This month marks my fifth anniversary of my move to Denmark! The last five years have been filled with unimaginable change, growth, and setbacks. I have been at the end of my rope, my wit’s end, and on cloud nine.
Adapting to life in a new country is hard, no matter how committed or prepared one is. And I have had my challenges. I survived a lonely first couple of years, being pregnant and then having baby Theo, while finishing up Danish classes, and becoming fluent. I drudged through unemployment, and every single frustration and insecurity that goes with it. I started some classes for an associate’s degree, and totally crushed it–I was more proud of my perfect scores, and praise from my professors on my oral exams (taken in Danish) than I was when I graduated with my bachelor’s degree. I landed an internship, and struggled through the first six months of it (while being pregnant with TWINS) before my maternity leave, and where I am now.
When I think about those first few months, compared to my life now, I have to admit I am really, really proud of myself. When we first arrived, I could not leave my apartment without Andreas. I couldn’t go to the store by myself. After a couple of months, I managed to use public transport alone, to get to my Danish class (whilst sweating profusely). I clearly remember calling my doctor to make that first appointment for my pregnancy with Theo–sitting on the edge of the bed, shaking, speaking Danish on the phone for the first time.
Every day that I have been here, I have pushed my limits. I have been on a roller coaster of highs (“I am so awesome for doing these things that are hard!”) and lows (“Oh my God, I can’t do these things that are hard anymore…not even one more time.”).
On Friday, I had a busy day. I had a doctor’s appointment in the morning, so I packed up the girls, drove to the doctor, and had my appointment. Afterwards, I got a call from the police station saying that my temporary visa was ready to be picked up, so I buckled the girls into the car, and drove 20 minutes (on the highway for the first time) in our van (with manual gearshift), parked, picked up my visa, and drove home, picked up Theo, and went home. Feeling lazy on a Friday evening, we decided we’d pick up frozen pizza for dinner, so once Andreas came home, I took Theo to the store to grab some, and back home for dinner, bedtime with the kids, and cozy time with Andreas.
For some, this does not sound like a big deal. For me, it was a huge deal. My anxiety is ever-present, but the fact that I can overcome it, to do things that are really hard to me is amazing. I am a nervous driver, but there was an errand that needed to be done, and I did it. I spoke on the phone in Danish, like it was no big deal. I have learned, in the last few months (while having infant twins) how to drive a stick shift. I go to the store on my own, the doctor on my own, the police station–on my own. I’ve even made some friends, and after 3 years living in the same apartment, am feeling more settled than ever.
These five years have been a series of challenges, and I expect nothing less of the next five–but I hope I continue to grow, I hope I can be as proud of myself in 2022 as I am today. And despite the uphill climb, I am always grateful to have had the opportunity to live here, and have never second-guessed our decision to settle in Denmark (despite the weather).
We may have work to do on our relationship, but…I love you, Denmark!