Surprise! Life in a big city isn’t all that different from life in a small town when you’re only experiencing it from inside your room.
For the past few days I’ve been stressing, wondering if I made the right decision coming here, if everything I remembered about city life was actually wrong. When I pictured myself moving here, I imagined the thrill of trying new restaurants from all sorts of different countries and going to new bars. I looked forward to interacting with a multitude of cultures and improving my Danish by being immersed in it. Then once I got here, I sat in my room reading Buzzfeed articles and watching Netflix wishing I was back with my family.
Why? Because inside, everything seems the same. The only new things I experience are being in an unfamiliar place and feeling alone. But every time I leave the apartment to go for a walk or buy groceries, I start to feel better about my decision to live here.
My living situation beyond this apartment is not looking good, and I know I have to prepare for the possibility that not finding a place to live may force me back to Germany. Finding a room has been like finding a job: getting excited that something matches exactly what you’re looking for; putting lots of effort into showing you’re the perfect person for the room; receiving no further response. Of course, it only takes one lucky bounce for me to find a place, so I’m not giving up yet. But if fate is determined to keep me out of Copenhagen, well, I’m not going to leave wishing I had done so many things in my time here.
So, I started forcing myself to go outside and do the things I could do in cities. First, I got lost and took forever to find my way. Okay, that wasn’t planned, but if I somehow managed to get lost in a German town of 2,600 people I’m sure I would be able to find my way pretty quickly (hint: look for the church tower). The next day I took the new route I had discovered while getting lost to get me to a shopping centre full of stores that can be found nowhere near my family’s home. I bought cosmetics from brands I can’t find in Germany. I took a walk to tourist hot-spots to see what they were like in the evening outside of the main tourist season. To end my riveting day of living it up in the city I came home to the sounds of a house party in my neighbourhood.
This morning I promised myself I’d get up early and go for a run. Well, I didn’t, because the sun was still down when my alarm went off (we are awfully far north here), but I did go out a bit later in the morning. I started jogging towards the nearest green space I knew of but decided to take a detour in what I thought was a fenced park on the way there. It ended up being a cemetery and I accidentally stumbled upon Hans Christian Andersen’s and Søren Kierkegaard’s burial places, which I can’t say has ever happened to me in a small town.
I didn’t really need any food, but I did make sure to stop at the grocery store for milk today because it’s Sunday and I’m in the big city and I can.
Since the weather was particularly grey and gloomy today I spent my afternoon watching Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight. Not only could I watch it in English, it was also being shown in 70 mm and had an intermission. I’m not a movie buff so 70 mm means nothing to me, but it was nice knowing I was watching the film the way it was intended. And, I only had to travel about 3 km to the theatre, a far cry from the 50 km needed when I wanted to watch Spectre in English while living in Germany. To cap off my big city life weekend, I exited the theatre to see it had snowed – but not on my bike, because I’d gotten lucky and locked it under an awning instead of parking it with the rest of the bikes. Aw yeah.
Having an uncertain future, especially when it comes to money, means I can’t do a lot of things I want to right away. (My movie ticket cost me the week’s food budget. Hello porridge three times a day!) But I’m not going to let that stop me from exploring a new city from the point of view of an inhabitant rather than a tourist. Hopefully I’ll have more exciting stories to tell of Copenhagen as I start discovering more and checking things off my “must see” list. Cat café, anyone?