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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!

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.

 

The Last Days

Like I promised, I’ve made the most of these last ten days in Copenhagen. It’s 2:30 AM on my last night, so I couldn’t help but give one last recap, as you know I love to do. Up till now, I’ve been too busy squeezing the worth out of every minute in Copenhagen, so I have barely opened my computer! Here’s the scoop on my last few days in the city I love.

1) The Arts & Culture House Art Show!

We were inspired by the Danish museum called the Louisiana, which has a temporary exhibit called Self Portraits. Like the artists featured there, we each created a self portrait to reflect our “i-DANE-ity” and how it has changed our concept of ourselves since we came to Copenhagen! Mine is called “Place Like Home” and reflects the importance of my family as they accompany me on my yellow brick road of sorts, finding out that maybe Dorothy was wrong…

The Arts & Culture House (left to right) Vince, Emma, Anna, me, Rebecca, Carrie, Adriana, Ariel, Jamie

The Arts & Culture House (left to right) Vince, Emma, Anna, me, Rebecca, Carrie, Adriana, Ariel, Jamie

Me with my project, which I titled "Place Like Home"

Me with my project, which I titled “Place Like Home”

THE CLOSE UP. Just so everyone knows, I made that shoe out of newspaper and tape ONLY. skillz.

THE CLOSE UP. Just so everyone knows, I made that shoe out of newspaper and tape ONLY. skillz.

Vince and his project, made from his favorite foods and their wrappers!

Vince and his project, made from his favorite foods and their wrappers!

2) Tivoli 

Christmas time in Tivoli is so magical! Everything is lit up, and there are Christmas markets and a special water fountain show in the evening. Tivoli is the second-oldest theme park in the world, and was an inspiration to Walt Disney!!

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how they REALLY make aebleskriver (the Danish pancake balls that are traditional Christmas food)

how they REALLY make aebleskriver (the Danish pancake balls that are traditional Christmas food)

3) Christmas in the streets

If you thought Copenhagen was adorable during the summer, the Christmas season has taken it to another level! It’s easier to deal with the lack of sunlight when there are Christmas lights EVERYWHERE!

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4) Christmas at Ravnsborggade

As an honorary housemate at Mia’s house, I was delighted to attend her house Christmas party, which of course turned into the most gigantic festival ever held. My favorite part was the wall papered in gift wrap for a backdrop for pictures! While my freezing cold shower prevented me from creating an acceptable hair style that night, I did enjoy taking silly pictures with my friends.

Dylan, Aimee, me, and Mia attempting to be serious, like in the TV show "Skins"

Dylan, Aimee, me, and Mia attempting to be serious, like in the TV show “Skins”

5) Saying Goodbye to my Visiting Family

My visiting family has been so good to me this semester. Between giving me an extra duvet for when Mia’s and my heat were broken, taking me to the zoo, cooking me Danish food, and showing me how to make Christmas decorations, they did everything they were supposed to and more! Their patience, hospitality, and genuine affection made this semester much more enjoyable. When I went to their house this Saturday to say goodbye (and meet some of their friends), I was heartbroken to leave them behind. Finn, Marie, Siri, and little Vigga, I’ll miss you when I go back to my real family!!

6) Sticks n’ Sushi atop the Tivoli Hotel

Lousie took us out to dinner at Sticks n’ Sushi, a high-end restaurant located at the top of the Tivoli Hotel that serves Asian food. Mostly sticks of meat and sushi rolls, this restaurant also had an extensive bar with swings on one side, that overlooked the canals and a gorgeous skyline. We spent a good portion of the meal taking turns to sit on the swings, gawking at the A-listers that Louise identified for us as Danish celebrities, and thanking God that we’d finally found some edible Asian food. It was devine.

7) Christiania Christmas Markets

The Christiania Christmas Markets take place in the Great Hall in Christiania. Vendors of jewelry, crafts, ornaments, clothing, and other miscellaneous goods all come together to sell their wares among some interesting food selections and even more interesting people. While it was crowded, I was intrigued by the low prices and immense selection of homemade Christmas gifts!

8) Traditional Danish Christmas Dinner

If you thought I was all Christmas-ed out, you were wrong! Yesterday, Louise (my SRA and favorite Danish friend) slaved away in the kitchen to make our house a REAL DANISH CHRISTMAS DINNER! There was roast duck and pork (yummy pork skins, too, Dad), boiled potatoes, caramelized potatoes, cooked pickled purple cabbage, cold purple cabbage salad with oranges and pomegranate, Danish version of Waldorf salad, homemade pickles… so much food! I tried everything, but my favorite was the cold purple cabbage salad. We also drank Exotic Fanta, which everyone jokes should be attached to me in an IV because I absolutely love it! After the meal, we played the rice pudding game, which is actually more like torture. There was a HUGE bowl of Danish rice pudding in the middle of the table. Now, this dish is made with chopped almonds in it. The object of the game is to find the ONE WHOLE ALMOND in the pudding. Everyone has to eat the pudding until someone finds the almond. For each of the twelve people eating, that meant two full bowls of pudding if we were to get to the bottom of the bowl. AND WE ALMOST HAD TO, because MIA found the almond in the first five minutes AND HID IT UNDER HER TONGUE until everyone was literally falling off their chairs with fullness and taking shots of the pudding to try and make it go down easier. CRAZY DANES and their games. For her almond discovery, Mia won a pig made out of marzipan. Dumb prize, serves her right for making us so full!!

 

Other than that, I’ve been spending as much time as I can just talking to my friends and enjoying their company. I cannot express how much I have come to appreciate the people I have met here. We have seen each other through adjustment issues, mood swings, love problems, and all the other drama that inevitably happens within a semester. Although I never could have predicted it, I will come home with even more amazing people in my life. Somehow, I sincerely doubt that there is a luckier person on this planet than me. I’ve experienced so many different cultures, made new friends, and discovered a new home. I’m in love with Copenhagen. My journey is not over, it is just beginning.

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.

August & November

Check this out! I took this picture at the lakes on the first night in Copenhagen… and again, exactly THREE MONTHS later. This is the place that first took my breath away.

It’s cool because it shows the date, the time, and how much deeper the darkness is in the winter. This place is much the same–but I’m not.

19 AUG

18 NOV

Next time the screen says the 19th of a month, I’ll be back in America, missing this place as it continues to count away the days after I’m gone. Weird.

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!

 

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