Congratulations! You’ve been randomly selected for an extensive search!

As if leaving Copenhagen were not enough of a reason to be emotional, add on the worst travel experience possible and you end up with a sweaty, tear stained, lunatic- aka me circa Sunday between the times of 3:00-5:15.

Let me lay out the scene for you:

The trip to the Copenhagen airport took much longer than expected as the cobblestones and my hefty baggage proved difficult to maneuver to the metro. Finally- we arrived and checked it. $120 later my bags were tagged and sent off to the beautiful US of A. Little did I know going through customs to get onto the plane would take so long and I made it, thankfully, onto the plane with 10 minutes to spare. Now all that was left to do was to sit and try to relax because PRAISE THE LORD I WAS COMING HOME!!

The whole plane ride I couldn’t shake the nauseated feeling that something was wrong.. My boarding pass I printed in CPH only said Washington, DC. No mention of Charlotte… “they’ll give me my boarding pass at the transfer desk” I reassured myself as I attempted to enjoy The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.

The time crept slowly by… 7 hours until destination. 6 hours until destination. 4.5 hours until destination. I couldn’t sleep. I felt sick. And there was not a thing I could do about it until I landed and had phone service. “Everything will be okay. You’ll be in the States and it’ll all be good.” … HA!

After reading an entire book, watching the first half of Saving Mr. Banks, and pretending to enjoy the repulsive airplane food… We finally landed.

As soon as I could, I flipped on my phone and attempted to text my mom. Not working. “Hmm must just be bad service. I’ll try again later.”

I was already cutting it close and hoped that I would be escorted through a fast track line so that I could make my connecting flight to Charlotte and be on the way home. NOPE. I was sent through local customs and was told that I had to RECHECK MY BAGS at the United Desk.

(My CPH flight landed at 3:00… My CLT flight took off at 5:19)

It’s 4:00 and I JUST made it through customs.

PANICK stricken I stumble my way with my enormous bags to the United desk where GUESS WHAT? No one assists me. My reference number is not recognized and I cannot print my boarding pass. After being yelled at, and helping an idiot woman print her own boarding pass after three failed attempts, I am finally assisted. $100 later I am paying for my extra bag because no, that payment I made in CPH did not transfer to DC. I think that’s it but NO! “I’m sorry ma’am you’re going to need to remove 5 pounds from this bag otherwise you will have to pay $100 extra dollars…” Impossible. Absolutely impossible. Everything is stuffed to the brim there is absolutely no way this is happening. Tears streaming down my face, I fling my belongings around the room and finally readjust and am headed through security.

I am a mess. I am sweaty as hell. I am crying. I am on the verge of passing out. It’s 4:20 and I am positive I am going to miss my flight.

Looking back on it, I know I looked like a schizophrenic fool muttering to myself under my breath “DEAR LORD” “ARE YOU KIDDING ME” etc. And frantically searching through my bags for my passport which I either threw away or left at the United counter. I’m sure I made several people uneasy….

One security guard asks me what’s wrong and I tell him, without taking a breath between my words, that I am late for my flight and I am going to miss it and I CANNOT miss it, I have to get home.

I am escorted into the express lane and think that things are FINALLY okay and I start to relax… I walk through the Xray machine and the woman guard says “ma’am just step aside, someone will be here to assist you.”

I thought “HOW NICE! They’re going to get one of those cart things to speedily take me to my gate. They saw how upset I was and they’re going to help this poor little crying girl get home.”
Boy was I mistaken….

“Ma’am you have been randomly selected for an extensive search please follow me.”

WHAT. I immediately burst into sobs. I just knew I was never getting home. Convulsing with tears, I am groped by this wormy little androgynous person in front of everyone in security. Bawling my eyes out as I just know that I am never going to make it home, they wipe down every inch of my belongings- even my innocent little Life is Good monkey, Maurice. My phone still has NO service so I won’t be able to contact my parents and I just know I am going straight to airport jail for acting like a crazy person. FANTASTIC.

