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Posted in Reflections & Lessons

What I’m Taking Home with Me

The student hub is bustling with life until late in the night. The library is packed with students. The lines for the coffee shops are long. Here at DIS, it’s clear, finals season is upon us. So, I’ve been spending a lot of my time with friends, studying. Last weekend, in the midst of some of this studying, my friend put down their pencil and looked up at me. They said that studying for finals is, sadly, reminding them of the approaching end of our time in Denmark. With that in mind, they asked me what I’m going to take back home with me. I thought that my answer to that would be worth sharing here on my blog.

Coming to another country without knowing anyone and without knowing the language is scary to say the least. Moving into a house with a total stranger and navigating a new city is anxiety-inducing. To deal with these things, I was forced to be more bold that I had ever been before. I’m generally a shy person, but I had to be confident enough to walk up to strangers and ask for directions or help. I had to be daring enough to try to speak Danish, even though I knew it wouldn’t be perfect. My support system, as I had known it, wasn’t here to get me through tough times or difficult situations. I had to be there, for myself. In the process of being bold, I came to know myself a little bit better. Because I had to do things completely on my own, I had to stop and think about just what it was that I actually wanted to do. I usually place a lot of pressure on myself to get perfect grades. Being away from home, I realized that maybe that aspect of me was a result of my surroundings. I did not, by any means, stop putting effort into class. But, this semester, I realized that living life to the fullest is more important than perfect grades. Rather than studying all night, I reserved a certain amount of time for it, then went to Tivoli or got ice cream with friends. I realized that I was only here for so long, and that making memories was my priority.

All this to say, as cliche as it sounds, I found myself while studying abroad. Well, maybe not “found”, I was always there, but I got to know myself better. I tried knew things and pushed myself. It is this that I plan to take back home with me.

Posted in Uncategorized

Life Advice for your 20s, 30s and 40s

Sadly, the semester is coming to an end. In addition to final papers and projects, I’ve also been attending final outings with my classes. One of these being a lovely group dinner with my Danish class. During which, I asked my professor about his life experiences and what his best advice is for young adults. Here’s what he had to say.

For your 20s, he said to follow your passion. Make sure that whatever you pursue lights a fire within you. Don’t use your time, he told me, on something that you don’t care about deeply.

For your 30s, he advised, you should chill out. He told me to realize that problems might arise that seem insurmountable, but that I would get through them. He said that to enjoy life in your 30s, you mustn’t sweat the small stuff. Relax and appreciate the present moment.

For your 40s, he said to settle. Upon hearing this advice, I refuted it. “Settle? Why should I settle?” I asked him. He told me that the perfect thing, in any aspect of life, does not exist. By settle, he meant to not give up on something because it isn’t perfect. He said that in your job, in your relationships, and in your passions, settling is accepting the imperfections. Settling is acknowledging that everything in life takes effort. And just because something requires work, doesn’t mean you should give up on it.

Posted in Travel, Uncategorized

Sun & Sand: My Trip to Greece

Last week was Spring Break and I decided to use it as an opportunity to explore Europe outside of Denmark. Along with three friends, I boarded a plane to Thessaloniki, Greece. Here are a two highlights from the trip.

  1. Exploring in the Sun

Walking out of the airport, I felt the need to put my sunglasses on. It was a bright day with clear skies; around 70 degrees. After reaching the hotel and dropping off our bags, my friends and I hit the streets to explore and take advantage of the sun. We roamed the cobblestone roads, taking in the breath-taking architecture. We stopped at street vendors for Fredo cappuccinos- a cold, frothy & delicious Greek speciality.

Walking along the water, we stumbled across a pirate ship docked at the shore. Two people welcomed us on for a free sunset tour. We claimed the best seats at the front of the ship and took in the smell of salt and the feeling of the ocean breeze. We admired the mountains in he distance and the birds along the shore. The sun shone on our faces as we enjoyed this unexpected result of our exploration.

2. A Picnic in the Sand

On the second day of the trip we decided to head to the beach. However, before we hailed a taxi we made a quick stop at a lovely outdoor market. We picked out some fresh fruit, locally made cheese, crackers and juice. After packing up these treats, we made the quick journey to the seashore.

We laid out or blanket and towels and turned on some music. We relaxed, talked and munched on the delicious picnic we had put together. It was a rather uneventful outing, and that was just what we had hoped for. Laying in the sand, we simply relaxed.

