mad-scientist! Photo credit: The Fourth Continent.

 

7. Eat meals together with others – Food is a universal language, and people bond when sitting to a shared table, no matter what. Whether it’s Friday morning breakfast at the office (a common thing in Greenland) or a burger night with friends or a little bit fancy dinner, meals are typically a super cosy time with tables full of delicious food, good conversation, and laughter.

 

8. Sunbathe on the terrace – Nearly every single town and village in Greenland is built on the coastline, so that means nearly every flat and house has some sort of fjord- or ocean-view and a terrace to take it in. Summers in Greenland can get quite warm, so shorts and t-shirts suit perfect for outdoor time. But when the view is that perfect, sometimes you also need a terrace day in the middle of winter. Here’s The Fourth Continent and I on her terrace out in Qinngorput on 14 February this year. With a thermos of good tea and some snacks, we stayed out there and chit-chatted for almost two hours!

Luckily for us, it does eventually get warm enough to sit outside without the winter jacket 🙂

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Follow me on Instagram at @Polarphile to see what my daily life in Nuuk, Greenland looks like!

Here’s a few snapshots from the last week:

Tips for Tourists in Greenland

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Here you will find a lot of useful information about clothing, Internet/communications, transportation, language, food pricing, etc. in Greenland (in that order). It is a continual work in progress, and you are quite welcome to leave a message at this blog post with any questions or comments about these topics and others 🙂

I try to consider both tourists and people moving/staying for a while, but much of the information is applicable for everyone.

CLOTHES IN GREENLAND

* Bring items that are durable and have plenty of life left in them. Don’t come to Greenland with clothing that may not make it for the duration of your trip, i.e. jeans, shoes, etc. It’s not that replacing the items is hard, just that it is quite expensive to do so! While it may not be your thing to buy new items before a trip if you already have them, you would be wise to do it anyway if you have any doubt about their lifespan!

* Bring windproof and rainproof outerwear. Definitely bring a good jacket and a pair of pants that are wind- and rain-proof. They will come in handy both on the water for boat trips but also (and maybe more so) on land. The rain itself is not anything out of the ordinary, but rain plus wind makes for the potential to have very wet and uncomfortable clothing!

* Bring sturdy, supportive, and resilient footwear. Most people wear hiking boots or heavy-duty sneakers around town, and if you are going sailing or plan to be in wet areas, waterproof boots (wellies?) are best. If you are buying new shoes prior to your trip, I would highly recommend spending the extra money for a nice pair rather than skimping for something cheap. The worst-case scenario is that you must purchase new shoes in Greenland. As I mentioned before, it will probably be no problem to replace them, but it will be expensive.

* Bring many socks! For one thing, it’s just good to have extras, especially if you will be doing hiking or other outdoor activities. Nothing is worse than sitting in damp socks! For another thing, if you will be staying in or visiting a private home (for example, for Kaffemik or to visit a friend), the custom is to take your shoes off at the door and go around in your socks.

Funny story: I made the silly mistake once of wearing shoes without socks to Kaffemik. When I got to the door and saw all the other guests’ shoes lined up outside, I suddenly realized that I didn’t have socks on! So I ran home real quick to get socks! Fortunately I lived just across the street 🙂

* Bring clothing / accessories for many weathers. Layers are your best friend. The climate in Greenland is a bit tricky because there is very low humidity. What the forecast says and what the air temperature feels like can be two very different things. With no wind, it usually feels much warmer than it is. But if the wind picks up (and it probably will), it quickly starts to feel cold.

Basically, be prepared for many temperatures, many weathers, etc. Use multiple thin layers rather than a few thick layers to regulate your body temperature easily. Keep breathable, non-cotton materials close to your body; layer heavier knit/woven materials on top; always have windproof and waterproof outer layers available. And always have a pair of gloves and a hat available, even in summer.

* Check the weather. Make it a habit to check the weather daily, paying attention to temperature, wind, and precipitation. For one of the most comprehensive weather forecasts for towns and villages in Greenland, see Denmark’s Meteorological Institute – Town Weather.

COMMUNICATIONS / INTERNET IN GREENLAND

* AC Plug: You will need the 2-prong plug typical for continental Europe. It is the same for Iceland and Denmark, Greenland’s two largest connection points.

