CFN – One thing that can be said for certain, is how lucky I am to get to experience the things I have — or so my Italian host family kept insisting. Last week, I got to spend the week in Verona, Italy, with a host family for my classes study trip! It was a real eye opener for me, as I was able to experience the culture of Italy and it allowed me to realize how different Denmark is compared to Italy or even Canada — things that I realize now that I had forgotten about.
The Italian people are so warm and loving — so much like Canada — whereas Danes are more cold in that way. When I first came to Denmark, I was told that Danes were “open-minded, but not open-hearted” which makes me wonder why it is like this? There’s nothing wrong with it, that’s for sure, but it makes me wonder how exactly it has been voted to be the happiest country in the world, when they aren’t loud, boisterous or the hugging type like Italians or Canadians.
And it made me wonder…what is it that makes people happy? It occurred to me, that despite the fact that people here are so different from Canadians and Italians, it is much safer and in itself, allows for people to be more happier. But I don’t think that comparing any nations will satisfy the question of what makes the people so happy. In all, it is a mystery. As the return back to Denmark had made me not only physically ill, but also very homesick, I found myself sitting on a bench in the city center, and found myself watching everyone. I saw a lot of bland faces, but a lot of happy faces as well. And as I sat there, I realized how every one of these people were able to walk around feeling completely safe, and looking content.
They don’t have much to worry about, except maybe getting hit by a crazy cyclist, and they get the chance to do what they like, and despite the fact that they are not loud, or boisterous, nor do they run around smiling and talking to strangers, I realized that that is because I don’t live in a place like Italy or Canada right now.
And even though it is mind boggling, I am grateful for the week I had in the sun, enjoying the culture and boisterous nature of Italy. And I realize that the quiet nature of Denmark is not all bad — just different. I think that the culture shock I experienced after being away for a week will be nothing compared to when I go back to Canada. Regardless, Now that I have taken the chance to realize all these things, my homesickness is next to gone, and I’m able to cherish all the memories that I made in Italy: visiting Juliet’s house; visiting Venice; Visiting Vicenza; visiting Milan; adding my gum to the wall of gum outside Juliet’s house—something which I still don’t understand, but…well. I couldn’t resist adding to it— staying with an Italian family; becoming overstuffed on pizza, pasta, coffee, and, of course, gelato! Also, holding pigeons in my hand was pretty cool, too!
The week I spent in Italy will for sure be one that I will remember, but the new friendships that I have made with the Italian students that we exchanged with, will be ones that last a lifetime! Also, the opportunity for my Danish teachers to hear my extremely high pitched squeaky laugh for the first time was an something that in itself, made the trip worthwhile. As well as my Danish classmates seeing me in another way compared to the Danish culture that they know me from. (meaning, I fit in well in the Italian culture. I am, afterall, very loud and boisterous!)
This recent travel has allowed me to become anxious for my upcoming Eurotour (55 more days!) where I will travel all across Europe for 18 days, including a returning trip to Verona and Venice!
Tabatha Pilon is a 17 year old student from Cornwall Ontario spending a year in Denmark. She will be writing to us each week or as her “gymnasium” schedule allows.