The Danish word for “Hello” is “Hej” (pronounced “Hi,” like in English). But two hello’s in Danish, “Hej Hej,” means “Goodbye.” A goodbye in Danish is essentially two hello’s. It’s not really a “goodbye” then–it’s a promise for other “hello’s” in the future. As I’m packing to leave for Copenhagen for the next 4 months, the Danish phrase “Hej hej” becomes especially relevant. I’m saying goodbye to the home I’ve lived in for the past 3 months; I’m saying goodbye to my friends from home with whom I spent all my time during these summer months; I’m saying goodbye to friends and peers from Bowdoin–a place I’ll miss for a semester but will return in January with many stories. Finally, and most climactically, I’m saying goodbye to the country where I have lived my entire life. Sure I’ve travelled outside the U.S. before. But living on my own is something I have only done at college–a place that has provided me with food from a dining hall, classrooms footsteps away from my residence, and friends a text message away.
But to the Danes, a goodbye is not just goodbye. There are two hello’s for every one goodbye. So while I’m saying “Goodbye” to the many comforts of my college years, I’m also saying “Hello.” I’m saying hello to commuting 30 minutes every morning to class in a big city; I’m saying hello to the new friends I’ll make, both from the Danish Institute for the Study Abroad (DIS) and local Danes; and most importantly, I’m saying hello to the many stories I’ll tell for years and years about that time I decided to go to Denmark for 4 months.
I cannot wait to start my adventures with DIS (now the blog title should make more sense). And I especially cannot wait to start living in a place where a goodbye is not goodbye…but a promise to say hello.