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Closing Remarks

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Happy holidays, readers, and hello for the last time! I feel like I owe it to all of you who have been following my journey to wrap up this blog with some closing remarks.  You know me, nothing goes unsaid.

REUNITED with X and Misher! (and yes, I changed my hair)

REUNITED with X and Misher! (and yes, I changed my hair)

Throughout the holidays, I have been so thankful for what I have experienced, and the people I now get to share that experience with. That includes all of you, some of whom have read all 90-something of my posts since the very beginning, when I created this blog in a Dunkin Donuts on a family vacation to Misquamicut, Rhode Island.

Readers, this has been such an amazing journey, and I am sad that I will not be writing to you anymore. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for being with me through everything. Blogging has become so much more to me than simply a record of what I have done and seen. This is a medium of expression for me, and I hope you know that you have now seen the good, the bad, and the ugly of this little lady!

Now, I will continue my adjustment back to living in Connecticut and at Villanova. At this point in my transition, it is obvious that American reality is much different than my Danish study abroad experience. Some people think I was simply “on vacation,” but I urge you to remember that taking five classes and dealing with the emotional ups and downs of culture shock, changing worldview, and developing transatlantic independence were no ride on the ferris wheel…

When all is said and done, this semester has been priceless in so many ways. I have grown as a person, appreciate a multicultural perspective, and gained countless friends and experiences. My journey only continues from here.

Much love, readers. Hej hej!

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Things We Take For Granted in America & at Villanova

If you think American life is boring and annoying, you’re not alone. A bunch of people here hate on America and think they are going to turn into a real live European (or even a Dane!) just because they’re studying abroad.

While I think there is some value in appreciating the Danish culture and taking aspects of it home, I disagree with this “high on study abroad” attitude. America is a considerable part of who we are, from our habits to our values.

Now that Mia and I  have spent much time outside of America, we have thought about the things we miss about living in America, at Villanova, with our friends and family surrounding us. In a particularly long ab ride, we decided to write them down for our readers!

Take a look at Mia’s and My Compiled List of Things We Take For Granted. (click on the words, they’re a link!)

Warning: More lists to come, this is how I process things.

Much love.

To Do: 19 Days Left

Somehow there are only 19 days left in this semester and I’m starting to freak out. This semester has been chock full of school assignments and extracurricular activities, and the last 19 days will be no exception. Here’s a look at how the rest of this semester will play out.

Hjemmarbejde/Schoolwork:
Danish Final Exam *done today
Danish PowerPoint presentation and debate
Women, Art, & Identity Research paper (8 pages)
Positive Psychology term paper (8 pages) *done but needs printing
Scandinavian Crime Fiction report on The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (4 pages)
Scandinavian Crime Fiction Research paper (8 pages)
Applied Psychology Final Exam on December 10
Arts & Culture Living & Learning Community Art Show (create self portrait and help plan show, which takes place next Tuesday, December 4)

Extracurricular:
Tues. 11/27: Benefit for Kenya for Mia’s Global Action LLC
Wednesday: Arts & Culture creation & planning session
Thursday: Christmas Hygge Night hosted by our Dane Louise
Friday, Saturday, Sunday: Christmas markets around the city, hygge Christmas decorating with my visiting family, Tivoli (finally), and nightlife!
Monday 12/3: Crazy Christmas Cabaret at Tivoli
Tuesday: Art Show! Hosted by my Arts & Culture LLC!

Not to mention selling my bike back, purchasing some last souvenirs, packing my bags, and all that dumb administrative stuff that’s required to pack up a life.

More follows, but you get the gist. You’ll be seeing many posts from me in the next few days as I complete these events and tell you about them!

Let me just tell you, It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Copenhagen! And we are starting to feel the exciting pre-Christmas crunch!

Much love.

WINTER WELCOME WEEK

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I’ve invented a holiday! It’s called WINTER WELCOME WEEK, and here’s how it came to be:

As you probably have guessed, I’m a big proponent of celebration of any sort. I also have seasonal depression. Living in Denmark has not been so bad darkness-wise, until now, and I know it’s only going to get worse. So, to give myself a little pick me up, and combine my American culture with the Danish culture, I invented WINTER WELCOME WEEK. Mia even had a visitor from Villanova, Caroline, who got to experience this holiday with us!

This Wednesday was Halloween in America, which has always been a huge deal to me. Dressing up was one of my favorite childhood activities, but I never grew out of it. Luckily, American college life supports me in this. In Copenhagen, I hadn’t really planned on dressing up (still trying to be a Dane sometimes), but at the last minute, my RA Louise and I got a little too into making a toilet paper dress…

…and I ended up a Mummy Cheerleader. Louise even made the dress so I could use the little ladies room, it was really an ingenious design! I got TP pom poms and a bow, and I was off to the few bars that support Americans on Halloween!

be scaredddd

bow!

