With everyone leaving for exchange and posting about their super-awesome lives, I have fallen off the face of the blogging world after my last post about Denmark. I haven’t signed into wordpress since I was flying Copenhagen-London, slightly drugged, because it was too difficult. I don’t like to the type of person who uses their blog like a diary… mine was meant to be strictly professional. I wanted to post articles that I’d written, post photo’s I had taken, and tell funny stories about living in Europe. Well, I don’t live in Denmark anymore, as most of you know because you can see my sulky face in the back of Carleton lectures.
Yesterday I spent half an hour of my journalism lecture Google-Earthing Olaf Palmes (my school), Goteborg Alle (my house), and Randersvej (my daily death bike ride downtown). Why? I don’t actually know. The person sitting beside me said I was crazy, and I realize that I am sort of living in the past. But nobody ever told me how hard it would be coming back from exchange. I attended many meetings last year saying how the culture shock would be difficult when I was in Denmark, how it would be hard to adjust etc. etc. etc. And it was, but it wasn’t this hard.
When school started, I got an email from the International Students Office (ISSO) that must have been written just for me. It was actually a morning where I was feeling extra-terrible about being back in Ottawa. Here it is:
“Returning from an exchange program can be an interesting transition for
some students. You may be thrilled to be back, yet after a while your
family and friends may no longer share your enthusiasm about your
experiences. You may have difficulty re-adjusting to your “old” life
and even feel like an outsider. If this has been your experience now
that you are back at Carleton, I invite you to attend the Back Again
Group where you can share your experience and stories with others who
are interested in hearing about your travels.”
Wow, thank you Carleton! This is exactly how I feel. Except I don’t think it’s going to make me feel any better to go to a lunch with a bunch of people I don’t know to tell them my stories from abroad. Although they probably can’t stand to hear it anymore, I have my roommates to tell my stories to. The thing is, though, I have no desire to talk about exchange, because I honestly feel like I can’t.
It’s not that I hate Ottawa, I really don’t. I actually love this city. There’s just lots of things from Denmark that I miss.
-My ghetto-fabulous light blue bike with a big basket and flat tires.
-Being able to get any appliance or product (along with a friendly chat) from Anders.
-Eating a Mexican feast way too often.
-Drinking boxed wine with French friends.
-Sitting around a fire listening to a Danish conversation I don’t understand.
-Red-pesto chicken a la Zainab.
-Everything that revolves around Fridaybar.
-Free bus rides.
-Netto brand chips.
-Riding downhill to Børglum. And cabbing back uphill.
-The beach. Eating, drinking, swimming… everything to do with the beach, including Chernobyl.
-Accents. Each one of my friends, although we started to meld together, had a different accent. So diverse!
-20 DKK beer at Bodegz.
So I guess the moral of the story is never come back from exchange. I wish that was a reality! All the things that I missed about home, now that I have them, don’t seem so important anymore. I spent months craving Kraft peanut butter. Now, I can’t stand the sugary taste. I missed the luxury of BBM. Now, I want to take it off my phone because it stresses me out that people can get ahold of me at any time. I missed interviewing sources that were first language English. Now, I miss being the exotic, foreign journalist that sources were interested to talk to.
The thing about having two separate lives (which I sort of feel like I have) is that when fully engaged in one of them, you wish you were in the other. I spent a lot of time in Denmark wishing I could be back in Canada just for a week. People crave the idea of home. But once I was back, I realized that yes, this is my home, but I thrive being out of my comfort zone. I love Canada. I love everything about my country and I wouldn’t trade being raised in such an amazing place. But as I get older I’m starting to realize that maybe I can’t reach my full potential here. I don’t know exactly where I’m going to end up, but I know when I get there I will crave that sweet, peanut taste just because I can’t have it.