Posted in Homestay Experiences, Uncategorized

Cow Release Day: The Sign of Spring

The rain is subsiding and the clouds are going away. At long last, it is spring time in Denmark. It seems as though everybody has been waiting for this; waiting to go outside and feel the warmth of the sun’s rays, waiting to be able to sit in the grass and smells the sweet flowers. Everyone- including the cows.

As I learned from my host mom, the day that the cows are released from the barn and into the grassy fields is a big deal here in Denmark. It is known as cow release day, and it happens at farms all over the country. People bring their whole families to witness the joy of the cows as, after a long winter, they get released. It is the true sign of Springtime in Denmark, and a sight I was fortunate to see this year.

It was around 11am when we arrived at the farm and pulled into the large grassy field, completely packed with cars. After stepping out of the car, we made the fifteen minute walk through the beautiful woodsy-area to the barns in which the cows were kept. The trail was marked with signs, adorned with cartoon images of cows, pointing us in the right direction.

Once in the area with the barns, we found a good spot near the fence, standing in anticipation as we waited for the cows to be released. Kids and adults alike stood around us, looking eager and excited. Once the clock struck 12, the bell rang, and the barn doors opened. Hundreds of cows rushed from the barn, running by the crowds of people into the big open field. You could sense the joy in the animals as they trotted through the grass, sniffing the flowering and looking up at the sun. It was evident that their joy was contagious, as everyone in the crowd smiled and laughed. This sign of Spring was simple, but it filled so many people with delight. It was truly a lovely event to experience.

Posted in Reflections & Lessons

The Fine Art of Trying & Failing to Speak Danish

If I had to pick one conversation in Danish that I feel most comfortable with, It would be the exchange of ordering a coffee. You see, I order a lot of coffee. I’ll admit it, I order too much coffee. So, I’ve used practicing my Danish as a sort of justification for this unhealthy habit. The point being, I am excellent at ordering coffee in Danish.

So, last Saturday, I was at one of my favorite spots- the Espresso House in Vanløse. I am fond of this particular location because it has an upper floor that is almost all windows, so I get to enjoy the sun’s rays as I do my homework. But, I digress.

I walked into the cafe and strode up to the counter. Like second nature, I ordered my favorite, an oat milk chai latte. Confidently, I spoke: Jeg vil gerne have en chai latte med havremælk. The cashier asked if I wanted anything else, told me the total and asked if I wanted a receipt. These were all words and phrases I knew, and the conversation went just as I had expected

After a few minutes, the barista called out my order and I approached. I was ready to take the steaming mug of the delicious beverage, but before I could reach for it, the. barista spoke: Vil du have kanel på set?

Immediately, I panicked. What had she asked? What should I say? I was not prepared for this. My head reeled and I blurt out, “sorry?” She calmly responded, in English, “would you like cinnamon on that?” “Oh, no, thanks, sorry,” I muttered these words, still frazzled, as I took my chai.

As the internal panic settled, I realized that the situation, in reality, was probably not as dramatic as my head had made it out to be. Sipping my chai, I realized that the barista had heard me order, and that my pronunciation was so good she thought I was fluent. That, at least, was something to be happy about.

As I finished the chai, I thought, damn, this would have been good with some cinnamon. So, the next day when I ordered a chai, now knowing the word, I asked for some.

Trying to speak the language in a foreign country inevitably means failing from time to time. However, in these failures, there are opportunities to learn, and that is surely a fine art.

Posted in Exploring Copenhagen

The Spirit of Christianshavn

Spending most of my days in the inner city near the DIS campus, I sometimes forget how expansive Copenhagen really is. It is home to many neighborhoods, each with their own unique spirit. One of those neighborhoods is Christianshavn.

Known to most tourists as the home of Christiania, or ‘Freetown’, this neighborhood is just a short metro ride away from the inner city. Exiting the metro station after having taken this trip myself, the first thing I noticed was the art. Christianshavn is full of eccentric art, adorning even the smallest details. Signs pointing people in the direction of certain businesses are hand painted and even poles are ornamented with colorful hand-made birdhouses. Beautiful murals depict people of all backgrounds and people in quirky hats and unique styles fill the streets. Immediately, it is clear that one need not worry about ‘fitting in’ in Christianshavn.

After walking around for a while and appreciating the beautifully peculiar art, my stomach began to growl, so I decided to grab a bit to eat at the next cafe I passed. I happened upon one called Les Amis. It’s interior matched the quirky energy that I had experienced walking the streets. It was decorated in a maximalist and alternative manner.

When I ordered, I asked the lady behind the counter if she has been a long-time resident of the area. She told me that she had lived in Christianshavn all her life, and that there was no where else she’d rather be.

