Do Danes Eat Potatoes? And Other Important Questions


In less than a month, I will board a plane and land in Copenhagen.

I am completely unprepared. My packing list is embarrassingly long and instead of removing items from my checklist, I spend my time watching videos on how to pack a full day’s outfit into a pair of socks. Productive, I know.

Procrastination is an anxiety-inducing practice familiar to most college students. I, for one, am no stranger to it. Procrastinating lets me stay in a dreamy in-between state. I can be excited about my experience abroad while pushing my apprehension aside.

Mostly, I worry about the weather, about navigating public transportation, and about what kinds of meat I will be peer-pressured into trying. I wonder how I will fit in with my host family. Will we get along? When I have the time, I contemplate the availability of french fries and its impact on my overall well-being.

All joking aside, I am nervous about adjusting to another culture, but I am also incredibly curious and excited. Denmark was ranked first in World Happiness Report 2016, in part due to how well the country takes care of its poor. The Danes have a generous social security system, funded by high taxes that few complain about. I’m eager to learn about the Danish government and health care system. My core course, Health Delivery and Prioritization, explores the organization and provision of public health in Northern Europe. I’m looking forward to comparing its practices and functions to those of the United States.

In anticipation of living abroad, I binge-watch Rita, a Danish comedy-drama TV series, from the comfort of my bed. I occasionally level up in Duolingo, a language app that gives its users a false feeling of progress. I am on level three and can kind of say, “I eat an apple.”

I also read up on Copenhagen. For Christmas, I received four travel books and a couple of city maps. I imagine myself in the photos. Devour the detailed descriptions with delight. I trace the map with my fingertips. Cobblestone streets come to life. I can almost taste the warm pastries melt in my mouth.

I guess I’m getting ahead of myself, though. For now, I’ll drink in the delicious ambiguity, a phrase coined by comedian Gilda Radner. As I wait for the semester to begin, I’ll embrace the uncertainty and perhaps delay the reality of packing just a little longer.




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