Eight hours is a long time. It’s probably long enough to contemplate the reason you’re traveling abroad, or decide exactly what you’ll wear on your first day at your new school. It might even be long enough to teach yourself how to say “hello,” “goodbye” and “this meal was delicious!” in Danish.
I did exactly none of these things on my eight-hour flight to Copenhagen. Instead, I slept—and badly at that.
So when I landed, I was a little unprepared. I figured it’d be a bit like my trip to the UK this summer—even the small things like road signs can be completely foreign. And in a lot of ways, that rang true. Besides the fact that, in the UK, I actually spoke the native language.
So I hopped a bus and went to meet my host family, completely exhausted, mostly overwhelmed and suddenly terribly nervous.
I had nothing to be nervous about.
Well, okay, not nothing. I mean I still have no idea how I got the shower working this morning and I can’t tell the yogurt from the creamer, but other than that it’s astounding how comfortable I’ve become in the first 36 hours.
My family went out of their way to make sure I felt at home, but there’s an initial awkwardness that I always feel when I step into someone’s home for the first time. I’m not blessed with that talk-until-people-love-me thing that some of my fortunate friends have.
That first night at dinner, I worked to get over my shyness. I’ve never eaten so well in my life, but it was just a typical dinner for them. Family time and togetherness are extremely important to the Danish, and dinner the next night was the same—lots of talking, laughter and even the tail end of a Danish/German handball match at the beginning of the meal. I have no idea how handball works, but it seems to be popular and I suspect I will learn quickly.
And at some point during dinner (maybe when I asked if it was still considered rude to reach across the table to grab a water jug and they all explained at once, or when we spent an hour watching the Danish version of Jersey Shore) I realized I was having fun. Real, actual fun. I didn’t want to leave these people. It’s cliché, but it already feels like home.
And while I’m a little homesick, I’m thinking that will quickly fade. I suspect the jet lag, on the other hand, will be here a while.
Photo: jimg944 at flickr.com