It’s 4:50 when I am finally released (boarding started at 4:55) and I SPRINT to the train to take me to my gate. I run like I have never run before, tearing my boarding pass in half, and frantically making it to the gate at 5:10.. “You sure are cutting it close miss.” Astute observation, gate man. I run, heavy breathing, onto the plane and sit down- completely exasperated.

“Oh darlin, did you have to run here?” The sweetest southern voice sitting next to me says. “Yes ma’am, you have no idea the time I just had….”

Several deep breaths and a round of lunatic chuckles to myself later, I was up in the air listening to James Taylor serenade me about my beloved Carolina…. I was going home.

I get off the plane in Charlotte and head towards baggage. At this point I smell so bad and I am so exhausted that I am walking like a zombie towards the exit. I turn the corner to head down some stairs and I see my perfect little family at the bottom with the biggest grins and a sign that read “welcome home sister!!” I’ve never run so fast down a flight of stairs in my life. I collapsed into their arms, sobbed (this time happy tears), and all was right with the world.

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Nothing but gratitude

5/17/14
If you would have told me on Sunday that I was going to be this torn up about leaving I would have laughed in your face. I was ready. I missed my family. My friends. My people. I was burnt out from an academic semester from hell and just ready to be back home. Oh how the tables have turned…

HOW do you sum up an experience such as study abroad into a bunch of words? There’s no way to accurately portray the range of emotions you go through, the relationships you create, the places you see, the food you eat, the laughs you have, etc. etc. It’s simply indescribable.

These 4+ months have been the most challenging of my life. I came to Copenhagen completely out of my comfort zone, separated from all of the people I love the most and who knew me best, and was then thrown into an entirely different universe and culture with people who did not know me from Adam’s house cat. I was terrified.

Yet, somehow, by the grace of God, I was okay. I was more than okay. How lucky was I? I had a chance to rediscover things about myself, challenge myself, and to be a version of myself untainted from any past events or relationships. I discovered my humor, what makes me angry, what I like about people, what I dislike about people, a new sense of fashion, a passion for traveling, the list goes on and on. I’ve learned so much about myself in this process and to be honest I am amazed that I was able to do it. I would be lying if I said it was a breeze- that is absolutely not the case. I had my fair share of doubtful moments and moments where I questioned whether studying abroad was the right thing for me to do, but in the end it was entirely worth it and I will be forever a better version of myself because of this experience.

There’s absolutely no way that I would have had half of the amazing experience that I did if it weren’t for the beautiful souls I was so fortunate to live with, travel with, and study with. You all know who you are, and all I can say is THANK YOU. Thank you for laughing with me (and at me), for tolerating my silliness, my singing, and my infatuation with Shrek, for caring for me and most of all for showing me that there are people in this world who are genuinely good with kind hearts. Thank you to each and every one of you for making my experience what it was and for allowing me to take part in yours. My heart is so full for knowing you and it aches at the thought of goodbye. You people have touched my heart in the best way possible and I am all the more better of a person because of it. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

You say you want a REVOLUTION…

For more reasons than one, I am grateful for my time in Copenhagen. My eyes have been opened to a different culture and way of life that is far from anything I once knew or was familiar with. Not only has being in Copenhagen changed my perspective on so many aspects of life but it has taught me to be critical (constructive criticism of course) of my own culture and the way of life that I have been used to for 21+ years.

The prime example of this criticism lies in something as simple as the bicycle. Having finally obtained a bicycle for my last 3 weeks, I now fully understand the appeal and the necessity, of a bike in this city. It makes life so much easier, so much more sustainable, so much more environmentally friendly, so much more ACTIVE, so much more enjoyable. Copenhagen is the prime city for biking. It has the infrastructure for bike lanes and the terrain is relatively flat. Biking is simply engrained into the Danish culture. A vast majority of the population learns to ride a bike before they even walk… I don’t remember learning how to ride a bike but I know several people in the US who still cannot ride a bike. How tragic is that?!

