Finding Yourself (in the world)

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Happy Sunday!

It is a good and “bleh” feeling to be back in London after a whirlwind week in Copenhagen, Denmark. I have to say, if there is another city that I fell in love with, and could see myself living in, it is København!

It is an amazing city, with lots to see and do, especially around the capital area, where I took day trips to Roskilde and Helsingør as well as to the nearby country of Sweden, to a little town called Malmö (pronounced mal-mer). I even started speaking the language, which is English, by the way. Many Danes and Swedes speak English with a near flawless American-like accent.

Back in action in the U.K, I have moved the logistics part of my research project further and now its back-to-school time for me, this included enrollment (and vaccines!), and setting my hours for my job on campus. However, the beautiful and scorching sun of London made it a bit hard to concentrate on political theory this week, instead I’ve been daydreaming of my new beach-read while breaking in a new swimsuit in the sands of Brighton.

Nonetheless, as I reflect on my trips to Europe and this year in general, I seem to find something out about myself everyday. For example, I love to travel (always knew that) but I didn’t realize how spontaneous or flexible I could be. I was so busy, up until the night before I left, I didn’t have time to plan what I wanted to see or do in Denmark. Heck, I barely had enough time to pack and am lucky that I remembered to bring enough underwear (#1 rule in packing folks, bring one day’s extra). So I spent my first night talking with a few locals, and that is how I found out going to Sweden, and continued to talk to folks on the street about where to find the best places for food and a drink. Each day, I had a new plan on where to go, what to see, and how to do it.

I also learned some basic pronunciations for those weird letters that are not in the English alphabet (ø, æ, å…), so I can at least pronounce street names and train stations in a more coherent way when asking for directions. But don’t let that scare you if you decide to visit, it’s really easy to get around even with the conventional tourist map, and downtown is so small, that if you do get lost, keep walking you’ll get there!

On a sad note, I also learned that Disney’s little mermaid is a lie! Well, yes, I know it is a fictional story, but the version by Hans Christian Andersen is so different…I almost cried after reading the summary at his museum.

So, I guess answering the headline of this post, did I finally “find me”? No. I’m still lost. I didn’t find anyone else either. But it did change my feelings about London, in that I no longer feel so new or foreign in London.

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My first night in Copenhagen, I had a few doubts about my landing in a strange country without any research or knowledge; it was the very first time that I missed London. Not New York, but London. It was a familiar chest-achy feeling of being away from home and all the people you love, hate, and miss. This brings me to a second revelation that I may love, hate, and miss people or things in the U.K…

Anyway, without hashing through all of that, my experience so far in Europe has been amazing to see how people live on the other side of the Atlantic. Not that Brits, Scandinavians, or the French have a drastically different quality of life or standard of living — we are pretty much the same. However, attitudes and perspectives about life, people, and humanity are different and eye-opening. As a generalization, the attitude is more “work to live” instead of “live to work” Brits eat way worse and drink way more than the Americans, but have more longevity (according to World Bank), so…it could be something in the water.

However, speaking of humanity, I can’t ignore the tragic incidences that took place in Europe and the United States this summer, it is a pause to see how folks around the world reacted. The same beaches that I visited in southern France wearing a sundress (I didn’t have my swimsuit) and reading a book in the sand for hours, are now being patrolled by policemen for (mainly) women dressed in attire that does not “respect the culture and secular nature” of France. And the wave of unarmed shootings in the United States in July that also reignited a national conversation and exposed some very ugly structures in the our country.

However, this is winding into another topic that I wanted to save for my birthday post next week, so I will leave it here for today. Enjoy this sunset picture of the Langelinie promenade in the Copenhagen. Tell me about your breath-taking experience, @ReporterandGirl or on Facebook.

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