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Study abroad as described by rankings

| Wednesday, February 21, 2018

I said to myself when I agreed to write my column from abroad that I would not actually write about being abroad. How many times do you need to hear how Europeans don’t eat until midnight, how much fun you can have while still staying in a hostel or that capitalism is a farce because a small Nordic nation the size of a major metropolitan area in the U.S. with a third of the diversity can do away with it even though they have their own issues they sweep under the rug but we don’t hear about that because it doesn’t fit with our narrative? That last one might have been a little more specific. I conceded though since I felt there were too many things I found funny about this experience to not talk about, and I will do so by the only way I know how — through rankings:

Danish words:

  1. Stroget (pronounced strauw)
  2. Smorrebrod (pronounced smera-BRUED)
  3. Hej-Hej (pronounced hi-hi)
  4. Aeggekage (pronounced AY-ga-kay)
  5. Naeh (pronounced na Nay-ee)

Danish is actually a nonsensical language that I believe derived from people trying to talk while swallowing milk. The first word, Stroget, is a major shopping street that is literally pronounced by making a “shhh” sound followed by the sound of you dry heaving. Similarly this is kind of how you pronounce Smorrebrod which is an open face sandwich often coated with eggs, mayonnaise, shrimp and butter. It’s slightly better than you think. I find that aeggekage (an omelette) and Hej-Hej (coincidentally meaning goodbye) just sound funny because it’s like if a little kid were told to name things for a new language. I concluded with Naeh because it gives a slight twist to our so often used nah even though it’s the same meaning but with more sass.

Best cliches I’ve heard:

  1. “Dare to Discover”
  2. “Europe is your classroom”
  3. “Maybe a potato, shrimp, mayonnaise, butter and egg sandwich isn’t for me”
  4. “Go beyond your comfort zone”

So the third one may be out of place but I really wanted to put this quote somewhere that I actually overheard due to its accuracy. I placed “Dare to Discover” first because it makes it sound like I’m being peer pressured to have fun instead of inevitably ending up bored if left to my own devices. “Europe is your classroom” is a nice quote to help people rationalize skipping all their Friday and Monday classes to travel so I slide that one in the No. 2 slot. “Go beyond your comfort zone” is simply lazy and a cliche of a cliche at this point. That’s why I have it below a description of a sandwich.

Types of weather:

  1. Depressing

This is the best and worst weather because it is the only weather. It is not as cold or windy as South Bend so I can’t complain too much though. Grey skies, full hearts, can’t lose.

Things Danes hate:

  1. Bright Colors
  2. Biking too slow
  3. Walking in the Bike Lane
  4. Not Locking your Bike
  5. Eye Contact

The Danish economy is very dependent on the bicycle. I have a theory that without following specific biking customs, the Danes would spontaneously combust with a bike bell sound whistling into the distance. Or so you would think by their impatience with a foreigner trying to learn how to ride a bike in a city with all diagonal streets and no street signs. Bright colors is a funny one because originally it caught me off-guard, but when I look at pictures from abroad so far, I notice how I have only been wearing black or dark blue – I am fully immersed since I dared to discover. Lastly, Danes truly hate eye contact, smiling, personal questions or anything else that might be viewed as approachable from Americans. They are very friendly, but you have to almost scare them to start a conversation which puts this quirk last.

Times I tell Danes the U.S. is the only country to go to the moon:

  1. My RA who thought our country was uncivilized until I mentioned this nugget
  2. A random group of young Danish men who thought America was no longer a power because we elected Trump
  3. When I was meeting my visiting host family and I saw the moon on the train ride back

Warning, I may or may not have been intoxicated for some of these instances. The top-ranked spot was particularly eventful because I felt it rallied my American house around our patriotism, resulting in a sort of Copenhagen Tea Party, if you will, against the oppressive RA Ben. The Danish men at the bar thought my point on space travel was funny but you could tell beneath their eyes they were scared knowing I come from a country that dominates the only object in the sky they could see. The train instance is last because I felt I needed to mention my country’s achievement on the train to a Dane who I had never spoken to, and I might have come off as condescending. Surprising, right? Worse still, she was actually German but studied in Denmark so she could claim her scientists are the only reason we had a space program in the first place. All around, I took a loss on the last one but really gave this country the what-for with the first two.

I truly love being abroad though. Copenhagen is much more than the chewing tobacco named after it, and I love seeing daily how Danes are intimidated simply by me speaking at an above threshold level. They also have a lot of candles and board games here which I really like, too. That last point was not necessarily relevant, but I want my friends not to be shocked when I come back with a candle obsession. Anyways, great city, great people but great material to rank.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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