Yesterday, the sun was shining, temperatures were in the low 60’s, and I (for once) had zero homework or assignments due the next day. So I rounded up the gang, (my roommates Chloe, Mike, and Nick) and the 4 of us went cruisin around. It was something so simple yet so special and so much fun. We stumbled upon a sweet park in Nørrebro and played on the playground for far longer than we should have… Mike even challenged a stranger to a one on one game of bball.. after 10 minutes of spastic movements and sweat, neither player had made a single basket yet it was still more entertaining than the NBA playoffs if you ask me….

How wonderful is it that a bike gives you the opportunity to explore different corners of the city and see the beautiful parks, lakes, and architecture that you simply would never see on foot? If that doesn’t epitomize #blessed I don’t know what does…

So, you could say that I am inspired by this bike culture here in CPH. I’ve already contacted my mom to see if my ole faithful purple Schwinn is still collecting rust and dust in the back garage… (IT IS!!) Next step is to find a little basket and I will be set! I’m planning on bringing my bike to Wofford in the fall for senior year (<— I don’t wanna talk about it…) and am going to use it ALL THE TIME. Why not use it to go to FoodLion, CVS, lunch somewhere, etc. Save a little gas, get a little exercise, decrease my carbon footprint/environmental impact… looks like the best of so many worlds to me.

For now, I will simply enjoy cruising my bike (which I aptly named White Sensation) around Copenhagen until I am forcibly removed from the country… and then it’s off to terrorize Cheraw/Charleston on muh purple Schwinn! Get ready USA!! Bike culture is coming your way.

So to all muh Wofford frands reading this- GET A BIKE, let’s start a REVOLUTION. The bike revolution, that is.

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Final Countdown

Somehow, time has evaded me and I am on the tail end of my European adventures…

I have less than 25 days left here in my favorite city in the world, Copenhagen.

It doesn’t seem right. I feel like I just got here and it was cold and windy and rainy and snowy. Now the sun is shining, temperatures have risen ALMOST to 60, and I even have a little color in my cheeks, and frankly, I am not sure how I can leave this place while it is so beautiful. Ever since I first arrived, all I’ve heard is that Copenhagen is at its finest during the spring and summer. And boy can I attest to that. It is almost like a 180 shift. The squares, parks, streets, canals, are all FLOODED with hoards of people soaking up every inch of sunshine they can get. It’s amazing. This city and its peculiar people have come alive. Spring has SPRUNG to the highest degree. The sun doesn’t set until well past 8 and you can rest assured that I along with everyone else are chasing daylight as much as possible.

I finally bit the bullet and bought a bike for the last 3 weeks and boy am I so glad I did. You can’t really feel like a Copenhagener (?) unless you have a bike and have participated in the daily rush around the city. It’s amazing how much you can see once you’ve got a set of (two) wheels. It’s really unfortunate that classes have kicked in and finals and projects are piling up because all I want to do is lay down in the park or whiz around on my bike… My excellent time management skills, courtesy of Wofford College, will certainly have to kick in in order for me to make the most of the sunshine and my little time left here.

I can’t believe it’s almost time for me to say goodbye to this place. I’ve come to love it so much and am worried I’ve forgotten what it’s like to live anywhere else… But I have a feeling once I’m back home in South Carolina eating some of my mama’s delicious home cooked southern goodness, things will happily fall back into place. But for now, it’s soaking up as much of Copenhagen while I still can!!

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

La Vie en Rose

Well folks, I went to Paris. And as the cliche goes, I fell in love. I’ve caught the Paris bug. I’ve got Parisian fever. Whatever you would like to call it, Paris is my place.

I have never been somewhere with such beauty, elegance, enchantment, excitement, etc., in my life.

Let’s just put it this way: I smelt my fair share of stanky body odor as well as saw a big fat rat and I am still simply glowing and beaming with joy and love for Paris. (For anyone who even remotely knows me, knows that I do not respond well around stinkiness and rats so this is a HUGE deal.)

