Fanø Study Tour: Standing in the Middle of the Sea

Fanø, regardless of my inability to properly pronounce it, is now one of my favorite spots outside of Copenhagen. It’s a small island in Western Denmark that I’m convinced once housed a family of fairies or maybe some of Tolkien’s hobbits. The members of my core course, “A Sense of Place in European Literature,” had the amazing opportunity to spend two nights at Camping Klitten in Sønderho, the most charming part of Fanø, with thatched-roofed houses and rolling sand dunes.

To reach Fanø, we went by bus and then ferry. The bus ride was a strange mix of relaxing and inspiring. I split my time between writing poems and staring out the window watching the fields pass by as I listened to my Copenhagen Jams playlist (a compilation of all of the songs I’ve learned over the past month). Mette (one of my professors) gave us a kind heads up before we crossed over the Great Belt Bridge, which is the 2nd longest suspension bridge in the world!

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(Not my image, but it captures the bridge beautifully)

Our ferry, Fenya, was named after an old tale of the Danish king’s grinders, Fenya and Menya, which Mette read to us on the bus. Fenya seemed to be the nicer of the two, so I was happy to get her for both rides.

Once on site, we were split into groups of three or four and sent to our quaint cabins. I was placed with Laura and Anne in Daffodil Cabin (the name I bestowed upon it after seeing its light yellow exterior). When we were told we needed sleeping bags, I assumed we’d be roughing it somewhere on dirt-covered floors. Instead, I walked into a cute and very clean cabin with polished wood and vibrant floral arrangements

The rain held off for our arrival, letting the peace of the place sink in as we toured the Wadden sea’s breathtaking landscape, Marco Brodde, an artist and expert on the area, leading us. He was clearly a passionate guy with a great fashion sense: mustard yellow chinos, a button-down with funky printed cuffs, a bandana tied around his neck, and a pair of binoculars. He spoke of the beach “living of drowning” because twice a day the tide comes in and “drowns” the land before retreating. He also showed us the footprints of migrant birds that dropped to the sand during the previous night’s storm

Walking out along the seabed with the vast ocean surrounding me on all sides, melting into a gray-blue sky, was unlike anything I’d ever experienced before. Ethereal. That’s not nearly enough to put into words what I saw and how I felt, but I could never do it justice, so one word will have to suffice. I wished I could’ve stayed there all evening, and then again all morning when we stopped by one last time before the bus drove us back home to Copenhagen. Letting my toes dig into the sand, crunch over cylinder-shaped shells, and splash through chilly water was refreshing, to say the least.

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After reading a long poem called Øster Land (Eastern Land) by Jeppe Brixvold, which referred to Fanø, we strolled into the center of town to have a spectacular five course meal at Sønderho Kro with dishes that looked like art including ingredients such as quail eggs, smoked salmon, sea buckthorn, and roasted parsnips. I got a seat in the more private back room painted an ocean blue (very fitting). It was a great way to get to know my other classmates better, since I’d been sticking more with my LLC group: Rodlyn, Johnne, Mattie, and Laura. (I do love them.)

Diving from one great meal to another, the next day we had breakfast at 9am in the Kromann’s restaurant—a delicious spread of coffee, juices, fruits, meats, cheeses, and bread—and then discussed Øster Land, part of the time while walking outside past the very sites mentioned in the poem. Despite the cold air and intermittent showers, getting to read sections from the poem at the same time as I was looking at them was incredible.

Mette and Karen, my two lovely professors (who spoiled us rotten!) made us an appointment at a local artist’s studio, in which we got to see the underbelly of her workspace, replete with dark chocolate, trail mix, sketches, and a lot of charcoal. She painted illustrations to go along with Jeppe Brixvold’s poem, both of them walking the same path at different times for inspiration. She was a delightful woman who gave us insight into her artistic process—immersing herself in nature being especially vital to her art. My good friend Laura took this awesome photo of her in her studio:

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One of the most surreal moments of the trip was when I wrote a rainbow into existence. Yes, it’s true, I do have otherworldly powers (my LLC can attest to that). We were given a span of four hours to write about our sense of place in Fanø—writings we would share in small groups later on. I climbed up a sand dune across from Camping Klitten and sat at its peak. I’m about to sound cliché, but the moment was cliché, so there’s really nothing to be done about that. The wind was combing through my hair and the sun was glimmering after a heavy rainfall. I was enrobed in utter serenity. Then, as if life couldn’t get any better, as I wrote the words, “a rainbow emerged…” a literal rainbow did indeed emerge from the clouds to my left. It was pure magic! I was without my phone, so I have no picture proof, but it was quite glorious.

