A dangerous part of traveling the world, is that you take the risk of falling in love with a place you will eventually have to leave. Istanbul, Turkey is that place for me. For the past week I’ve been feeling as if I’d dropped the ball and missed an opportunity in this experience abroad. Why hadn’t I been more adventurous in my choice of places to study for the semester? Istanbul is so incredibly different and a place where I really could have been challenged and pushed out of my comfort zone. But after just tapping the surface of such an interesting city I have to return to rainy, homogenous Denmark.
in Denmark, living with such a sweet family and being involved in a program that babies us through the process of culture shock just doesn’t sound very exciting. I feel incredibly lucky to have the opportunity at all. So lucky, in fact, that I want to make sure I get everything out of this semester that I can. It’s the type of experience that I will have only once in my life and I don’t want to screw it up. My worry for the past week have been that I already had.
Now that I am back I am grateful for how easy it is to be in a safe country, living with an amazing family and meeting wonderful new friends. After a week of adventure in a very foreign city, the coziness of being back home with the Chrøis family, while not mind-blowing, is greatly appreciated. In Denmark they even have a name for this…Hygge. It’s a verb, noun, adjective and way of life. It’s a concept that is kept in mind when decorating, when buying more candles per capita than anywhere else in the world and it’s what keeps everyone sane during the dark, cold, wet winter. Then it dawned on me! The coziness, familiarity and comfort I have been viewing as a detriment to my one chance at being a student in a foreign country is actually a cultural experience in itself.
My first few days back from the excitement of Istanbul have been very hyggeligt. I’ve skyped with family, read books, ridden my bike, made s’mores with my host family, attended an 82 year olds birthday party and walked the family dog around a castle. It’s just another weekend doing as the Danish do, I guess. My philosophy now is one country at a time. For now, Istanbul can wait while I soak in this one and appreciate the hygge it brings.