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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.

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SLOW DOWN, TIME!

Time seriously needs to slow down. It’s 3 AM here in Copenhagen, and I’m starting to think that I’ll be sleeping a bit less in these last 17 (technically 16 now!) days abroad. 

In a sudden burst of energy, I finished my presentation and two of my final papers today! This ridiculous burst of motivation and energy usually happens to me once a semester, so I guess this was my one turbo-charged school day. Combined with my arts and crafts day yesterday, my obligations for the semester have been trimmed down to ONE remaining paper and ONE remaining final exam!! I couldn’t feel more accomplished.

Why, then, should I quit sleeping?! The answer is obvious: TIME IS RUNNING OUT!! Although I am getting excited to see my family and friends back home, I still feel like there is so much love I have yet to express to Copenhagen. More pictures need to be taken, more sights seen, more windows shopped. Even if I was here for a year, I probably wouldn’t do it all. While that is the amazing part of living in such a dynamic and beautiful city, the truth is, I’m a little bummed that I won’t be able to feel like “I came, I saw, I conquered.” 

In the end, I know that I will have made the best of my study abroad experience. Especially now, since much of my To Do List has been accomplished, I have room for more fun stuff!

Look out Copenhagen, here I come! (again, and probably not for the final time in my life, either)

Much love.

Oh, that travel bug.

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.

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.

Pizza, Pasta, Prosecco, & (Mia’s) Parents!

On Friday, November 9, Copenhagen had the pleasure of receiving Mia’s parents, Paul and Andrea Savoca. Along with Mia, they are literally the sweetest humans on the planet, and they let me tag along on Saturday to see ome of our lovely city of Copenhagen.

Mia’s first Danish!

Mia & I with our Danishes (I know that’s not actually what they are called here but I can’t help it)

Paul, Mia, & Andrea at the lake at Christiania. Love them!

Our return to Nyhavn, still one of my favorite parts of Copenhagen!

During this day around Copenhagen, I got to participate in showing Mia’s parents all the places I would have liked to show mine. You’ve seen them throughout my blog as I’ve visited them (Nyhavn, the Glass Market, my house, the lakes, Parliament/Christiansborg Castle, etc.) but it was cool to show Mia’s parents in person. They also got to observe all the little things you can’t capture with a picture, like the guttural language, fast bikers, cobblestone streets, and windy grey weather. Most of all, they experienced the charm of Copenhagen that has made me fall in love with this city.

At dinner that night, we were casually chatting when Paul suddenly said, “Bri, why don’t you just come to Italy?” Mia was equally as shocked as I was, and at first we didn’t take it seriously. But, five hours later, I had tickets to and from Italy!!

I spent all of Sunday in bed with a stomachache, while Mia and the fam spent the day in Malmo, Sweden.

Monday started the trip! We flew into Fiumicino, Rome, and drove directly to Perugia, a few hours north of Rome. Being in a car was actually mindblowing for me, and surprisingly soothing. We enjoyed the ride to the 13TH CENTURY CASTLE THAT WE STAYED IN (the Savocas seriously know how to travel!), and later drove to a restaurant where we had an amazing culinary experience.

Seriously, for real, castle.

I finally found my knight in shining armor!

The view from our window, of the terrace and the Italian countryside beyond.

view from the terrace

Best tortelloni I’ve ever had, complete with mushroom pecorino sauce.

My eggplant parm. Delish!

Paul’s octopus, which I tried and actually kind of liked!

Such a great look for Paul, reminds me of my dad eating lobster.

Mia’s pasta, made with octopus ink. It tasted really good but the color just looked so strange!

The next day, Tuesday, we made the most of our location and toured the world-famous Perugina chocolate factory, known for Baci chocolate hazelnut kisses! We saw the production of Baci and some of the other chocolates that the factory makes, AND GOT A FREE TASTING ROOM! YESSS.

fooling around with my head in the trademark Baci kiss logo

Baci white and Baci! Love them both!

Promise I didn’t eat all of these, but honestly I probably could have if you gave me a few hours. So yummy.

Post-chocolate food coma, we explored the Italian countryside some more. The first place we stopped was Deruta, famous for its hand-painted ceramics, and Assisi, known for St. Frances of Assisi.