“What makes it so special?” I asked.

“The people here,” she responded without needing a second to think. “The people here are special. Everyone is unique, and no one is afraid to stand out. We celebrate being unique through art, music and simply our way of existence. Everyone is celebrated in Christianshavn.”

I thought about that as I enjoyed my oat-milk chai latte and people-watched through the window. Simply watching folk pass by, it was easy to recognize that what she said was true. Although it wasn’t far from the inner city, the spirit of Christianshavn was something completely unique, and I was happy to be able to experience it.

Posted in Homestay Experiences

Marceline the Vampire Queen the Chicken

Walking around the Copenhagen area recently, some things are different. The grass is a bit greener, and the tops of tulips are reaching out from the earth. The sun stays high in the sky past five, making the days seem much longer. And, the songs of birds have begun to fill the air. All of this meaning one thing- Spring is in the air. And, for my host mom, that means it’s time for new chickens.

People in Frederikssund know that when they want farm fresh eggs, there is one person they can count on; my host mom, Gudran. Gudran has been keeping chickens for about eight years. She has a large grassy backyard with a pen where the chickens spend their days chattering and lounging in the sun. Every morning, Gudran makes her way outside to collect the new eggs, which she then delivers to locals.

A few weeks ago, I made the short drive with Gudran to a local farm that called itself “Chicken City”. It was a sunny Saturday when we went, and a multitude of animals were wandering the farm and enjoying the warmth. There were cats, cows, sheep and chicken.

Gudran gave me the task of picking out a chicken, but not just any chicken. There is a certain type of chicken which lays beautiful blue-green eggs. I was to pick one of these. The chicken that stood out to me the most was a lovely silvery-gray color. Amongst all the hustle and bustle of chicken city, she was keeping to herself. She seemed to be enjoying her solitude and, although there is a good chance I was reading way to much into this chicken, I resonated with it. I was decided. This was the perfect chicken.

I decided to name her after a character in one of my favorite shows, Marceline the vampire queen from Adventure Time. After all, the character is mysterious and magical. My chicken is likewise mysterious and lays magical-looking blue eggs, so it seemed like the perfect fit. So, formerly, she is Marceline the Vampire Queen the Chicken, but we just call her Marcey.

Posted in Travel

Highlights from Ireland

Yesterday, I arrived home after a week spent with my communications class in Ireland. While each day was full of amazing happenings, I have chosen 3 magical moments to share.

  1. Trinity College

On Monday, my class had the opportunity to visit Trinity College of Dublin. The first part of the campus I saw was the large square of grass that lay in between four buildings. Sprawled out all across this plaza, students sat reading, chatting and lying in the sun. Still tired from the travel the day before, I promptly joined in the crowd, lying in the grass. The sun warmed my face and I took some deep breaths. I listened to the many conversations taking place around me. For a few moments, I basked in the sun and appreciated the beautiful campus. However, there was more to see.

Next, I went into the library. Shelves of books towered above me, from floor to ceiling. It was truly breathtaking, which, I’ll admit, I hadn’t expected from a library. Along with the overwhelming amount of books, statues of prominent thinkers lined the room. The place felt absolutely magical.

2. Howth

On Wednesday, I took the train for about thirty minutes watching the city of Dublin fade away as I neared the village of Howth. The village of Howth lies on a peninsula, east of central Dublin.

Howth smelled of sea salt and sounded of crashing waves and the chatter of seagulls. The paths along the water were full of people walking their dogs and enjoying the sunny weather. All of the locals were eager to stop and chat with me, telling me about what made Howth so wonderful.

On the recommendation of a friendly resident, I made my way to the ruins of an old church, now a cemetery. Although I usually find cemeteries to be quiet. saddening, this one was both magnificent and peaceful. It was full of wildflowers and, from It, one could see the whole village below. The graves were all adored with fresh flowers. Rather than sadness, it felt like a place of love.

3. Cliffs of Moher

A trip to Ireland wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Cliffs of Moher. These cliffs are so magnificent and immense that it is hard to describe them with words. They are the kind of thing which, when you see, you feel small. Not in a bad way, in a way that makes you appreciate the spectacular and awe-inspiring universe we live in. Unfortunately, pictures fail to truly capture the essence of the place. Nonetheless, I did my best to capture what I could of the splendor of it.

