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.

-Homemade sushi.

-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.


7 thoughts on “Adjustment

  1. This is great em, actually an eye opener for me. Your describing exactly how I feel right now… I MISS ketchup chips like no other! My ketchup chips, are your peanut butter, but after reading this, you really put it into perspective. You always seem to be able to make sense of things for me! Love you.

  2. wow Em, and my maple sugar candy was your peanut butter… I made an ebay account just so I could have some shipped to me while I was in Germany.. but back in Canada I almost never have it, haha. and I’m totally with you on the potential thing.. Europe is where it’s at!

  3. Well, I know exactly how you feel!

    I’ve honestly just kind of put a lot of stuff behind me and have done kind of a “conceal” method with my feelings — at least with the first couple months! But now a lot of feelings are coming back and I miss a lot of people. Mostly the people.

    Even though I hated it at the time, I miss the awkward introduction to people, as I speak to them in English and wait to see if they actually understood what I said. I miss the accents so, so much as well. I miss the amazing atmosphere for learning, and the constant camaraderie of each other, as we grew together and Denmark grew on us!

    So, don’t worry. You’re not alone. Sometimes it feels like when I take pictures, it’s so melancholy — I’m not photographing whale hunting or cow slaughtering or important stories I care about. I just want to go away and see a place from a new perspective and fall in love with a new culture.

    I hope to visit you soon in Canada (since I’ve still never been!) and have a bottle of something like Asti, a huge box of strawberries and hope the weather is nice enough for us to spread out my green Carlsberg blanket and lounge in the sun.

    Hang in there!


  4. Good news – we have Kraft peanut butter in Australia! So when you move here all you will have to miss from Canada will be your daily ice-skate to uni.


  5. I don’t dread the day I return to Australia… but I dread the day I’m a week in and realise this is over. I don’t know if its a good thing or a bad thing I’m still here… I’m getting sooo much more attached than I even was last semester!!!

  6. I can’t believe I haven’t read this before. I wish I had, back in June, when I felt the exact same way. I still feel I can’t really talk about Denmark because I know it just makes me sad. And Denmark’s not even that far away from here, it’s actually super close. Reading this I’m however even more excited to see you in Canada very very soon, because I know you’ll understand. And we can talk about it for a week. Yay.

  7. It’s so strange that it’s been this long and I still feel the exact same way. I think there is something really special about Aarhus because I feel like of all my post-exchange friends in Canada, I am the only one that can’t get over it. Or maybe I’m wrong- they probably just don’t blog about it. Looking forward to seeing all of you in the near future. I made my first trip back to Europe, and it turned out being really hard to be there and NOT be experiencing it from Denmark. I went home to Canada, not to Aarhus. Asa, I can’t wait to see you in only 17 days. We are going to have the best time.

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