dimanche 30 juin 2013

Sunday ramblings

As I am writing this I am listening to the noise of people in my building moving out. It is the last day of the month, and the last day of June, so today is a typical moving-out day for students. Outside is a mix of clouds and sunshine which perfectly matches my mood. What is my mood exactly?

I knew before coming to Denmark that I risked coming to the end of my stay here and not wanting to leave. And I think that day has come. The day where my current state of mind matches the weather outside: all mixed up.

With roughly one month left in Denmark, I have mixed feelings about going back to Bordeaux and France. Of course there are some great things in France for me (just as there are some not so great things about Denmark), but I know that I have spent the past few years in Bordeaux having a great time but not really living for me. I feel like I just bobbed along on the surface, just floating down the river.

I know that my feelings today are related to losing a friendship in Bordeaux. I wish that I could give all the details out here on my blog but I cannot. Suffice to say, I really believed that we were really good friends, that we were two peas in a pod, but I guess these were just ideas.

Rocks on a beach near Bordeaux. Author of photo: Den Nation.

So how are things going to be when I get back to Bordeaux? I shudder to think. To be honest, I think I have made more "friends" here in the past 5 months than I did in all the years I spent in Bordeaux. I don't really have true friends here yet, but I get along so well with some of the people from my Danish class that I know that I could be great friends with some of them if I just stayed longer. But do I really want to risk that? Put myself out there, believe that something exists, only to discover that I have only imagined it existed in my mind, and then be disappointed again?

As I approached 30 I felt that I was becoming more and more introverted. Now I am sure that I have a bit of a problem. I am getting TOO introverted, cynical of everything and everyone and not putting myself out there more. Sure I took a chance with my Bordeaux friend, but just because I was disappointed once doesn't mean that the next friendship I seek has to turn out the same way. I am introverted, and I tell myself that I don't need friends, but I know that that is not healthy. I do need friends.

I just feel strange "begging" people for their friendship. I don't want to push people because I feel that friendships should develop naturally, but if I don't push a bit more than I have been I'll just continue floating along like I was doing in Bordeaux. I can't get over my introverted self, though, and get myself out there. I just can't "beg".

This is why my Bordeaux friendship is such a blow for me. It was a friendship that seemed to come naturally and I kind of put all of my hopes onto that friendship. And that's not healthy either.

I do have some true friends, but they are scattered around the world. Such is the life of an expat.

The failed friendship is not, however, the only reason why I am apprehensive about going back to France. I have gotten used to Copenhagen: there is an anything goes attitude here, there are so many rules in France that the easygoing way of life here has really grown on me. I like Copenhagen; it is a capital city without feeling like one, big enough to have everything you need without being overwhelming.

Who knows, maybe when I get back to Bordeaux I will get back into my old life and forget about Copenhagen. But something tells me that I won't forget...

Ebeltoft marina on a party cloudy day. Author of photo: Den Nation.

I do thank you all, my dear readers, for reading my Sunday afternoon ramblings. For anyone who is thinking about becoming an expat, this is the real expat life, not what you read on some Paris blog about picnicking beside the Seine river with all of your new-found friends.

Which leads me to telling you that...

I think that this is the perfect moment to tell you why I picked the name Den Nation.

Den is short for Denmark. As I started this blog shortly before moving to Denmark, this is no surprise. But I also choose the word because it also means a refuge or a hiding place. This blog is my den. I also have a physical den which includes my desk, my computer and my living room. I am an introvert and I hide in my dens. I work from home and sometimes spend days without seeing another person besides my husband. And I choose Nation not only because Denmark is a country but also because this is my nation, my den country. There may be only one person that is physically present at all times in my den, but you, my readers, are regular visitors to my den. And I think we, being immigrants and expats, do share a lot of things in common, one being the difficulty of making and maintaining friendships with people of cultures different for our own. So you are part of my den nation as well. One last tidbit: if you say Den Nation quickly enough you will hear... well, I think you know what word comes out. No, this blog is not an eternal punishment! It's more like my mind I can't get away from, my cynical ways, my lack of self-confidence and self-worth. This is part of my nation, my Den Nation.

Have a good Sunday!

14 commentaires:

  1. I totally sympathise with what you wrote here. I sometimes feel that having itchy feet and an introverted personality makes me a bit of a paradox: living abroad is not easy for people like us, yet we sought this experience out ourselves!

    I suspect that making friends in any capital is easier than in a provincial city, and it's certainly what I've found here in Paris compared to other places I've lived. But that doesn't mean that you should give up hope. You just have to be open to stepping a bit out of your comfort zone, and be open to the fact that surprising people can become your friends.

    1. Yes, I did choose this life and am always reminding myself of this fact. I often feel uncomfortable when I around groups of people I don't know well, but usually I am glad to have gone out afterwards.

      Thanks for the advice. I think you are right about Paris in the sense that there are more expats there that I could meet. You only have to look at the amount of expat Bordeaux blogs around to understand that living in province is different. I don't think that meeting French people would be any easier there, though. I think I am at an age in life when making new friends would be difficult. Expats want to meet new people, but locals already have their groups of friends.

      Still, I totally accept responsibility for the fact that I don't meet more people. I won't meet more people by staying in my flat for days on end!

  2. I have been feeling down all spring because of the bad weather, and all the negative feelings are surfacing. Being an expat is really hard, especially when the country is not treating us kindly. lol I would compare your stay in Denmark like interns who chose to do their training abroad. When returning "home", there's a void. I hope you will find your habits back in Bordeaux. At least the weather is warm over there. I find it really hard to make friends in France too. I still don't have real friends after all these years here. Bonne chance pour la suite.