Love is literally in the air in Paris. (As is a ton of pollution and smog but hey, it’s still Paris)

Everything about my visit was sheer perfection. I could ramble on forEVER about everywhere I saw and everything I did so I’ll simply rattle off my favorites.

1. Monet’s gardens in Giverny. It was absolutely STUNNING. The weather was perfect and the flowers were ALL in bloom. It was as if I was walking through a collection of Monet’s paintings. It truly was a painters paradise.

2. Seeing Monet’s waterlilies at Musee de l’Orangerie. It was almost like a religious experience. You walk in through stark white walls and enter into an oval room where BAM on every wall are Monet’s giant canvases. It was really special being able to see these paintings especially after seeing the actual flowers in the gardens the day before.

3. Musee D’Orsay. Because I went with my Impressionism in Paris class we headed straight for the Impressionism portion of D’Orsay… Whew. Talk about sensory overload. Everywhere you turned there was Monet, Degas, Sisley, Pissarro, Cassatt, Morisot, Renoir… The list goes on and on. It was absolutely amazing.

4. Baguettes. That is all.

5. Gothic cathedrals. More specifically, Notre Dame and Sainte-Chapelle. Upon turning the corner and seeing Notre Dame, my eyes immediately welled up with tears and I had a huge lump in my throat. Thinking about it now even gives me chills. Spending Easter Mass in Notre Dame was also an incredible experience in itself. The acoustics, the atmosphere, everything, was gorgeous. It was simply breathtaking. Sainte-Chapelle did not disappoint either. It was like being on the inside of a kaleidoscope. So. Many. Colors. And so much light. It was rainy and it still was brilliant and vibrant.

6. Dinner cruise on the River Seine on our final night. Great food and fun people with some not too shabby views. There was endless wine and champagne and the cruise band even sang Hallelujah and La Vie En Rose so I was perfectly content.

It felt like a dream. It still feels like a dream. (Probably because I dream about Paris almost every night…) I am counting down the minutes until I am fortunate enough to visit again. Paris, you will forever be perfection, and you certainly haven’t seen the last of me.

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Rules of The Road

Traveling around Europe is a huge privilege. Learning the various rules and cultural norms of various countries can be… a challenge. On a recent trip to Rome and Florence, I have noticed several cultural differences between Copenhagen and Italian cities… in particular, the rules of the road.

Copenhagen, the rules of the road are as follows:

Cars always yield. Pedestrians have the right of way. Bikers rule the streets. You wait at the crosswalk until the light is green, even if it’s 2 am and there are zero cars around, you wait. RULES. There are rules. And they are easy to follow and  if you follow them, you will never have to worry about running into a bike, being hit by a car, etc.

In Italy, the rules of the road are:

NONEXISTENT. Vespas zooming right and left with no regards for anyone on the roads. Taxis whizzing behind you honking their horns and not slowing down. Buses pummeling down the narrow streets like a bat out of hell. Green means go, yellow means quickly, red means RUN.

Since being in Italy, I have come in real close contact with several Fiats, gotten trapped in the tram door, and enraged a bus driver because I was “in his path” (**take note that I was crossing the street on a green light). The “rules” do not apply. It is every man for himself. I have since learned that the only rule is COMMIT. If you’re going to cross, DO. NOT. Hesitate. Commit. And 9 times out 10, you’ll make it without a scratch. But I can’t guarantee there won’t be any honks.

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Transitioning in Totnes

After reluctantly leaving jolly London Town, we made our way to Totnes in the Devon region of Southwest England.

Our bus was… miniature. We were nice and cozy for what we were told was a mere 3.5 hour bus ride… SEVEN HOURS LATER, after many bumps, swerves, wrongs turns, thumb twiddling, 20 questions, I had sufficiently gone insane by the time we FINALLY made it to our destination: The beautiful Sharpham Estates.

This leg of the study tour was jam packed with activities, we had very little time to catch our breaths or to be bored.

