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Category Archives: outside comfort zone

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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The Great American Transition

Hello from America, readers. I’ve been here since Saturday evening, and am just now sitting down to write my homecoming post. If I said it’s been an emotional roller coaster, would you believe me?

Coming home (to my original “home”) has been the best and worst thing that’s ever happened to me. The BEST part of it was seeing my family and close friends for the first time, and realizing that nothing has changed the way that we feel about each other. I am so happy to be in close proximity to them once again!

Mom stalked the reunion of me and Bitty, who ran to me before I could even get out of the customs doorway. We missed each other so much!

I didn’t even make it out of the doorway of customs before Bitty attacked me. I loved it.

BOGUE family picture in the airport, that's how we do.

BOGUE family picture in the airport, that’s how we do.

Accidentally reunited with my very best friend Christina while trying on dresses in the mall. CRYING HAPPY TEARS IN PUBLIC

Accidentally reunited with my very best friend Christina while trying on dresses in the mall. CRYING HAPPY TEARS IN PUBLIC!

I know, so cute…

The WORST part was that coming back to America has forced me to start yet another period of adaptation and change. I have always been naturally resistant to change, but bored by routine. This means that I walk a fine line between upheaval and monotony, since too much of either causes me stress and anxiety. Returning home was upheaval for me. I was surprised by this, as I thought I would only be a little uncomfortable and transition quite smoothly. Apparently, I was wrong, as I have been struggling a bit more than anticipated.

I knew that I had fallen in love with Copenhagen, but I had not been aware how deeply the Danish lifestyle had become ingrained in me. For example, simply prioritizing what needs to be achieved/obtained today and what can wait until tomorrow is different in America because here, we try to do too much, overschedule ourselves, and bite off more than we can chew at times. While such ambition is usually a healthy challenge for me, coming back and throwing myself right into that was quite difficult for me to deal with. After a trip to the mall on my first day back, I had to cancel one of my reunion visits and take a breather before I could move on to an evening get-together.

Then, of course, there’s the Danish value of spending time with loved ones, getting hygge. My family has appointments, meetings after school, and my dad works two jobs when he can. Thus, the reality of life catches up to me, and I am left to fold up my fuzzy blankets and blow out my tealight candles until Sunday, my new, strictly imposed Family Day. I wish we could just slow down and be cozy together like the Danes do every evening, even in the city. I miss that the most.

Overall, though, I’m making progress on my transition. Today is the first day I woke up feeling like I was in the right time zone. I’m glad to be back, but I also miss my home in Copenhagen. That’s the trouble with being such a lucky little lady, I can’t seem to settle on which life makes me happiest. I love them all.

Much love.

 

No Time

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When I think about how I live my life, I often catch myself saving things for later, putting them off, or having doubts about whether or not it’s the right time for them.
buddha timeStudying abroad has NOT been one of those instances. Just flying here was an obstacle for me, and I know that the person boarding the plane to the USA will have accomplished far more than the person who boarded the plane to Copenhagen. Since I’ve been here, I have been taking as many opportunities as I could, because I don’t know when, if ever, I will get another chance to come to Europe to learn, see, do, and love all that it has to offer.

With only TEN DAYS LEFT, I find myself thinking about a statement that Vince made recently: “This space in time is unique and will never be replicated.” Even if I were to come back to Copenhagen in the future (which I hope to do), I will not be living in this apartment in city center on Skindergade with fellow DIS students. Each moment we spend here is a chance to make a lasting memory, because those are the most important souvenirs. That said, my housemates in Skindy 14 have become much closer over the past few weeks, cooking family dinners, decorating the house, going out on weekends, and basically just spend time enjoying each others’ company for the last weeks of our time together.

For these last TEN DAYS, I will do everything in my power to give Copenhagen all the love it deserves, and show my appreciation to the beautiful city that will always occupy my memory as my European home. I will not waste this time, for I know I do not have it.

Much love.

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.

Studying Danish

Well, readers, classes are beginning to come to a close. With 19 days left in Denmark, I have much to do and maybe even more to reflect upon.

Today was my Danish Final Exam, worth 35% of my grade. While I am not confident that I got an A (because Danish language is next to impossible), I know that I have learned so much about Danish language and culture through this class and my outside experiences with Danes. This particular aspect has definitely been a step outside my comfort zone. To me, that’s more important than an A on my transcript.

In closing, jeg elsker Copenhagen, men jeg kan ikke lide Danish! (I love Copenhagen, but I don’t like Danish!)

Much love.

Giving Thanks

This Thanksgiving started for me on Wednesday and ended on Friday (of course). I didn’t mean to make it happen, but I’ve had so much to be thankful for these past few days that I just had to extend the holiday.

On Wednesday night, we made our own Thanksgiving dinner at Mia’s house. There were 22 people in attendance, including everyone who lives in Mia’s house, me, and my friend Anna. The spearheads of this operation were Emily, Mia, and Aimee, who did most of the cooking and coordinated other contributions. Mine was home-made cranberry sauce. Jhon and I also whipped up some cinnamon butter and helped with the mashed taters (so yummy). It was SUCH a HYGGE night!! I am so thankful to have all these great friends!

