Oh, where to begin. The boring stuff, so I’ll streamline: I had a nice series of flights after an initial delay in Cleveland. It was comforting to fly out over the lake and say a last goodbye to the Cleveland that I love so much. I also got to fly over New York on the way to JFK. Seeing the city from above is absolutely incredible; all the skyscrapers look perfectly geometric, almost cartoonish, from such a high vantage point. I also enjoyed a quick ride on the sky train that made me feel like a real traveler and a breath of fresh New York air on my way to Terminal 7 for my 6-hour layover before heading to London. In that time, my nerves grew, were replaced by excitement, then turned to nerves again. After 2 days in Denmark, it’s hard to believe my greatest nerves were in regards to my host family and making friends, but more on that to come in a bit. I did plenty of research on Danish culture (or so I thought) and my schedule for the upcoming week before boarding.
I knew I must have looked quite ridiculous stepping onto the plane but I was astounded by its size (I know I was walking around with my mouth gaping and kept saying “wow, woah”). There was a staircase. A staircase on the plane! People in first class had compartment-like seating and the rest of the plane was 10 seats across. I was near the back and had my first encounter with a non-American—a 30-something British man who regularly traveled to America for work. He was very kind and jovial with a good sense of humor that soothed me and made me feel like I just might make out alright in a different country. He gave me travel advice and we exchanged a few stories before a flight attendant told him there was extra room and he could change seats for more room. I was sad to end a great conversation but quietly celebrated having a row to myself. Unfortunately, this did not mean great sleep, but I did get some rest and woke up to see the London sun rising to greet me in a cheerfully rosy sky. Before long, the plane dipped and I distinctly remember thinking, well, there’s no turning back now.
I spent the next couple of hours in the London airport wandering around, observing people from all over the world, and thinking about Harry Potter. I stared at every person that seemed remotely young, wondering if they were in DIS as well. The gate for my flight was not posted until 25 minutes before boarding time, but once there, I realized at least a third of the flight was DIS students. No one was really talking though…It was the sort of situation where everyone’s thinking the same thing as you, but you just make prolonged eye contact until you silently agree, give a nod or a half smile, and don’t say anything. After a while, I decided I had nothing to lose and struck up a couple of conversations in a painfully blunt fashion. I ended up meeting someone from my program and a few other cool people. It was then that my fear of not making friends faded to the background. Everyone was just as excited as I was, and I knew I wouldn’t be left behind.
The flight was short and I nodded off again. Awakened by a bit of turbulence, I looked out the window and caught my first glimpse of Denmark. I later found out wasn’t Denmark at all; I was really looking at Sweden… but what I thought still applies: there were so many more lakes than I expected, the grass was a brilliant green, and the sky was a perfectly flat gray. It almost reminded me of Ireland. I had heard so many things about Copenhagen being cold, so I had prepared myself for snow and not rain. The surprise was quite pleasant, however, and I felt even more secure in my new home. We got off the plane and went to customs, where the agents immediately could tell I was a DIS student. It was comforting and easy to tell by her quick recognition and tone that DIS had a good reputation. From there, I was relieved that the airline did NOT lose my luggage *hooray* and was guided by DIS representatives to a check-in area and short orientation. Here, I got to know some of my classmates and other students in homestays and rented rooms. They shared my worries about making friends and integrating, and I met some people I think I might really become friends with 🙂 After orientation, people were called because their families had arrived to retrieve them. Someone came in and asked, “Is there a Marina Ward here?” and I stood up and loudly stated, “I’m a Marina Ward,” you know, like an idiot, and followed them out to meet my family (!!!).
This is already quite lengthy, so I will introduce my host family and first 2 days in Copenhagen tomorrow. I have to wake up at 6am to get ready and commute in… oh joy.