Our last night was spent having a five hour dinner in the home of a local woman who picked everything fresh and raised and killed her own chicken for the meal. We were greeted by two adorable dogs and became a part of the fairytale of Fanø as we stepped under the thatched roofs, the taller folk having to duck under doorways. Because there were so many of us, we had to spread out among all of the rooms in her home; I ended up in her bedroom, seated on her bed with this as my view:

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I can’t even begin to fathom that it’s already been a month! I never want it to end! Here’s to more memorable Denmark adventures to come!

 

A Sunday Finding Giants

Sundays are for sleeping in, studying, relaxing, and, when feeling adventurous, hunting down giants. No, I didn’t have to climb up a beanstalk to enter a fantasy land where giants reign supreme, all I had to do was hop on the s-train, map in hand and friends by my side.

Before you get too confused and assume I was hallucinating or playing some wacky video game, let me explain. Danish artist, Thomas Dambo, built six giants (the Forgotten Giants) out of scrap wood and hid them on the outskirts of Copenhagen. In short, he is one cool cat and gave me one of the best days of 2017 thus far.

IMG_1790Our map (like an old fashioned treasure map!)

Lucky for me, living with 13 other up-for-anything people makes planning fun excursions easy. Anuska, Hannah, Sawyer, Olivia, Rodlyn, Laura, and Emma all agreed to head to Norreport at 10 in the morning to take a 23 minute s-train to Albertslund, home to two out of six of Dambo’s giants. As train ride entertainment we played Four Fourths of a Ghost (Sawyer’s idea) and what I like to call Apple, Eel, Lollipop, Popcorn. Explaining those would take too long, so if you’re bored you can try to figure them out, if not, keep reading.

We were so absorbed in our word games that we almost missed our stop. Thankfully Rodlyn kept us on schedule, noticing it was time to hop off before it was too late. The station connected to an extensive outdoor shopping area with a Fotex (grocery store), Normal (like CVS), restaurants, and more. More happens to include these three stone animals: a hippo, a bear, and some hybrid pig/dog/bunny critter.

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We made a brief pit-stop in Fotex to buy picnic provisions and then used Emma’s stellar directional senses to lead us to Kongsholmparken in which we’d find the giants. En route, I spotted this gorgeous sunset graffiti. A harbinger of a good day to come (and it wasn’t just good, it was great).

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To get to the park, we had to walk through a maze-like municipality of grey, boxy houses, only disparate in their varying door colors and small decorations such as lights and flowers. A few people noted that it felt almost dystopian. I personally pictured robots with unnervingly human features popping out of the buildings to greet us, and to keep us prisoner. (No offense to the people actually living there, that’s just my overactive imagination talking.) The door colors I noted were red, blue, green, and orange, which made me wonder about what each color meant. If you were in the blue section, did you have a different status of those in green? Among the houses were small playsets that I felt compelled to try out: a course of wooden stumps and a moving platform to test one’s balance, a flying saucer shaped swing of rope, tire swings, and more. This kid-friendly trend of playsets continued into the park, which opened up past a hulking entryway of metal, framing the lush oasis beyond it.

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Being someone who loves the great outdoors, I was rejuvenated by a few hours outside of the hustle and bustle of the city (or as Michael would say upon hearing a certain song at Night Fever, I was reborn). I’ve grown to love Copenhagen, but I will never be a city girl. I guess that’s what growing up in a small town will do to you.

If you look at the photo above, you can see a hill in the background, and atop that hill we found our very first giant. I spotted it from afar and had the instinct to start sprinting—to say I was overzealous would be an understatement. Sawyer and I ran across the field and up the hill, backpacks bouncing on our backs. (Shout out to Hannah and Laura for taking videos of our mad dash.) By reaching the top of the hill, we reached the foot of the giant—a massive wooden foot with long toes.

