I wish I had a crystal ball I could confide in from time to time – you know on those days that seem completely and utterly hopeless. The days I spent flipping through a phone-book calling every business from A to Ø would have been a lot less heartbreaking if I would have known I’d end up here.
I arrived in Denmark in 2010 on a hot, blue-skied day, with nothing but a backpack and fearless optimism – I mean come on, the sun was shining: how hard could it really be? Having already lived one year abroad, I felt like a seasoned veteran in the art of the nomad. Little did I know, my seasoned skills barely qualified me to ride a bike, even one with training wheels.
My troubles started with paperwork. I am sure you can relate – I think us foreigners have unconsciously and certainly not willingly decimated a forest or two just filling out paperwork. We essentially become paper and our personalities can be read on every page.
My paper personality didn’t have much to it, especially in the beginning. I had no address, which meant no CPR. I had no CPR, which meant no doctor visits; no loaning books at the library and no language lessons. No language meant no job and the spiral – as you can imagine – just kept on going.
Already having a visa in order, I thought my move to Odense would be a smooth transition: but my paper-person took six months to even begin taking shape.
When our options as immigrants are limited because of bureaucracy and laws, our time begins to scrape like sandpaper on our optimistic skin. When all we want to do is fit in, learn the language, work and become part of society – waiting on a thin measly A4 becomes an open wound you worry will never really heal.
I never had a crystal ball, nor did I know anyone who had been through what I was going through. Everything took forever. Waiting for my CPR, learning a new and difficult language, trying to find work, make friends and a home: the rolling hills on Fyn began to feel like mountains! Even a trip to the grocery store was overwhelming at times and my naive optimism dangled like bait in a shark tank and some days I felt like I’d just rather be shark food.
But after five years in Denmark I can say with a smile, I am glad the sharks didn’t take the bait and that the mountains have receded back into being molehills.And if you on the other side of the screen are feeling hopeless about your time here in Denmark, I am here to be your crystal ball.
I promise it gets better. I promise your future is bright and though it rains a lot in Denmark, it is nothing rubber boots can’t fix.
My life in Denmark has been both excruciatingly exhausting and exhilarating. From a short period of deportation to getting married to a Dane, I’d say Denmark has tested my patience, my virtues, my strengths, my beliefs and so on. But I’d also say, it has been worth it.
So the next time someone asks you to say rødgrød med fløde and laughs as you try to vomit those three horrendous words out, just remember that at one point, you didn’t even have a CPR. Just remember that at one point saying “jeg hedder Megan” wasn’t even a possibility in your mind. Just remember to give yourself some credit because you dared to take this journey and most importantly, just listen to your crystal ball; it is your future after all.
Megan Stubbe Teglbjærg