Thanks for sneaking up on me, Caroline.

me, Caroline (tiger), and Mia (kitty)

laughing too hard to run!

Needless to say, Halloween was so great that we couldn’t stop there. Mia and I did not go to classes on Thursday (you can’t do anything productive during WINTER WELCOME WEEK) and showed Caroline around Copenhagen. I went back to my favorite place, Nyhavn, and Kongs Nytorv (a cool square nearby). We went shopping on Stroget (the pedestrian shopping street) and I got an infinity scarf and crepes with banana and nutella (YUM). It was a relaxing day for us. At night, I made my mom’s famous eggplant, and everyone helped me bread, fry, and eat! Vince, Marina, Mia, Caroline, and I had a hyggeligt night in, complete with candles, which I am now addicted to.

Me (in my winter jacket!!), Caroline, and Mia

the making of a crepe

YUM people. Crepes are bangin’

In Denmark, they don’t celebrate Halloween OR Thanksgiving, and so there isn’t much to look forward to in the winter besides Christmas. The Danes counter this depressing thought with their own holiday, called J Dag (“J-Day”) to kick off the Christmas season. On J-Day (the first Friday in November), at 8:59 PM, giant delivery trucks arrive at all the prominent bars to unload the brand new Christmas beer! Up until this moment, no one has even seen the can, so it’s a huge deal for all Danes. After that, Christmas decorations start to pop up all around town, and playing Christmas music is officially acceptable. It’s kind of like when Starbucks comes out with Red Cups for the holiday season, except everyone gets drunk for this. Louise got us tickets to her university’s J-Dag party (which would also be my school if I went to college here), so I went with Vince and Emma. (Earlier that night, we had heard Vince sing in a recital for the Copenhagen music school, which is a HUGE honor, so we were also celebrating that. He’s super talented.) You’ll notice, the pictures from this night are few and low-quality, my apologies!

Tuborg Julebryg (yule-brew)

Getting pumped at 9 PM

Louise, me, and half of Vince

Louiseeee my favorite Dane, my RA

This would be one of my classrooms!

If you thought WINTER WELCOME WEEK was coming to an end, think again. Saturday was Sensation White!! Literally everyone in Europe came to Copenhagen for Sensation–there ended up being over 20,000 people there. Basically, Sensation is a giant world-traveling rave where everyone dresses in white, there is a lineup of electronic/house music DJs, circus performers, and light shows from giant structures placed throughout the stadium. If you’re having a hard time conceptualizing it, watch this quick video that Sensation put out before the event: CLICK HERE. At raves, you’re not supposed to wear real people clothes, so I got a giant t-shirt from H & M and my roommate here made it into a dress for me. I wore cheap little white sneakers (which ended up black with grime), white tights, glitterglitterglitter all over, and a white heart painted around my eye. At the start of the pre-party at Mia’s, I look sort of like a person, but by the time we left for Sensation, the glitter was out of control and we had all painted each other’s faces (that’s where I got my heart). Sensation itself was, well, indescribable. Some people say it’s not their scene, but the loud music and dancing put me in a happy place. I think I get that from my mom (love you LB).

I don’t think you readers know Emily, but she’s the best.

Sensation, like a boss.

during the light show

candid captured by Aimee, told you I love this kind of thing!

With the end of Sensation came the wrap-up of WINTER WELCOME WEEK. Sunday family dinner with my housemates brought it all together with some cozy community bonding, and of course more candles.

I don’t know how I will celebrate WINTER WELCOME WEEK in America, but it will definitely be a permanent fixture in my life from now on.

This might have been the best week of my semester, but then again, I’m always saying that…

Much love.

To Marissa McNally

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There comes a point in your life when you realize who really matters, who never did, and who always will. —Unknown

Dear Marissa,

YOU MATTER.

more than you will ever know.

I LOVE YOU.

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Long Study Tour to Milan, Italy

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Last week, my Positive Psychology class took our long study tour to Milan, Italy.

Class photo!

While it was definitely an academic tour, with lectures at the university by prominent figures in positive psychology, DIS did a great job of planning so it didn’t just feel like a week-long class. Some of our academic visits were creative applications of positive psych, like the spent in a meditation center of the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University.

We got to spend time exploring the city of Milan, eating Italian food, and even climbed to the roof of Il Duomo, a famous and beautifully built church in the center of the city!

Our hotel, Hotel Bernina, got to know each of us loud Americans very well during the night hours when we got knocks on our doors telling us to quiet down! Oops!