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Thomas on the Mountain looked forlorn with his sagging posture and weary blue eyes, but he was breathtaking nonetheless with carefully crafted limbs. One could imagine him cracking his joints before sitting up to wander the woods in search of food or a friend. We asked a woman to take a group photo of us, and she generously took the time to get multiple angles and managed to get one of impeccable quality.

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Memorable Moment: sitting on the giant’s stomach was the most adorable child ever, donning a shirt of a penguin eating a popsicle. His smile was precious. I think we all fell in love with him as he posed by his mom.

Afterwards, we found a picnic table in an idyllic spot on the other end of the hill. (I only slipped once down a steep dirt path to get there, so I’d call it a win.) There were purple wildflowers with bees buzzing around them and the sun was shining on us like a beacon. We picnicked and then wrote for approximately 45 minutes, our immersion into nature inspiring. I started a short scene about Thomas and Tilde (the other giant that I will get to soon), in which they were speaking through the leaves and water, and Thomas befriended a cat, reigniting his love of life.

Once we had our fill of writing, we decided it was time to find Tilde. I could see her from the dock across Lake Tueholmsøen, meaning we somehow had to get from one end to the other. I envisioned the sudden appearance of a canoe or set of kayaks to paddle us across, but no such luck. Instead of being hardcore and braving the cold water in our clothing, we trekked all the way around on a dirt path, passing a goat and sheep enclosure on our way. I was pleasantly surprised to see a sign on the fence permitting people to join the animals in the pasture. I was feeling those nature vibes, if that makes sense, and bonded with one of the black-furred goats, so I wasn’t passing up the chance to roam with the animals. Sawyer and I were blocked by the goat gatekeeper who stubbornly remained in front of the entrance for a while, grazing on grass. Once he or she got bored of lingering by the fence, we slipped inside. Eventually some other members of our LLC family joined us. Olivia was dying to pet the sheep, but had to settle for watching them amble about, thick woolen tails almost sweeping the ground.

What I learned: watching goats lie down is fascinating, their legs folding in a way that looks painfully unpleasant, but doesn’t seem to bother them.

What I also learned: a man was killed by a goat in that enclosure last year. How do I know this? Well, as I knelt beside a goat (the charming one on the bottom middle in the photos) to take a close-up of its strange, cat-like eye, I was being urged to leave by my friends. I was confused, but listened, and was then made aware of the killer goat situation that they had been told by a passerby. Glad the goats weren’t terribly irritable when we visited.

Around the bend was yet another stunning naturescape, featuring a heron on a large rock by the grass, its less regal bird subjects on smaller rocks lined up in the lake behind it.

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Then came the moment I’d been waiting for, the discovery of Tilde. She was just as cute as I imagined, with an unexpected armadillo-esque tail slightly curling up off of the ground. Laura was kind enough to get a photo of me posing with my new, large friend.

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It was an ethereal sort of day. The magic never let up. It was one of those days where I knew I was living. Living living, each second of the day saturated in excitement and joy. Not that I’m not living every day, but there are days that feel like they are wasted, like I am not doing enough, or like I’m trying to do too much but it isn’t fulfilling. This day was whole and brilliant. I could not stop smiling.

 

 

 

Cemetery Writing with Vestergade the Bestergade

I am still in the middle of the lengthy blog post chronicling all of last week, so I figured it’d be best if I at least got one more small something out there beforehand. That something has to do with Vestergade the Bestergade, as you can tell from my title. Long story short: everyone in my LLC signed a canvas with paint and some other unique materials (intrigued? Look out for my next post which will have the long story long), and Johnne graced us with that lovely moniker, which I will be using from here on out.

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A true work of art, I know.