Deruta

Deruta ceramics

ceramic electric guitar (BEN!!) made strictly in Deruta, nowhere else in the world

Assisi

Assisi

Church of St. Frances Assisi. Pretty sure he’s buried in there under the altar.

I would just like to note that Assisi is one huge hill, which makes for gorgeous views BUT a LOT of walking uphill! We definitely walked off that chocolate!!

Tuesday night we drove to Rome and checked into our hotel, Hotel Villa San Pio. At this point in the trip, I basically picked up a glass of Prosecco and a fork, and never put them down for the rest of the journey. NO REGRETS, but this week the jeans are a little tighter! (EuroDiet was not in effect on vacation.)

Wednesday began with a visit to the Vatican to hear Pope Benedict XVI’s weekly address to the public. The thing is, he spoke Italian… but thankfully, Mia’s dad is fluent in Italian so he translated. SO INTERESTING: He spoke about St. Augustine, and Veritas, Unitas, Caritas, which is literally Villanova in a nutshell. We are an Augustinian university, and Veritas Unitas Caritas is part of our University Seal as well as our core values!

Pope Benedict XVI

For the rest of the week, we basically just walked around Rome, revisiting the Colosseum (of course, since I’m obsessed) and other sites. We took the Scavi tour of the underground cemetery beneath the Vatican/St. Peter’s Basilica where St. Peter’s bones can still be seen today. Inside the Basilica is super cool and intricately designed, and the remains of past Popes can be visited as well. We also went to Piazza Navona, Campo di Fiori, an Italian opera (my first, and probably last, opera ever), and the Spanish Steps. Aside from that, we had great food and, of course, more Prosecco!

view of Rome over the Palatine Hill (the Colosseum is in the back)

Saw this right before the Scavi tour, super creepy as I’m about to descend into the depths of Rome

Mia took this artsy photo of the Colosseum, so proud of her skillz

Prosecco at the hotel courtyard

XTINA THEY MAKE SURE TO ACCOMODATE YOU IN ITALY

St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, the Scavi tour was under there!

Dad, orange trees AT MY HOTEL

These are posters for the strikes that took place all week. One even got violent.

before the Scavi tour, with friends of the Savocas who recently moved to Rome

The Tiber river was the highest it’s EVER been… Those are treetops. Covered.

Getting adventurous trying some meat (after a mostly-vegetarian semester)

On Friday, we did the most Italian thing I have done in Italy: we took a pizza-making class!!

cutting mushrooms

People who know me know that I am a pizza snob, but this has taken my judgement criteria to a whole new level! I will never be the same again after this delicious experience.

The next day, Saturday, we said a sad goodbye in the airport and went our separate ways. For the last time, I flew back to Copenhagen.

I cannot express how thankful I am to Mia and her wonderful parents. ADOPTED FAM, YOU ARE THE BEST!! This trip was fun, exciting, and refreshing. I am so glad to have you as my adopted family. I will never forget this amazing vacation.

Much love!

This Morning I WAS Sad.

This morning I was sad. 

Sleeping was not an option because of the jackhammering outside my window from 7:45 on. So I had to think of a new diversion. The gym worked wonders, but I still felt something missing. 

Then I remembered, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, all the amazing people in my life. Starting with yesterday on my Facebook, I looked back on ALL the pictures at the great fun I was having with great people. This semester, summertime, sophomore year, the holidays–all the time I’ve been smiling my head off, having a grand old time.

That’s when I decided, even though I miss home, I’m going to make these last 25 days the most fun days of the semester! (This will require that I bang out my bigscaryresearch papers and study smart for finals, but who says I can’t do that?) Tomorrow is “Thanksgiving.” I’ve got an art project in the making for an exhibition with my Learning Community. The streets are starting to look like Christmas. Hell, I’m doing just fine!

So now that I’ve given you a look into my mentality for today, I hope you will have a similarly uplifting experience today. Look around you, and think of something to appreciate. Laugh about a silly memory. Then, get up and go make another one!

Much love. 

Sunrise

The sun is finally coming up over the buildings (at 9:25 AM) and I’m sitting in the perfect spot on the couch, waiting for it. I’ll sit here until my first class at 11:40, just to make sure I get some natural sunlight while it’s still daytime. By the time I get out of classes at 4:10, it will be pitch black out.

20121119-092650.jpg

Oh, Copenhagen, I wish the best of luck in January and February.

Much love, readers!

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