Copenhagen 2012: See You Later

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Editor's Note: This will be Claire's last blog post for College Magazine. I think I speak for everyone at CM and everyone who has enjoyed reading about her Copenhagen odyssey over the past few months when I say: "Vi ses" Claire!
 
Personal reflection is one of my least favorite activities. I’ve always spent a lot of time looking forward to what’s next, and almost no time thinking about what’s behind me. But now that I have just 10 days left in Copenhagen, I find that I’m desperate to do both — to somehow analyze what’s happened over the last four months, and to determine what sort of profound effect it will have on my future.
 
It’s all a bit heavy right now.
 
The truth is that my expectations for this semester couldn’t have been higher. I’ve always known with absolute certainty that I would study abroad. When you walk into an experience with the weight of a lifetime’s worth of anticipation ahead of you, you’d think it would be impossible not to be disappointed.

So in the interest of reflection, I have to point out that I have not, in fact, been disappointed in the least. Yes, I wasted considerably more money, put on considerably more weight and spent considerably more time on public transportation than I ever wanted. I missed graduations, weddings and family holidays. I missed a whole semester of experiences at home.
 
But as I race toward my departure date, I can tell you without hesitation that it was worth it.
 
It was worth every second I spent learning from my Danish host family. It was worth it because of every instance when I realized that speaking the same language as another person and understanding them are not the same. It was worth the friendships I’ll maintain here for the rest of my life.
 
And it was worth the chance to learn in a place most people will never visit. Worth it the first time I rode my bike through the city in the sun. It was worth the fleeting moments of pure happiness that grabbed me at the oddest times — under the moon in Frue Plads, eating a snail outside St. Peder’s, falling asleep in a sunny park — that let me know I made the right choice when I came here.
 
I have been changed. I wondered in the beginning, but now I know for sure: what I gave up was worth it.
 
And now I find myself gripped by the strangest thing of all. When I go, I will be ready to leave.
 
Yes, I’ll miss this place. I’ll feel like I’ve left a piece of myself behind here. But no matter how hard I try, I’ll never accomplish all I want, see all I want or experience all I want in this place. It’s strangely comforting to know that, although I tried my hardest, I could never have done it all in just four months.
 
The only solution is to come back. If I can’t do it in one try, I’ll have to give it another.
 
When they say goodbye, the Danes say “vi ses.” It means “see you.” In fact, I almost never hear them say goodbye at all —just “see you later.”
 
And when I leave, I’m determined that I’ll carry that with me too. When I say goodbye to my host family and my new friends and this beautiful, complicated, not-so-foreign city next week, I won’t be saying goodbye at all. I’ll throw out a “see you later,” and leave the question of “when” undefined for now.
 
Photo: at http://keepingacopenhagenmind.blogspot.com/

Claire Wiseman

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