So I was just recently reminded that I have a blog to which I have not contributed to in several weeks. In all honesty I have forgotten about life back in the states and have been completely absorbed into my life here. I have done the necessities like applying for summer internships, skyped my mother, and registered for Interim and Spring classes. When it came to recording my time here, I was just as diligent on that front as I am posting pictures (which I haven’t done since my trip to Sweden back on September). I think that was the point of the experience: to be so enveloped by my experience here that I don’t focus on what is happening back home. I have my host family to thank for a lot of that. They have all kept me busy in the best ways. Some of the greatest memories I will have of this place are thanks to them. I have been to family outings, a birthday party or two, castles, spoken to an 8th grade English, and on walks through town and the forest. I have gotten the chance to taste Danish food, watch handball, and watch the Danish Music Awards with running commentary in English so I understand what has been going on. I have done some fun things in Copenhagen and some fun traveling to Germany and Ireland which have been such an amazing experience as well. But there is nothing that compares to the daily life around the house whether it is hearing Peter in the next room playing video games and yelling over Skype, helping August and Christian with English homework, going on walks to the store with Lise, or watching Aksel dance around the house to his David Bowie music playing on the speakers. This house has become a second home that I will be very sad to leave in less than a month. Thanks to them I have truly had the most eye opening and transformative 4 months of my life. I have made friends for life with this family and it is a bond I hope to continue to have with them even after I head home.
So what exactly have I been doing that has kept me so busy for the last 2 months? Here is a quick recap!
1) Immediately after returning from Sweden, I attended a family day event. There were 40 people there and they all had been told about me coming for the event. It was certainly a little overwhelming but definitely an experience I am thankful for having. We all sat outside at a park when the weather was still warm and sunny. We spanned 5 picnic tables and everyone had packed their own lunches. I met so many people that I can not even begin to recall names or how everyone was related to each other. They were all interested in what I thought of Denmark, what I had done already, where I planned on travelling to, and where I was from. They asked questions about the differences between Denmark and the US on all fields from transportation to education to lifestyle. I even made it into the official family photo. I have been told I fit right in and even my own mother had a hard time finding me!
2) The following weekend I got a visit from one of my good friends! Alex, who is studying in Berlin, was able to come for the weekend. My host family was kind enough to let him stay in the house as well. He arrived on Friday night, which ended up being a bit of a challenge because he had broken his phone so we had no way of contacting each other. We walked through the city that night and just marveled at the amazing time we were both having in out respective cities. While he was here we were able to go to an FCK soccer game which was an great time! We also spent a lot of time with my host family playing Yahtzee and the boys gave Alex different Danish works to pronounce. He was also able to be the first one to wish me a Happy 21st Birthday!
3) September 26th! Yes my 21st birthday! It started with my host family and Alex singing Happy Birthday in English and Danish at breakfast waving Danish flags. It is a really cool tradition they have. I unfortunately still had to go to class ad give a presentation. After class I took Alex on more of a walking tour of the city before putting him on the Metro to get back to the airport. I came home to find birthday presents from my host family! They gave me a season pass to Tivoli, some beautiful candle holders from Lyngby, and two mugs from the Royal Copenhagen collection from Lise’s parents.We all had dinner at the house with Shelby and Vanja. The day ended with my parents and brother singing Happy Birthday over Skype while holding a cupcake with a lit candle. My brother was even kind enough to eat it for me (what a guy!).
4) Next week on the 5th of October came August’s birthday. We had a quiet afternoon with the family, Askel’s mother, Lise’s brother and his wife and 3 year old daughter (whom I adore and is the sweetest thing), and Lise’s parents. We had coffee, tea, and desserts. It was a smaller gathering because at the end of the month August and his best friend Casper were having a joint birthday party. It was a great afternoon with the family. Aksel’s mother had just returned home from a trip to Greece so she told us a little about that. It was a great break from a busy week on a Wednesday afternoon.
5) The next day, my parents arrived in Copenhagen shortly after I got out of class. We spent Thursday, Friday, and Saturday morning touring Lyngby and Copenhagen. I showed them Rosenborg Castle where the crown jewels are housed, Christiansborg tower which has a fantastic aerial view of the city, and Nyhavn. Friday evening, my family, Shelby, and I all went out to dinner which was great! Suffice to say between jet-lag and all the walking, they were happy to have an evening at my host family’s house for dinner Saturday evening. We sat around the table and shared stories. It was nice to see my family and my host family getting along so well. Early Sunday morning we left on a train to for Germany. While in Germany we went to Eppelsheim which is the town where my mother’s family comes from. The town is even named after my mother’s family; her maiden name is Eppelsheimer. We also go the chance to spend a day in Berlin where I got to have dinner with Alex and my family at this great little pizza place called Amici Amici. The food was delicious; I wasn’t expecting to find such great Italian food in the Turkish district of Berlin. After Berlin we got on a train to come back to Copenhagen and my parents and brother got on a plane to head home.
6) After my parents left on Thursday, I had a couple days of downtime before classes started again. On Sunday, my host family and Aksel’s mother took me took Kronborg Castle which is more famously known as Hamlet’s castle. In his play, Hamlet, Shakespeare uses Kronborg as the setting and renamed it Elsinore. The English nerd in me jumped for joy when I was at the castle. We toured the castle seeing places like the great hall and the King’s tapestries some of which were over 500 years old. It was surreal, standing in front of a carpet that was older than the country you are from and after the election I see that as an odd comfort. If as frail as a tapestry could survive 500 years then whatever happens in the next four years. While also in the castle, we went down into the dungeon to see Holger the Dane. Legend has it that Holger will rise again whenever his homeland is danger but for now he is a giant stone man sleeping over a sword. We also got to shoot some arrows while on the castle grounds and I am happy to say I was the best shot (though my host brothers will deny it). After leaving the castle we went to Aksel’s mother’s apartment where we had soup for dinner followed by cakes and coffee for dessert. While enjoy dessert, Aksel’s mother showed us her binder full of memorabilia from her time in Greece. The pictures were beautiful and made it clear that I definitely need to visit Greece one day.
7) The rest of October was mostly spent in class and being swamped with homework. My parents were relieved to hear that I was actually getting some learning in during my study abroad trip. On the last Sunday of the month however we departed for Ireland. My class was taking a week long study trip to Dublin which absolutely thrilled me! We did some great academic visits including Enterprise Ireland which is a government organization that sought to help out start-ups, Airbnb (which is the second picture below), and Google. We also got to do some amazing touristy things like doing a pub crawl lead by a couple of Irish musicians, visiting Croke Park which is one of the largest sports arenas, a bike tour of the city, and a tour of Guinness Storehouse.
8) Most of November was spent swamped with presentations, tests, and papers. It felt like a hell week at Wofford that lasted for two. Last Saturday, however, Shelby and her class were going to the ballet at the Royal Danish Theater. She was able to get me and Christian a ticket to the show and I was so excited to go! The show being preformed was Giselle and it was absolutely beautiful. The Royal Danish Ballet is the third oldest dance companies in the world. It was such an amazing experience!
So those are the highlights! That is what has been happening in my last two months. As of today I have 21 days left in my semester and I am sad that my time is coming to a close. I still a few fun things left up my sleeve like getting to spend Thanksgiving in Berlin with Alex and some outings with friends. I look forward to writing about my final weeks here. Until next time!