Every Tuesday, my LLC will be having an event from 7-9pm, and this week we went to Assistens Cemetery in which Hans Christian Andersen was buried, as well as Kirkegaard. Cemeteries are not really my thing. Walking around dreary graves filled with corpses is eerie, and more than that, walking around and not being able to appreciate the people buried there feels wrong, like I am being disrespectful. The people that had names and stories and families—things I’ll never know about.  How would they feel if they knew I came only to write amongst them and to visit the two famous members of the deceased? Why should fame determine who we honor after death? But then again, how could it not? There is no sense in looking on a headstone of the ordinary unless you are one of the lucky ones to know of the ways in which they were extraordinary. Maybe I’m overthinking, I tend to do that, but to sum up my thoughts, cemeteries are not my thing because I’m far more fond of spending time with the living. With that being said, this trip to the cemetery was oddly enjoyable.

Our awesome LLC coordinator, Karina, gave us a brief tour and history lesson. What struck me the most was the detestation Kirkegaard had for Andersen, and vice versa. Apparently Andersen was too focused on creating fantastical tales for Kirkegaard’s taste. I didn’t take a photo of their graves, but I did take one of the cemetery’s time traveler, Andreas. (Look at the dates.)

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The cemetery itself was the kind of cemetery whose beauty shone through its simplicity. There were no flashy tombstones begging for more attention than the others. There weren’t crowds of people surrounding HC Andersen’s understated grave like at some touristy cemeteries. It was plain, yet lovely.

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This entrance was the one grand part of the cemetery

After our tour, Karina instructed us to spread out about the cemetery and write for 45 minutes about “the beginning.” I chose a serene spot underneath a great big tree that from below looked like a mosaic of branches and striking green leaves. I wrote for the full 45 minutes, but write well, I did not. I began with a story about two sisters and their dead fish, thinking I could somehow talk about the ending of the fish’s life as a new beginning. When that failed, I thought, “hmmm…maybe I can be super sophisticated and write a grandiloquent poem about nature.” That “poem” was crossed out after four lines. Finally, I moved on to write a YA story about a girl named Heather and her little brother. She was sitting in a cemetery, shockingly enough, and was thinking about life’s impermanence, and how that is what makes it so meaningful.

I was dissatisfied with my writing, but was still happy that I got something down. Any writing, no matter if it’s good or bad, is useful because it is practice. It allows you to flex and stretch those creative writing muscles that you sometimes forget about when you are stuck writing formal essays in school. All was well, or so I thought.

Then came the dreaded word “sharing.” My heart practically stopped. Sharing? I am not one to jump at the chance to read my work aloud, especially unedited, rough work that I’m not particularly proud of. Alas, there was nothing I could do but join everyone in the circle and let my words be spirited away into the night. I have to say, it wasn’t the worst thing in the world. I felt vulnerable and a little terrified, but everyone was supportive and non-judgmental. Getting to hear each person’s unique voice and writing style ended up being an amazing experience. I am now even more impressed with the immensely talented people I live with. Some wrote journalistically, others wrote poems or prose. We even had one (shout out to Hannah) write a snippet of what will be her future TV show. I was blown away.

Vestergade truly is the Bestergade, and I can’t wait to hear more of the incredible and thought-provoking things my LLC creates.

My LLC Family

*This was originally the intro to an extraordinarily long blog post, but I’ve decided the people I’m about to mention deserve more than that*

I am in love. It’s true. I’ve found love abroad—if platonically loving 13 other people at the same time can count. 13 unique but equally talented people, all in their own fascinating ways. I’ve mentioned my LLC before, but now it only seems right to actually name them so I’m not vaguely referring to these mystical beings of whose existence you have no solid proof. They exist, and it seems as though they exist to spread light in a world that so often can be shrouded in darkness. I swear I’m not trying to be cheesy on purpose (Though this is the Creative Writing LLC, so that might be expected). I rave about these people to everyone I know, these people that I knew would become a second family in the time it usually takes someone to simply say hello.

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Setting up for our first breakfast together in our apartment (it seems so long ago!)

Without further ado, here are the names of some of my new favorite people to ever exist: Anuska (one of my roomies), Hannah (also one of my roomies), Emma, Cece, Laura, Sawyer, Mattie, Michael, Dion, Mollie, Johnne, Rodlyn, and Olivia. Those names mean nothing to you, but they mean everything to me. They make Copenhagen special. If only words were powerful enough to convey exactly how much I admire and respect these people (And after such a short amount of time! It’s insane!). They are thoughtful, endlessly supportive, provide daily laughter, and all carry a wealth of knowledge.

