The first week in a strange new world
After more than ten hours of being stuck in a seat against a window on a plane that really needs more leg room, I landed. I texted Jenna first thing because I needed a friend by my side as soon as possible. When we caught eyes, a breath of fresh air hit me. We bought bottle of wine first thing in the airport and moved to the exit to buy our tickets to take the train to our new home. First lesson: patience. It took one hour to get through the line to buy our tickets. We met some very lovely students who were in the same boat as us. One from England and one from Kosovo; each of us with a different study plan but stuck in the same line.
We caught the 4 o’clock train with heavy bags in tow. Lesson two: strength is key. I had two bags weighing about 40 pounds a piece and a smaller case weighing around 15 pounds, and I lugged those on to a train, up and down many flights of stairs, across town from the bus station to the university, and up more flights of stairs to my flat.
The process on arrival day was the opposite of fun, especially when it takes four hours to get keys and get checked-in so I can lay down in bed. Lesson three: be prepared. The culture shock is very real, but even more real is the humidity and aches on my body. Needless to say, I wish I had a pillow my first few nights, but my soft warm clothes stuffed in a bag actually make a pretty comfortable situation.
Did you notice how I never mentioned food in those first three paragraphs? Well that’s because I still had not had a meal when I went to a 10 o’clock in the morning meeting. The meeting lasted until noon, but all my mind seemed to focus on was the faint smell of bread in the building. It suddenly dawned on my that I had not eaten food in over twenty-four hours. Lesson four: listen to your stomach. I was practically about to cry, I was craving food, my sensitivity to gluten be damned!
Luckily for me, Jenna was by my side, and we were getting food. As soon as the meeting let out, we were practically running across campus to get to the first thing that sounded reasonable. We ended up next to a grocery store, in a little restaurant that sold pizza, pasta, and kebabs. We would soon come to learn that practically every well-priced diner sold the same three things: pizza, pasta, and kebabs. I do not know why this fascinated me so much, but it did, and I am so happy with it. Anyway, we both got some pasta and took a spot on the campus green to eat.
The next day, we were excited to go to our very first pub night on campus. After thirty minutes in line (taking me back to lesson one!) we were stopped at the door because the event was full. FULL. Lesson five: no one needs a backup plan. We left immediately from the pub and began to wander in the rain around town. Luckily I remembered lesson three and had an umbrella with me. Jenna was grateful, I enjoyed a hat and some cool weather. Finally, we ended back at the grocery store that sits close to in between both mine and Jenna’s rooms, which happen to be in two different buildings. We decided on wine and cheese night to make up for the let down.
As we looked for the items to make our night about one hundred times better, we found the sauce isle… that is when we found it: American Sauce. A mix of barbeque and ranch dressing. It was just sitting there, comfortably between thousand island and italian dressing. It seemed like such a strange thing, but it fit in to its surroundings. I suppose it summed up how my week was going. I was very clearly lost in the crowd but managing to fit in. I am American Sauce, and so are you.
Now for the best night of my life: meeting the members of Kristianstad Nation. First, I suppose I should explain a “nation.” If you are American, this will make a lot more sense. It is basically like a fraternity and sorority combined but way less exclusive. Everyone joins one here. Lesson six: do what everyone else is doing. We managed to get in to this pub night, and I can honestly say it made me so happy to be there. Board games, card games, drinks, and people who honestly just want to talk. We spent around three hours soaking in the best place I have ever been. From there we attended my very first clubbing experience with another girl who was from France. I danced myself silly. I got in the middle of dance circles and just let myself be free. I talked to people from all over the world. I sweated far too much.
A little after midnight, the walk home began. Five minutes later my door was locked and my pajamas were on. Some meat, cheese, and grapes later, my eyes closed on a wonderful experience knowing that many more were to come.
I spent the next day sick in bed because OF COURSE I GOT SICK.
That brings me to today: Copenhagen. At nine o’clock in the morning, Jenna and I began the walk from the grocery store to the train station and headed to a completely different country, Denmark. The forty minute ride was comfortable and a little overwhelming. Lesson seven: wear good shoes. I walked over eight miles in new heels. I really do not want to talk about the throbbing pain my feet are currently feeling.
We spent most of our day in Carlsberg, the beer capital of Copenhagen. It is written in the law that the town cannot exist if it is not brewing beer. We “enjoyed” a beer tasting (hello lesson six) and walked around a little piece of history. I bought a hat. It was chill. It was beautiful.
We eventually got back on the train to Malmo so we could go to IKEA and get the last pieces for our rooms to make them feel more like a home. Lesson eight: Uber. We took a taxi to the store because if we walked those five miles, one of us would have likely collapsed on the side of the road. After the store, I called an Uber to just drive us back to Lund. It was a short twenty minute ride and totally worth it.
Lesson nine: enjoy the little things. I could not stop smiling looking at the beautiful flat lands that felt a little bit like Kansas, just more magical, as we made out way from IKEA to home. Jenna slept. To be fair, neither of us has slept through the night yet, that I know of. I almost cried when I hung up a shower curtain in my bathroom and put a real pillow in my pillow case. Everything started to feel normal.
Lesson ten: never say goodbye. It may be the end of a wonderful week, but my time here in Lund, Sweden has just begun.