* Make an Internet game plan. You must pay for Internet in Greenland, and you must pay a lot, so you should decide before your trip whether you need/want to use the Internet or not. You can purchase Internet via wi-fi hotspots or, if you have a smartphone, you could use its data capabilities. (See next bullet.)

Cafés, hotels, airports, etc. use wi-fi hotspot systems in which you purchase a set amount of time (30 minutes, 1 hour, 3 hour, 24 hour) and you receive a unique log-in code and password to use. MOST times you are able to meter the time by logging in and out – for example, use 5 minutes here, 20 minutes there, etc. But I have found a few places in Greenland that do not allow metering.

The best rate for Internet I ever encountered was 3 hours of Internet (metering allowed) for 120 DKK (22 USD).

Know your phone’s international capabilities before you leave home. Is it unlocked for use with a local SIM card?  What are the international fees for calling, texting, and data usage? Does it make sense for you to buy a cheap phone for Greenland specifically?

For someone staying in Greenland for a short period, it might make the most sense to use your smartphone (if you have one) and purchase an international data plan via your home carrier. For reference, my international plan via Verizon Wireless is 30 USD for 100 MB of data, plus calling and texting. Every additional 100 MB of data is 25 USD, and it charges automatically.

For someone staying in Greenland for a long period, it might make sense to get a phone with a Greenlandic number, but be aware that probably only the larger towns will have places to buy such a setup (Nuuk, Sisimiut, Ilulissat, and Qaqortoq are my best guesses). A cheap one can be 490 DKK (84 USD) for the phone and 400 DKK (68 USD) for the SIM card, which comes pre-loaded with a call/text allowance called Tusas. It’s like a debit system for outgoing calls/texts, and incoming calls/texts are free.

General pricing for outgoing calls/texts:

  • Outgoing Local daytime call price (per minute, 7:00-18:00) 1.75 dkk = 0.30 USD
  • Outgoing Local evening call price (per minute, 18:00-07:00) 1.23 dkk = 0.20 USD
  • Outgoing Call tax (one time, per call) 0.15 dkk = 0.02 USD
  • Outgoing SMS price (per 160 character message) 0.33 dkk = 0.06 USD

So, the original SIM card purchase comes with approximately 114 minutes of outgoing calls or 567 outgoing SMS’s.

I personally use 2 phones when I am in Greenland, an iPhone 4S with an American phone # and a cheap Nokia phone with a Greenlandic phone #. I use the iPhone for calls/texts to people in the United States and for Internet usage away from home/office, and I use the Nokia phone for calls/texts to people in Greenland. Simple!

GROUND TRANSPORTATION IN GREENLAND

It is very easy to use the bus system in Greenland. There are buses in Nuuk, Sisimiut, Ilulissat, and Kangerlussuaq. Nuup Bussii (Nuuk’s bus system) is of course the largest.

In towns and villages without bus systems, you must either walk or use Taxi transportation.

A single ride costs 15 DKK (2.50 USD), and you pay with cash on the bus. Keep your ticket stub because it is valid for unlimited rides for up to 1.5 hours. It is easiest to pay with exact change, and I’m quite certain the bus driver will not accept a bill larger than 500 DKK.

In Nuuk, there are many routes that reach all parts of town, including city center, Nuussuaq neighborhood, the airport, and Qinngorput neighborhood (the new development approximately 5 km/3 mi outside city center). In general, buses run from 6 in the morning until midnight, and they reach any given stop twice an hour. Always consult the Schedule/Route Map for your specific needs. It is available online, and it is posted at every bus stop.

For someone staying in Greenland for a long period, there is the option of purchasing an 11-ride per month card or an unlimited ride per month card. It can only be purchased at the Nuup Bussii headquarters. It makes financial sense to get a card if you anticipate using the bus a lot because there is a slight price break and it is, of course, easier than finding change every time.

For transportation to Greenland, see How to Get to Greenland.

LANGUAGE IN GREENLAND

Greenland is a multi-lingual country. Greenlandic (called Kalaallisut) is the official mother tongue, Danish is the official second language, and English is a third language that children begin learning in the 4th class.

* Language can be a tricky topic. Without going into many details about history and politics, language in Greenland is not clear-cut. There are Greenlanders who are fluent in Greenlandic, Danish, and English. There are others who only know Greenlandic & Danish or Danish & English, and there are others who only know Greenlandic.

