Observations from the first two weeks
For those of you who were wondering, I am afraid my comeback attempt in the Danish American Football Federation has stalled. After getting up Friday morning after Thursday's night practice with the Herlev Rebels, I had soreness up and down my spine, throughout my legs and around my shoulders. I was cut on the forearm and I think my ears were still ringing. Somewhere along my strenuous minute-long trek from my bed to my bathroom I realized why I had quit football in the first place. Had I not known what I had done the evening before, I would have guessed that I had been pummeled by three thugs in an alley on my way home. Had that beating occurred, unfortunately, it would have resembled the game of football much more than my practice with the Rebels did. For the time being, I'll remain a one-dimensional student here in Denmark.
Today marks the end of my first full week of classes and second week of me being in Denmark. It has gone faster than I expected, and the transition to life in a foreign country has been smoother than I anticipated. I wish I had an entertaining story to share with you, but not every day offers an exciting or enlightening moment to stash in away in the files of experience we keep. In fact, the majority of the time here in Copenhagen has been no more exciting or chaotic than my daily life back in the U.S.A. Granted, the first few days required that I pay close attention to Danish customs, daily life, and most importantly, the lay of the land, so I could figure out where the hell I was. Yes, there are some major cultural differences that separate the Danish from Americans. But, at the end of the day, everyone is still human. They just happen to be speaking a different language and eating slightly different things, like liver paste.
I'd say one of the more discomforting things about living in a country with a foreign language, is, quite obviously, not being able to understand what is being said around you. We Americans tend to be quite perceptive about our surroundings and how we are being viewed--in just about any given situation. Everyday when I ride the bus, I wonder if those around me can tell that I am a foreigner, if they can tell I am an American. I wonder if they are judging me by the different clothes I wear, if they dislike that I am a student here and yet still cannot speak their language. While it may be uncomfortable for me now, however, living in a foreign country forces one to break from these constant dealings with perception. I am sure it will be an important experience on the road to maturity to lose sight of some of these things. In that same breath, last night, I was strikingly reminded that perceptions and generalizations are often more deceiving that they are accurate.
My friend Jennings and I were wandering around our part of town looking for a place to eat. We stumbled on a place that was too good to pass up, a place I never thought would have existed in the heart of Europe. It was a bar called OSBORNE and Inside, the bar was not much bigger than my room here. Although smoking in public areas is thoroughly prohibited in Copenhagen, it was difficult to see across the bar through the thick gray haze. The walls were blanketed with black and white pictures of hundreds of American icons: Johnny Cash, James Dean, John Wayne, Bob Dylan, Marilyn Monroe, etc. Above the pictures of icons, old American license plates lined the top of the walls where they met the ceiling, including remote states such as Wyoming, South Dakota and Hawaii. Everyone was still speaking in Danish, though, despite this American theme. We didn't stay long, for it didn't seem like a place where non-regulars were welcome to stop in. On our way out, a bumper sticker behind the bar caught my eye. It read: Barack Obama, Just Another Bum Looking for Change.
This bar reminded me, as much as I don't want to be thrown with certain stereotypes, I, too, must be careful to not paint with a broad brush while observing and experiencing the various cultures around Copenhagen and Europe.
You never know what you might find when you aren't looking for anything.