Life on the Left

Moving country is a strange thing. A strange, tiring, frustrating and beautiful, wondrous thing. It was a month ago that we moved from Copenhagen to London. It was three years prior, that we moved from Seattle to Copenhagen. Compared to many people I know, we are not veterans to this lifestyle, yet we are no longer novices either. These kinds of moves are emotional and not for the faint-hearted. It is sad to leave and so exciting to arrive. It is as thrilling as the most menacing rollercoaster and you hope that at the end, you will come off it with a smile on your face. IMG_20140614_115612 IMG_20140612_113832 IMG_20140613_133215 IMG_9437 IMG_9434 The other day I woke up with the oddest homesickness I have ever felt. I was longing for a summer day in the Pacific Northwest and at the same time, I wanted to bike through Østerbro, my old neighborhood in Copenhagen. Perhaps I was just yearning for something familiar. That’s the thing about navigating through a new country. There is tremendous adrenaline that accompanies each day as new experiences are constantly being thrown at you. I love that – I thrive on it actually. But it can become a bit overwhelming. So when I woke up oddly homesick, I decided to go for run. I ran to Richmond Park, where a dusty trail led me to become lost in a serene and contented state. I was lost – literally and figuratively. I didn’t know where I was, yet I found that to be profoundly gratifying. Major differences between our life in Copenhagen and life in London so far? #1 – Driving. Everything about it. More cars, smaller streets, left-sided confusion. Just as in Copenhagen, we don’t own a car. However, we do plan on getting one. It will mostly be used for weekend outings since Brett takes the train to work, we walk to school and most errands can be done by foot, bike or public transportation. We rented a car for a week and I drove a few times. This whole left-sided business of driving, biking and walking is both nerve-racking and humorous. I laugh every time I reach for a phantom seatbelt and a phantom gear shift. The girls find it hilarious when I get into the wrong side of the car. I was honked at for driving too slow in the fast lane and for passing on the wrong side as well. I’ve also had more than one ‘Grizwald’ moment or driving multiple times around a roundabout in order to make the correct exit. “Look kids, Big Ben!” Okay, so I’m a bit of a mess on the road. I’m much better on a bike anyway. However, I miss bike lanes and I find myself chanting “left, left, left” as I peddle along. #2 – Shopping. We are fortunate to have local, small shops in our “village”, where we can buy free-range meats and freshly baked bread, but we also have a Waitrose nearby (and even a Whole Foods!). Just when I had become accustomed to our tiny grocery store in Copenhagen, we are back in the land of abundant selection. Which leads me to #3. #3 – Language. Dansk er ikke længere i mine ører, men stadig i min hjerne. Danish is no longer in my ears, but still in my brain. Sometimes I think I hear it and Dahlia told me that the World Cup was being broadcast in Danish (it wasn’t). For the first 2 weeks I couldn’t stop saying “Tak” (thank you) and “undskyld” (excuse me). But, oh, the ease of being able to read all the contents at the grocery store. I spent almost 2 hours in Waitrose, strolling up and down the aisles reading every label. Plus, British English is so amusing and sometimes feels like a foreign language (even for this half-Brit). For example the school newsletter said “kids could have a mufti day in exchange for a tambola table bottle”. …Come again? Thank goodness for new friends, putting up with my questions. Matea says that kids in her class try to imitate her American accent. For an 8-year-old who wants to fit-in, she doesn’t find this very amusing. And why is it, (she asks) that they have to whine in a high-pitched squeal, when they speak in an American accent? For the same reason that we always add a tone of elegance when we imitate the British. Stereotype. She also went from learning Danish twice a week to being dropped in the middle of French. Ooh là là! #4 – Safety. We live in a safe area (we are told). But I am conscious about not leaving valuables in my bike basket or visible in a car and I keep an extra eye on the kids at the park. But these are normal things, right? Copenhagen was not “normal” in this sense. For one reason or another and likely unrelated to the points above, it is taking a bit longer for us to get settled and find our footing this time around. Perhaps because we want it that way. Between unpacking boxes we are exploring this beautiful area. My sister and her family spent the weekend with us for the 4th of July and the weather has been cooperative for long runs along the river. We live in the London borough of ‘Richmond upon Thames’. I like living upon Thames. So far, I like it very much. IMAG9932-1 IMG_9482 IMG_9508 IMG_9491 IMG_20140714_113535 IMAG9560 IMAG9814 IMG_9514 IMG_9519


2 responses to “Life on the Left

  1. Ciao dall’Italia. I’m so glad you are settling in well despite the “language problems” I warned you about. Yes, Richmond is a lovely part of the world, I’m certain you will enjoy it to the full. Love and best wishes to you all.

  2. i can so relate to your driving issues- I was a mess on the roads at the start of our stay in DK! A lovely blog. xx

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