* From my personal experience, there are three very general trends regarding language proficiency.

  1. The larger the town, the more likely people are to be bilingual (Greenlandic & Danish or Danish & English) or trilingual (Greenlandic, Danish & English).
  2. The people that have consistent contact with tourists are more likely to be trilingual. This is a broad range of people from guides to restaurant bartenders/servers to airline staff, and so on.
  3. Many people are even proficient in a fourth language. Due to the closeness of the Danish language to other Scandinavian languages, this is typically Swedish and Norwegian. German is another common one!

Signs are most commonly posted in Greenlandic and Danish. As a very general rule: signs are posted in Greenlandic and Danish always and in English sometimes. See my extensive photo gallery of signs around many towns in Greenland for a good idea.

* There are Greenlandic language learning resources available. Here I will give general tips regarding language according to your trip purpose to Greenland, your mother tongue, and your motivation to pick up a foreign language. Below, I will simply list the Greenlandic language learning resources that I am personally familiar with. Others may exist.

The vast majority of Greenlandic language learning resources are produced in Danish.

    • For those traveling to Greenland for a short period (i.e. tourists).
        • For Danish speakers. If foreign language is not your thing, all signs, menus, etc. are posted in Danish so you will not have any problems getting along in Greenland. But if you want to pick up Greenlandic for fun, there is a Greenlandic-Danish dictionary (available online and in smartphone app form) that you can use. There is also a DVD set and a workbook available. See below for both.
        • For non-Danish speakersAs a very general rule: signs are posted in Greenlandic and Danish always and in English sometimes. (See my extensive photo gallery of signs around many towns in Greenland for a good idea.) But don’t worry – spoken English is much more common than written English. If foreign language is not your thing, my honest suggestion for reading signs, etc. that are not available in English is to have a translator tool on hand (for example, Google Translate). It will be easiest for you to do Danish-English or Danish-Your Language because the Danish language separates noun and verb words. In Greenlandic, it can be hard to pick out the nouns and verbs because it is a polysynthetic language and looks different from anything you have probably seen before. But if you want to pick up Greenlandic for fun, there is a Greenlandic-English DVD set available. See below. Or you can use the Greenlandic-Danish dictionary (online or smartphone app) or workbook. You will have to use a translator tool to supplement both of these.
    • For those traveling to Greenland for a long period (i.e. moving/staying a while). Coming soon.
        • For Danish speakers.
        • For non-Danish speakers.

List of Greenlandic language learning resources:

  1. Greenlandic-Danish dictionary, called “Ordbogit”. Produced by Oqaasileriffik (Greenland Language Secretariat). Available online and in Smartphone App form.
  2. Greenlandic-English or Greenlandic-Danish DVD called “Learn Greenlandic with Per Langgård“. Produced by Oqaasileriffik. Available online, and I have also seen it in Atuagkat bookstore in Nuuk.
  3. Greenlandic-Danish workbook called “Qanoq: Opgave- og Grammatikbog” by Helene Brochmann. I have seen it in the bookstore in Sisimiut and in Atuagkat bookstore in Nuuk.
  4. Language Center in Sisimiut, called Oqaatsinik Pikkorissarfik. Provides intensive classroom courses in Greenlandic.
  5. Private Language Courses by Katrine Andersen at Katri.gl.

FOOD IN GREENLAND

This topic is a work in progress, but as a start, here’s a very random list of various foods prices at the grocery store or fresh market. Prices are converted DKK to USD. Please note: the exchange rate will, of course, change constantly, but these prices can give a general idea of the cost of groceries in Greenland.

For this week’s up-to-date information on food/groceries in Greenland, the two grocery stores chains, Pisiffik and Brugseni, post their Weekly Specials flyers online. You will have to convert DKK to your own currency, of course 🙂 test.

Pisiffik – Click on “Tilbudsavis” (Specials Flyer), then “Denne Uges Avis” (This Week’s Fyler).

Brugseni – Click on PDF icon that says “Uge 30” or “Uge 31” etc. (Week 30, Week 31)

* Prices for Greenlandic products (ex: reindeer, muskox, ptarmigan, sea mammals, fish, etc.) are set by the individual municipalities when sold at independent markets like Kalaaliaraq in Nuuk or Qimatulivik in Sisimiut. The prices of Greenlandic products in the Meat section below represent Qeqqata Kommunia, the Arctic Circle Region municipality.

