I arrived Denmark with nostalgia. There was a part of me that felt so confident and happy. While the other part of me was fraught with trepidation. I was apprehensive. But, I was unwilling to allow fear cripple my new found happiness. The fear of the unknown. How will life turn out in the white man’s land? I have heard so much about the white man. I’ve seen them in movies. I’ve met a couple of them in real time back in Lagos. But to live amongst them is the newest experience I’m about to discover. The what ‘if’s’ was paramount on my mind.
I love adventures. I like travelling, but this will be my first sojourn abroad. In the past, I’ve toured a few cities in Nigeria. Twice I visited Port-Harcourt. The first time was to attend a cousin’s wedding. My second visit was a thrilling three weeks where I explored and enjoyed the hospitality of the cozy city. I’ve been to Owerri in Eastern Nigeria to attend a traditional marriage ceremony and the burial of a friend’s Father. A couple of times, I’ve travelled to Abuja to submit visa applications to Sweden. A visa I never got even after the rigorous agonizing nine hours journey from Lagos by road. Phew! Oh, unbeknownst to me, Nature has another plan for me in the Scandinavian world.
Wait a minute, I recalled that I’ve travelled abroad once. It was an exciting trip, one that gave me butterflies and a trip that actually changed my life’s story. The Danish Embassy was located in Cotonou, the Republic of Benin at that time. And I needed to apply for my Resident Permit to Denmark. That began the journey to the Scandinavian experience. A whole new world and a whole new life. My quest for travelling is because I like to discover new territories, meet new people and gather new experiences. Or isn’t travelling a means to acquire knowledge?
My thought processing was so much alive today. Meaningful thoughts, nonsensical sarcasm were all cluttered within me. All these encroached my mind as I sat quietly at the back of the taxi, enthralled by the sea of heads before my tired eyes and the new world stretched out before me, all from the rear view of the window. I pondered on the many challenges I will encounter. I thought about the enormous possibilities too. I knew that disguised in challenges are pockets of opportunities to explore. How will this sojourn abroad turn out in the future? I became predisposed to phobias as a certain cold wave enveloped me. Fast forward to the future. That future is now and I’m still apprehensive about the years to come. An unending rhetoric you would say. An ambiguous question that only the future can answer.
I walked through the long corridor, minutes after my mentor had gone. Louise took me into my large room with my two heavy suitcases. “This will be your room”, She said. I thanked her and she led me out into the kitchen and instantly, I was attracted to the novelty. It was a big kitchen and seemingly in absolute order. At the Laundry room, I was fascinated by the big washing and drying machines. Wow! My heart jumped out at the types of equipment before me. This was the Games and Computer room. There were many new-fangled gadgets. Surely, it’s a different world, I said. Apparently, I’ve stepped into newness. The word ‘new’ gradually crept into my sub-consciousness. Indeed, it was going to be a subtle subjugation with what I’d seen so far. I giggled at the thoughts because everything looked daunting. But I will not allow these ambiguities intimidate me. No, I will not.
Louise and I, exhausted and feeling famished, wrapped up the brief familiarisation tour of the three-story building that will be my new home. Teknolog Kollegiet was the student ‘Kollegium’ as the student hostels are called in Danish. “Welcome to Denmark, Stella, I hope you will like it here”. She said as she stretched out her well-manicured hands towards me. I hope so, I replied, as I gripped her hands firmly, glad that the tour has finally reached an end. Thank you, Louise. “You’re welcome”, she said with a smile.
Back in my room, with no family or friends in Demark, a surge of loneliness gripped me. I drank from the Cola I bought at the Airport and decided it was time to see more of the kitchen. I like food so I better began to understand how things work around here. I admired the frames and paintings on the white wall at the corridor as I stepped out. They reminded me of my home in Lagos. I love paintings. I love wall frames, beautiful ones that tell a story. I was still lost in admiration of the expanse kitchen when I saw her. The first person I met at the Kollegium.
Hi, my name is Stella.
“Hi, I am Lina”. “I guess you are new here”.
Yes, I arrived a while ago. My mentor just left.
Where are you from, I asked her? “Oh, from Lithuania”.
Lithuania? I said with a look of confusion.
Yes, it’s in Eastern Europe.
Oh, I see! I am really not very conversant with the Eastern European countries.
But I have a fair knowledge of Russia, Poland and Bulgaria. These countries pop into my head easily. I know a bit about Russia because of her place in World History, which I learnt in school. Who wouldn’t know about Russia?
There was also a Polish man I met a few years ago. He worked as an expatriate in an oil company in Lagos. Once he came to our office where I worked and cracked us up with his jocular demeanour. A cup of tea was offered to him and to our amazement, he threw in six cubes of sugar into the small cup and stirred it endlessly.
Me: Why do you add so much sugar in a small cup of tea?
Him: I love my tea sweet.
Me: Aren’t you scared of diabetes?
Him: No. Not at all. I’m 60 years old. And I’m not afraid to die. If I’m diagnosed today with diabetes, it will take it a few more years to finally kill me. That is if it becomes a bad case. And if it takes another 10 years to react, I’d be 70 years at that time. What’s more in life at 70? I have achieved so much in life already. And will be happy to go my way knowing I ate everything I wanted to eat. Don’t forget that I’d still die even with the greatest precautions.
I looked at him. Speechless. And pondered on his deep words.
Lina brought me out of my reverie from where I stood, reminiscence of my conversations with the Polish man.
Oh, and where are you from, Stella?
Nigeria, I answered.
Nigeria? She almost choked on her coffee. “Excuse me, but I haven’t heard of that name before”. You haven’t? I replied with a baffled look. I’m not surprised though. Africa wouldn’t be of interest to you I guess.
“Oh no, Stella. It sounds rather strange to me. I haven’t been reading much about African except for the information I gather from the Media. And I know there are not very good stories”.
I know what you mean. But the news you are fed by the Media, are all farce with little accuracy. I will suggest you create the time to find out a bit more about the African Continent. I hope you understand that Africa is a continent and not a country.
“Oh, I know that. But thank you, Stella. Yes, Nigeria. Sounds interesting. I will have to look it up on the map”.
That will be a nice thing to do Lina. I can assure you that there will be other discoveries too and information you’d get out.
“Trust me, I will do a good research. It’s a pleasure to meet you. I need to go now. I have to run off for a walk”.
It’s nice meeting you, Lina. See you later.
I made myself a cuppa and walked back into my room. Into the room that would accommodate me for the next two years. Welcome to your new residence, I said. I guess it’s a whole new world beginning from today.
I smiled as I looked out of the window into the most enchanting panoramic view. What I saw, sure, pleased my eyes.
PS: This is an excerpt from the chronicles of my sojourn in Europe – a future book! Feel free to make suggestions as you deem fit on the comment session. I will consider all suggestions as this is still a draft in progress. Thank you.
Peace and Love!
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