Group shot of everyone (minus Jhon) in Mia’s house, my second home. LOVE THEM ALL!

My contribution: homemade cranberry sauce (since Denmark doesn’t have it)

this captures the moment well

Thankful for this girl ❤

Emily, Mia, and Aimee: the three moms with their pies

picture-perfect “hygge” (Danish concept of cozy)

 

 

 

Thursday, I woke up still full (typical Thanksgiving problems). It was kind of a rough day because I missed my family and friends on this American holiday, and everyone in Denmark was acting like nothing was happening. I know that Christmas decorations are up, and they look great, but it’s just not the same. Thanksgiving is a day to spend walking around the house in slippers, cooking with people you love, listening to “Alice’s Restaraunt” (Dad & Ben!), failing at pecan pie… and instead I was expected to be in class. EWW.

Luckily, I had pre-arranged a coffee date with Anders Larson, a man who teaches and works in Housing at DIS. I never would have done this, but Nancy strongly suggested that I meet him, as he was one of her favorite people here. Let me tell you, I’m SO glad I listened to her. Anders is the coolest! He’s super cute, so easy to talk to, and as a real Dane, he knows what’s up around Copenhagen. Even better, we met up with his friend and colleague Lauren Chaney, who is a Villanova alum and has been traveling the world since she graduated ten years ago! It was nice to spend time chatting with such cool people, and I was reminded that there are so many people I have yet to meet here. With only 22 days left, it’s easy to check out mentally, but I won’t do that yet. There is too much I’d miss out on!

Just to top off the night, we spent Thursday night as we would on Thanksgiving Eve in CT. My dancing shoes are a little worn out now, let’s just say.

Friday, I thought the festivities would be over… but I couldn’t have been more wrong! I got an email about a package, and had been expecting my mom to send me my favorite sweater. Instead, I got TWO HUGE PACKAGES!

THANK YOU SO MUCH MOM AND ANNE!!! Opening these boxes seriously felt like Christmas and took away any lingering sadness I had that I was missing out on Black Friday shopping, another HUGE family tradition. I got a little taste of the wardrobe I miss at home, since my mom got me a million sweaters and legwarmers, an Alex & Ani (the teacher apple), and other stuff. Thanks Mom! And Anne got me a ridiculous amount of great American stuff, including A WHOLE JAR OF PEANUTBUTTER, DUNKIN COFFEE, AND HOMEMADE BROWNIES!! I haven’t smelled a brownie in months. THANK YOU SO MUCH ANNE!!

Really, it all comes back to being thankful. I have never before in my life had so many reasons to be thankful. It hits me just about every day, even when I’m sad or missing home. I am thankful for my wonderful, supportive family, my absolutely amazing friends, and of course, this experience. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Much love.

Honesty Corner

Readers, I have to be honest. While studying abroad has been a really positive experience for me, this has been an emotional week. Since this blog is about staying true to my actual experience, I want to be honest and tell you how horrible I’ve felt at times during the past week.

Coming off of Winter Welcome Week, I thought I would be all set to survive the winter, having welcomed it with such enthusiasm. I guess I don’t know myself as well as I thought I did. No amount of celebration can fool me. Winter here is cold, dark, and wet, and there is no way around it. I have obligations to fulfill, and the papers and oral Danish exam I had due today were not going to write or study themselves! Usually, at home, I need a personal invitation between December 1 and February 1 to do ANYTHING, including go to the gym, attend class, or really just leave my bed. All I want to do is cuddle with my closest friends in my giant warm bed and chat. That’s basically the definition of the Danish concept hygge, or cozy, which the Danes use as a cultural rule to foster community and relationships in their otherwise private personal lives. Anyway, Danes like to be hygge  in their time off and think that this weather is no big deal. Even when it rains they just keep on biking to and from work, walking around, even wearing heels! But for some reason, I can’t quite seem to get over it. Cognitively, I know that it is so stupid to cry because it got dark out at 3:15 PM, but on Monday, that’s what I did. I cried, called my mom, and told her I wanted to go home. For the FIRST TIME this trip. And it felt awful.

Maybe it’s the weather, or maybe it’s me finally getting homesick, but for some reason I’ve just been bumming this week. Beneath everything I’ve done has been an undercurrent of despair that I can’t seem to shake. Last night, my friends even noticed it on the dance floor at a Copenhagen Business School party, which is a red flag for me. If I’m not one of the spunkiest people at the party, you know there’s a problem.

So my plan thus far is to get more sleep (now that my 8:30 AM class just ended for the semester), go to the gym consistently (no more skipping for self-made holidays), and take Vitamin D pills that I bought from the health store under my apartment. My little fitness instructor (and brother) Ben says that exercise is a great way to feel better, so I should definitely continue to go even when I don’t feel like moving at all.

