My Hardest Blog Yet…

A little over a week ago, I woke up in Greve, made my eggs, biked to the train station, and arrived in the city to participate in my field studies for the day. That was pretty routine. I got home during dinner and joined my host family for burger night. I planned on packing when I got home because I was scheduled to go to Ireland for my long study tour with DIS. I had no idea that with a quick and crazy turn of events I would actually be packing to go home to Houston that night…

Yes, it is true. All DIS programs and activities were suspended and students were sent home as a result of the COVID-19 virus. In my last blog, I discussed how stressful it was trying to get out of Italy. THIS evacuation out of the entire CONTINENT was 10x worse.

On March 11th, 2020, at around 9:30pm the Prime Minister of Denmark announced that the country would be going on lockdown after then having a total of 527 confirmed cases of coronavirus. This meant that they were closing down all schools and universities, asking everyone to work from home, and prohibiting public gatherings. My host parents met with my roommate and me to give us a heads up that we could possibly be going home because of this. I teared up and hugged my roommate but still was optimistic in believing that maybe they would just have us learn remotely from where we were staying and then continue in-person classes soon after. Unfortunately, that was not the case. A few hours later we received an email from DIS stating that due to this new ruling, they were obligated to close and we had until March 19th to get home. My entire world stopped. I was on the phone with my parents while I was reading the email and I went completely silent. My parent’s first reaction was to urgently start looking for flights to get home as soon as possible. All they were saying was, “how fast can you pack?” “what’s your passport information?” “she needs to leave this weekend.” I drowned it all out and my whole body just went numb. I softly told them I would call them back and hung up the phone. As soon as that call ended, I let everything out. I bawled and bawled and bawled my eyes out to the point where I was actually struggling to breathe. In one of the moments where I was trying to get a hold of myself, I heard the same thing coming from my roommate upstairs. Her parents were on the phone trying to frantically find flights too. I called her down and invited her to come and share a pint of ice cream with me. I knew it wouldn’t make the pain go away, but at least for just that moment we had each other and we could pause and bask in the fact that we were still here for now. Well, shortly after, thirty minutes to an hour had gone by and we both were scheduled to leave that Saturday the 14th. We were watching Netflix and still enjoying each other’s company when we checked Twitter and started receiving a bunch of concerned text messages because President Trump also decided to put his nation on lockdown and imposed a travel ban restricting all entry from Europe. The moment quickly stopped and we both hurried to get in touch with our parents to change the already changed flight because now we had no choice but to leave the NEXT day before the ban went into effect. Every other American in Europe was doing the same so my parents were on hold with one airline, I was on hold with another, flights were selling out in seconds, and prices were going up just as fast. It was chaotic and stressful and I still had not been given the time to process the fact that my abroad experience was getting cut short. I did not want to think about packing, or saying goodbyes, or checking in for flights. I was not ready yet, but I had to be. Just so that you’re following this timeline and how quickly everything happened, we got the news of Denmark’s lockdown at around 10pm, DIS’s suspension at 12am, and it was now 2am and we were frantically packing. My new flight was scheduled to leave at 12:05pm and my roommates’ was scheduled to leave at 3:00pm THAT SAME DAY. We reluctantly woke up our host parents to tell them we were leaving tomorrow and they were in utter shock. We couldn’t even tell them that with dry eyes. They just hugged us and said, “you don’t deserve this and no one is to blame.” We put on some music and in disbelief was up packing through the night… until 6am.

We slept for a few hours and when I woke up I got a phone call from my parents saying after six hours on hold with the airline, they were able to change my flight to leave Friday morning instead of in a few hours that same day. I was relieved to know I would have another full day but saddened that it would not be with my roommate. Those next few hours were hard, we were all pretty sulked and still just in disbelief. My roommate started taking pictures of everything she could just to hold onto as many memories as possible. We both just hugged each other tightly in our room for as long as we could before it was time to take her to the airport. Once we arrived at the airport, the tears were flowing again. It was like we could not let go, but eventually, we had to and it was one of the hardest things I had to do. When I originally filled out my housing application, I asked to be in a dorm and to have my own room…I got neither and I am so glad my wishes were not granted. My roommate and I became sisters in such a short period of time and most of this study abroad journey would not have been as enjoyable if not for her. That was a tough goodbye, however, we plan on meeting up in the states once all of this is over. We are forever connected.

The rest of the day was pretty was fun but still quite somber. I tried to go on and do all of my normal routines and spend as much time with my host family as possible because I knew that soon I was next to leave. We played games, watched tv, had an indoor photoshoot, made “TikToks” and I made dinner for them since it was my last night. It was hard but I was happy and wanted to enjoy every last moment that I could with them and in Copenhagen before it was time to go. I could barely sleep that night and it was probably because I was anxious hoping the night wouldn’t end. The next morning we all had breakfast and just talked about some of our favorite memories together, Danish words and the fact that we will see each other again. I sat in my bed in Greve one last time to cry. Alas, it was time to go, and on my way out, my host brother handed me my favorite Danish drink which he customized by drawing hearts around it and told me that out of all of the thirteen students they have hosted, I was the one he’s been the closest to. At the airport, I kept running into fellow DIS classmates and that would bring back the tears all over again. We were all a mess and when it was time to say goodbye one final time to my host mom, I did not want to let go. The people in the airport and on the planes probably thought I was absolutely crazy because of how much I was crying.

The past two months have been me at my happiest. There are not enough words to describe the value that this experience has brought to me. I have laughed more, loved more, learned more, grown more, seen more, traveled more, experienced more, and so MUCH more. I didn’t choose Denmark for any particular reason. I actually just followed my advisor’s critique on where I should go based on my major and which program would be best for me. I chose my core course late based upon what was left. I even thought I applied to the wrong program when they accepted me into DIS Scandinavia because I thought Scandinavia was a different country! I had absolutely no prior knowledge or intent for coming to Denmark. Now, I can’t believe how much this hidden gem of a country means to me. My core course and I still talk in our group chat every day and even Snapchat each other because we’re so close. I facetime with my host family about once a week. I WhatsApp with my Danish friends that I’ve met at my favorite cafes, stores, burger shops, etc. Everything I do now is impacted somehow by my time in Copenhagen and even though the classes will continue from my bed now and then soon end, the relationships and memories I have from this place are forever. I will still continue to blog about my journey here and some insights that I have not shared yet. I owe you at least two more months if not longer Danmark. I will definitely see you soon. Hej Hej Københvn! Tak! Tak! Tak!

Published by gdarkoo

Hello! My name is Gabrielle Darko and I am a student at Spelman College, located in Atlanta, Georgia but I am originally from Houston, Texas. I'm a traveler, photographer, and writer. I would like for you to come with me as I embark on this journey!

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