MEAT

Steak 176 dkk/kg = $14.72/lb

Chicken breast 88 dkk/kg = $7.36/lb

Pork chops 90 dkk/kg = $7.53/lb

Fresh Reindeer 90 dkk/kg = $7.53/lb

Dried Reindeer 400 dkk/kg = $33.46/lb

Fresh Muskox 90 dkk/kg = $7.53/lb

Dried Muskox 400 dkk/kg = $33.46/lb

Snow hare 150 dkk each = $27.61 each

Ptarmigan 65 dkk each = $12 each

Fresh fish (cod, redfish, trout, salmon, capelin, halibut) 45-60 dkk/kg = $3.74-$5.02/lb

Smoked fish (trout, salmon, halibut) 180 dkk/kg = $15.06/lb

Lumpfish roe (Stenbider rogn) 60 dkk/kg = $5.02/lb

Fresh Whale meat (various species) 45-55 dkk/kg = $3.76-$4.60/lb

Whale mattak (various species) 100-250 dkk/kg = $8.37-$20.91/lb

Seal, various species (meat & organs) 45-60 dkk/kg = $3.76-$5.02/lb

PANTRY

Rugbrød 28 dkk for a loaf = $4.75 for a loaf

Wild Rice 35 dkk for 1000 g = $6.44 for 35 oz

Whole grain cereal 45 dkk for 375 g = $8 for 13 oz

Müsli 28 dkk for 1000 g = $5.15 for 35 oz

Fusili pasta 11 dkk for 500 g = $2 for 18 oz

Pasta sauce 17 dkk for 480 g jar = $3.12 for 17 oz jar

Wasa crackers (Delikatess, Frukost) 22 dkk for 285 g = $4 for 10 oz

Raisins 20 dkk for 300 g = $3.68 for 10.5 oz

Canned beans 17 dkk for 250 g = $3.13 for 9 oz

Marmelade 15 dkk for 400 g = $2.75 for 14 oz

Specialty Pesto sauce 14 dkk for 130 g = $2.58 for 4.5 oz

Pickwick tea bags 22 dkk for a box of 20 = $4 for a box

DAIRY

Yogurt 21 dkk for 1000 g = $3.87 for 35 oz.

Specialty yogurt (Icelandic Skyr) 30 dkk for 500 g = $5.52 for 17.6 oz

Sliced cheese 29 dkk = $4.91 for a pack

Large wedge Parmigiano Reggiano 50 dkk = $8.41 for a wedge

Cheese with Herbs 18.25 dkk for 114 g = $3.36 for 4 oz

FRESHIES

Apples 4 dkk each = $0.75 each

Bag onions 15 dkk = $2.52 for a bag

FROZEN

Mushrooms 22 dkk for 400 g = $3.70 for 14 oz

Haricot Vert Green Beans 22 dkk for 700 g = $4 for 25 oz

Peas 25 dkk for 400 g = $4.20 for 14 oz

Chopped Spinach 13 dkk for 450 g = $2.40 for 16 oz

ALCOHOL

White wine 39 dkk for 200 ml = $6.56 for 8 oz bottle

White wine 89 dkk for 750 ml = $15 for 25 oz bottle

Royal Summer beer 102 dkk for 6 pack = $17 per 6 pack, or $2.83/beer)

Beer & soda bottle deposit 2 dkk per bottle (refundable) = $0.33 per bottle – Greenland imports almost all of its beer and all of its soda, but it bottles the beverages locally.

Beer at a Bar 40 dkk for 200 ml = $6.80 for 6.75 oz (or $1/oz)

Beer at a Bar 75 dkk for 400 ml = $12.75 for 13.5 oz (or $0.94/oz)

Beer at a Bar 98 dkk for 600 ml = $16.70 for 20 oz (or $0.84/oz)

TOILETRIES

Nivea shower gel 51 dkk for 750 ml bottle = $8.63 for 25 oz bottle

Tampons 37 dkk for box of 20 = $6.26 for box of 20

Generic shampoo 12.45 dkk for 750 ml bottle = $2.11 for 25 oz bottle

Disposable razors 12.5 dkk for bag of 4 = $2.12 for bag of 4

KAFFEMIK IN GREENLAND

Kaffemik is a fun gathering of friends and family to celebrate birthdays, births, graduations, new homes, and other milestones! The person of honor hosts at his or her own home and provides coffee, tea, cakes, sweets, bread, and oftentimes Greenlandic specialities like reindeer, muskox, whale, seal, fish, etc. Kaffemik events are extremely common and can happen any day of the week, but they are most common on weekends when many people are free. The entire event typically lasts for multiple hours, but guests usually only stay for a short visit.

