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Two weeks ago, I jumped on a plane to Copenhagen. I had zero cash in my wallet* and only a faint idea of what I wanted to do, but thanks to SAS youth fares, I was able to book the hour and twenty minute trip just a few days in advance. Since I was already familiar with the zone system, it took me about about a tenth of the amount of time it took the rest of the tourists to purchase their metro tickets (and as I felt very Finnish at that point, I did

Two fellows and a mermaid

not speak up to offer help), and the train dropped me off three minutes from Becca’s apartment (the JDC fellow there).

It was my fifth weekend since I arrived in Helsinki. I had begun to establish relationships and had already traveled to the most accessible spots in southern Finland. Spending a weekend away was the perfect break between the busy events of the past few weeks and the approaching high holidays.

It was incredibly interesting to visit another fellow in their placement and to see the differences and similarities in our lives. Becca’s responsibilities differ from mine and our daily schedules are almost reversed. Although we are both BBYO fellows, her community is much larger, so she has more kids to manage and also the opportunity to be part of a large young adult organization. She also lives with an Israeli shlicha, and I thought that it must be nice to share the experience of living in a foreign country with someone else. For better or for worse, I have gotten quite used to keeping my thoughts and observations to myself.

Compared to America, life in Copenhagen seems quite similar to life in Helsinki. But in Denmark, people are louder, (a little) less reserved, they wear more colors, and there are more tourists. Much of Helsinki was destroyed in the second world war, but the central part of Copenhagen still feels like a living storybook with cobblestone streets, winding alleys and castles and towers popping up around every other corner. I woke up on the couch each morning to the sound of a violin playing from the street below.

This was before we knocked over a stranger’s bike by accident

During the weekend, I had a chance to meet up with a friend from Emory who is currently studying in Hamburg for law school and another friend currently at Emory who is studying abroad in Copenhagen. Diana (the second friend) accompanied Becca and I to a Shabbat dinner for young adults on Friday night, which was catered by the community and had maybe 30 people in attendance. Becca had been in Copenhagen for just a few weeks, so we also had a chance to wander and sightsee, and many of the spots were still new to her too. We also spent a day planning a winter retreat for our teens, so I did get some work done on Friday too!

I’m a firm believer that you don’t really become attached to a place until you leave it–and leaving Finland, even for a weekend, made me realize how comfortable I’ve become and everything I love about living here.

*This deserves an explanation – I had no Euros to convert to Danish Krone, but thanks to modern technology I survived a long weekend in a different country with just credit card–something that would never have been possible five years ago!

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The postings on this site are my own and do not necessarily represent the positions, strategies, or opinions of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.  



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