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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.

 

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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.

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.

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.

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. 

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.

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