Because Totnes is the first Transition Town, we visited numerous spots that show the sustainability efforts the community is heading up. These included, trips to several organic farms that specialize in providing weekly boxes for their customers filled to the brim with fresh veggies.

My favorite day was Saturday. We started the day at Dartmoor National Forest where we went exploring on the moors. After being there a few minutes, it is instantly clear why so much literature has been dedicated to the area. The moors truly are a magical place. There were sheep, and WILD PONIES, rolling hills, scraggly trees, and giant rock faces. Absolutely beautiful.

After the moors, we were fortunate enough to eat at the Riverfields Organic Farm Kitchen and WOW WOW wow WHOA- I may or may not be exaggerating when I say that I think I had the best meal of my entire life. Everything from here on out is down hill. I’ve reached the paramount. What was this incredible meal? Ah yes… I may tear up reliving this experience but for the sake of the blog, I will describe it.

Course 1: Salad (made with fresh greens PICKED THAT DAY from the organic farm), with aspargus, tomahtoes, onions, cheese, and a beautiful dressing. Accompanied by some delicious fresh bread.

Course 2: Broccoli (spicy) with capers; Cauliflower and white bean salad.

Course 3: Baked/glazed carrots and leeks; roasted duck confit with a pesto sauce (which I saw one of the chefs making by hand in a grinder); and litrhuly- the. most. delicous. roasted potatoes. Ihaveeverhad. They were so golden and crispy but moist and garlicy and buttery and beautiful. I couldn’t handle it.

Course 4: STICKY. TOFFEE. PUDDING. with homemade custard. Per-fec-tion.

We finished Saturday with some time by the river and a little bonfire and cider. It was the perfect ending to an amazing trip. I learned so much about the potential of communities and was inspired to take what I learned in Totnes and hopefully being able to apply a fraction of what they are doing in the towns that I live in and love aka Cheraw and Spartanburg. I was particularly inspired by the thought of The Village becoming its own micro-transition “town.” The potential is there and the possibility is very real. After our study tour week, we were asked to create an action plan inspired by our trip to apply either at home or at our home universities. I chose The Village as my model… so lookout, Wofford, I’ll be “home” soon enough and if I have anything to do with it, The Village just might be transitioning to a sustainable state in the near future. Stay tuned.

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The One in London

Two weeks ago, my core course went to the UK for our long study tour. And I must say, three cheers for Great Britain. What a lovely place filled with so much history and beauty, I’m tickled pink to say that I was able to experience a sliver of it.

London in itself is worthy of a million words. There’s no way I can write anything that will do it justice. So I’m just going to point out a few highlights of the trip…

1. Fish n Chips in NOTTING HILL at the quaintest restaurant, Portobello Organic Kitchen.

2. Walking up from the tube station and seeing Parliament, Big Ben, and Westminster… I was so overwhelmed with the beauty of the buildings that I did in fact cry.

 3. Going on a bike tour, with Fat Tire Bikes, of London. The proper name for the tour was “The Royal Garden Tour of London” but our our guide liked to call it the “Why London is Better than Paris” tour. We got to see all of the most famous parks, monuments, and buildings in London all the while riding upon bikes. Mine was named Prince George II and I must say he was a little incompetent… A wompy seat had me low riding and side saddling the whole tour. Despite this, it was an incredible time.
4. Stumbling upon a pub in downtown London that was “as seen on FRIENDS” aka the one with Ross’s Wedding and having a big ole burger that was absolutely delicioso.

5. Walking up to St. Paul’s cathedral, realizing it was Ash Wednesday, going inside and making it just in time for a few songs and some organ before mass started. It was a moving experience. The interior is so extraordinary, I was in awe. I stood there, jaw dropped, for the majority of the time.

6. Happening upon an 18 piece jazz band at a pub and catching half of their flawless sey.

7. Seeing a beautiful London sunset. (and the bridge from HP7P1)

8. Visiting The Crystal by Siemens and catching a glimpse at the promising future of sustainable development in the world’s major cities.

All in all, I have nothing but great things to say about you, London. Thanks for such a lovely 3 days.

