At this point, there have been more downs than ups. Emma, Marissa and I have been very stressed the last few days. We thought booking a weekend trip to Germany would give us something to look forward to, but that actually caused more problems for us. We tried to book tickets through Flixbus, a well-known bus company, and all of our cards were declined but we were still charged and none of us received tickets. While dealing with the Flixbus company (which has very unorganized customer service by the way), we also spent the day waiting to earn our Danish residency cards, called our CPR cards. After 4.5 hours of waiting to be called to the desk, we were finally able to talk to staff and finish the last steps of our residency process. Now, all that’s left to do is wait a few weeks for our proof of residency to come in the mail. We were all losing hope that things would look up, and I found it hard to look forward to the coming days. But finally, I had a good day! A truly good day.
Wednesday was the first day that I saw the sun for a prolonged period of time. Usually, the temperature was in the mid-40s, but it was rainy or windy. Wednesday was a little chilly outside, but the sun made it so much better. I had international orientation with the university on Wednesday where I met a German student named Greta, and a man from France named Quentin who is also studying here. Obviously, our first languages were all different from each other, but we all knew English so we had enough in common to have conversations. That day, I found myself explaining what a tater tot was, what the word ‘steep’ meant, and how much it cost me to go to college in the United States. We toured the campus with some Danish students, and I learned all the best places to eat and what buildings my classes would be held in.
After our intro day was complete, Marissa, Greta, Quentin and I decided to go into the city for some food. There’s a place called Aarhus Street Food. The concept is similar to the food carts on library mall at UW, except all of the food carts were inside an old bus warehouse. The entire building had been transformed and there were several different carts to choose from. They were arranged in a large square inside the warehouse, and tables filled the middle. There were places to get beer or cocktails, a couple Mexican options, a ramen bar and even an American cart specializing in burgers. I chose a place that had different types of grilled cheeses. It reminded of home and sounded like some good comfort food after the stressful week I’d had so far.
After we spent some time with our new European friends, Marissa and I headed back to the dorms for a relaxing night with Emma. We stayed up way too late and were probably way too loud, but we laughed and learned so much about each other and I knew that I was here with the right people. I am so thankful to be abroad with them and I already know that I have found forever friends in them. If there is one thing I truly believe, it’s that the bonds you make with people when you’re abroad could possibly be some of the strongest.
Being surrounded by so many international students and being an international student myself is an interesting concept to me. I had international friends when I was at UW, but now I was the international one, which isn’t really an experience you can explain perfectly with words. I think it goes along with the idea of being comfortable with being uncomfortable and just accepting that I am different than everyone here. I always talk about how important leaving your comfort zone is, but it’s not always a fun experience. For example, I didn’t know how to work the microwave for days. I have since overcome this challenge and can happily say I know how to heat up my food. But not knowing how to use the microwave is not something I was prepared for. I guess I assumed microwaves were the same everywhere, and oh was I wrong. There are so many more knobs and buttons here, and after you hit the stop button it doesn’t stop right away. I was very confused. I even tried to google it. Anyway, my point is there are so many things that I couldn’t have anticipated being hard here. I’m still learning how to use the tram and the difference between the blue buses and the yellow buses and don’t even ask me about converting money because I need a calculator every time. But in being an international student, I am finding little successes and those are the things that I have to hold onto.
I cheered when I figured out the microwave. I actually cheered because I was now capable of warming up leftovers in a foreign country. Emma and Marissa were right there with me, they’re the ones that helped me figure it out. No more cold pasta for supper!
So, I call this day a win. It really might not sound like much but to me, as an international student an ocean away from home, it was a pretty big victory. I had successfully made some new friends, toured my campus, ate some good food and learned how to use some kitchen appliances. As cliché as it sounds, don’t be afraid to celebrate the small things because living in a different country is scary and you will need all the little victories you can get. So, embrace them, revel in them and of course, cheer for them.