The flight in was short and uneventful just an hour or so from London. It already seemed likes ages since I’d been back home a mere week ago.
Me and my sister both left for new places on the same day on flights two hours apart. She was bound for Moscow, me for Copenhagen. I sat at Heathrow for the two extra hours more bored than nervous.
Copenhagen’s airport struck me as unimpressive upon arrival. We wandered through dingy corridors through an abandoned terminal, past a 7/11 (I did not yet know how commonplace these were or how much I would miss them when I left). At customs they said nothing to me and didn’t even ask for the visa I’d gone through so much to get.
The luggage carousel had nothing on the shiny glamour of terminal five. It was simple and old. I wandered into the main area lost and looking for a cab. I was not about to brave an unfamiliar transit system with my luggage. I paid handing over unfamiliar bills to receive unfamiliar change. I have no idea how much that cab cost.
It wasn’t until I reached the hotel that it hit me. I had just moved halfway across the world to a strange city with dingy luggage carousels. Everyone here seemed to speak Danish and I did not. The whole foreign language thing did not hit me until then. The letters looked strange. Prices were in numbers that were absurdly large. What was 100DKK worth anyways? Would I ever adjust? Where was I anyways? Where was my housing? How was I going to make friends? What was I doing in this strange and foreign place?
I spent the evening freaking out and facing a reality that was exciting and terrifying. I was an exchange student, the next day I moved into my housing and started at a new university. It all seemed completely overwhelming.
I later experienced the exact same feeling after moving to Washington, DC, that what am I doing here. I imagine I will feel that way for a few days in every new place that I make my home.
We always feel the need to sugar coat travel. We say our trip was good because it is usually too many things to say at once. I later told my sister about this feeling. My sister agreed with me. We were taking the harder route by moving away from the familiar comforts of home and our social networks to a place where we had no idea how to take the bus. It was hard but it was worth it. Over time all of my questions were answered. I figured out the currency. I made friends. I found my way around. That feeling of what am I doing here was replaced by a feeling that there was no other place I was meant to be.