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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!

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.

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!

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!

 

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.

To Everyone In My Life:

To everyone in my life:

Being away from almost everything I know has given me the opportunity to step back and realize how much I have to appreciate. I am so fortunate to have a life full of beautiful people who love and support me. I would like you all to know that I am truly grateful for each one of you. It doesn’t matter if we see each other every day, or never again. You need to know that you have touched me at the core of my being, made a difference in my life, and influenced the outcome that is me.

I have never been happier than I am right now–and I don’t mean the three-second wave of euphoria that happens when I pull up at the beach or get some new shoes. This is a core happiness that you have to develop–piece together like a puzzle, patiently and with a goal in mind. Stepping out of my life and coming to this amazing city has helped me to understand and become comfortable with myself. Through this process, I know that I will continue to grow under these stimulating and intriguing conditions. To know that it can only go up from here, is simply breathtaking.

It is so important to me, now, to stop and thank you for helping me get to this point. I am honored to call you all family, friends, and loved ones.

Always ❤

Memories of Summer in CT (usually)

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As summer comes to a close, here are some of the precious people I will leave behind in my travels.

These pictures include (L to R)

my dear red-headed friend Michelle (first two)

my sister Adriana

me, Michelle, and Xtina (the three best friends that anyone could have)

me rock climbing/hiking

me, Adriana, her friend, my (blonde) mother Lori and her friend (on vacation last week)

my favorite man in the world, my dad Mark

my brother’s friend and my brother, Ben

me and Xtina

all the girls (minus britt) including: michelle, me, xtina, rachel, and taylor.

missing from this gallery: meagan! (sorry girl)

Now you know who some of the people in my Connecticut life are!

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