    1. Yes, only I'm still in Denmark so maybe I am just having cold feet about going back. Maybe once I get back everything will just slip back into place. At least that's what I keep telling myself...

      I hope I won't find all my old habits back in Bordeaux. I could do without the excessive eating and drinking!

      You are right about the weather, I am really looking forward to swimming in the ocean again in August.

      I hope things get better for you up in the north. If it's any consulation, at least we are not alone in finding it difficult to make friends in France.

      It is my fault a little, though. I am afraid of being too pushy so I don't try hard enough. Maybe if I just pushed a little more... or maybe that would just scare them off? I just don't know!

  3. I've only been in Bordeaux a month, and granted in that time I haven't even really had the time or opportunity to think about trying to meet new people, but I can already tell it's not going to be as easy as in Paris. In Paris, I met new people all the time and became friends with some of them and others were just acquaintances. There were tons of expats, I already had a small but close group of friends from my year teaching English, I met a lot of other people through other friends and friends of friends, there were meetup groups galore for expats/Americans in Paris. It was just easy.

    Here in Bordeaux, I've been looking around online for meetup groups, facebook groups, etc, and there is nothing compared to in Paris. It kinda scares me. And I have basically given up on the idea of every really meeting and befriending French people. Besides my one good French friend, I've never had any other luck. I enjoy spending time with my husband's friends, but I would never consider them MY good friends. Not to mention that I enjoying having expat friends...someone to be able to speak English with, to commiserate with when angry at France, someone who can completely relate to my situation and I to theirs. It's nice.

    So, when you get back to Bordeaux, if you ever want to meet up, just let me know. I'll definitely be here and I'd be happy to get together! You'll have to pick the place though since I don't know anything in Bordeaux. :)

    1. I definitely feel like there are *no* expats in Bordeaux. Other than the Erasmus students and the the tourists, I don't really feel like there are so many expats around. There are some things that really are better in Paris and I hate to admit that! Whenever I read blogs of expats living in Paris it seems like they are off all the time participating in one activity after another, sometimes together with other bloggers as well. I don't know if you noticed, but it also seems that there is a distinct lack of expat bloggers living in Bordeaux. Or is it just me?

      In Bordeaux I just want to find A friend, not just a French friend. Sure I'd love to have my own French friend, but I'd love to just have one good friend in Bordeaux, expat or not.

      I'd love to meet up when I get back! Do you like chocolate? Well, it might be to hot to go to the place I have in mind, but I also like mint tea so sometimes I drink tea in Place Saint-Michel.

    2. Hmmm, I could have sworn I had already replied, but apparently my response was not saved so I'm going to see if I can remember what I thought I had said before.

      I have to agree with you that there doesn't seem to be very many expat bloggers in Bordeaux. I've searched the internet for Bordeaux based expat blogs, and I have found very little. It's kind of disheartening! Not to mention the lack of expat groups and the like. But there just has to be some expats here, but where!?!

      I'm definitely looking forward to meeting up once you get back to Bordeaux, and settled back in a bit I imagine! I love chocolate and am open to anything, though I'm going to have to look at a map to find out where Place Saint-Michel is :) I really need to take the time to start getting more acquainted with this city! Once you are back and you have a some free time just let me know. You can of course find me at my blog or shoot me an email at chele318[at]hotmail[dot]com.

  4. Oh Den! I hope you get into the swing of things when you return. It is horrible, I have moved through choice and circumstance, throughout my life and it is so hard. Much love to you xxx

    1. I consider myself rich because I do have some great friends around the world, one of which I just spent the weekend with. I am so happy they are in my life. But I would still like to have a friend in Bordeaux! The problem is a combination of factors that I control, like me becoming more introverted, and others that I don't control, like how it seems that there are few expats in Bordeaux.

      I choose this life anyway, so I have to accept the consequences of that choice. I have to accept that this is part of moving, and that it will never be easy. Thanks for your support

  5. This post really hit home with me. I know these feelings all too well. I had great (expat) friends in the north of France and when I was in Paris, but since moving to the Alps, I am essentially friendless. BUT, it's largely due to me being more and more introverted and a house hermit. I *know* I could make more of an effort to "go into town" and meet people, but most days I just don't want to (the 45 minute bus ride in doesn't help...). I have great friends, but they aren't around here. My best friends in the Alps are my bébés :)

    We should plan a meet up weekend somewhere when you are back in France!

    1. I always that that as I aged I would become more comfortable with certain situations and have more self-confidence. I have to say, though, that the opposite is true. Maybe it's because I'm living in France? I know that the onus is on me to get out there, though. I would just like to have one good friend in Bordeaux, one that I made myself. It's not impossible, is it?

      Well, easier said than done. It seems like there aren't even many expats living in Bordeaux and I have just become so cynical over the years living in France.

      I'm happy, though, because like you, I do have some really good friends around the world. So live isn't so bad!

      I think I might be going to the Alps in August. I would love to meet! I'll tell you more when we are sure we are going. If not, I don't think you have ever been to Bordeaux....

    2. Crystal, I just wanted to second the fact that I don't think you have ever been to Bordeaux... :)

  6. I'm quite similar as well. a true introvert and while most of the times I think I should just accept myself as I am, sometimes I feel like I need to push myself a bit harder to get out meet more people.

    1. Yes, I'm always going back and forth over this. Sometimes when I go out I find myself spending hours wishing I could just be home again. Other times I am surprised and quite enjoy myself. I want to push myself more, but I don't want to risk being in an uncomfortable situation.