Wednesday, October 14, 2009

On Bravery And Other Choices

"It's very brave to live abroad, I think."
-Mira's aunt, this evening

Every time the subject comes up, I laugh it off.  My cousin Jaime also said something about it, that living in a foreign country constituted bravery.  I remain unconvinced.

I am not, nor have I ever been, what anyone would consider brave.  My friend Niki was shocked when I posted photos of me crossing a rope bridge.  I am neurotic about hand washing.  I urge friends abroad to lookout for ebola and gunfire... even when they're going to Spain.  I will not ride a bicycle without a helmet.  I won't even climb the rock wall at Oberlin without one.

In Harry Potter terms, I am much more Ravenclaw than Gryffindor, and even that's flattering myself more than I should.  (For those rusty on their J.K. Rowling, Ravenclaw's motto is "Wit beyond measure is man's greatest treasure"-- a sentiment the overall thesis of the books disputes by roundly proving love is the great conqueror, after all.  Gryffindors value bravery and loyalty above all else.  My personal verdict's still out on this one: you have to live longer than I have to decide which virtue to prize most.)

So living abroad for four months is not what I'd call brave.  Apparently, others would, and that's encouraging, but I can't ascribe to it just yet.  The biggest problem of my week was using the post office for the first time to send a birthday package to Los Angeles.  The only trial I faced today was slicing my finger while chopping an onion.  The grandest hazard of my time in Denmark so far was Monday, riding on the back of a bike (sans helmet-- for the first and only time in my life).

Studying abroad in Copenhagen is many things, but one thing it isn't is brave.  Those other kids you hear about studying in Cuba and Namibia are brave.  Going to Northern Europe for four months would, if I wasn't very much in school, constitute a luxury vacation.


  1. I'm the same way about hand washing.

    And we're all brave for different reasons. And sometimes we're brave and don't think we are. Having grown up in a small town in rural Kentucky where few people set foot outside the state--much less outside the country--I have no doubt most people I know from home think I'm "brave" for traveling abroad like this. Like you, I don't see much bravery in it--just the thrill of experiencing something new. It's a selfish sort of bravery, I suppose.

  2. I have also gotten that a lot (of course, I'm studying abroad for four years), and it has also always confused me. It always seemed like the logical decision to make to do what I wanted to do with my life, and sure, there's some "trials" I've had to face, but it's really confusing when people call me brave.

  3. Kriti, I think you're super brave! Four years is a huge jump from four months, and India and America are so different (not that I'd know firsthand, but I assume the differences are more dramatic than going from the US to Scandinavia).