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

London Calling

I realize it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything but that’s because this week/these past few days have been, well, a little lackluster. I’ve had two midterms, a quiz, and several assignments occupying my time lately. I’ve been a little burnt out over this whole “school” thing so this upcoming week could not have come at a better time.

This weekend started the first of three, yes three, travel breaks that we get here at DIS. This week, I’ll be traveling with my core course, European Sustainable Development, to England. I’m absolutely bursting at the seams with excitement! As The Parent Trap is my favorite movie, I would love nothing more than running to the studio then spending the rest of the day getting lost in Harrod’s with Elizabeth James… unfortunately, recreating scenes from The Parent Trap is not on the docket for this trip. However, as disappointed as I am that I won’t be able to spend the day in Hattie Parker’s shoes, there are still several things in store that are worthy of being excited about.

We leave Tuesday for foggy London town where we’ll spend three days. We have most of the afternoons/nights off so we are free to explore. Not sure how I’m going to prioritize what all to do but I’m looking forward to it regardless.

We then leave London and head two hours south to a small town called Totnes in the Devon region of Great Britain. We’re staying on an estate/vineyard for the rest of the week. From what I’ve google searched, it’s GORGEOUS. Like a scene from Pride and Prejudice (another one of my favorite movies).

Of course because this trip is educational, we’re focusing on how towns and cities are doing their part to contribute to sustainable development. Totnes is a transition town, which are communities that are working to build resilience in response to peak oil, climate destruction, and economic instability. According to their website, Transition Town Totnes (TTT) is a dynamic, community-led and run charity that exists to strengthen the local economy, reduce the cost of living and build our resilience for a future with less cheap energy and a changing climate. [ http://www.transitiontowntotnes.org/ ] (The website has more information) It’s a very interesting concept, hopefully I’ll be able to gain some more perspective on the concept and seeing how it’s actually applied in the “real world.”

For now, it’s time to pack, convert some Danish kroner to British pounds, watch both The Parent Trap and (the critically acclaimed Mary Kate and Ashley film) Winning London, and brush up on my British accent/slang.

Cheerio!

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Arts & Culture

I was fortunate enough to be chosen to live in the Arts and Culture LLC right in the heart of the city for the semester. As a member of this house, we are given the opportunity to explore the city through its art and culture. Today we went on a gallery tour of several galleries in Copenhagen’s meat packing district, a district of the Vesterbro neighborhood, fondly referred to as Kødbyen or “meat city.” Mmm meat.

The first gallery we stopped at was featuring the artist Jonathan Meese. It was quite an interesting exhibit… His pieces were all quite colorful and unique. This painting really caught my eye. I’m not sure if it’s because it’s so busy and colorful or because the paint looked like frosting, but whatever it was, I dug it.

We went to several other galleries all featuring local contemporary Danish artists. Some of my favorite pieces were one that was from an exhibit that featured ancient Roman and Greek -esque sculpture with a piece of modern clothing, or accessory added to them. Ancient Roman and Greek sculpture is one of my favorite areas of art history, so I gravitated towards this whimsical little guy in his tube socks.

This same gallery had several other pieces from contemporary artists some of the most interesting to me were, the kick drum entitled “Rock Around the Clock” that served as a clock. Luckily we were there at around 3:00 so we heard the drum beat three times on the hour. Another interesting piece was a line of four pairs of prosthetic legs in brightly hued tights that would randomly kick their legs up in the air every so often.

I thought it was very interesting to be able to visit these galleries and see modern pieces that I am not used to studying and seeing. The arts scene is huge here in Copenhagen (and Denmark as a whole) so it’s cool to be able to participate in a lil bit of culture.

**Disclaimer- Don’t be fooled, I would be lying if I said I appreciated all of the art that we saw today… Some of the pieces in particular that I just did not understand were photographs of morphed body parts, and an entire exhibit called “Winter” that feature different pipes attached to the wall…. Sometimes, I just don’t get it.

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment