I was planning on posting about how excited I am about living with the Bloch’s (my host family), the courses I am taking, the travels I have booked. You know, fun pre-departure stuff. But something happened yesterday that got me thinking.
Yesterday I was standing behind the soda fountain bar, with pen and pad in hand, waiting to take an order. A group of three women were waiting in line. Two were about my age and one was older. They were taking a very long time to order, and eventually the older woman came up to explain the problem. The two girls were from Paris and were having trouble ordering a sandwich. A sandwich! Apparently they were unsure about the size of bread and what would come on it. At the time it seemed silly. Bread is bread is bread no matter where you are, right? This got me thinking about one of the few things I do know about Denmark at this time – sandwiches. Denmark does sandwiches differently. It hit me that in 10 days I will be in the same position as these powerless Parisian girls. I will be standing in line in a foreign country confused about something as basic as bread, meat, and cheese!
I went back to the kitchen and sat down for a moment in an attempt to gather my thoughts. As I sat there I realized that there are going to be so many more new experiences than I had originally thought. Obviously there will be big ones such as the omnipresence of a strange language (how do you pronounce Ø anyway?). There will be medium ones like commuting 45 minutes by train at 7 AM each morning (I’m not sure which one will be more interesting, the commute or waking up before 7). And then there will be the small ones. Something as simplistic as a greeting might suddenly be an adventure (do I shake hands with men? What about women? Is it Mr. Mrs. Ms. or first name). Of course there will also be the sandwiches, those strange confusing sandwiches..
After sufficiently riling myself up over these thoughts I remembered one very, very important thing: this experience is the reason I wanted to study abroad. The feeling of helplessness and confusion will slowly turn into vague understanding (just enough to get by) and then, hopefully, that feeling will become comfort, preparing me for other new experiences. Why else would you travel?
Who knows, maybe once I get comfortable enough ordering a smørrebrød I will be mentally prepared to order a francesinha if I ever get to Portugal. Here’s to travel, here’s to helplessness.