Lorenzo from Italy here wants to share his experience as Italian in Denmark.
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Leaving your beloved, the home where you grew up, the smells and horizons which you’ve been always got use to, for going to Denmark was not easy, but the bravery in choosing what kind of live’s path, can make the difference.
I remember perfectly when my Danish professor, under whose guidance I had my Erasmus Placement and the thesis for my master, asked me if I was interested in doing a Ph.D (Doctor of Philosophy) at the Aalborg University (AAU). It was the day before my graduation session, and from that moment on my mind was focus on something else…other than anxiety for the graduation! Too many questions without any answer, too many random variables, using a scientific terminology, and a lot of insecurity, but also a lot of awareness and joy for the great opportunity that I was given to.
Immediately I thought about my family. I spent 26 years at home, surrounded by people who have always loved and supported me, before and after life’s storms. And how would I survive abroad without a good command of the English language? What about the weather? What friends would I go out in the weekend with? Not to mention the Italian coffee, going through the Nduja (a typical meat from Calabria) and all the meats in general, fruit just picked up in the garden in front of my house. And in summer? Could I survive without the sea? After one week i tried to answer all those questions, or maybe I just tried to convince myself. I took courage and I sent the application. The email arrive right away 2600 kilometers away, but I knew that the way would have been longer and with a lot of difficulties.
Two years are gone and I’m still here, changed and wiser than before, happy for the decision I made and with some more concrete answers in my hands. Thanks to the technology, and mainly Skype, I can call my family whatever I want to.
Perhaps I will never be able to replace the “Calabrian” accent with the British one, but the improvements are evident. Sometimes I even have to translate from English to Italian, and this worries me a lot. For respect to the place where I live now and for anticipation of a possible working integration, I have decided to learn Danish, even though people think that it’s a difficult language and usable only in Scandinavian Land.
It could sound weird, but I love the weather here. Generally it is cold, summer temperatures up to 25°, and until -17 during winter. Christmas atmosphere is special, with snowed landscapes, Christmas markets and carols along the streets, crowed in the historical centre. Being so close to the North Pole offers days extremely long (about 18-19 hours of daylight) and the sky is never completely dark. The other way around, when it’s winter time, the daylight hours drop drastically down (6-7) leaving room quite fast to the deep dark. The pick is during the winter solstice.
Be completely integrated in the Danish life is not that difficult, so much more in the international one. So many students arrive every semester and a lot of opportunities to meet new people and get into new networks, either social or professional. Danish people are usually shy and discreet, but if you are friendly you’ll be able to get rid of their shell, where they are trapped, and hit their hearts.
Even though I always put in my luggage some “made in Italy”, I combined my Italian eating habits with the Danish ones. I love leverpostej and rugbrød, and I found myself a good beer expert. I go to the beach in summer, nearby my home of course, going back in time to admire those horizons so familiar.
I had to think a bit before using the word “home”, wondering how to use it. It’s home the place where I grew up and I spent most of my life, or is it the place where I’m living right now? For sure it’s not a place delimited by walls, maybe it is not even possible to give it a specific place geographically, after these kind of experiences in life.
The real home is in our heart, where there’s enough space for both the past and the future, for the family, old and Erasmus friends, for the love of your life, emotions, hopes and difficulties…and the most beautiful thing is that it will travel forever with us, wherever we go. Have the courage to take the risk and get involved in this daily game!