Welcome to chapter 5 in a series of posts about my week-long trip through Germany and the Netherlands! If you missed the first posts, check them out by clicking on the links below. Otherwise, read on!
5. On Going Away and Coming Back
As much as I love traveling, I also love coming home. I think the return is almost as important to the whole experience of travel as every other part. Spending some time in your usual environment really enhances the excitement of going somewhere else. Plus, as fun as travel is, it’s also exhausting and I always hit a point where nothing sounds better than being somewhere where I can just run on auto-pilot for a day or two. You all know how good the feeling of crawling into your bed after a long period of traveling is.
When you’re returning to somewhere relatively new, the equation becomes complicated. Sure, the place you are coming back to may be more familiar than the place you were traveling to, but if it also might not feel like home yet. This has been my experience with Copenhagen over the past few months. When returning from the first study tour only three weeks in, I was still really getting my feet on the ground in Copenhagen. The only reason it felt comforting to return was that we hadn’t had a moment to breathe on that whirlwind of a trip.
The long study tour was a little different. I knew basically how to get around from place to place, had survived my first urban design project, had gotten used to my new Danish diet, and was finally getting in a groove with my host family and new friends. Coming back from a week away, I was able to see all these things. And while returning from a trip was eye opening to how familiar Copenhagen had become, it was also a reminder of how much unfamiliarity remained.
Oh my way back from the airport after the long study tour I hit several, shall we say, snags in the plan: the fare machine not working, a fight on the metro, the train not running from my station, and then my computer not turning on when I finally made it home at 2 in the morning. Now, I’m not here to complain, but this strange series of events made me realize that what would have been mere annoyance back in DC is a major event here in Copenhagen simply because of the amount of effort it takes to figure out how to handle it. Luckily I’m a pretty resourceful person—and Danes are very friendly and helpful—so I was able to figure everything out, but I definitely missed coming back from vacation to a place where I don’t have to “figure things out.”
Three weeks later, as I prepare to leave tomorrow for a two-week journey through Spain, I can’t help but wonder what Copenhagen will feel like upon my return. I’ve felt much more like a local lately—people will start speaking in Danish to me rather than automatically assuming English and recently I’ve even helped a few Danes navigate their way around the city. While I’m dreading the arrival of winter when I get back, it brings with it the arrival of the Danish Christmas season which I am incredibly excited about. Even just going through my everyday routine today I noticed a several things that made me think, “Wow, I’m gonna miss that.”
Maybe I’m finally feeling settled in Denmark. Maybe Copenhagen is working its way closer to joining the ranks of places that are familiar and comfortable to me.
Maybe, when I return on November 12, I will not just be coming back—I will be coming home.
I may be going on vacation but my blog is not! I’ve got some fun posts lined up to keep you guys entertained while I’m gone, so keep reading. And I can’t wait to come back from España and share all my adventures! Hasta luego!