The Things You Leave Behind

Going abroad for an extended period of time presents one with many challenges. You’re thrown outside your comfort zone, forced to adapt to new cultures and customs. You walk around the majority of the time not understanding a word anybody’s saying—it can be isolating and lonely. The tiniest little task can turn into an all-day (even multi-day) adventure as you try and figure out how things work.

But the biggest challenge of all? Packing.

If I had a 20 kroner coin for every time over the past couple days I’ve heard someone say something along the lines of “How am I going to pack this all? There’s no way it will fit!,” I’d be able to pay the fee to check an extra bag and not have to worry about it. But, since I don’t get paid for that and I have my travel pride to keep up, I was determined to make it home in only the number of bags alloted to me.

In order to do this, I had to be selective about what I really wanted to bring back with me and what things I could afford to part with. Leftover studio materials? I left them for next semester’s poor, unfortunate souls. The novels that I brought with me and didn’t particularly like? I found myself running around town looking for a used book store to buy them before finally going to the public library and all but begging them to take them. “We can’t pay you anything,” said the librarian, looking at me skeptically. That’s fine, as long as I don’t have to pay overweight fees, I though as I happily handed the stack over to her. Little by little, I whittled down my belongings until they just barely fit in all my bags.

Now that the suitcases are all zipped up and my room here is empty, it’s time to leave behind some bigger things that definitely can’t fit in my bags—everything I loved about Copenhagen. Once a good friend of mine explained to me that he doesn’t take photos with the goal of making them look incredible or so that he can show other people; He takes photos so that he can remember things. So this week I took my camera out and tried to capture all the things I will miss about Copenhagen. Although I didn’t get pictures of everything—and this list is in no way all-inclusive—I wanted wrap up this trip by sharing some of the little things I’ve neglected to talk about.

The little things that I want to remember.

Taking the train

Okay, admittedly the train and I had a love-hate relationship. I loved having a public transportation system that covered so much area, was well-run, and very reliable (ehm, DC metro…). I sometimes loved the fact that, no matter what, twice a day I had to sit down and slow down for 3o minutes. I just hated having such a long commute. But in the end I have fond memories of waiting at the Glostrup station for my happy green B train with the plush blue seats to take me into the city.

Street musicians

Especially the accordion players I commonly heard on my walk to school (I know, how European is that?). Their repertoire all seemed to consist of the same three songs, but it was still nice.

Torvehallerne

I can’t believe I haven’t talked about this place yet, since it’s one of my favorite haunts in the city. This giant covered food market opened up about a month into my time here. I would regularly go, people watch, seek out the free samples, and just enjoy watching the urban life and food culture of Copenhagen. Totally my jam, right?

One of two glass market buildings at Torvehallerne

The vendors inside the buildings were permanent, but what happened between the building changed all the time. My favorite was when they had a tent with fire-pits inside.

In one of the market stalls they have this sort of test kitchen where they prepare things for people to try. One day there was this HUGE fish they were giving raw samples of (it was delicious). On the right was my free sample today—a chocolate tart with buckthorn berries, tarragon, and a hazelnut praline topping. Pretty snazzy.

Street art

Seriously, seeing street art all around the city has been one of my favorite things. From the graffiti that covered everything in sight on my train ride to school, to the varied art I documented, to the little tag below that I saw many times throughout the semester (that for some reason always made me smile): I will greatly miss seeing decorations like that all over the place.

Taken during the first week and on the last day.

Street names that end in “gade” and “stræd”

Kids all bundled up

Parents here like to dress their kids in these one-piece snow suits starting around November, snow or not. It’s always so funny to see their little blue-eyed faces sticking out of these puffy masses when it’s really not that cold out.

Danish meat-food

It was hard getting used to eating so much meat, and I’m admittedly excited to get back to the states and have a vegetarian cleanse of sorts, but it was worth it to get to try such delicious dishes as the buttery frikadeller (Danish meat balls) and crunchy pieces of stegt flæsk (basically really thick bacon), pictured below.

Pastries with seeds

The ones on the left—frøsnappers—are my favorites.

Open flame

I love how much they’re into fire here. But seriously, on my walk home from school (at 4 pm when it was dark) I would usually pass tons of huge outdoor candles by restaurants, and almost every night my host mom would like candles around the house. It was so nice. So…hygge.

Finding places like this in the middle of a city

All of the bikes

As much as I’m sick of having to navigate around huge, tangled messes of parked bikes, it’s going to be weird to go back to the states and not see people biking all the time.

p.s. This might be the most Danish picture I’ve ever taken.

All of the potatoes

The other night I had a holiday dinner with my host family that included three different styles of potato on the side. I had to laugh. It’s another thing that I’m excited to have a break from, but I enjoyed our time together.

Danish modesty

Okay, so it’s not actually modesty. It’s an advertising law here that you can’t say something is the best unless it’s somehow proven that it is, in fact, the best. But every time I see a “probably the best” sign, it makes me chuckle.