It’s all about the people
It’s all about the people. If there’s one thing I’ve learned so far in my very short 20 years of life, this is it. No matter where you go to school, what cities you visit, or how many drinks you buy, there’s one simple fact: it’s all a letdown without the right people. I love Georgetown so much because of all my close friends and fellow students that I spend time with every day. The same goes for my high school, my hometown, my family, my country.
And the same goes for Denmark.
Please throw away the stereotypes (if you’ve read up on Denmark) that Danes are hard to befriend, introverted, private, non-talkative people. With the exception of the public buses (which immediately become 100x louder every time a group of Americans (us) storm the doors) – the Danes have been downright wonderful and trustworthy in all the right moments.
Today is a perfect example. I did something today that probably would have been very stupid if I was in downtown NY or DC. Searching for a bike, I stumbled upon a burly, imposing handyman who fixed and resold used bicycles. Arriving at his door in a shadowy apartment complex, he invited me inside, and proceeded to lead me through several doorways through his basement. Had this not been Denmark, I would have half-expected some robber to jump out of the corner and steal my wallet. But nothing happened. No finagling, no back-handed deals, no gimmicks. Just a smiling, gentle giant with dozens of bikes looking for an honest deal. He even suggested that I drink some tea to warm my frozen fingers.
Then there was my visiting family, whom I met for the first time on Saturday. Maria and Michael, along with their son Simon, spent the entire day with me. They took me grocery shopping, showed me how to translate certain food items, sampled different kinds of cheese, and emphasized the wonders of coarse, black bread (I think my digestive tract is still getting used to it!). We listened to Bruce Springsteen – one of the father’s favorite singers – and sat around the table eating a home-cooked meal. We walked their dog Buster and watched some college basketball on TV, as I carefully explained to them some of the more complicated rules of the game.
There’s plenty of other people who have had an impact on me so far. Matilde, my kollegium’s RA, who helped me with my cleaning duty; Thomas, a volleyball coach, who was more than excited to welcome me onto his team when I walked into the gym (was it my height?); all of the unassuming bystanders who help me with directions; that strange guy on the train who keep joking and talking at me as I just nodded my head (do I look like I know Danish?); all of the bakers and cashier’s who smile as I smell their fresh bread.
And how could I forget last night, when we met a older gentleman (who’s name is very Danish and difficult to remember) at the bar next door right down the street from our kollegium. Although we originally intended only to watch the 49ers game, we ended chatting with this awesome guy for a few hours:
He whupped us both times, and even messed up the math on purpose so that it would be a closer game. We’ll definitely be back for redemption!
The bottom line: the Danes are not what I expected them to be. It’s crude to classify people as introverts or non-social. Only one week in, all I had to do is give them a chance.