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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.

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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.

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.

Visiting Family

As part of the cultural immersion experience, DIS has offered students various opportunities to join Danish sports teams, have an assigned København Universitet (Copenhagen University) buddy, or get a “visiting family.” Since I am so close with the family I have at home, I thought it would be best to get a visiting family here. This could be an opportunity to witness how Danish families are structured, and how they function as a unit and as individuals playing the roles of parents and children. I wanted to see how they work, eat, play, and relate to one another. Most of all, I just wanted something to remind me of the family I so dearly miss. Being in the college bubble at Villanova was one thing, because I could always go home. But here, sometimes it seems that between classes, bars, and DIS activities, we are constantly in a college bubble that encompasses all of Copenhagen–so I wanted a guaranteed bubble-popper if necessary. My visiting family was supposed to give me all those things, and more.

Since the beginning of the semester, I have met my visiting family (or members thereof) three times. They are amazing. Marie is the mother (age 34), Finn is the father (age 30?), Siri (age 4) and Vigga (just turned 2!) are the daughters. They live within one of the neighborhoods that are technically outside of, but actually a part of Copenhagen. It’s called Fredericksberg. When I rode my bike there for the first time, I got so lost that I ended up in Tivoli and had to ask two young-looking guys for directions (who of course turned out to be visiting German students, but luckily had a map). It took me 45 minutes to get there! Sad, since I had spent my run the previous day trying to locate the house on foot. Anyway, after my first night at Finn & Marie’s, I was able to make my way home on my bike in ten minutes!

Back to the actual people, though, I have learned so much from them already. On our first meeting, I discovered heir spacious apartment, filled with books (because Danes value intellect) and plants (to keep them from feeling seasonally depressed). My “sisters”, Siri and Vigga, both play with Legos, is interesting because Americans usually reserve the Legos for boys, but since Denmark is where Legos were invented, girls here like them, too. Siri and Vigga also do not speak English, because lessons don’t start until second or third grade here, so I am stuck going through Finn and Marie to translate. Nobody minds, though. When we played Go Fish with Siri’s animal cards, I was able to catch onto the animal names, the question “do you have ___,” and the word “Fisk!” which means “Go fish!” During that game, without the language barrier, we were able to bond. Then we tried counting the cards, but that was quite difficult for me because Danish requires a throaty kind of annunciation that my voice is not capable of. Regardless, I tried, and we all laughed! They are great fun to hang out with. In the end, I was there from 5 PM until almost 11! Finn and Marie and I talked about family histories, American culture, Danish culture, education… you name it. Valuable resources come from more than travel guides and DIS classrooms, it seems.

This past weekend, the family took me to the zoo! The Copenhagen Zoo is right by their house, so Finn and Marie told me that they bring the girls here often to burn some energy. On the cloudy, grey day that we went, it was not crowded, but I was surprised at how many other parents were there letting their children run around, too. It was almost like a playground, not a public park! In this way, the Danes are more lenient with their children. Marie was telling me that kids have to play, fight, and explore uninhibited by adults, or they will never grow up to be personally responsible for themselves and their actions. Such an interesting concept! Although I didn’t take many pictures, Vigga spontaneously climbed into a tunnel and I thought it was adorable.

In the zoo, they have a butterfly house! I found so many beautiful butterflies and the girls would point them out to me. They also have a hatching box with windows like we do at TLCC, and the girls and I were able to watch a butterfly hatching! It was so exciting for them, and me! The zoo also hangs fruit around for the butterflies to latch onto, which makes for some pretty great pictures.

 

Yesterday, Marie took a long lunch break and we walked around my neighborhood together. Since she works right down the street at the Politiken, we may make this a bi-weekly thing. I took her to the Mega Candy Store in the square, which I call The American Store because it has all these strange American junk foods (since Denmark has hardly any junk food, just candy). When I showed her around, she ended up buying Marshmallow Fluff, Hershey’s chocolate syrup, Snyders honey mustard pretzel nibs, and, of course, Goldfish. I was floored by the prospect of growing up without Goldfish, but Marie didn’t even comprehend what could possibly be so necessary about them. It made me think about the snack culture in America, which is actually much bigger than I originally noticed. So strange! By far the funniest part was when I showed Marie the Fluff, and had to email her a list of ways to eat it because she had no idea what to do with marshmallows in a jar. It was refreshing being able to share something “American” with a Dane, even if it was something I wouldn’t particularly care about at home.

At the end of the day, it seems that I have found a family unit that will suffice until I can return to mine. Marie lent me an extra blanket because it has been freezing in Mia’s house, since the heat was broken all weekend. My mom would love her for that. Finn drives his little Danish car to pick me up when it’s raining so I don’t get wet biking, just like my dad would. The siblings, albeit younger, remind me of Ben and Bitty. Even though I miss them, I know that when I go home, I will be even closer to all of them. For now, my visiting family is a great group of people I can count on!

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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