January 14th, 2018

What a day. Unfortunately, I do not mean that in a positive way. It pains me to say that on only my second day here. While brunch was ‘hyggeligt,’ the day went downhill as we began our bike journey. I was initially rather excited about cycling, but it ended up going horribly. The bike (which my host parents, Jens Peter and Birgitte have generously provided for me) is just slightly too large for my short stature, so I very clumsily have to jump up to mount it. This had to happen every time we stopped, for I cannot balance or reach the ground while stationary. We then took the s-train, which was rather nice, yet eerily quiet. In the city, we feasted upon hotdogs, which are surprisingly all the rage here in Denmark, and then we attended a cover-band concert of “Danish Elvis.” At one point, one of the many older audience members turned around and asked my roommate and me, “what are two young American girls doing here?” What are we doing here?

After the concert, we had the dreaded bike ride back home, yet thankfully, it was too dark for folks seeing me act so foolish. Upon our return, it all became too much for me. Tears flowed and I could not stop them. I do not think it was just the cycling, but also, the jet lag, the new environment, this new life I was very suddenly thrown into. Anyways, I was late to the dinner table because I did not wish for them to see me upset, which made me feel even worse. I do not want to appear ungrateful, for that is not accurate at all. I am not feeling my best, but that does not mean I am not glad to be here.

I think folks do not talk about this enough, though. Studying abroad is an incredible opportunity, but that does not mean everything is all sunshine and rainbows (certainly not in dreary Denmark). Of course, it is only day two, so I suspect things will get better as I adjust and make this place my home, though. For now, all I can do is try my best to not over-evaluate everything and to appreciate even the tough things (like cycling).

February 13th, 2018

I wish I had my journal with me right now, but since I do not, I shall discuss what feels like a very special experience in this blog. It is nothing spectacular, like seeing a castle or gazing upon Degas’ art. Instead, I am in Tea-Licious, a bubble tea joint about a block away from DIS. The tea I am savoring is called Cloudy Sky, and it is composed of Butterfly Pea Flower and coconut. Apparently, butterfly pea flower is a mix of clitoria leaves and lemongrass. I saw this option last minute (I was actually debating between choco-banana or coco-taro), and it seemed perfect. I haven’t a damn clue what clitoria leaves are, but lemongrass will always be my dearest tea love, a sweet remembrance of my first time abroad, in Brazil. Inside, it is rather cozy; not necessarily hygge, though. The exposed brick, various plants, mismatched furniture, and haphazardly placed sticky notes all seem just right, in an unexplainable way. Surrounded by DIS students (only a couple), Danes, and what is likely a gaggle of tourists, I am at ease. I am at ease being alone here. I can hear the cacophony, even through JT’s new album blasting in my headphones. A peculiar thing for me to be listening to, I know.

As I mentioned before, this is no extravagant event, yet that is what makes it so important. I am just doing a normal, everyday thing, as I would back in Ann Arbor. The normalcy is comforting, for normalcy signals a sense of home. Bubble tea will always be like home for me, although it is nothing like Detroit, and only a taste of A2. However, its power has already been proven, like on Capel Street in Dublin. During my second long stay abroad in Dublin, Capel St became my fave street for many reasons, but a good chunk of that was because of the delicious avocado bubble tea. Right now, I am on Studiestræde. I do not believe this will become like Capel, because, well (I know how this sounds) it feels too mainstream. It is so close to DIS and smack dab in the middle of city centre. There does seem to be some cool stuff along this street, though. Maybe even a thrift store or two.

I suppose what isn’t mainstream is my house in Hvidovre, with Rhiana, Jens, and Birgitte. The trek from Hvidovre to the city center of København takes, on average, 40 minutes or longer. This can be tedious, but it has become part of my routine. Even cycling has gotten much better, especially after I switched bikes with Rhiana. If Rhiana and I are together, the bike and s-train rides are a social time, even though we are the only ones speaking on the silent trains. If I am alone, I bump some music and/or meditate. I practice mindfulness, which we have been using in my positive psychology core course, in order to live in the present moment. It helps me to stay grounded, not get lost in my thoughts. It also allows me to evaluate the experiences around me with a more open mind. This has certainly helped in my acclimation.

May 11th, 2018

Many, many things happened between the last blog post and this one, but I want to highlight the key theme of home. Currently, I am in my room, packing up what feels like my entire life. We dropped Rhiana off at the airport this morning, and now it is just us three, as it was for those very first couple hours, before we picked Rhiana up from the airport back in January. Rereading the old blog posts, those feel like just yesterday, if yesterday, I was a completely different person. I was so unsure of this place. The lifestyle, the Danes, the long, dark days. Now, the days are bright, the Danes (at least some of them) are family, and the lifestyle has reached normalcy. My biggest worry is no longer how I will manage myself on a bike, but rather, how I will manage myself back in the States.

I suppose that is one of the drawbacks of moving around so frequently: all of this readjustment, shipping one’s life across the seas every few months or so. Upon my return to the States, I will need to make a new routine and recreate the feeling of home all over again. Although it is tiresome, I would not trade this life for anything. Being able to call Brazil, Ireland, and now Denmark my second, third, and fourth homes is truly awe-inspiring. I never would have dreamed of creating roots in all of these unique places, but here we are. From all of these places, I have met some of the most incredible humans I have ever had the pleasure of encountering, and I have learned so much about myself along the way. For that I will forever be grateful, and yet, not to quote Dorothy or anything, there really is no place like home. Home home.

I am anxious about returning to home home, which I suppose includes both Detroit and Ann Arbor, as those have both been the most influential places I have resided, with the most loved ones. I am anxious, for as I said, it will take some re-adjusting. What is difficult is how to process what happened while abroad and how to make sure it is not forgotten, like some hazy four month dream. I hope to use a self-care plan, with strategies from my positive psychology course, and to also stay in close contact with all of the amazing friends I’ve made, even though they are all spread across the States. It is mind-blowing that in a little under 48 hours, I will be back, but I am ready to say ‘hej hej, Danmark.’


To contact Shannon for any questions you may have about her experience, click here!