Inside La Galleria, a cross-shaped building lined with shops like Louis Vuitton.

Spinning around on the “most delicate” part of the mosaic bull that decorates the floor of the Galleria. Apparently three spins on your heel gives you luck and good fortune!

quick shot of me, HEY

The tram lines run all over the city and are a cute, efficient way to travel. We saw much of the city this way, and used the Metro as well.

fountain pic, classic

This old castle had a moat, which I think is fascinating. Cats live in there now. Ironic, since cats hate water.

Arc de Triumph, which has something to do with Napoleon

Il Duomo

Inside, leading up to the altar. AN ORIGINAL NAIL FROM JESUS’ CROSS is suspended above the altar!! You can see the small red light near the top of this picture–that’s where it is kept embedded within an ornate cross. To be in the presence of such an object was absolutely astonishing.

areas to light candles and pray were on the sides of the church

I decided to have a moment to myself, say a prayer for my family, and light a candle. I miss them so much at times like these.

My friend Chelsea snapped these photos when she saw me being a real person…

The bodies of a few Cardinals (or Archbishops?) are also here on display, which was both surreal and a reality check for me. I hope it’s okay that I posted this, I just wanted everyone to get the full effect of what I mean.

A pitcure from the roof of the Duomo. Of course on the day that we actually climbed it, it was cloudy out.

Close-up, you can see that atop each point, there are actually sculptures of saints! Remarkable.

Tori, me, Chelsea, Rachel, and Kelsea sitting on one of the windowsills on the roof of Il Duomo!

The classical music concert we attended as a class. Very entertaining and enriching, as I used to play the flute (through freshman year of high school).

Zoe, me, Chelsea, and Gabe enjoying intermission, with a phenomenal photobomb by Katie in the background

WINE TASTING UH HUH

Indulging in some Milanese drinks with Zoe, Chelsea, and Tori. They were delicious!

This is what happened when I tried to order that orange drink the next night at a different place… I got a giant green thing that was bigger than my face. But I was not complaining!

Cool lunch place, that served us an entire plate of meat as an appetizer with bread, fried sweetbread pockets, and chunks of parmesan cheese.

Although I am not a meat person, I did venture to try one of each of these, and actually liked some of it! Proud.

Couldn’t help myself with this stalker pic. When in Milan!

The beautiful town of Lake Como, which we visited on the last day of our trip. This picture does not do it justice. If you’re curious, google Lake Como and see why GEORGE CLOONEY owns a house here!

Lake Como

As you can see from all my pictures, my classmates and I enjoyed ourselves on this study tour. We became much closer as a result of living together for six days and sharing some truly hilarious experiences!

At the end of our trip, we did a Positive Psychology Intervention called the Compliment Bag, where each of us had our own bag, and every classmate would drop in a little note with a personalized compliment written on it. Because the compliments are anonymous, you don’t get to know who thinks what about you–it’s just a general confidence boost from everyone! Writing my compliments for my classmates was not difficult after all the fun we had together in Milan. The best part was reading all 27 compliments, which I saved in my room for a rainy day. I plan on doing this with every person I know when I come back to America, so brace yourselves!

This was my last time leaving Copenhagen for the rest of the semester. Overall, I flew on 14 planes this semester, so I am tired of checkin, security, and landing ear-popping! I’m excited to experience Copenhagen, as it has actually taken on the meaning of home for me. The third “travel break” provided by DIS will serve as a Staycation for me, where I will have the apartment to myself (with my SRA, Louise)! I can’t wait!

Much love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Barcelona, London, & So Much Love

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Instead of trying to tell you about my trip to Barcelona and London, I have to show you.

These are two amazing cities. I really can’t express how lucky I am to have had the opportunity to travel here, but more importantly, how lucky I am to have two friends who flew from Philadelphia all the way to Barcelona to meet up with Mia and I. Marissa and Dee, I love you so much and I cannot wait to reunite with you at Villanova and live it up! There are no words to describe how much I love you.

Bitty, it’s safe to say I have joined you in your obsession with London. One day I hope I can take you there and we can experience the Brits together!

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Much love.

Coming HOME to Copenhagen

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There’s no place like home.

All of my homes are unique. Northford, Connecticut has the small-town feel and the people I have always loved. Villanova University is the setting of my ongoing coming-of-age story, complete with an indispensable cast of beloved characters. Now, I have added a third home to my list with the cozy city of Copenhagen, where my little American feet have trotted the cobblestone streets of majestic Europe.

