Posted in Reflections & Lessons

Small Victories

“Studying abroad will change your life”

“It will be a larger-than-life experience”

“You find yourself”

These are all things people told me when I first decided to study abroad. Shaped by these words, I thought my time in Denmark would be full of grandiose adventures and experiences. I imagined every happening would be immense, magnificent and awe-inspiring. I thought it was these monumental experiences that would challenge me and cause me to grow as a person. However, being here now and living the actuality of studying abroad, rather than the large events, I have found the small victories to be the most gratifying. What follows are stories about two of these small victories.

Victory #1: The Scone that Made Me Smile

“Okay, you’re free to go,” my professor said as she released us from our first field study. We were at the beautiful Glyptotek Art Museum and it was still the early afternoon. What’s more, my stomach was rumbling. So, I decided I would stay for a while and enjoy a Danish from the museum’s cafe.

Waiting in line to order, and hearing everyone speak Danish around me, I decided that I would attempt to order with the few Danish phrases I had learned. I practiced over and over in my head as the line dwindled down. Butterflies filled my stomach as I approached the cashier. Nervously, I swallowed and began to speak.

“En Scone, tak”

“Ellers andet?”

“Nej, tak.”

“værsgo”

I smiled and said a final “tak” as the cashier handed me the scone. Walking to the nearest empty table, I found myself smiling ear to ear. Yes, the conversation was only four lines long and yes, most of what I said was “tak” (thank you). But, I also understood the questions the cashier had asked me. I had swallowed may fear of making a fool of myself and spoke Danish. I had pushed myself to do it, even though I was nervous. I was proud and, I swear, the victory made the scone taste even better.

Victory #2: Panic at Train Station

Unfortunately, I got covid early last week. I moved from my homestay to a hotel for my isolation period. However, my quarantine ended just in time to go to Sweden with my. core course for our short study tour. Well, almost just in time. The class left Thursday morning, and I wouldn’t be able to meet then until Thursday night. That meant finding my way to Sweden on my own.

The journey was simple enough; take the metro from the hotel to Københavns Lufthavn st.. From there, purchase a ticket and hop on the twenty minute train to Sweden. When the hour approached to leave quarantine I double checked (well, probably checked more like 10 times) that I had the correct times for the trains and made my way out of the hotel.

Getting to Københavns Lufthavn st. was easy. I purchased a ticket on my phone and hopped on the metro. After fifteen minutes, the metro reached the stop. One more train ride then I’m there, I thought to myself, assured. However, when I stepped off the metro, my stomach sank. Apparently, this stop was at the Copenhagen airport.

I stumbled nervously outside and looked around. There were structures all around me that made up the airport. Having no idea where to go, I broke out into a nervous sweat. I started to quickly walk forward. The only thing I could think to do was walk fro building to building until I found the ticketing kiosk. After a half an hour of searching, I was distraught. Standing outside the airport, I considered turning around and going home. That’s when I saw it. The bright red ticketing kiosk.

Relief flooded my body as a purchased my ticket. It said ” track 2, and, instead of further aimless wandering, I asked an employee to point me in the right direction. They were happy to help.

Once on the train, I couldn’t stop smiling. I did it. To those reading this, it might seem silly thing to be so overjoyed about. But, I did something completely unfamiliar and I did it myself. There are moments in life when the only person there for you is yourself. I think this is especially true during travel. I proved to myself that I could rely on myself. Because of that, this small victory brought me great fulfillment.

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