They inspire me to come out of my shell and dance without a care in the world at Night Fever—something my shy self usually avoids at all costs (The “Breaking Free” remix was a highlight, and Michael’s videos of it). They let me ramble on about how much I love oatmeal and Tivoli Gardens and Christmas. They are warm and welcoming, and being with them is always a joy. I can talk about anything with them, and not just the fluff. Fluff is fun, of course, but so is the deeper stuff. Random thoughts that pop into my head come pouring out, and I’m not embarrassed when they do. Just this past night, I was talking about childhood memories and dreams with Sawyer, Dion, and Rodlyn. Not everyone is too keen about discussing stranger topics or things inherently imbued with nostalgia but they were, and it was refreshing.

For me, kindness is just about the most important quality in a person, and the people in my LLC are kind. The “how are you’s” and “hello’s.” The “can I help you’s” and “goodnight’s.” The effortless camaraderie and care for one another is precisely what I was wishing for when I dreamt of my LLC before coming to Copenhagen. In my pre-departure blog post, I wrote, “I am one hundred percent sure that I will have the time of my life while abroad.” Now, because of these people, I am unequivocally certain that these four months will prove to be some of the greatest of my life.

You probably think I’m exaggerating. I can’t think everyone is the bee’s knees. There must be someone I don’t like, someone who doesn’t fit. Nope. It must have been by some Denmark-inspired miracle that all of us instantly got along, no awkwardness or discomfort plaguing our first moments together. We go on unforgettable adventures, have jam sessions (Dion, Sawyer, and Johnne all sing and play guitar beautifully, so we get free concerts), do homework together, and eat meals as a group when we can. We all have starkly contrasting personalities, but somehow form the perfect group. You can call me biased, but it is clear that we are the best LLC in the history of LLCs.

Before I get to the pictures, here’s a quick little memory for you. It was either the second or third night (I think?), and I heard guitar strumming and singing coming from the room next to mine. I wanted to go in and have a listen, being nosy and a music lover, but didn’t want to intrude. We’d just met, after all. What would they think if I creepily lingered by their doorway trying to hear them make musical magic? But then something wonderful happened. Everyone gathered in Dion, Sawyer, and Michael’s room, some sitting side by side on the floor next to their famous pink silk, others on the bed, and we listened. Olivia revealed that she, too, could sing like a pro, and Emma chimed in on occasion. We were there for what felt like hours and I never wanted it to end. It was my first hygge-filled moment in Copenhagen, and it filled me with excitement for the rest of the days to come. If in the span of less than two weeks I can feel this comfortable being myself around my LLC, I can only imagine how close we will be come December.


These are my awesome roomies Anuska (fashion icon, secret chef, and ray of sunshine) and Hannah (future TV show writer and passionate Patriots fan with the most adorable happy dance ever):

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From the scavenger hunt that we should definitely win, since bribery isn’t allowed

And now for the rest of my LLC, so you can put faces to names:

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Michael making me laugh at Nyhavn

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Mattie, Laura, Rodlyn, and me at Joe and the Juice (I know, very American of us)

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A shot of me and Sawyer at Rosenborg Castle Gardens that I stole from Rodlyn (Thank you :))

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And thank you to Michael for the Nyhavn photo shoot of me and Emma 🙂

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A fail of a selfie with Johnne and Anuska, but they look cool

I don’t have any pictures with Dion, Olivia, Mollie, or Cece apart from a massive group photo with our LLC and the one living above us, so until I take some, here’s that:

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Have a hygge-filled day!

P.S. The cover image is of the square by our apartment, not just a random square in Copenhagen. (I thought you should know.)

 

 

Arriving in Copenhagen (Is this a dream?)

I am in Copenhagen. Scratch that. I am living in Copenhagen. Surreal doesn’t even begin to describe it.

