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Returning Home

After almost two weeks back, I think I’m ready to write about what it feels like to be home.

Firstly, my time in Iceland was a fantastic decision. Leaving Copenhagen, the city that had begun to feel like home was definitely sad for me, and I have a feeling that if I had gone straight home to Tennessee, I would have cried the entire eight hour flight. After six days in Iceland, I made the rest of the journey across the Atlantic to good ‘ol US of A. I was lucky enough to get seated next to a former DIS student who had moved to Denmark and was returning to the US for his college reunion. It was especially nice to have someone to chat with in Danish in the line for customs and get the new experience of having et hemmeligt sprog  (“a secret language”) that no one knows.

I returned to my hometown for only a day, unpacked all my winter clothes, and repacked summer clothes before heading for Nashville to move into an apartment for the summer. Unfortunately, I have not managed to secure a fancy-schmancy internship for the summer, so instead I got a job working for Vanderbilt in Alumni Relations. Basically that means I call alumni all day and try to convince them to donate money back to the university to fund scholarships. It’s definitely a big change from my life in Denmark, but I AM happy to be back, and ready for my last year at Vanderbilt.

It’s strange to start falling back into my old life here in Nashville; whether it’s the heat, the cowboy boots, or the country music, it’s a completely different world than Copenhagen. I miss biking the most; in fact one of my roommates insisted that he was going to create a “curse jar” that I had to put money into every time I mention bikes or bike lanes.  I still find myself saying “hvad?” or “hva’?” instead of “what” and “nej”  instead of no, and I’ve continued to watch Danish T.V. online because I can’t bear the thought of forgetting all I’ve learned in my 9 months abroad.

Above all, it’s good to be back, but I’m definitely not done with Copenhagen yet.

Til alle den Københavners hvem læser den her blog, jeg håber vi ses snart i den mest hyggelig by i verden. Mig, jeg savner Danmark, og jer, og jeg vil gerne sige mange tak til alle mennesker hvem var så venlig og hjælpsom da jeg prøvet at lære dansk. Uden jere, jeg kunne ikke havde haft den samme oplevelse. 

 

Den Sidste Kærlig Hilsner,

Molly.

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The Last Adventure

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Icelandic air has a great deal where you can fly from the US to Europe and have an extended layover in Iceland at no extra charge.
So without further ado, the beautiful land of the nice!

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Gullfoss or “golden falls” is absolutely breathtaking

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Along with the beautiful views I also got to spend the week with my favorite Icelanders from Krogerup!

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special thanks to Margaret for hosting me for the week! But since I’m currently blogging from my phone, a more detailed account will have to wait.

A very disconcerted blog post.

I have less than a week left in Copenhagen, and of course I’ve been a procrastinator so there’s far too much to do academically (just two papers and two tests left) as well as the fact that I need to pack a years worth of stuff back into suitcases and clean my room. All this on top of saying goodbye to Copenhagen? Say it ain’t so!

But in order to ease my sadness about leaving this wonderful place, I decided to blog about  the fun things that I’ve done in the past two weeks.

One of which was….. (drumroll please)… convincing my host brother to deep fry pickles!

Now if you’re not from the south, that probably sounds really strange, but the next time you come across a chance to get some biscuits n’ gravy, Sweet Tea,  and other delicious southern soul food in your belly, order a side of fried pickles, you won’t regret it!

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Despite the fact that he’s been telling me for months that fried pickles sound weird, he was pleased with the results!

Another fun and exciting thing that I somehow forgot to blog about was my friend Nate’s visit to Copenhagen! Nate and I met at Founders walk the first day of freshman year at Vanderbilt, and we’ve been tight ever since, despite the fact that he actually transferred to UMich this year.

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Luckily it was fantastic weather, so we got to enjoy Copenhagen at its very best. We borrowed a bike from my host family for him and spent pretty much the entire weekend outside.

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We jumped on the public outdoor trampolines by the harbor (Why don’t more cities have things like these?)

and even made it to Tivoli, which I had only been to once before at Halloween and it had been too cold to ride the rides.

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I splurged on buying this gem of a photo because of its pure hilarity.  Overall we just had a good time hanging around the city that I’ve grown to love.

1. Maj

Candid in fælledparken

Candid in fælledparken

May Day/ the first of May is International Workers Day. While it might be commemorated or acknowledged in small ways in many countries, in Denmark, it’s a pretty big deal.

In Copenhagen, starting around 10 am, thousands of people begin crowding into fælledparken in Østerbro just to hang out with friends,  drink beer, and relax. It’s not really like a party, but when you’re surrounded by thousands of cheerful people in a sunny park, you can’t help but feel happy and relaxed.

Artsy Carlsberg photo

Artsy Carlsberg photo

The Danes get pretty dark, gray winters, so when the sun comes out, everyone takes advantage of it. When the weather is nice, the city of Copenhagen can feel a lot like a college campus; every available park, beach, city square, harbor wall, public terrace and green space is filled with people just enjoying each other’s company.

