Today marks my 6 month anniversary in Denmark, and I can’t believe how quickly the time is passing. I had absolutely no idea what I was getting myself into back in October, and to be honest, I continue to have no idea what I’m doing. I’m still waiting for my residency paperwork to go through, so I can’t enjoy the benefits that come with it. This means that I am unable to leave Denmark, unable to enroll in the free Danish classes, and unable to work.
So what am I doing here?
The honest answer is: without my residency and work permits…not much. I moved here to be with my boyfriend, the Viking. He is Danish and has been living in Copenhagen for years, so he has quite the well-established life here. I, on the other hand, left my own semi-well-established life back in the US. This time last year, I was a Philadelphian with a fairly busy schedule. It may not have been the most glamorous, but it was mine. I was a full time nanny for two wonderful little girls, the captain of the Matzah Ballers (a team in the local bocce league), a member of an all-female fantasy football league, an avid Netflix enthusiast, and a textbook Phillies and Flyers fan. But I chose to leave my comfort zone completely. Now, for the first time in my almost-27 years, I am a foreigner.
I’ve lived my entire life in the good ol’ US of A. I am a very proud, first generation American. I am the only child of two hardworking immigrants who (after 30+ years) are now both US citizens themselves. Naturally, I thanked them by moving to a entirely different continent. To be fair, my parents weren’t really surprised when I told them. My mother’s exact words were, “What am I going to do? Stop you from doing exactly the same thing I did at your age?” Then, she added, “Promise me you won’t act like such an American over there.” I didn’t really know how to respond to that. What did she mean? In my mind, I’m just a standard, uninteresting person who happened to live in the States. But, six months into my stay in Denmark, I’ve come to realize that my mother was trying to warn me about an undeniable truth.
I am basically just a walking American stereotype.
It all started to dawn on me back in November when I complained about how “small” the appliances where in my new Copenhagen apartment. In my eyes, the refrigerator was weirdly narrow, and the oven was laughably small. I was convinced that our Thanksgiving turkey (which was kind of difficult to find by the way) was never going to fit in the teeny, tiny oven in our Danish kitchen. After a few minutes of listening to me moan and groan about it, the Viking said, “You sound so American right now. Why does everything have to be so big?” In that moment, the bubble of Americana, in which I was comfortably residing, popped. Ever since then, I’ve been taking note of how the relocation has changed my routine. I spend my days desperately searching the grocery store for familiar foods, getting completely lost while walking my dog, and finding ways to stream American news, sports, and tv. After almost a decade in Philadelphia, I’m the new girl in town, and I’m realizing that it’s going to take a little more than six months to adjust.
So, of course my mother was right. No matter what I do, I won’t be able to change the fact that where I am from makes up a good chunk of who I am. My characteristics that seem ordinary back home tend to set me apart in this neck of the woods, and that’s not a bad thing. I’m embracing all those things about myself. I talk way too loudly, I am overly friendly with strangers, I call football by its American name of soccer, I have emotional relationship with peanut butter, and I have a (mostly) accidental ignorance about the world outside the 50 states. I am the stereotypical American, and because of that, I get to explore this beautiful country with a slightly different perspective. Even with the occasional loneliness and homesickness (not to mention the UNGODLY time difference that keeps me from watching my sports live), I am very lucky to have the opportunity to live abroad and share my experiences in this blog.
*which I don’t really expect anyone to read if I’m being honest*
But if anyone is reading this, I hope you enjoy my adventures as The Stereotypical American!