Monday, August 2, 2010
Wrap up: Time and Place
I've been back in the States for three weeks. It feels much longer, like I've been here all summer. This surprised me. I thought that I would feel more reverse culture shock, that Ann Arbor and East Lansing would feel more foreign. I thought that I would feel uncomfortable driving my car again. I thought the American hypermarts would overwhelme me. I thought I would cringe at American-accented English.
The first three to five days, I felt this way. I wanted to find all the foreign things I had in Europe. Trader Joe's 100% Rye Bread is a close approximation of rugbrød. At a restaurant in East Lansing I had Zywiec beer.
At the same time as the discomfort, however, these were also glorious days of rediscoveries. I finally got a fragel, which I wanted to do the last day before I left in January but the store was closed for the holidays. So I fulfilled a wish I had maintained for six months.
By the time first weekend was over -- I came back on a Monday -- it felt like I had been here in Ann Arbor all summer, which begins for most American college students in early May.
This doesn't mean I've forgotten about Denmark. The opposite: I think about Denmark and Erasmus all the time. Like I've said many times before, those six months were the greatest six months of my life. The people, the traveling, the just hanging out in Århus. But I'm not raving about it to everyone the way I thought I would. I feel like I've entered a different chapter of my life. Denmark exists in memories. For the people I met on Erasmus, we're all post-Erasmus now and that's the way it must be. I feel that if I keep talking about Denmark and exchange that I'll start to have Peter Pan syndrome. As much as I would like to go back to Denmark, I can't because by "Denmark" I mean both a place and a time. Maybe sometime in the future I'll go to Denmark but we've all moved beyond that time to new endeavors.