Before I get into the details of life in my new home, let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start, as sung in “The Sound of Music.” (I know I’m not in Salzburg again, but that musical is always quotable.) Roughly 24 hours ago, I was driving through my small town with butterflies in my stomach, confusing ones that felt off, like my excitement was vibrating in opposition to my nerves causing the butterflies to flit about madly. I was ready. I thought I was ready at least, and I wasn’t about to question that belief, for doing so could make me crumble. I needed to ignore the dissonance, as well as the pesky images of my family flashing before my eyes. It was like some cheesy movie playing a golden-tinged montage of my brother hugging me, my dad making some remark using his classic dry humor, and my mom laughing and looking at him adoringly, as she always does. (She thinks she’s being subtle. She’s not.)

Past the town center, children that I used to be toddling along the paths I used to toddle along, watching the train go by from the green, as I used to do. Time moves at lightning speed, too fast for comfort, and there I was, a true adult, readying myself for four months in a foreign country, not to mention my first plane ride flying solo.

This worry was instantly replaced by a sense of calm as I stepped into the airport after hugging my brother and dad goodbye. My mom walked in with me and surprisingly kept the waterworks at bay as she hugged me tightly and requested that she take a departure photo of me in all my adult glory. (A photo I lamentably knew would end up on Facebook before I could check whether or not I looked like a awkward turtle, as my dad would say.)

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I only look moderately awkward, so not too terrible.

Once I made it past security, I headed over to the Hudson News shop to purchase some much-needed water and some gum. The friendly cashier said he liked my rose (the cream colored flower in my hair, since I am rarely without one) and asked if that meant I was taken. I was taken…taken aback! I had never heard of flowers in one’s hair relating to their relationship status, but I was intrigued. I figured it was some sort of Hawaiian tradition, which after googling, I found out it was! Apparently, if a woman wears a flower behind her left ear she is taken, but if she wears it behind her right ear, she is essentially single and ready to mingle. The cashier almost got it right, but rather than taken, I was announcing to the world my lack of a boyfriend—and I’m unintentionally “announcing” it nearly every day. (Not that I truly mind.)

Skipping through my slightly delayed flight that consisted of reading, listening to my fantastic playlist https://open.spotify.com/user/ashleybrie/playlist/6xU2qK3EBuVsSMHNS6AvQf, (no modesty here), journaling, and sort-of-sleeping, I arrived in Denmark at around 7:30am. Since I am sometimes directionally challenged—only sometimes—I was relieved to find smiling people in DIS shirts at different checkpoints throughout the airport, there to welcome us and direct us to the proper location. That ended up being the hotel across the street from which we loaded onto busses (mine was Route 1, meaning it was first!) I sat next to Mariah (shocked that I remember her name since I am a chronic name-forgetter), and we chatted until we made it to the center of beautiful Copenhagen, charming even in its areas of less ornate architecture. My SRA and the SRA for the LLC above mine (mine is for creative writing) greeted us and took us to our spacious apartment of brick dressed to impress with green ivy.

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I “nested” instantly, my usual explosion of color taking over, maybe too much in some spots, but it makes it feel like home.

The largest source of my apprehension was the people—would they be nice? Would we get along? Would it be awkward? I’ll tell you the answer to all of those million dollar questions. Yes times a million. Yes again. Not at all. Everyone is as friendly as can be, including those in the LLC above mine, with whom we ate lunch at a small sandwich and salad place a few meters away by a quintessential European square.

Post lunch and a lot of chatting, a few of us went exploring and ended up getting stuck in a mob of people watching the pride parade. Stuck usually has a negative connotation, but here it was a blessing in disguise because watching the parade was a blast. Music amped up, extravagant costumes, rainbow wigs, rainbow dresses, rainbow trucks and balloons. Rainbow everything. And everyone was happy, which is always infectious. We were sprinkled with shining confetti—yes, it was rainbow—and danced along to tunes such as the ever-jazzy YMCA.

Once the parade died down, we finally managed to cross the street and make our way to Tivoli Gardens (the place I’d been eagerly waiting to check out because I’m a tad obsessed with amusement parks). I know, I know, that’s so touristy of me, but I couldn’t help myself. Since the kind new friends with me were willing to wait a couple of minutes outside of the gates, I decided to jump the gun and buy a season pass, as I am certain I’ll be visiting Tivoli on multiple occasions, for the garden part, as well as the rides.