While I hesitate to use the term “home” to describe the many places I have rested my head, Copenhagen and I have developed the trust required for me to view it in such an affectionate way. When I can finally let my guard down enough to consider a place my home, I know that it has had a profound effect on me. The cobblestones in Copenhagen contain memories of my footsteps; the cash register at the grocery store holds my vegetable-heavy transactions in its hard drive; the mannequins in the shop windows have seen me wandering through sun, rain, and always wind. Just as I have seen the city, it has seen me, and neither of us will ever be the same.

But, it’s not just the setting that makes the story. As the main character, I have done some serious developing since starting this chapter. Just like when I left for college, I thought that, when separated from my family and friends, I would say stuck in my past with them. Without the people I loved around me, I thought I would be worthless, incapable of functioning as the person I am without the people whose lives I am lucky enough to affect. Honestly, I derive most if my self worth from the effect I have on others. Naturally, coming to Copenhagen, I faced the same fear of losing my meaning. But now I have seen, for the third time in my life, that I fit rather easily into the same interpersonal groove no matter where I am. At first I couldn’t believe it, but after more than two months here I can tell that I have the same function regardless of the people I get to know. Discovering this about myself has given me a new and exciting kind of confidence, not just that I can stay afloat in the social world, but that I have a real and concrete persona that other people can experience and relate to. I am someone, no matter who is around me.

Copenhagen will forever be my home for teaching me that.

As my plane lands in Copenhagen for the final time this semester, I look forward to spending the final seven weeks becoming more intimately acquainted with my home. The next time I board an airplane, it will be bound for America, and my semester abroad will be over. While I know that it will never be truly over, I am deathly afraid of that moment when I know that I will have to leave this home without knowing when I will return. I am not ready!

Much love to those of you in America, but I am dragging my feet to slow the passage of time.

True Life: I Study Abroad

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63 days ago, I walked through JFK security with my cheetah pillow and nearly collapsed from anticipation and fear. 8 weeks and 6 days have passed since I came to Copenhagen like a kindergartener on the first day of school. I simply could not imagine what was in store for me.

56 days are all I have left before this experience is behind me. Only 56 more times to wake up, go to the gym, and spend the day interacting with the people and city that I have come to adore.

I have spent this “midpoint week” reflecting on the affect that studying abroad in Copenhagen has had on me, and what I still need to do in order to make this experience worthwhile.

The first point I’ve come upon is this: it’s interesting how little I actually need in order to be happy. All this time, I didn’t realize how self-sufficient I could be, and how little of my American comfort is necessity. For example, since coffee is $5 a cup here, I have stopped drinking it. At home, I had a two-cup-a-day minimum. But after the cravings subsided a little, it wasn’t that hard. The same goes for shopping. Be proud, I have not bought ONE thing I did not need abroad. While I love being fashionable and making outfits and such, I won’t be able to transport more stuff home if I were to get some. Besides, I’m pretty much the poorest I’ve ever been since I don’t even speak enough Danish to wait tables. Basically, I’m living a life of less. And I’m good at it.

The permanence of this lifestyle is yet to be seen.

My second mini-lesson came from the small vacation I took with Mia to meet up with Marissa and Dee. It was Fall Break at Villanova, and they flew transatlantic to see us! Most friends just Skype over the ocean, but mine fly. Honestly, when we first saw each other it was like nothing had changed. The passage of time was irrelevant. We fit with each other like puzzles, interacting in the same perfect harmony as we always have. Feeling the love from them was reassuring for me. Instead of being homesick now that I am without them again, I feel even happier that I am abroad. I know that if our reunion felt so natural, I have nothing to worry about for the rest of the people I love. This realization has left me feeling free to totally invest myself in Copenhagen–I didn’t know it, but I think that was the “something” I was missing about this experience. Now, I have the confidence to fully step away from the people I love, knowing that they will be there when I return. I can finally let go of home and spend my remaining 56 days as a truly independent European (wannabe). Missing everyone has been such a factor in this experience for so many people, myself included.

Overall, the past two months have taught me so much about myself and my role in the world.

Much love.

Cities are like college.

Think of the sound of a college party raging in somebody’s house. There are people spilling up from the basement and out the back door of the house, music bumpin, and bottles poppin. The atmosphere is colorful and lively, until about 4 AM when it’s finally time to stumble on back to whichever neighboring house you live in.

Well folks, welcome to the general atmosphere outside my window. It’s almost 1 AM, on a Wednesday, and I have a test in the morning, so I am a bit perturbed. This is nothing new for me as my dorm hallway last year was frequently plagued by drunken girls scream-gossiping in the halls and frat guys pulling the fire alarm at 3 AM.

Regardless, in case you were wondering what it’s like to live in such a prime location in Copenhagen’s city center, this is it–party city. At least, Wednesday through Sunday!

Goodnight, to all my readers. Wish me luck falling asleep!

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