The Happiness Inquiry

A teacher's quest to cultivate happy habits in her students

16: A Sense of Home

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This morning, Greg and I swam in the North Sea at a little beach just a few blocks from our Copenhagen apartment. Our flight was leaving in 3 hours but we had to squeeze in what we could!

Now, just 17 or so hours later, we are back in Chicago, bellies full of deep dish pizza and eyelids heavy because we’re on Denmark time and it feels like 5:00 a.m.

The trip really did go by as fast as everyone warned me it would. Our time in Aarhus flew because we were so settled, and the days were paced in such a relaxed way that hours would slip by without you even noticing. I got so used to the relaxed pace that a very busy day consisted of an interview for the happiness documentary, a yoga class and Wednesday market day grocery shopping/cooking lunch. Ahh…the life. I shall try to hold onto some of that pacing back here in Chicago. Walking places by choice. Chatting with market vendors. And always stopping to find the birdies in the treetops.

Norway was all go-go-go since our time there was very brief. Lots of driving. Gorgeous, jaw-dropping scenery. Unbelievably expensive food that I could have cooked better. Mountains.

And then we landed in Copenhagen to round out our final 2 days, and try as I did to get us to all of the delightful-sounding neighborhoods, cafes, and diversions that I’d compiled, we only made it to about half and had to be happy with that. More days of walking 14+ miles while being very leisurely about it at the same time.

It was definitely sad to leave Denmark, and we lamented all that we didn’t do, or didn’t do long enough, or didn’t go back and check out for a second time. Yet I do feel that we truly enjoyed our time and allowed ourselves to get a feel for the country and the people as much as one can in a month.

I have so many take-aways, observations and amazing interview recordings, and I can’t wait to create this documentary and share it with everyone. I know actually putting it all together is going to be a major process and not necessarily one I’m prepared to undergo, but I look forward to the learning experience–and who knows? Maybe it’ll turn out to be a hidden talent! In any case, there are posts I’ve planned on writing and never had, and things I saw and never shared, but I intend to put a lot of that into the documentary itself.

Since the goal of this blog was to share my travel experiences and reflect on things that made me grateful and happy on the trip, and I’m now back home, sitting on my own couch, trying to finish this blog and not fall asleep, I think this is the time where I must say bye for now. I’ll still be thinking about happiness, and have several articles to read recently sent by my uncle and another on I need to translate out of Danish. The research will continue, rest assured! However, I won’t be writing regularly any more after this, just to, for example, share the link to the documentary once it’s done.

I’ll leave with this: traveling is definitely a rite of passage. It takes you out of your familiar surroundings, makes you more observant, more sensitive and forces you to think. It allows you to recognize what you take for granted, and revise tastes and preferences. You can surprise yourself, by discovering that you have unexpectedly made yourself at home in a place that once seemed so foreign and strange, or in other cases, find that you can’t quite get comfortable even when it seems you ought to be able to!

With all this in mind, today I am most grateful for the sense of home, wherever you are lucky enough to find it. I had it in Aarhus, but not so much in Ålesund. I think I would’ve had it in Copenhagen if I’d been there long enough to settle in, or maybe if we’d visited another city in Norway that was neither the capital nor the tiny tourist town. In previous travels, I had it in Padova and Freiburg, but not Munich. I definitely have it here in Chicago, my favorite place of all. Just smelling the air near O’Hare had an affirming effect on me, and I must have felt mighty relaxed on the blue line because I fell asleep sitting up almost instantly and stayed that way until we almost missed our stop. Only when you feel at home can you pass out cold on the train, I don’t care how jet lagged you are!

So enjoy your sense of home, everyone! It’s a precious thing and not to be taken for granted. 🙂

Thank you all for your encouraging comments and for sharing in my experience. It’s been a pleasure doing this work and I look forward to piecing together the documentary, which will delve much deeper into the happiness inquiry. Check back in in a couple weeks to take a look!

Ciao for now 🙂

Kat/Ms. Henry


Author: henrykat

I am a middle school special education teacher in Chicago. I was fortunate enough to receive a Fund for Teachers grant that allows me to spend a month in Denmark, considered to be the happiest place on earth. I hope to use my experience to inspire my students to make choices that will increase their personal sense of well being.

One thought on “16: A Sense of Home

  1. Once again, a beautifully and so well written insight on your travels…I will miss these posts so eagerly awaited for, but am so happy you are back home for your family, friends & students who so love & respect all you do!

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