I lived in Minnesota for sixteen years of my life; however, I confess that I never visited Duluth. I had gotten glimpses from pictures on my friends' instagrams and always been a little bit embarrassed that the only memory I have of Lake Superior was collecting stones from the shore at a lake cabin with my family when I was seven. I didn't have much time in Minnesota, but I was determined to change that, and jumped up on the opportunity when my friend Dorothy asked me if I wanted to go camping in the Duluth area for a weekend.
It was less than two months ago that I boarded a plane headed to the Minneapolis airport. To say that I was reluctant about going back to Minnesota might have been an understatement. Sure, I was excited to see my parents again and meet the new dog, but I had built up an entire life in Denmark. I was going to have to go through reverse culture shock and adapt to my old home life, which has been much more of a challenge then one might assume. Despite the fact that Minnesota is heavily influenced by Scandinavia, Denmark and Minnesota are quite different.
I was recently on a trip around Europe with 47 other exchange students who have spent some time in Denmark. I would like to tell you all about it, but I'll start out with Venice, Italy. Venice has a reputation as a tourist spot. It's a bit more expensive because it is considered a "floating city," and I was curious to know if it was actually worth it.
Back in my camp days, my camp friends could sort of see I was bit wound up, a bit of a perfectionist. Several of them struggled with that too, but they were much better at dealing it with than I was. Their favorite bible verse was, "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me," from 2 Corinthians 12:9.
We all know what it is like to be in a place that feels temporary, a place that feels like an alternative reality. These are places that you are not meant to stay in for long and are places of waiting and transition, like rest stops on highways and airports. Reality feels a bit altered and your brain doesn't know how to take it all in.
There are lots of things in life that are illogical and take a bit of believing in. We believe that people will change their lives for the better and we hope that, against all the odds, our sports teams will pull through and win--which happens sometimes. We hope that things will always work out our way, which happens less than we would like. Some of us also have faith in God, which has never failed me. I believe that Hebrews 11:1 says it best: "Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see." If you believe in God, you have faith.
You, my dearest readers, have heard all of the wonderful things about exchange, and it's been a lot of fun writing about those parts. However, that's not the entirety of my exchange experience. I have had the most exhilarating moments of my life in the past nine months, but these moments do not come without a fair amount of failure and hard work attached to them. I live in one of the most adaptable countries for an American--more specifically a Minnesotan--because Denmark and Minnesota are a much more adaptable combination than many other country combinations.
One of the benefits of having a father who has traveled around a little bit is the stories. Unfortunately, I haven't received quite as many of them as I have hoped during my time abroad, so my dad unknowingly gave me an excellent Easter present when he sent me one recently. Many years ago, my dad was in a country with a very low percent of Christians: Senegal. Denmark is a country that is largely culturally Christian, but is not widely religious and, while I know a lot of nonreligious people here, my dad got to know lots of Muslims.
It was approximately one year ago that I found out that I was going to a little town called Vojens in Denmark, and would be attending school in Haderslev. The morning I got the email from my counselor in Denmark, I excitedly Googled the town and found out that Vojens was known for motocross and ice hockey. The remaining months flew by, and there wasn't a day where I wasn't overflowing with anticipation. Eight months ago, I flew to Denmark and I have loved it ever since.