Equally important, I will continue to make the best of the remaining days I have to spend in Copenhagen. While my funk could be from homesickness, I also DO NOT want to leave my city! I’ve made such a functional, enjoyable life here with new friends and a comfortable routine. We were making a list of things we still want to do as we sat around the candles tonight, and that list is much smaller than the list of things we have already accomplished. I am so proud of myself for making this semester so unforgettable, and grateful for the opportunity that I have here. So, while homesickness is a natural thing to feel, I am not convinced that this is why I’m feeling blue. I honestly think it might just be this damn weather!!

Actually, I’m feeling a bit better already. Sometimes if I write my thoughts out on paper, they seem easier to manage. In this case, I’m doing all the right things to counter my feeling of despair. Even if it’s just Seasonal Affective Disorder (which I am pretty sure that I have, along with half the people I know) then I’ll be able to handle it for the next month until I can go home to America, where somehow things like this don’t seem so unsurmountable. I’m a big girl now… or at least, I’m getting there.

Much love, and a few tears, and 37 days left to make this semester my own!

The Perfect Gift

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Imagine my day: It’s rainy, I’m exhausted and cold. There is much to be done, both exciting and boring, in my final 40 days here in Denmark. Just last night I was telling Bitty how it’s all ending so soon, and she was telling me about all the clothes she’s accumulated for us to share when I get back. Feeling a little lonely, I’ve been pushing through today thinking about checking things off my to do list and getting in front of our UV lamp (they call it a happy lamp, and it’s used like artificial sunlight). It will be dark here in about a half hour, since it’s 3:15 PM right now.

Of course, my family came to my rescue. Uncle Eddie, Auntie Debbie, Ang, Cassandra, and Josephine, you could not have known how much your surprise gift would make my day, but it truly has. I was laughing and crying in the middle of the package place at school today because I was shocked that you sent me such a generous gift! It’s absolutely perfect, and I will wear it as I finish out this section of my own “path of life.” Leave it to Alex & Ani to make the best bracelet for every situation… and leave it to you guys to find it!

 

I miss you all so much. When I finally get back, I’m hugging all of you forever.

Much love!

 

Meditation

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As you may know, or maybe not, I am in Milan for my study tour with my positive psychology class at DIS. Before this week-long trip to Milan (paid for by DIS), I thought of positive psychology as strictly a life-coaching division if psychology–over-optimistic, under-researched, and mostly worthless to the field of psychology. Because of the way the DIS curriculum was structured, positive psych was my required core course that could count for an elective at Villanova. Now, while I still think that positive psych needs much development before it can be a respected psychological field, I can at least understand some points of departure from which this area of study took off. For me, the most influential point was mindfulness, which is used as an intervention (lesson) in life coaching sessions, but is more generally applicable as an important part of the lives of many spiritual people. In positive psychology, spirituality is studied because it helps people find meaning in life and have self awareness, both of which are important for living a fulfilling life.
When we went to the spirituality lecture today (on this trip we have lectures, cultural activities like museums and classical concerts, and food experiences like my overwhelming plate of prosciutto today at lunch) I was not convinced on how helpful it would be to me, and how relatable it was to positive psychology. While I am still on the fence about the usefulness of positive psychology in general in the field of psychology, I thought this spirituality lecture was worthwhile. The speaker talked about being self-aware in every sense–what we eat, do, and feel. She said that modern people are driven by their fears, a negative emotion that deals with anything from not getting anything done today to being in a car accident. Further, she mentioned that seemingly neutral thoughts, like “I need to do laundry today” can actually become harmful to us if the think them over and over, because they become wasteful thinking. Some statistic even says that we spend 80% of our thoughts on wasteful thinking!! To meditate, then, is to silence those wasteful nonproductive thoughts with mindful, productive, positive thoughts. This, supposedly, can create happier, more encouraged people! With meditation, we can reduce wasteful thoughts, freeing time for self awareness, positive thinking, and peace of mind. Eventually, we can reach within the mind to access our wisdom.
As my bio reflects, what i want most in life is harmony and balance. Being at peace is an important part of that process. Therefore, I am hoping to try this in my life by meditating for ten minutes every morning, turning my eew I hate mornings and I will probably accomplish nothing today thoughts into what a great morning and I’m sure ill get something done today type thoughts. I will use my good qualities today is another good one. With this starting point, meditation time can be extended, with the focus of detaching from the senses to access the inner mind. It’s important not to tell the mind not to think, as that is unnatural, but rather, to detach from the wasteful thoughts, then from all thoughts as the mind becomes more and more relaxed and serene. Before you know it, you have reached your peaceful center, allowing access to your own inner harmony and wisdom. This state of awareness will guide your actions and attitudes in daily life, if you continue to cultivate it through meditation.
thanks to this Milan study tour, I have this new way of reaching my Harmony goal. My fear of accomplishing nothing (which manifests as anxiety) will diminish, as I will become content as a human being not a human doing. I will have contact with my inner peace, balance, and wisdom. This, with all life goals, will take some serious discipline, but will be worth it.
Wish me luck, or better yet, peace.

Much love.

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.

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