Anyone whose motto is “Life is short, eat dessert first” is someone whom I’d immediately want to befriend.

As I heard my visiting dad, Lars, suggest to my visiting mom, Lilly, that we should eat dessert before our late dinner, my hunger pains quickly subsided. It was our first meeting and I was going to be eating dinner at their home. I was equal parts excited, nervous and hungry.

Dinner was set for around 7 p.m., which was unusually late for me these days. One of the only perks of cooking for myself is eating whenever I want to, which seems to be almost always immediately following my long day of classes. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to make it when Lilly announced that dinner wouldn’t be ready until after 8 p.m., so the thought of dessert first really made my stomach smile.

Dessert was simple, quick and delicious: ice cream. It might not seem all that special, but Danish ice cream, even the store-bought brands, has changed my life. I will never be able to think about Ben & Jerry’s or even Thomas Sweet the same way.

Although I have yet to try Italian gelato (give me two more months), I consider myself an ice cream aficionado-in-training, and Danish ice cream is the best that I have tasted to date. If you ever have the opportunity to try some, I highly recommend nougat, hazelnut or Ferrero Rocher. On this particular occasion, I had a chocolate-covered vanilla bar with nougat on the inside. The trifecta was the perfect combination of sweet — but not sugar coma inducing.

When 8 p.m. finally rolled around, I could tell from the smells wafting from the kitchen that this dinner would be well worth the wait. Lilly described the meal as her grandmother’s typical Sunday dinner: chicken with sauce, boiled potatoes and a pickled cucumber salad. The chicken was cooked perfectly. The meat fell off the bone, and the gravy-like sauce was perfection atop the chicken and the potatoes. The pickled cucumber salad might scare some, but the tartness from the salad helped to cut some of the heaviness from the rest of the meal.

The meal reminded me of a Thanksgiving dinner — substituting chicken for turkey — and kimchi, pickled vegetables that are a staple in every Korean meal, on the side.

Overall, it made me think of home. During my first few weeks abroad, I never had an opportunity to stop and breathe, much less to think about my experience and what or who I was missing at home and on the Hilltop. However, in the comfort of my visiting family’s home, I was finally able to take a step back and reflect.

There’s something about a six-hour time difference, not a six-hour car ride, and 3,822 miles instead of the usual 263.6 that can change your outlook.

I realized that I am more independent than I thought but still value having good friends and family, both near and far. Throughout all of my adventures, mishaps and everything in between, I survived, laughed it off and learned some lessons along the way. Although I’ve had my many moments lacking in common sense, I’ve gained some street smarts quickly and can navigate my way around the city even if my pronunciation still leaves a little to be desired. Lastly, and maybe most importantly, I’ve learned to, dare I say it, relax a bit more. Some might argue otherwise, but I at least see a slight difference in my ways and my world hasn’t collapsed, so I must be doing something right.

I’ve been here for only four short, whirlwind weeks, and I’ve learned all of that after one meal with my Danish family. I’ll be sure to frequent their home for good food, company and time to let it all sink in.

Christina Wing is a junior in the McDonough School of Business. DAMSEL IN DENMARK appears every other Friday in the guide.

Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *