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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.

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!

Art Museums & Bike Tours

By now I have visited more art museums than ever in my life. I am officially the SuperTourist. Every Wednesday, we have Field Studies for our classes (sometimes multiple trips in a day, for up to five hours each!) which have provided me with free guided access to museums and attractions all over Denmark.

Between my Short Study Tour in Western Denmark (Odense, Skanderborg, & Aarhus), and Field Studies for my classes, I have visited the Nationalmusset, Aros, Statens, and Danish Design Museum. With my Living & Learning Community, we did a 10 mile bike tour of Copenhagen’s architectural sites. We have also seen the Red Square, Round Tower (right down the block from our house!) and the Church of Our Savior. Then of course there’s the Glass Market, Torvehallerne, which feels more like home than a tourist attraction.

If you’re overwhelmed, imagine my thought when I looked at my calendar for tomorrow. Positive Psychology guest lecture, Scandinavian Crime Fiction walking tour of Copenhagen, and a five hour visit to the Louisiana with my LLC.

Just to catch you up, here are some pictures of my favorite things at the Design Museum… which focused on innovative clothing and furniture design. Since mixed media/applied art is my favorite kind, the Design Museum was especially intriguing for me. My favorite part was a dress made out of straws!

The butt-breaking bike tour was another must-see, so I took some pictures to show everyone the gist of what we saw. Of course, no photo can do justice to the atmosphere these buildings create. The city of Copenhagen, with its mix of old and new architecture, canals, and windmills, is so amazing that mere pictures cannot possibly contain it. You’ll just have to come here and see for yourself.

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Being a Foodie on the EuroDiet

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Being a Foodie on the EuroDiet

Although I am a self-professed foodie, I am happy to call myself an avid EuroDiet-er as well. By this, I mean that while I intend to experience the delectable dishes of this new world, I also plan to keep it real. Stuffing my face with Danish (which the Danes do not call “Danish”) is not an option.

That said, I have compiled some snapshots of my explorations in the realm of food, so far. Of course, there is much more where that came from!

P.S. I did try a Danish, which is actually called wienerbrød. It was a million times better than American pastries, which I don’t even like. BUT I forgot to photograph it for your viewing pleasure. Next time!

My Precious Nuggets

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To rattle off my to-do list here would be pointless. Just imagine an absurd accumulation of sticky notes and the feeling of sinking and being unable to stay afloat. I know that the things I have to do will get done (I will find time during business hours to call the bank) but the minutes only seem to last for seconds and the time I have to spend with loved ones is running out!

Speaking of loved ones…

Today, all the parents at the daycare (TLCC, my place of employment) started asking when my last day would be. We are all used to this, as I have spent the last four years, including high school and college breaks, gaining the wisdom that can only come from taking care of children. To hear the parents’ disappointment that I would be leaving their children once more, and their excitement for me in my travels, means so much to me. Knowing that they have accepted me as a caretaker for their child is the most precious feeling in the world. I will miss them all so very much when I am away. When I come back, my nuggets (as I affectionately call my group) will have grown so much, as they are between five and nine months old right now. Brinleigh’s hesitance to crawl may have developed into a walk by the time I get back. Alfred, my most treasured little one, may actually be running in spite of our insistance that he stay contain-able for as long as possible. I have the pictures that we took during our many days of playtime and laughter. I only wish that I could freeze those moments and relive them periodically to remind me of how sweet they were.

Through DIS, I have acquired a Visiting Family, which may soften the sting of missing my nuggets. This family and I will bond over the semester as they show me Copenhagen and Danish culture. Happily, I heard from them today, and learned that they have two- and four-year old daughters! However, I have the highest of standards for how beautiful, affectionate, and absolutely astounding children can be. My only hope is that my Danish Visiting Family can add to my awe at the children I meet.

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