I’m Back.

It’s been a while since my last post, I think over a month to be honest.  A lot of stuff has been going on so I’ve been busy a lot!

Since my last post I’ve travelled to Western Europe when I visited Amsterdam with my school, I celebrated my 3 month anniversary since coming to Denmark, I changed classes in school, and I moved to my second host family.

Going to Amsterdam was phenomenal.  As you may know, I love large cities. My favourite place on earth is Manhattan; so, finally getting travelling outside of rural Denmark was fantastic.  Amsterdam was unlike any city I’ve been to before.  I was struck by just how quiet the city was at night.  I’d walk along the canals in the cool autumn air and could just quietly listen to the city.  Three months ago I was still in North America, never travelled to Europe, and now I’m sitting on a bench by the Canal enjoying one of Europes finest cities.

New York is a City to Dream in, but Perhaps Amsterdam is a City I Could Live in.

While I love Manhattan in all aspects, I find myself living Amsterdam in a different way.  Sure, there isn’t a constant 24/7 hustle and bustle, but perhaps that’s a good thing.  Seeing the sights in Amsterdam, the canals, the leaning houses, and the Dutch culture, it was amazing.  Oh, and I had the opportunity to see an old friend from Canada on Canadian thanksgiving.  Suffice to say, I had a great time.  I think Amsterdam is my #2 city of choice to live in.

Three months is a long time to be away from home.  No parents, no home, no Canadian comfort food (well, I brought maple syrup with me, but that’s besides the point) and no familiarity.  This exchange was a leap before you look kind of affair.  It’s been fantastic for me in more ways than one.  For instance, prior to leaving Canada, I was defined by certain characteristics.  Maybe I was that “smart guy”, or the “cocky guy”, but since coming to a country where I’m unable to express either of those things through language I’ve been forced to adapt and try to flesh out other parts of who I am.  It’s been good for me to expand upon different parts of my character.

Today is my 100th day in Denmark.  300 days of Denmark only has 200 days left…  Chronophobia is the persistent and irrational fear of the passing of time.  I can definitely relate to that fear.  Sometimes I lay awake at night and think about all the people I meet here, the things I do, and the places I go— it’s all temporary.  Sure, the memories will exist for the rest of my life, but in all honesty nothing has given me more profound sadness than remembering my old life.  I don’t miss home, I miss the memories.  And perhaps someday I’ll miss the memories of my Scandinavian home.  That thought constantly runs through my head, and the fact that I can’t do anything to stop the passing of time really messes with me.  All I can do is try to ensure that I don’t waste any time.

This year is approximately 5.26% of my life.  But if I play my cards right the memories will account for a much higher percentage.

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Ensomhed

ain • sohm • hell

“Ensomhed” is the danish word for loneliness.  Something every exchange student goes through.  Something every living person goes through, no doubt.  But, Danish loneliness is something different.  Danish loneliness is sitting beneath a grey sky, dressed in all black, clutching a one dollar cup of coffee, and for that moment the comfort of holding something warm in you hands – that cup of coffee – is your best friend.

Danish loneliness is being a constant “outsider”. It’s being that person that everyone wants to practice their English on.  It’s that state of mind where all of a sudden all those English class lessons about the archetypal outsider all make sense.  For now, you are an archetype.  Danish loneliness is being reduced to your basic and primal attributes.  No longer are you that “smart kid” or the one who always dresses nice.  Nobody knows who you are;  you begin to question if you ever knew either.

Danish loneliness is knowing you left everyone behind.  People who loved you. A girlfriend, a best friend, your parents, your friends… everyone.  Danish loneliness is knowing some people may never forgive you for that, and knowing that some people couldn’t care less.  Danish loneliness is trying to forgive myself for doing that to them.  Danish loneliness is having new friends, but being unable to be friendly.

Danish loneliness prevents one from being excited for their return home.  For Danish loneliness is knowing you’ll never have a home.

 

Velkommen til Danmark

This Post Was Written on August 6th

30 hours.

I have not slept in 30 hours. Furthermore, it is only 3:00pm, so I cannot see myself sleeping until hour 36.

Arriving in Denmark was far easier than I imagined. From the time I left the plane to the time I was out of the airport, it had only been 20 minutes. I think that’s some sort of aviation record. Flying into Iceland for my layover took longer than arriving in my final destination. When I walked up to the customs agent, to declare my maple syrup – perhaps the most Canadian thing I’ve done – he took one look at me and said: “nej, anden, linje” – no, other line . I believe it was due to my red Rotary International blazer I was wearing. If the Rotary blazer allows you to bypass airport security, I think Rotary has a promising future as a drug smuggling cartel.

Anyway, after I exited the airport I met my host families, my youth exchange officers, and had my first experience of Danish culture. The first test of Danish food I had was an open faced sandwich called smørrebrød. Smørrebrød is a food with endless possibilities, pictured on the left is a simple dessert smørrebrød consisting of bread, butter, and a thin piece of delicious milk chocolate. Pictured on the right is German ham, salami, and a cheese I had never heard of, but it has come to be my favourite cheese since I have arrived. Oh, the Danes love cheese. Within the span of 24 hours of being in Denmark, I have tried 6 different cheeses, including “rejeost” or, shrimp cheese.

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In an unexpected turn of events, I apparently begin school this Wednesday. My summer break has been slashed in half, but I am thrilled to begin my Danish school year. As to what I will be taking; I barely know. All I know is that I will be learning German, French, Danish, oh, and English – so at least I won’t fail all my classes.

I am finally in Denmark; after 11 months of waiting.