Dear Denmark: Until Next Time

TIA HERE with a full heart. I have now been away from Copenhagen for a week, but some of this was written during my last few days in the city. It's my final love letter to Denmark, to the people I met, and to the experiences I had while abroad. I never knew a single journey could affect me so tremendously, but it has, and I am glad that four years ago I decided to undertake it, and last spring I made it happen.

summer housing


To Denmark: thank you for offering me peace when I didn't know I needed it. I will miss the crisp air, the chatter of the Danes in their native tongue, and the impressive skill of all of your bicyclists. The perspective you gave me on so many things, from myself, to my own country, to the world, has widened my gaze further than I thought it could go. It just goes to show that sometimes you don't know what you're missing until you see it with your own eyes—and that can apply to the good and the bad. Issues I didn't know about, problems I hadn't seen, and the secret to happiness suddenly became clear when I sat at your window. I found myself a mess in your clean breeze, and it's a mess I've only begun to untangle, but I'm already further than I would've been without you. Thank you for getting movies earlier than the U.S., and for having an interesting Netflix selection. Thank you for always telling the truth, when I could've spent years trying to unravel the lie. Thank you for being the home I hadn't expected to find.

vestergade by day


To the thirteen other students who I shared an apartment with my Fall 2014 semester: you made my study abroad experience perfect. Even now, however many miles away I am, I can still feel that white kitchen table below my elbows and smell the chaos of confused food that is splayed all across the counter, amidst spilled salt and marinara sauce as five people try to cook at once. I still have the photos of the flowers you set up on that table as often as you could, and I can see them all, even with my eyes closed. The scene unfolds like a picnic blanket, and I can see all of us splayed out like figurines, everyone pretending not to see the overflowing trash bag so they won’t have to make the trek down the endless flights of stairs. 

Sofie’s a bird perched on the windowsill, hair like a robin’s breast and smothered with a beanie, and she is listening to a song on her computer, earbuds in. Ulises has his headphones around his neck, music still blasting, and he’s trying to cook something on the stove while four other people seem to stand perfectly in the way. They are: Andrew with his long hair, Alanna in her galaxy dress, Maggie still wearing her red beanie even though she's indoors, and Katya with a bow just above her ear. Andrew is somehow able to check on his food and maintain a full conversation with Robin and Maggie, Robin with her hands pressed on the table and eyes excited, trying to pretend the essay in front of her doesn't exist, and Maggie with a wooden spoon in her hand as she tries out her newest recipe. Katya is giving Alanna a face of pure judgment as she pours condiment after condiment onto her spaghetti, but Alanna is just cackling about it and Katya is trying not to join in as the pile of mixed herbs grows absurdly high. Meanwhile, Joey is in his signature corner, stooped over his computer, but still remaining a full part of the conversation Mae and Katie are having over something Mae heard about and just couldn’t believe. Katie is all laughs as the Mae-Joey banter hits its peak. Kayla’s browsing each conversation with delight and adding to them all as she sees fit, an empty plate before her as she lets her meal digest. Then there's Calvary, in his corner watching something on his computer and laughing, and Nghiem, who is doing the same, but at the table—so I can see exactly which Rupaul’s Drag Race episode he is on. (At least I think it was Rupaul’s Drag Race.)

It is almost overwhelming to see it all with just two eyes. I’ve never known so many people who were so completely themselves, and so perfect in their understanding of one another.

a phone quality group shot of the LLC


To be honest, I never imagined study abroad would affect me in the way that it did. I’m not one to get very attached to places and large groups of people, but I am obsessed with each and every one of us and how perfect our dynamic was in Vestergade 8. It feels as if I joined a brand new family for four months, and it was the best new family I could have ever hoped to have. I know all of you will go so far in the world, and in your writing.

Nghiem, who can write a story about family and differences better than anyone I’ve ever known. Calvary, whose writing can surprise and compel any audience, with just the right amount of build up. Kayla, who is one of the most genuine, wonderful people I’ve ever met, and whose writing shows how observant she is, and how she is able to turn any person or any moment into a poem. Katie, whose writing about leaving and coming to Copenhagen resounded with me so profoundly that it made me understand my own feelings more clearly. Mae, whose speech inspired this whole blob of text with its sweet personal touch, composed in a way that only she could master. Joey, who writes away pain and replaces it with understanding and something better. Katya, whose writing style is just as unique as she is, and just as clever. Alanna, who hesitated to share her work, despite how every time she did, she would blow everyone out of the water. Maggie, whose creative writing redefines creativity in an incomparable fashion. Robin, whose poems are so quietly affecting, soft like cotton but hard like glass, and more powerful than the wind. Andrew, who can play with words like only a true artist can. Ulises, who can discard all senses of conventionality for something better suited. Sofie, who can present a piece of her soul without a stumble.

I will miss all of you and all of your writing, although I don’t doubt that we will cross paths again, in the future. Thank you for sharing this experience with me! I couldn’t imagine it without all of you.

my last photo of my street as I waited for the taxi to leave


And, of course, to the other friends I made along the way: I'm looking at you, Quincie and Janabeth, in particular. You two are the craziest conversationalists I know, whose words could probably fuel a small plane and then have enough opinion left over to power a city. You could make even the most strenuous project exciting, and your banter sustained me throughout the semester. I'm sure we will meet up soon, at a Taylor Swift concert probably, and we will call each other by the wrong names repeatedly and completely on purpose. For us, this is definitely not a real goodbye. #DreamTeamForever.

the dream team


With this final Copenhagen post, my posts will now turn to more pop culture and lifestyle related topics. Also be sure to look forward to posts about South Korea from Victoria! I'll miss you Copenhagen, and happy holidays, DDers!
Much love,

T.