“Day 22: Like Darwin’s finches, we are slowly adapting to our environment.”
This quote comes from The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, a movie I mentioned in one of my earlier blog posts, and I’m sure you have all watched it by now. When I first watched the movie in that cramped seat in the back of the plane, I couldn’t help but draw parallels between the movie and my own life. In the movie there were a group of men and women travelling to a country with an unfamiliar culture, and although they all faced their troubles they began to adapt to the society. An elderly man would go and play cricket with the young Indian boys that played in the streets, and another woman would work in an office teaching young adults the nuances of the English language. They were essentially adapting to their surrounding. Let me make clarify this point. The point of adapting isn’t to cope with the situation and hope for something better. No, the purpose of adapting is to thrive and to find a way to flourish within a new society.
Let me try to tie this back to what’s going on here in Denmark. I remember the second day when we (my entire kollegium and I) finally went to the DIS front office. We walked the old cobblestone streets of Copenhagen amazed by the juxtaposition of centuries-old buildings and the modernization occurring throughout the streets. It was awe-inspiring, and at the same time it was daunting. I remembered thinking to myself, “I will never be able to get used to living in this giant city.” However, that isn’t the case anymore. I walked down that same street today, and I just thought how quickly we have adjusted and adapted to living in this city. No longer is it daunting to walk from one end of the city to the next. No longer is it wild and foreign to hang out with Danes. The once unfamiliar lifestyle of Copenhagen has no become the ordinary day-to-day routine. We have adjusted, we have adapted, and now we are thriving. So in that way we are like Darwin’s finches, adapting our beak sizes in order to feed on the various nuts Denmark throws our way (am I a complete dweeb? Maybe. But at least the Wofford Biology Department is proud).
I promise not to make these retrospective blog posts and every time thing, but I do find it interesting to note the changes that have occurred in such a short period of time. As part of a kollegium we have this sense of family. We look after one another, and no man is ever left behind. As part of this large group I have witnessed the changes that have many have gone through. In the beginning we all wanted to experience the finest that Copenhagen has to offer. Of course, the finest is also the priciest, and so we have adapted to find more feasible entertainment. When travelling in buses we were the typical loud Americans, but after a few weeks we have become more quiet, blending in with the crowd of Danes in our daily transits. Many of us have also gotten bicycles, a very Danish way of travelling. Even then there was a bit of a learning curve, but now we ride along with any ordinary Dane in the most inconspicuous manner. We have even curbed our jay-walking which is apparently a very American thing to do. Its as if Denmark is a tall glass of water, and when we all arrived it was like a minute drop of red, white, and blue dye was dropped into the glass. Initially the dye stands out, but eventually it diffuses, and the homogeneity of the water remains intact.
Even though the water in the glass remains more or less the same, the dye makes a difference. It is not exactly the same as it was before, and I feel like that can also be said for our presence in this city. I have seen countless “Cool Story Bro” hoodies and sweatshirts on the city’s youth, and just the other day we played a pick up game of American football with our Danish RAs. The immersion process has been a two way street. Even though we will primarily be learning what it is to live like a Dane, we are also showing many people how we do it in the U S of A.
Everyone is adapting. We Americans are adapting to the private and quiet life of the Danes, and the Danes are adapting to the infusion of insanity and fistpumping from the Americans. It is a perpetual learning process, but the rest of this semester is looking more and more promising by day, and I have a feeling by the end of it we will all be better than when it all began.
Alas, that’s enough for this retrospective post. Time for me to go thrive at a Danish soccer match. We are playing the Czech Republic in a World Cup qualifier. Til next time.