From Copenhagen to Champaign: Readjusting to UIUC

Last Sunday I was waiting on the corner of John and Sixth streets when two students brushed past me to cross. A moment later another person ran by. And then another. This time the guy glanced back, eyes narrowed in a question that asked politely but purposefully, “What are you doing?”

It was only then that I realized it was okay to cross the street despite the signal being red. No cars were around, so naturally no one needed to wait for the walk signal. Feeling more moronic by the second, I finally crossed.

This is only one of many ‘duh’ moments I have experienced since moving back to Champaign after my semester abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark. See, in Denmark, people abide by the little green “go” signal like their lives depend on it. If the light is red, forget it, they are not moving no matter how much of a hurry they are in and how little traffic (read: none) is in their way. And if you do dare cross? Prepare for The Glare. Jaywalking in downtown Copenhagen roughly translates to telling anyone within walking distance that your life is infinitely more important than theirs.

While I’ve only been back on campus for a few days now, I’ve found the readjusting process to be both eye-opening and slightly embarrassing.

*A few other transitional trip-ups and observations:*

1. Yesterday I ordered a Cafe Latte at Espresso Royale, pronouncing “latte” like “laaaatted” out of Danish habit, and was thus stared at as if I had some kind of obscure speech impediment.

2. On Quad Day I was blinded by color. So much Neon. In Denmark, black is the new black is the new black.

3. I miss Alma. It’s been difficult accepting a senior year that doesn’t involve impromptu visits to Alma, due to her recent restoration.

4. On Saturday night I was about to walk out of my apartment with an alcoholic beverage in hand before my friend reminded me of that little open container matter that doesn’t exist in Europe, but is kind of a law in the U.S.

5. Garner Hall is gone and my memories of sophomore year are shaken. The six-pack will never be the same!

6. Lastly, White Ho, where’d you go? It was so much easier to get to you when you were just across the street from my apartment.

Ultimately, it’s bittersweet to be back in the bubble. Seeing how much I missed is a little unsettling, but when I think about how much I’ve gained, well, the small stuff pales in comparison.

“But doesn’t America just suck now?” Asked a friend of mine who spent the summer in Spain.

Okay sure, it sucks a little compared to the cobblestone streets, the castles and the culture — but Champaign does have a couple things that Copenhagen doesn’t: best friends and Maize.

God, did I miss those tacos.

_Emily is a senior in LAS. She can be reached at [email protected]_