Adriana Duarte is one of those people who has been traveling for her entire life. The child of immigrants from Mexico, she grew up in the U.S. state of West Virginia and spent two semesters and one…
Coming back from the Netherlands, I was on my way out of the terminal at the Copenhagen airport. I was in a mad rush to catch the train, trying to make my journey back home to my homestay in Gevninge as short as possible. A woman in a black flared mini skirt and a loose blue sweater looked absolutely lost and distraught, stuck in front of the no reentrance sign that lies in front of baggage claim.
Her eyes were outlined with blurred mascara and she just kept saying, “Baggage? Baggage?”
No one stopped to help her.
“Do you need help?” I asked her.
“Need help. Don’t I look like I need help? I need lots of help. I am so lost. This airport is so big and stupid and I can’t find my bag.”
“Okay, well baggage claim is through these doors. I can take you there.”
She felt bad that I was taking my time for her but it didn’t matter because I would have to walk through baggage claim to get out of the terminal anyway.
She was apparently so worried because she was coming to Copenhagen to win back her boyfriend and according to her she “looked like shit” and she didn’t know where her bag was.
She was beyond grateful that I showed her where to go and waited with her until her bags came, which I didn’t really understand since it felt like I wasn’t doing much.
She held my hand and said, “You help me now and then someday you will be lost and someone will help you. That is my religion. I believe in that. My name is Maria. What is yours?”
For the first time in a long time I introduced myself as Adriana, my full name.
“Well, Adriana, I release you. Thank you. You can go.”
I walked out of the terminal into the crowds of people awaiting loved ones in the grand and sleek lobby outside. Like always there were families waving the Danish flag. A man stood holding a single red rose which if I’m not mistaken was for Maria.
I first became interested in the study of Sociology at the age of 11, before I even understood what Sociology meant. During a summer in Boulder, Colorado, we frequented the locally famous Boulder Bookstore, where my mother and I would spend hours exploring the shelves, acquainting ourselves with new reads, and unbeknownst to the both of us, developing new interests entirely.
I became engrossed with a collection of books which discussed modern-day issues, such as runaway capitalism, race relations in America, and food systems in America. Among my first “Sociological” reads were books like Don’t Eat This Book by film maker Morgan Spurlock, and Nickle and Dimed by journalist Barbara Ehrenreich. I was in love. The books I read about fast food made me rethink entirely the choices I made around food and awakened me to the reality that for some families, fast food is one of if not the only options to feed their families. I enjoyed reading books by authors who were active participants in exploring unjust social realities, who championed social reform through the spread of awareness of the problems they perceived around them. I wanted to follow. This is why I chose to study Sociology.
I am still glad I studied Sociology, but leading up to graduation, Sociology in the academic context had begun to feel like the wrong path for me. In undergrad I began feeling like I wasn’t writing papers and putting together projects out of passion, but rather obligation. The spark I originally had for social reform was not sustained.
Sensing that I needed to re-ignite this desire to learn more about the world and its people, I took a different approach, and took a year abroad in Germany and Denmark. I am so glad I did this. My German improved tremendously. I worked on a farm in the Black Forest and learned about sustainability in a class about Green Business practices. I talked to more strangers than I ever thought I’d speak to in the course of my entire life. Most importantly I soaked up the stories of the locals both from direct conversation and eavesdropping. I’m convinced those stories have shaped me and will continue to shape me.
While I prepare to make goals and plans for the next few years of my life, I hope to take the lessons I’ve learned both in my studies in Sociology and my experiences abroad and use them to enrich other people’s lives somehow. While the manner in which I will achieve this is still partially unclear, I hope at the very least to be a resource to people, and to be a listening ear to the stories of others.
❤ Color Me Adri
After three weeks of travel between abroad programs with my family, I am finally in Copenhagen this week. My host mom is the sweetest. Though I am far from town, I am not alone because 4 other girls live in the same small town. We seem to all be getting along very well.
I thought the transition would be seamless, I’d go from Germany to Denmark, two neighboring countries with fairly similar cultures, and while I am having a wonderful time here, it is not a seamless transition.
I miss my good friends I made last semester. I miss the Lebensgarten and all the people I met there at work. My beautiful black forest and majestic cobble-stoned streets are replaced with rolling planes and flat concrete bike lanes. I am having a great time here and making friends, but I worry I am annoying them by mentioning every little thing that reminds me of Freiburg. I’m sure in a week or so I’ll be more adjusted. I just have to remember that I will learn just as much this semester as I did the last. It’s a different journey but I’m just as excited to take it.
❤ Color Me Adri