I love receiving emails. Each morning, I check for the bright-red notification in the upper corner of my laptop screen. Uncertainty. Excitement. You’ve probably heard the quote “…life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” For me, my inbox is my metaphorical box of chocolates. (Note: I still prefer salty over sweet.)
A few days ago, I received an email from my host family. It couldn’t have come at a better time. The email gave me a much-appreciated sneak peak of what my homestay will be like. My host parents, Marie-Therese and Søren, live in Hillerød, about a 40 minute commute to Copenhagen by train. The city has a population of around 31,000. It’s home to the famous Frederiksborg Castle, which is now the Museum of Natural History. An item on my bucket list for sure.
My host parents have four adult children, three sons and one daughter. They are all musical. One of their grandchildren, Cleo, plays the violin! I’m hoping we’ll get a chance to duet together. Marie-Therese is the only one in the family without any instrumental training, so she contributes with claves and cowbells. We both share a love of photography and I’m hoping we’ll get to spend time taking photographs together.
While I am bubbling over with excitement and anticipation, I am also nervous and slightly terrified of living in another country on another continent for four months.
All my friends tell me I’ll have the time of my life, I’ll come back changed, and I’ll have so much fun. They’re not wrong. I couldn’t be more eager to broaden my horizons, expand my worldview, and make lots of mistakes. (Insert other cliché study abroad phrases here.)
The thing is most of the comments I receive focus on the fun side of my study abroad experience. No one wants to acknowledge the challenges I’m sure I’ll face. The fact that it won’t be rainbows and butterflies all the time. I’ll get lost. I’ll have awkward interactions with Danes who don’t understand my American humor. I’ll be living at home during the school year for the first time since high school. I’ll miss my niece’s first birthday party. Most importantly, I won’t have University of Rochester Pit french fries at my disposal during ungodly late-night study sessions.
I hate to be a Debbie Downer, but sometimes I just want someone else to acknowledge that the transition may not be easy and that is okay. So if you’re studying abroad and you’re nervous, know you’re not alone. We’re both in the same boat.
Speaking of boats, my host family mentioned in their email that they have a yacht harbored in central Copenhagen. In the spring, it’s likely that they’ll arrange boat trips! How cool is that? I’ll have to remember to pack sunglasses and a hat.
Currently, I’m sifting through my pile of sweaters and trying to decide which ones I should take and which ones I should leave behind. What will I wear on the streets? How American do I want to look? Do Danes really wear so much black? And why is packing so stressful?
I leave for Copenhagen in two days. It’s all becoming real, not just some distant date marked in my calendar. Ready or not Denmark, I’m coming for you.