Wow! I am in Denmark! Can you believe it? No? Me neither! I am so excited I could scream! You know what I am already shouting in my head! AHHHHH!
So, I hope this gives you an idea about how ecstatic I am.
I love walking. I have always loved walking. Everywhere I went, I walk. Sometimes I go with a map; sometimes I just let my feet wander. There’s a certain charm about taking a stroll that no bus tour or ferry ride can replace; except maybe a trademark Copenhagen bike ride around the city. I chose walking since I aspire not to harm any innocent pedestrian with my truly “superior” cruising skills.
The first day in Copenhagen, I got hopelessly, wonderfully lost. I didn’t just string the words together because they sound cool. I really was hopelessly lost, I was trying to find the train station, and after walking for 45 minutes, I realized that I was walking in a circle, and back to my original spot; it really was wonderful, because the only way to know a city’s beauty is to stroll her secret alleys, her cobblestone roads, her little coffee shops. It’s almost like an awkward first date. I fell in love after hearing about Copenhagen from my advisor. In a pathetic attempt to understand her better, I turned to the Internet and friends, but nothing prepared me for the real thing. I was charmed and mesmerized, my eyes filled with her lights and stars. I made a fool out of myself by turning into all the wrong streets and corners, making shy eye contacts and timid conversations with strangers, but the fear and worries were soft and clouded by a warm, fuzzy feeling. It was magical.
famous postcard view.
Rundetårn, the famous Round Tower, which is the oldest functioning observatory in Europe. It is special that it is attached to a church, showing the combination of science and faith in the Renaissance period.
Apparently danishes are not called danishes in Denmark; it is called wienerbrød. By the way, this is not a danish but a cinnamon roll. Danishes here were amazing though.
The Thai food here is AMAZING. Good ol’ comfort food for me.
The Thai royal family with the Denmark royal family.
Scientology; I wonder how it is received in Europe?
Okay, I still can’t get over how pretty these colorful houses are; they are like those doll houses in storybooks! I wish I am a giant so that I can play with them!
The second time I roamed around, the city was even more beautiful, and this time we knew each other a little better. Just like any beautiful person, Copenhagen captivated you with even the smallest things; there were surprises everywhere. In the middle of the street, amidst busy Danes striding by, a musician played the violin. A man, carrying his guitar, hesitated and stopped, drunk in the swirling melody; he shook the musician’s hands after the performance and they shared a lovely conversation. I may not speak Danish, but that excited look on both men’s faces, as if they had found a long lost friend, spoke louder than any text that told me Danes are stereotypically cold.
With music as their matchmaker, they turn from strangers to friends.
Another walk along the street during the day, a young guy approached and started a conversation … in Chinese. I was so shocked that for a moment, I forgot that I spoke Chinese too; I just kind of stare back at him as he asked me questions with a keen smile. We talked and talked and we part ways. He somehow made me felt so very at home.
One time, I timidly asked a stern old lady for directions, prepared to be ignored; she immediately broke into a smile, lightening up her face like a ray of sunshine on a gray day. I couldn’t stop smiling myself.
My heart is blooming. (Okay I am a hopeless romantic.)
It is very easy to feel like the outsider when studying abroad. You look different, you act different, and you talk different. A lot of times we just feel like sticking to the people we know and stay in our cozy little bubble. My advice is to think of the new place as someone you always wanted to get to know (I mean, if you are studying there you obviously are at least a little interested in her). For me that’s Amy Poehler. Get to know her work, read books about her, and talk to other people who have met her. Yes, it would be scary to approach her, but just imagine how great it would be to finally interact with her and bask in her endless awesomeness. I am screaming internally as I think about that; get psyched!
Don’t despair if you are not as outgoing as others, or as social as others; everyone has their own way to adjust to new surroundings, so just be yourself, and find people who like you as you are. Take your time to adjust, and then just walk out the doors and get lost! (well, bring your GPS smart phone thingy. Or a map. Or a local phrase book with the sentences, “Where am I?” “How do I get back home.” Write down the address of where you are staying. Just… don’t turn off your brain.) Immerse yourself, take some risks, be safe but not too safe; life is short.
Yesterday when I was walking around, it suddenly dawned on me that I recognize that hot dog stand near my dorm. I can see, in my mind, Copenhagen and all her secret alleys, her cobblestone streets, her little coffee shops.
And that was the moment I felt my connection to the city. That was the moment Copenhagen starts becoming home.
P.S.: If you want a postcard, send me an email with your name and address and I will send my love and kisses from Copenhagen. If you are up to it, I can do a postcard chain, where I will send someone else’s name and address and you send them a postcard too. What do you think?
Pretty, pretty please? My email is firstname.lastname@example.org
P.P.S.: Next time on Josephine’s blog: what the hell am I doing in Denmark except getting lost? Stay tuned.