On Dec. 21, I boarded the plane home to Denmark with mixed feelings. On one hand, I was excited about seeing my family and friends again after six months apart, but on the other hand, I really didn’t want to leave my new life in San Diego.
Moving back to Denmark has been a bigger challenge than I expected. I came home to Denmark more tanned than anybody else, but after a couple of weeks of snow, rain and cold weather, I was just as pale as everybody else in this country.
Yes I miss the weather in California, like crazy, and yes, I am ready to take the next plane back to San Diego anytime.
I miss people being accommodating. I miss people asking me how I am doing, even though I thought it was weird when I first moved to San Diego, and I miss people complimenting my clothes in the grocery store.
Americans and Danes are so different and that is now clearer than ever after moving back to Denmark. I miss that Americans smile and say hello to each other, even though they don’t know each other, and that most people are very forthcoming.
But most of all, I miss dressing California casual and living the relaxed California lifestyle. In Denmark, everybody is busy and stressed all the time and it is a very Danish thing to have an overbooked calendar.
At the moment, I am writing my master thesis in media studies, but there is nothing I would rather be doing then riding my bike around San Diego, interviewing nice people, and surfing or playing volleyball in the afternoon after work.
In other words, I really do miss San Diego, but there are also some good things about being back in Denmark.
One of the best things about being back in Denmark is to be back in the country where fruit and vegetables are cheaper than chocolate and candy. During my six months in the U.S., I gained 20 pounds and I partly blame M&M’s, peanut butter, In-N-Out burgers, and margaritas. It is good to be back with rye bread and, of course, salty licorice.
It is good to be back in a place where the doctors don’t talk about prices when you get picked up by an ambulance; and where you don’t see homeless people on every other street corner. Even though it was nice not to have to pay almost 50 percent in taxes when I was in the U.S., I now understand how important it is that we pay much that in Denmark.
The good thing about traveling is you experience a new country, a new culture and a new way to do things. You put things into perspective, and you expand your horizon. But at the same time - and especially when you are from Denmark - you also learn to appreciate your home country.
I loved living in San Diego and I would do anything to move back and live there for a couple of years. But at the same time, I found out how lucky I am to have been born in Denmark. As I told you in one of my first columns, Denmark and the U.S. are like day and night. And even though I am still in love with California, and especially San Diego, Denmark still wins for me in the end.
I will come and visit as soon as I can!
Mathilde Rousseau Bjerregaard was an editorial intern with San Diego Community Newspaper Group. She is from Aarhus, Denmark.