I have been in Denmark for 3 days now I think. The time difference is so great that I feel completely lost with time and space. I remember being on a flight and getting less than one full hour of sleep being that it was around 4 a.m. in California and the next thing I knew, they told us the plane was going to land and that was already 3 p.m. the next day where we were landing. On our way to the University, my fellow American student, Lisanne and I nearly got lost so many times we almost cried.
I took lots of pictures, but being that I am currently on my uncle´s laptop right now, I can’t upload them yet. Being here is so jarring. It’s not like much as how I remembered it in my childhood. Even though most of the people here understand English, it’s still very scary to be off anywhere on my own because everything is in Denmark. Also, adjusting to the currency is really difficult. The American dollar buys you very little here, a result of a combination of the increasingly weak dollar and how Europeans generally charges almost double for products. Based on my calculations of the average currency exchange rate, each Danish kroner equals about 26 or 27 cents. However, everything here costs tons of kroners. For example, a simple Big Mac value meal here costs about 11 American dollars and a small pepsi costs 3 American dollars (but there are some Americans here who get confused by the exchange rate and think that things cost less here). I’ll never, ever complain about anything being expensive in the U.S. again.
A lot of other things are different here. Even the keyboard here is difficult to use because it’s in Danish. It’s taking me forever to type this entry because it takes so much time to find all the American characters and symbols. In fact, it takes me holding down three keys simultaneously just to make the @ symbol. Also, the one other big shocking thing about this country is that they don’t really believe in bathtubs. Almost every shower here has no separate floor for the shower. That means your bathroom floor is the same as your shower floor. I don’t know how they shower regularly, but I almost flood the floor every time I shower. To me, it’s so unsanitary but my aunt explains that’s easier to clean than American showers, because you can just mop the area.
And some things that an American might think is a given is the opposite here. For example, on buses, you enter through the back of the bus and you exit through the front. This makes it pretty easy to not pay the fare because the driver can’t check, but it’s amazing how many things here are based on the honor system. The Danes are a very honest people, and they are really nice (the Germans not so much).
Other than that, I’m getting really nicely acquainted with the place. The dorm room they gave me is pretty big and it’s really nice to have my own bathroom for the first time in my life. The shared kitchen is huge, and fully furnished. Yesterday, I introduced myself to two students living on my same floor. They were super nice and helpful. So I’m actually pretty happy about being here.
I’m not so sure about the other Americans though. I met this girl from Tennessee yesterday who is in my program. I thought she was really cool until I started talking about how California just legalized gay marriage. She then basically expressed that she hopes it will be overturned and that it will probably will. She said she’s from the Bible Belt, where they are really conservative and all that. Great, just what I needed. I later spoke to my Danish student mentor about conservatives and liberals, and it’s pretty funny how the Danes here refer to liberals as “progressives”. I really like that.
Currently I am staying at my aunt and uncle’s (aunt’s husband) house, which is almost a 2-hour drive from my university. I’m staying here for about 8 days because my grandma is on vacation and won’t be back until August 7th and she really wants to hang out with me. My relatives, at least this family, has been pretty wonderful to me. My cousin, Vivi, has been teaching me a lot of Danish phrases and words. I’m always scared I’m going to butcher their language, but not as much as I am scared to appear as an arrogant American who thinks English is everything. Their language requires a lot of movement from the front of the tongue. But I really want to learn. My cousin, Kelvin, only speaks Danish, so it’s really difficult to communicate with him.
Overall, I hope this semester will go well. I already know I’ll be extremely fit when I come back to the U.S. The people here are very fit and just walking down the streets, half of the people could be featured in Abercrombie ads. It’s because the price of food is so high and there is so much walking required to get anywhere. Also, their genes have a little something to do with it.