"Don't tell me the sky's the limit when there are footsteps on the moon." -Paul Brandt
So Friday was kind of a big deal on my calendar. It was my 167th day in Denmark. And from Friday, I had 167 days left. Yes, I am officially half way. I don’t know how you are supposed to feel when you are halfway through the year you’ve been waiting forever for. I spent almost four years thinking about going on exchange, and googling it and imagining myself being that awesome foreign kid. But now that I’m here, actually living it, I have this horrible sinking feeling that time is going too fast, and that really, really scares me.
The night before I left, I started my post with this quote:
“Just remember, the same as a spectacular Vogue magazine, remember that no matter how close you follow the jumps: Continued on page whatever. No matter how careful you are, there's going to be the sense you missed something, the collapsed feeling under your skin that you didn't experience it all. There's that fallen heart feeling that you rushed right through the moments where you should've been paying attention. Well, get used to that feeling. That's how your whole life will feel some day. This is all practice. None of this matters. We're just warming up.”
And it’s so true. Half of my time in Denmark is over, and that’s time that I will never get back. So much has happened in the past five and a half months. When I think of who I was when I stepped off the plane, when I think of my first few days, how in awe of everything I was, I can’t believe how far I’ve come. There are days when I question what I’m doing here, when I sit and think, what have I really accomplished? But then I’ll have a moment where it’s all just...worth it.
My counsellor told me that starting in the New Year I would have to get up and talk a little about my week to everyone, in Danish, and this past Wednesday was the first meeting of the new year. The whole time while we were eating I was so nervous, and I kept thinking like what if I don’t know what to say, or what if I forget a word or something. (Somewhere between my house and the hotel I lost my little piece of paper with what I wanted to say, so I kind of just had to free talk.) So I got up and starting talking, and the words just came. I talked about my trip to see Emma, and New Year’s Eve, and school and language school and it just felt so natural. Of course I’ve spoken Danish before, but never in front of thirty adults. And then after when people came up and told me how good I sounded, it just kind of reminded me why I’m doing this. Getting up and speaking in front of a group in English is a little nerve-wracking, but I feel like if I can do it in Danish, then I will never be nervous about doing it in English again.
There’s that age old analogy where the glass can either be half empty or half full. Halfway through my year, I’m not even close to where I thought I would be, and where some of my friends are. I thought I would be so much better at Danish by now. Considering I’ve only been learning it for 5 and a half months, and considering how hard of a language it is to learn, I’m doing okay, but I’m not fluent or anything. Sometimes I’ll be really proud of myself for understanding something, but then I’ll take a second look and wonder how much a regular english speaker would understand just by picking out familiar words. Reading and writing Danish is actually very easy, but speaking it and understanding it is tough, because nothing sounds like you think it would. Take the word fun, sjovt. It is pronounced ‘show.’ You wouldn’t guess that just by looking, would you? Danish is one of the languages where you actually don’t pronounce half of the letters in the word, which can be tricky. But I figure, if I’m at this point after 5 and a half months, hopefully I’ll be close to conversational by the time I go home. So yeah, that’s the language. I’m gonna think of that glass as half full.
School. Danish school has overall not been a fantastic experience. And that is mainly because I am SO bored. All the time. Danish school is not fun. In Canada we have cool projects, and group work, and class discussions, and it’s actually pretty fun. In the Danish Gymnasium, you just sit and take notes while the teachers talk. And you have no relationship with your teachers here. At home my teachers would always talk about their kids, or their lives, or whatever. I felt like I knew my teachers, and here they are just that, teachers. You have no relationship on the personal level like you would in Canada. And I miss how in Canada, school is a big part of your life. There are sports teams and clubs and committees and all sorts of things to be involved in besides just class, and here they don’t have any of that. There are two things though that I like better here though: The canteen food and the school parties. So I guess this glass is sort of half empty, but talking to other exchange students, I think it’s a general consensus that school sucks. And not just in Denmark, but pretty much all around the world.
Friends. At home I had really good friends in school, and also really good friends out of school. Here though, I only have the exchange students. I’ve tried and tried to get close to my classmates, but while I am friendly with them all, I wouldn’t by any means call any of them good friends. As in, while we say good morning to each other, and sometime’s have a short conversation, I don’t think they will miss me once I’m gone. At school I am just an exchange student, not part of the class. I wish I was better at Danish so that I could participate more, but I’m not, and there’s only so much I can do. But I have the other exchange students near me, and I’m really close with them and we go out together and always have a lot of fun. I know that I will be life long friends with some of them, and I know I’m lucky to have them. So I guess that glass isn’t half full or half empty, it’s just...half.
On Friday all my oldies (Aussie’s) went home, and we took them to airport and basically it was probably the most heartbreaking thing ever. Seeing Hannah walk through security, and not knowing when or if I will see her again was so sad, but it was a wake up call that my time is fast ending. When I first got here Hannah was just half way through, and she told us that we better be at the airport to see her off when she left, and I was just like, yeah yeah, that’s ages away. But it wasn’t. While there are some days and weeks that seem to last forever, overall the first half of my exchange has flown by. I have done and seen so many incredible things over the past six months, and I have met so many new people and I have gained an understanding of a new language and culture and while I have had my downs, over all the past half a year has been so amazing. I just want to soak up as much of Denmark as I can, and knowing that the rest of my year is going to go fast is scary, because I want to do everything.
On Saturday night I went out with three friends into Copenhagen, and we had planned just to go to a disco or something, but we couldn’t get into any of our regular places. It was pouring rain and we were soaked to the bone, and debated just calling it a night, but then we stopped and thought about it, and decided that how many chances will be get to wander around Copenhagen all night, and in the rain no less. So we just walked and walked up and down little side streets, finding stores that we wanted to come back to, and ducking into restaurants every once and while to regain feeling in our toes. It was one of those night that was fun because of the people you’re with, and it was definitely one of those nights that made me re fall in love with Denmark. I’m so lucky to be in such an amazing country with such an amazing group of people. I love the other exchange students, and I know once I’m back home I’m going to miss our exchange student nights out like crazy.
The Newbies all arrived today, and my news feed on facebook is full of their first day impressions, and it brings me back to my first week. The cool houses, the weird 24 hour clocks, the open fields, the new people, all of that. My life here is so normal now, but I guess that within itself is really cool. I’ve created a life for my self in Denmark. I have family and friends here, I know my way around now like the back of my hand. And while it’s not always easy, Denmark is normal, and I think that’s really cool.
Today it’s warm, 6 degrees. It’s the nicest it’s been in like three months. The snow is mostly melted, and it’s the perfect weather just to enjoy being outside. It’s not going to last long, but I’m going to make the most of it while it’s here, and I guess that’s how I feel about the rest of my exchange as well. I have a lot to look forward to, and I know that the next 5 months will be amazing.
Not too much is really happening now, so I don’t know when I’ll post again, but it should be in the next few weeks.
Love from Denmark,