I think I have a bruise forming in the antecubital region of my left arm. No, I can assure you it is not because of blood draws, or involvement in contact sports – I just cannot seem to wrap my head around the veritable fact that I, Zoe Brigette Kilbourne, am sitting on a couch in a darling apartment in the middle of Copenhagen, and I am not talking about Copenhagen, New York, USA (I couldn’t help adding that after hearing about all of the different “Londons” Nike is highlighting int their most recent Olympic ad campaign). The “is-it-real?-pinch-me” aura is not simply because I cannot believe I am here. In Denmark. In Scandinavia. In Europe. It is also because I had one of the most frustrating, anxiety-ridden, “water-works”-initiating, and just plain weird airport experiences that I have ever had – not to mention I will probably never have one quite like that again. There is so much detail that goes along with the story, but for the sake of rambling on and on, let’s just say that sometimes United States based airlines don’t understand the way of Europeans. The bottom line: said airline almost didn’t let me exit the country (I guess the real problem is emigration, not immigration!). Nonetheless, after a few salty tears moistened my eyeballs and a few tissues were angrily crumpled up and stern words exited both mine and my father’s mouths, I successfully made it to my superbly comfortable exit row (thank goodness for all of that space!) seat where I contentedly read some fascinating articles in the latest New Yorker and Smithsonian magazines, listened to some mellow music in hopes it would lull me to sleep (that idea fell flat on it’s face), and sneaked some peeks at by far the cutest little Danish two year old I think I have ever seen (you will find I may discern obscene amounts of charm in most
European Danish toddlers). I also spent a fair amount of time reminiscing the past few days with my family and how much I am going to miss their embracing, innovative and loving presence in my every-day life.
Via a layover at London’s Heathrow airport, where I couldn’t help but ponder which Olympians had passed through the same halls just days before, touched the hand railings I touched, and sat in the seats in which I rested, I successfully arrived at Copenhagen’s Lufthavn Kastrup where my most wonderful host mother from when I previously studied abroad and her daughter, and her daughter’s boyfriend, picked me up to transport me to my current living
situation . Not only did she pick me up but she also brought me the most wonderful bag of beautiful groceries. I just about started crying again – I was so happy to be amongst my loving Danish family and surrounded by the care and generosity of this culture.
After getting details squared away with the woman from whom I am renting and learning the ropes of the apartment, I fought my fatigue after having only slept three or so hours over the course of 30+ hours, and pieced together a decent meal. I quickly learned to appreciate this new time zone as I was able to watch many of the olympic events LIVE during a primetime hour and did not have to listen to Bob Costas or Ryan Seacrest milk NBC’s olympic coverage with interview after interview after interview.
…and after my first night on my own in a new apartment in a “new” city…
I felt great waking up this morning to the sounds of an awakening Copenhagen: parents calling after their children as they walk to their kindergartens, bicycle bells warning pedestrians to get out of the way, birds chirping as they stretch their wings in the morning sunlight. Even so, I was a bit groggy-eyed after sleeping relatively restlessly (and a period from midnight to 3 AM where I didn’t sleep at all). Comforts from home revealed themselves as I found my favorite Meijer jasmine green tea stashed in my suitcase and the almond butter I so cleverly packed in my rainboots (who knows when I’d find organic nut butters in Denmark…I had to be prepared!).
After breakfast, my next task was to take a shower. Yes, typically that is easy but in this apartment, I get to relive college dormitory-esque days and trek down an old, creaky, and oh-so-cool spiral staircase to the basement where the shower is located. I could distinctively hear my pulse in my ears as my heart was beating pretty fast – first I couldn’t find the lights in the hall and so used my the light from my phone to guide me down the dark and musty hallway to the “Baderum 1” (where I did find the light switch), then I couldn’t figure out how to turn the water on, and for a minute I swore I heard another door slam and was convinced I was going to be abducted by “basement ghouls”.
The challenge was well worth it as a warm shower did just the trick in refreshing my still-jetlagged self. On my way out of the basement I learned where the lights were in the hallway and will most definitely use them from now on.
My morning passed rather quickly: I walked in the cool mid-morning sun into the center of the city, through various parks and neighborhood squares taking in the city I’ve missed over the past year. I stopped by a Tiger store (very cool discount store that has a little bit of everything) and a grocery story to pick up some necessities I figured I’d need, in addition to a 7/11 where I got a klippekort (transportation card) in case I ever choose to take public transportation (hopefully I’ll obtain a bike soon enough!). A few other highlights: stopping by the Statens Museum for Kunst to visit Helle in the cafe and prove to her I survived my first night by myself AND give her a big hug of course, visiting DIS to introduce myself to some of the administration and meet some of the other interns (I cannot WAIT to start tomorrow :-)), and simply listening to the lilt and cadence of the Danish language as I traipsed through the city.
Feeling extremely accomplished for the morning and listening to my tired feet, I made my way back to my new home and here I am. With a cool breeze coming in through the window and listening to Danish commentators on Olympic coverage and with a content tummy after a nice lunch and afternoon tea, I simply cannot believe I get to call this city home for the next year. I am so thankful for this opportunity and am truly grateful to everyone both in Denmark and the United States who has helped make this transition as smooth as it has been – your help has been most appreciated!