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After Tivoli, we wandered towards what one of us hoped was the water, and he was right! We ended up at Pebble Lake (I think), which is nonsensically labeled as a lake, when it is clearly a canal. We walked along the boardwalk, enjoyed a waterside breeze, and admired the sights to see, such as kayakers, boaters, and intrepid swimmers, jumping in even in the colder weather. It was incredibly peaceful.

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It is now 10:34pm and the celebration of pride has not ceased, raucous chanting and chatter slipping through the windows. We are on a street with bars a plenty, so I expected the noise, but since I have been awake for over 24 hours, I should probably try to get some sleep. To speedily sum up the rest of the day, I will give three main highlights: dinner as an LLC (which we walked to get so that we could figure out more about our surroundings), my awesome roommates (I lucked out big time!), and triumphantly figuring out how to work the shower. (It’s a process that involves button pressing as well as handle twisting.)

Tomorrow is scavenger hunt day, and we are all getting brunch together as an LLC, so many many more adventures to come. This is a dream come true!

*I’m jetlagged, so sorry for any grammatical errors or oddly worded sentences

Other sights of the day:

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So What Is Hygge, Anyway? (And Other Pre-Departure Thoughts)

In 44 days, all of which I’m sure will fly by, I will be venturing to the second happiest country on Earth: Denmark. (It was number one last year, but Norway decided to be sneaky and rise above in 2017.) Which lovely city in Denmark am I prepared to call home for four months? The ever-charming Copenhagen, of course. No, I’ve never actually been to Copenhagen before, so attesting to its charm based on research, word of mouth, and photographs might be a little bold, but I have plenty of reasons for doing so.

One of those reasons is simply a word: hygge. This word is in the title of my blog and basically sums up what I want in my daily life. It is impossibly hard to pronounce (some say it’s hue-gah, others say it’s hoo-gah, and then there are those that say it is somewhere in between both—hopefully once I’m there I’ll figure it out), but its meaning is fairly easy-ish. From what I can gather across the interweb, it is a sense of “coziness,” “the art of creating intimacy,” “contentedness,” a moment in which “the ordinary feels extraordinary,” and “creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people.” I know I’ve experienced hygge in my own home town, on my college campus, laughing around the dining table with family, belting out songs in the car with my friends, sitting by a lake and appreciating the beauty in its stillness, etc. Experiencing that distinctly blissful and peaceful feeling is why life is so brilliant, and is also why I hope to find more of it in the place that gave it a proper name. It’s what I yearn for, and will continue yearning for for the entirety of my life.

Hygge is supposed to be at an all-time high during the holiday season, which is my absolute favorite season, so I am beyond excited to get a taste—I’d also be fine with a faceful—of holiday cheer in a new city. The lights, the spirit, the festivities—I’m sure it will be out of this world. (Plus, Tivoli Gardens at Christmas time will be nothing short of magical.)

I’m equal parts nervous and excited at the moment, which is why I’ve avoided making a packing list—once I do that, the reality of leaving will hit me. It’s not that I’ve never traveled before, I’ve been to *I think* 12 other countries over the past several years, it’s that this isn’t just hopping on a plane with family to explore Europe for a few weeks, it’s flying out alone to live in Europe for four months. It’s a big deal.

I am one hundred percent sure that I will have the time of my life while abroad (*knock on wood*), but I know the first week or so will be difficult. The goodbyes, the adjusting to a new way of life, the approximately 3650 miles separating me from the small town I grew up in and the college I’ve come to love.

Change has always been hard for me, but in the end, it’s always been gratifying. My parents know best, and whenever they insist that I try something new, I protest, whatever they are suggesting too “unfamiliar” and “scary.” Then, once I cave, I am glad I listened to them. Copenhagen will be no different. It will be an adventure that I will tell stories of forever and will look back on fondly. 

Until then, I have a lot of things to plan and friends and family to see. 🙂

Have a hygge-filled day!

-Ashley