In Expectation

I have three days until I leave for Copenhagen. Countdowns seem ridiculous – why count when all comes in the end? – but I’m seeing the necessity now. I have to pack, and before I pack, I have to do laundry and wait for my jeans to dry, and this means that the process has to be started by either tomorrow or the day after, and the knowledge that my clothes will only hit the washer only once more before being sent abroad is beginning to send the alarm bells ringing; I don’t quite know what to do.

A large, unpacked suitcase

In this way, I have everything in common with all the DIS bloggers I have read at this stage: I have prepared, and yet I am wholly unprepared. I have been glancing through Duolingo, learning how to say things such as “the women eat the potatoes” and “the turtle has a beer,” but notably not how to say things such as “where is the bathroom” or “excuse me.” I feverishly wrote lists of places I would want to see, or eat at, or walk past, but these thoughts are not organized and the Danish words I put down don’t yet have significance to me. Ideally I would have researched Copenhagen’s history and immersed myself in books so I could come ready to fit my whole hand around the experience and really understand what I was living through, like fitting your hand around your own wrist and finding that you can stretch the perimeter. But this too is ridiculous, I know. In any case, my long term memory is terrible. A city is not a wrist bone, and I’ll barely scratch the surface. I know this going in.

I’m aware of the brevity of four months and it makes this excitement near-painful. I am excited for so many things: for my kollegium, which is supposedly walking distance from the famed canal; for renting out weekend bikes to ride through the city; for challenging my cooking range with a new set of ingredients at the store; for switching to 24 hour time; for meeting people and making connections, even as the concept of first impressions sends my palms sweating; for my core course, Polar Biology, and the trip we will take to Tromsø, Norway, which is in fact the main reason I applied to DIS Copenhagen; for spending time with my visiting host family; for being cold and then seeing the sun come to stay like a veritable miracle; for living on my own again, but now in a new place. I hope to be conscientious as a visitor in Denmark and feel a pressing need to understand it all before I leave, but this is also how we feel about life, in general.

It goes without saying that I’m also afraid, but fear and excitement go hand in hand here. I’m afraid above all of leaving behind great friendships and feeling alone – a weakness of mine. Other worries are more concrete, like frostbite in Tromsø or anaphylaxis from my nut allergies. (I’ve google-translated an allergy card that reads “Jeg har alvorlig allergi overfor alle nødder: jordnødder og alle trædnødder,” and if anyone would like to verify the validity of that sentence I’d greatly appreciate it).

We shall see what is in store. I’m new to blogging, and there’s something that feels very immediate in this format – I’m writing now, and the “now” is going to move forward every time; I actually don’t know what will happen (!). (Excuse my archaic perspectives). I leave in three days for a non-stop flight from Newark airport. I have to do laundry, and then I have to pack. I am leaving New York on Friday, and I will be back in May. This is what I know.

A view from my home in Brooklyn, NY

2 Comments Add yours

  1. MikeyB says:

    Hi Hildi,

    I hope this is something you have already sorted out but I figured I would still write it just to make sure you stay safe.
    ‘Jeg har alvorlig allergi overfor alle nødder: jordnødder og alle trænødder’ (Lost the ‘d’ after ‘træ’).
    Reading this as a Dane, I would translate this back to ‘I have severe allergies to all nuts: peanuts and all tree nuts’.
    On packaging you should look for the following:
    ‘Ingredienser’, which translates to ‘Ingredients’,
    ‘Kan indeholde spor af’, which translates to ‘May contain traces off’,
    and then of course any word containing ‘nød’ on the packaging.
    Just in case the packaging has the word ‘Nødration'(plural ‘Nødrationer’) on it, then it just means ‘Emergency ration’, but of course, if not all, then at least some of those are likely to contain packets of food containing nuts as well.

    The word ‘nød’ has several non food related meanings as well. Following are some examples:
    ‘De er i nød’ – ‘They are in distress’
    ‘Jeg gjorde det af nød’ – ‘I did it from necessity’.
    ‘Med nød og næppe’ – ‘Just barely’.
    This one is close to, with just an added t:
    ‘Du er nødt til…’ – “You have to…”.

    I am reading most of the blogs from the official DIS bloggers – it is very enjoyable to see my own country experienced through the stories you share – so thank you.

    I hope you will enjoy your stay here in Denmark.

    Kind regards,


    1. Hildi Gabel says:

      Thank you so much for this info! This is a huge help and reassurance


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