Should you be invited to Kaffemik, these are some general guidelines to being a delightful guest. Please note, some tour companies do offer Kaffemik as an activity. In this case, the gift is not necessary. Please consult the tour company with any questions.

  • Always take your shoes off before entering the person’s home (so wear socks!).
  • Taste as many of the cakes and food as possible! They are delicious!
  • Only stay a short while – enough time for a couple cups of coffee, say – so to give others the chance to take a seat and enjoy also.
  • Bring a gift for the person of honor – something around 50-100 DKK worth (9-17 USD) is nice.

Kaffemik William

I can now say that I have been to two Kaffemiks so far in Greenland!  It was a coworker, Mads, and his wife, Lisbeth, hosting Kaffemik to celebrate the Konfirmation of their son, William.  They live just across the street from where I am staying in Qinngorput, so it was nice and convenient to get there!  Sharon rode the bus from her place and I met her so we could walk over together.  There were a few other coworkers there, so we had people to talk to.  Also, Sharon met and talked to a nice man and his Nigerian wife who told us stories about hunting trips, food, and the rise of Type II Diabetes in Greenland with the decline of a diet rich in fish, seal, and whale.  He was very well spoken and very interesting to listen to.

We stayed for a couple cups of coffee, some food (roasted potatoes, sushi, green been and tomato salad, shrimp), and sweets, of which there were at least seven different cakes, pies, and cookies!  As with the first Kaffemik I went to, the sweets are laid out on the tables, and newcomers simply pick up a coffee cup and plate set, walk around and serve themselves the food and sweets that they want, and then find an open seat to enjoy!

There was one new thing that I encountered – a small cup of slices of rendered fat on the table.  Mads said that people use it in coffee as a substitute for cream!  The man Sharon was talking to backed this up with a story of eating raw fat and reindeer meat while on a hunting trip.  However far the hunters have to walk to find the reindeer is how far they have to walk back with the animal in tow once they have shot it – this is often many, many miles and an extreme physical challenge.  Eating the fat and meat from the very animal they are carrying gives hunters a strength and energy that rugbrød cannot.

After our share of coffee and sweets (about 30-40 minutes), we got up so to make room for the next round of newcomers!  All in all, a most relaxing Sunday!

Read more about Kaffemik in Greenland here!

Kaffemik Manu

(From Sunday, May 27, 2012)

Today was a wonderful first day – very social! Started out by waking up to the delicious smell of my first breakfast in Greenland!  We all sat down together at the table, which I will gladly get used to happening daily. Though I imagine in the weekday, the spread will not be quite so extensive! We feasted on scrambled eggs, mixed fruit salad, bread & butter, pate, meat, cheese, marmalade, and cinnamon rolls. And coffeeee 🙂

If all the blinds are shut, it could be very easy to think I was in Washington, D.C. with all the modern furnishings, comfort foods, and abundance of Apple products 🙂 BUT – the blinds are open always and all I have to do is look up out any of the windows to see that clearly I am not in Washington, D.C. but rather am in a majestic wonderland.  In one direction, I have panoramic views of Nuuk Fjord, with snow-capped hills along the horizon.  In the other direction, I have Lille Malene and Store Malene, two hills/mountains I want to reach the top of at some point!  So yeah, not in Washington, D.C. 🙂

Around 1400, my host family took me on a driving tour of Nuuk.  We started at the far southwest end of Qinngorput where new flats are being built to house the people who will be relocated from downtown when the old Bloks are leveled in order to be rebuilt.  We went all around Qinngorput, past the other residential area called Nuussuaq, to the industrial/harbor area, downtown past the Greenland Tourism & Business Council office on Has Egedesvej, around the new University area, around the airport, and then back to Qinngorput for Kaffemik.

This is a picture of the Bloks, old housing right in the center of town.

