When I first got to Copenhagen, I was scared, and jet lagged, and freaked out, and confused, and literally had zero clue as to how exactly I was going to make it FOUR MONTHS in this foreign place. I mean four months is quite the time span. Longer than a semester or even a typical summer. On the other hand, long enough to really push myself in figuring out what this place was all about.
I own a journal and I try to write in it semi-frequently back home. Here I vowed to write often and document alllllllll my adventures and experiences. Welp, I wrote in it a whopping one time. Yes, one. And it was during the very first week of getting here. Last night while throwing out random unnecessary things in an attempt to purge the room before I started packing, I discovered my journal at the bottom of a stack of magazines. Sadly enough, it was dusty and untouched. I can’t go back and redeem my lack of writing, but I will say reading the one and only journal entry I wrote while here in Copenhagen was probably one of the most reflective experiences of my life. In that one entry, I wrote about taking the bus for the first time by myself and feeling as if I had conquered the WORLD. I wrote about visits to the grocery store and how uncomfortable, discombobulated, and stressful they were. I wrote about all the eating out I had been doing because I had no idea what or how to cook for myself. I wrote about the people and how reserved and weirdly quiet they were in comparison to all us Americans….
People say studying abroad is about “personal growth”, but how do you really know you’re growing? Do others have to point out a difference in you? Or is it more of just a personal epiphany? Welllll, I think it’s neither. It’s merely realizing that you’re going about your day and nothing seems off or strange anymore, but instead feels normal. And most importantly it feels right. Getting up and biking to school in the bitter cold, showing up to class sweating, listening to Danish teachers lecture with ease about some of the most off the wall topics, finishing up class as the sun sets around 4, bundling back up to bike home at rush hour with the rest of the Danes, rushing to a workout class to dance my butt off with a bunch of Danish moms not registering a single word the instructor’s saying, heading home to shower, heating up some frikadeller (Danish meatballs), getting hygge, doing some homework, and going to bed. It changes somewhat day to day, but overall everything that was once so “foreign” has now become routine and riding the bus or grocery shopping has just become another simple activity in my daily life. It’s that exact realization that proves what studying abroad’s all about. It’s the realization that a foreign place can go from mysterious and scary and intimidating to….home 🙂 Reading that one single entry from my journal last night confirmed that in the absolute best way possible.
As I sit in my favorite cafe, writing this post and staring the snow fall slowly out the window, it seems unfathomable that I will actually be leaving not only Copenhagen, but this entire adventure come Saturday. I’ve lived within this genuine, safe, and patient society for so long now, I just can’t seem to wrap my head around returning home to the bustle of America. It’s a little scary to be honest. I’ve become so attached to this place, that leaving what I now call home…to go back to my REAL home seems kinda odd. I’ve gotten to know parts of this city like the back of my hand. I’ve experienced and learned things that have helped shape me and transformed my perspective. I’ve made relationships with Danes I hope to carry with me for the rest of my life.
So with that being said- I’ll miss the city, I’ll miss the cobblestone roads, I’ll miss my neighborhood Østerbro, I’ll miss the coffee shops, I’ll miss King’s Gardens, I’ll miss all the kiddies in their puffy warm onesies, I’ll miss the frikadeller, I’ll miss all the candles, I’ll miss the rainbow harbor, I’ll miss all the bikes, I’ll miss the beer, I’ll miss the colorful architecture, I’ll miss the Danish version of Christmas, I’ll miss the pastries, I’ll miss the hygge, I’ll miss my Danish family and friends, I’ll miss the fashion, I’ll miss the old-school baby carriages, I’ll miss the simplicity. I’ll even really miss all the reserved and weirdly quiet people because trust me, the feeling you get when you walk by a random Dane and finally do get that smile….makes everything worth it.