Beautiful people

Beautiful People 

Maybe the high cost of pretty much everything encourages people to look more towards each other for entertainment than some sort of screen or product. But whatever it is, I know that I like it.

cutie #1 right here

cutie #1 right here

The best part of traditions like this is that they’re ideal for spending time with the friends that I’ve made since moving to Denmark, especially as it’s all coming to an end. It’s bittersweet to have to acknowledge that I only have two weeks left in this lovely country.

A week at home

It’s already the Friday of my travel break and I couldn’t be more glad that I chose to spend it in Copenhagen. Not only has the weather been lovely, but a week of relaxing was exactly what I needed.
Predictably, I haven’t actually gotten ahead on any of the homework or final assignments I told myself I’d do, but I have definitely enjoyed watching too much tv, meeting with friends over beer, and biking aimlessly around Copenhagen for hours.

Yesterday I biked 8 miles down to Dragør in the southern, less developed part of Amager.

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The town was quaint and adorable, but probably would have been infinitely more enjoyable on a nice, sunny day.

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Even though there wasn’t much there, in the end I felt pretty satisfied because biking 16 miles in windy Copenhagen counts as exercise, but is not nearly as dread inducing as going to the gym or taking a run.

and some days you fall off your bike.

In a city where bikes are the main form of transportation, accidents are pretty much inevitable, but don’t worry no one was (badly) hurt!

first, in case you need a quick refresher on how ingrained bike culture is, here’s a couple of photos from google image searches of biking in Copenhagen.

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none of the above images are even slightly unusual; bikes are for utility and everyday life here, so baskets overflowing with groceries, trailers towing loads or cargo bikes weighed down with people and things are all part of the everyday image of life in this city.

My host family doesn’t even own a car, so when they need to get a large amount of groceries, the Christiania bike is the way to go.

A couple days ago, I decided that if I’m to be truly culturally integrated, I’ve got to be able to ride one of those heavy monsters, so I took the Christiania bike out on the paths of Amager Strandpark

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Although it was heavy, and definitely different than riding a “regular” bike, it wasn’t nearly as scary as I expected. Maneuvering required a bit of getting used to, but these bikes are sturdy, heavy, and safe so it definitely wasn’t a scary experience. I jokingly referred to it as the Copenhagen equivalent of driving an SUV or a truck.

As I said before, with so many bikes on the road, crashes and falling off are just inevitable occurrences that spring up in day-to-day life. Predictably, they tend to happen when you’re using a bike in a way that’s not quite what it’s intended for… like putting a second human on the front rack.

This is my lovely friend Elsa, another full year exchange student, and the bike her host family has lent her has a front rack that looks deceptively like the perfect place to put another human who happens to not have her bike with her (me)

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it LOOKS like it’s made for another person to sit on.

Unfortunately, we decided that we should test out this front rack/chair on a downwards slope, and let’s just say we didn’t get very far before hitting the pavement. Luckily, the worst injury was a skinned knee and hole in my tights. We’re determined to make it happen before we go home in a month, just next time, maybe not on a hill.

Amagerpige i lårkort

To drive home my point about what Københavners say about Amager, I’m sharing this music video. The title is “Amager girl in a miniskirt,” if I could find the entire text of the lyrics, I’d translate them as well, but unfortunately my ear is quite good enough to do it without written lyrics.

Vinterbad: taking the plunge.

Despite the fact that today it was slightly below freezing, I (along with another hundred DIS students) jumped into the harbor for a truly immersive viking experience. Surprisingly, I loved it. The water was definitely cold, but I would definitely do it again.

Many Danes are quick to mention all the health benefits to cold water swimming, and my 8 year old host sister swims several times a week, year round.

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Øresundskolligiet does vinterbad

I’m proud that there were ten of us from our Kollegium, thanks to the encouragement from Emil and Mette, the SRAs.

Mette managed to get photos of people taking the plunge

Mette managed to get photos of people taking the plunge

Unfortunately, I didn’t make it into the photo of everyone jumping, because I had already plunged into the water, to insure that I wouldn’t chicken out.

trying to get warm as quickly as possible

trying to get warm as quickly as possible

After we all headed back to the kollegium for hot coco and American pancakes to warm up and hygge sig sammen. Given my experience today, I would definitely recommend at least one cold water swim if you’re ever in Copenhagen.

Sunshine’s a Commodity

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A lot of people will tell you that Denmark’s winters are ridiculously cold. From my experience as a Southerner, who would never dream of moving above the Mason-Dixon, I think I can rightfully say that it’s not that cold here. The wind, rain, and darkness however do make for a brutal winter. But having low standards of what “nice weather” is, really makes you appreciate sunshine when it is available. Long story short, yesterday was a BEAUTIFUL day, so I took advantage of it by biking around the city, and taking pictures by the harbor.

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A super useful pedestrian/bike bridge from Amager into Vesterbro.

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My bike, i.e.: my greatest treasure and main form of transportation in Copenhagen

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If you look to the right side of the last photo, you’ll notice a little red & white striped object in the foreground, it’s actually a harbor pool.  Danes swim year round (Viking blood, you know), and believe that “winter bathing” is extremely healthy. On Sunday, I will be braving the cold water with a bunch of other DIS students (if I don’t chicken out) in order to “immerse” ourselves in this Danish tradition. I’m hoping for another sunny day, even though it won’t look nearly as badass as it would if there was still ice floating in the harbor.