This is one of the many cemeteries. A lot of the older ones have filled up, so they have to move to a new space. This one is on the west side of town near the old University building and the Moravian Monk Ruins.

I was very fortunate to experience Kaffemik on my first day! Kaffemik is one of the most important and central aspects to Greenlandic culture (read more here)! It is essentially a weekend party one holds at his/her own home to celebrate a birthday, a wedding, a confirmation, going away on holiday for a few weeks, returning from holiday, etc. People find many reasons to host Kaffemik! The hosts provide all the food and drink, so it is somewhat of an undertaking to host, especially when there are many friends and family in attendance.  This is a tradition with deep Greenlandic roots because the family wants to show that they have an abundance of food; it is a status symbol.  Depending on how many kids one has and how often they want to host friends, people could host Kaffemik just a couple times a year or as frequently as every month or so.

Hosts invite many people to their Kaffemik, but everyone does not come all at once.  It is a very casual, relaxing, and fluid sort of event.  People come and go as they please, and the hosts always have plenty of food and drink ready for newcomers.  Traditionally, the Greenlanders spend only a little bit of time at each Kaffemik, perhaps a couple cups of coffee’s worth, and then go about their way.  I am told the Danish like to spend a lot more time at Kaffemik, though! If you have been invited to Kaffemik but wish to do another activity that day, it is not rude to decline. It is common practice, however, that guests bring a small gift for the host or the person of honor.

Today, Kaffemik was just up the street in Qinngorput at the home of Katrine and Thomas in honor of the 11th birthday of their son, Manu.  This couple is one of my host family’s very good friends; they own a boat together and often go on sailing and hunting trips together. There must have been fifteen or more adults there and who knows how many children – they were all in the back bedrooms playing and having a good time!  There was main course food in the kitchen, beer and wine on the counter, and all sorts of sweets, breads & butter, and coffee & tea on the tables.  Two eating tables were set up, picnic-style, in addition to standard living room furniture, and people were seated all about.  When we sat down, Katrine came over with a set of clean dishes – a coffee cup and saucer, a spoon, and a plate. Everyone just walks around and helps himself to whatever he wants.  I started with tea and some raisin bread & butter but throughout the afternoon had sweets like cookies and strawberry tart.  Thomas was very kind and asked me if I had tried the musk ox yet.  When I said no, he directed me toward the kitchen to try some… so I did! It was very good!  He said it was meat from an ox he had killed last year, and oddly enough, later that same evening my host family and I looked at pictures from that very hunting trip! I met many people at Kaffemik – Katrine and Thomas, Jakob and Charlotte, Pia, and Sussi & Peter. Most everyone knows English, but they don’t speak it unless they are talking directly to me, which was more or less quick conversation.  Pia was helpful, though; whenever she thought about it, she would quickly tell me the gist of the conversation. I don’t mind, though; I am enjoying just being immersed in the language. A personal goal is to be able to speak it myself by the time I leave!

We left Kaffemik about 1700 and I took the opportunity to write a bit about the afternoon before going to Sushi dinner with Anne Mette and Sharon at 1900.

Anne Mette lives just down the street in Qinngorput also, so she picked me up and then picked Sharon up on her way into town. We did another short driving tour (which was nice to reinforce what I thought I had remembered from earlier) and also did a short tour of inside the Visit Greenland office.  I will be on the bottom level and Sharon will be on the top level.  Then we went for Sushi dinner at, oddly enough, the only sushi restaurant in town! We had a couple pots of tea, miso soup, and lots of sushi – salmon, shrimp, and halibut!

When I got back from dinner, my host family had two friends over, Katrine and Hans, whom they say are some of their closest friends. Katrine is from Ummannaq (a town in North Greenland that means “Heart-shaped”) and was very friendly; she was also very willing to talk to me in English, more so than anyone I have met so far! We looked at a few commercial videos of Greenland and then looked at a ton of Ulrik’s photos.

All in all, it was quite a social day – from family breakfast, to Kaffemik Manu, to dinner with Visit Greenland coworkers, to an evening in with Katrine and Hans… I am beginning to see that my host family is very social, and I am loving it because it means that I will probably get to meet many more people than I would have ever met living alone in a flat downtown or in Nuussuaq! I think I’m going to make it just fine in Nuuk!