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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!

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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.

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