Denmark my love
It all started with 4 exchange students (poor souls, they were innocent and brave enough to eat a “lunch” cooked by me… you know, I never had the courage to ask them exactly how ill they have been afterwards). So it started with a friendship, which was subsequently largely carried out by correspondence – the delightful hand-written-on-the-paper kind of correspondence;I am fortunate to have that friendship still in my life, although we now took it to the modern era and write e-mails. As I was charmed and eager to learn and live more, I applied for and obtained a scholarship at a university in a northern city of Denmark. But then …I also got the problems: lack of funding from the University of Bucharest, visa delay and lots of associated stress. And, just when I started losing all hope, I got the visa, borrowed the money and off I went. Well, if you add some minor problems with the local address which almost got me deported from the very beginning, you get the picture 🙂 – that was my frame of mind when I set foot in the land of Lego.
Falling for Denmark has been a process – but then what else would you expect from me? My 5-month stay encompassed 3 seasons: from winter to summer. My first glimpses of the country – at midnight – summed up to an image of deserted mathematical aesthetic. The next several weeks confirmed my first impression, so I was adamant: Denmark was so damn perfect, too good to be true, annoyingly beautiful, cold – surely it was all fake! The school was great: top professors, incredible colleagues, the best and most innovative studying concepts, techniques and materials, there were so many challenges. The cold days were followed by early nights, perfect for visiting friends, touring the bars, enjoying the beer, the pastry, the tasty dark bread. I was sharing a bijoux house at the edge of the town, right outside a forest, with a small pond in the back yard. Exasperating, you know? All this time I was waiting for the mask to drop.
And then May came and indeed, the mask dropped, but not to reveal the incarnation of my somber expectations: everything was brighter, as if suddenly lifted, brought to life. After all, it was cold, darkness and winter which made it all look strangely unnatural. I was also transformed, and I remember admitting that I had been so fierce and obstinate in believing that if something foreign and strange was beautiful, than surely it could not be real. That May I gave up on my certainty that life could not be beautiful by default; that specific spring in Denmark took off my big pair of glasses – the one that made me see and live la vie en gris.
I couldn’t get enough of it, I almost moved outside. I started walking to university each day, through the forest, on the same streets which several weeks before drove me mad with their cold mathematical perfection. The houses were painted in vivid colors, the narrow streets smelled of grass and flowers, the air was crisp and fresh, the sun was bright, the sky was blue, the people solar.
My friends at home stated I was just recovering from a bad case of asthenia. I disagreed. I had found my home away from home, my perfect adoptive family. You see, I’ve visited most of the country and each new town and village, each person, each conversation confirmed yet again: the scenery is breathtaking, popular philosophy is deeply human, the practical, sensible, no-nonsense type, people are bright, free, tolerant, funny, caring, respectful, discreet and helpful. Life is beautiful in Denmark, as long as the sun is up and the visitor is open to its magnificence.
Ironically, throughout my stay in a country I came to love I also became a patriot. I missed everything back home; you know that feeling when you are away and you only remember the good things about what and whom you left behind? Well, I was aching for my apartment back home, my street lined by linden trees, my family and friends. It can certainly be wretched at times, but this is my place.
So Denmark, farvel until we meet again. Hej hej!