Posted in Travel

A Bratwurst in the Swiss Alps

I have always been a believer that, in life, it is usually the small marked moments that stick with you. It is those seemingly insignificant occurrences that take up a special place in your memories. Last week, I had no classes and took the opportunity to journey to some other countries in Europe; Switzerland and Germany. I had a grand time and experienced some extraordinary things but, when a friend asked me to recount my favorite memory from the trip, a minor happening came to mind. That being; A bratwurst in the Swiss Alps.

I was with my travel companion, Miranda and a new friend, Toni. Miranda was a friend I had met in class early in the semester. Toni, was someone brand new in my life. She was an 18-year-old girl from Berlin, who occupied the same room as Miranda and me in our Zürich hostel. The three of us, upon meeting, quickly became partners in exploration during our stay in Switzerland. And, on a day we all seemed to need a break from the hustle and bustle of the city, decided to take a trip to the Swiss Alps.

After a 40 minute train ride which took us far outside of the city, we found ourselves on a tram slowly making its way up an immense mountain. By a quick google search we had found the place and, although we were ill-prepared for the snow that came with being so high up, we decided to take a hike. The ride up was scenic. We watched as the landscape changed from sun-soaked grass to large pine trees, weighed down by snow.

Stepping off the tram near the top of the mountain, we began our hike. As we walked, we stopped frequently to take in the beauty around us. The view felt unreal. Truly, the vast landscape behind us looked like it had been painted onto the sky. As we walked, we couldn’t help but smile at the sheer magnificence around us. However, as I mentioned before, we were not adequately dressed for the cold or the snow, and we quickly became cold. After about a half an hour of walking, we could barley feel our toes. However, in the same instance in which the chill began to reach our bones, we spotted a small structure and heard the sound of cheerful German music.

As we approached we realized that the building was a small restaurant. Many weary but merry skiers and snowboarders sat on the wooden benches sipping hot drinks and enjoying slices of homemade pie and bratwursts. The owner of the establishment stood by the outdoor grill cooking brats as he welcomed us and pointed out an empty picnic bench in the sun.

Smelling the delicious brats on the grill, we made the effortless decision to order one. The owner, seeing that we were cold, offered us hot apple cider. In a matter of minutes, both were brought out to us, along with some free chocolates.

The brats and cider were an instant remedy for our chill. Quickly, they alleviated the cold that settled in our bodies. We were filled a feeling of warmth and coziness. We sat, enjoying the food and looked out onto the mountains. We didn’t talk much as we ate and drank. Instead, we simply appreciated the present moment. We tasted the sweet cider and savory brats. Our noses were met with smells of the fresh pies being baked inside and the distant aroma of pine trees. We felt the warmth of the sun as its rays touched our cold faces. The German music, the chatter of people, the sounds of glasses clanking together in cheers; all these sounds filled the air. All of these things, happened together and, noticing them, I was grounded in the present moment. I remember thinking this is life. So, although a bratwurst in the Swiss Alps doesn’t sound like much, it is this memory that, when asked about my favorite part of the trip, instantly fills my thoughts.

Posted in Reflections & Lessons

Why I’m Grateful for my Hour-Long Commute

I knew that signing up for a homestay came with the risk of a long commute. Even so, I felt a pit form in my stomach when I saw that my homestay was located an hour away from the DIS campus. Honestly, I was in a state of despair. I feared that I was losing valuable time. The hour I would need to commute to and from campus, I thought, could be much better spent. However, having been at DIS for over a month now, I’ve found that I am actually quite grateful for my long commute.

I have classes at 8:30am. Generally, My alarm goes off at 6am. Usually quite groggily, I fumble to find my phone and turn off my alarm. The house is always quiet as I brew a pot of coffee and make myself breakfast. It is only because of these mornings, that I realize how hectic my life here is. That is not a bad thing, but on these mornings, I take comfort in the moments of silence before the world awakes.

Next comes the train ride. During my first week here, I resolved to put my phone away during this time. So, I journal. I write about any aspirations, anxieties or general thoughts that are on my mind. It is a beautiful way to get in touch with myself before starting my day.

As the train moves nearer to Copenhagen, I people watch. I see young kids laughing as they head to school, people finishing up PowerPoints as they commute to work and young lovers sharing coffees. As the new day begins, I have the opportunity to watch the world around me come to life.

Because of my commute, I am able to watch the sun rise and set. I have seen the short days start to get longer. Recently, on my ride home, I witnessed the most magnificent and perfect rainbow.

For all of these lovely experiences, I am grateful. I feared that my hours spent commuting to and from campus would be wasted time. However, I can say with certainty that, given the opportunity, I would not choose to spend this time any other. way.