The End

I’ve been putting off this post since forever. Or at least since I got back. I want to synthesize all the experiences and feel ready for it to be over and feel totally settled in my life back in the US. But you know what? Life doesn’t work quite like that. Though the semester has started, and with it, good things and bad, a new place to live, revisiting an old city of mine, old friends, old places, it feels new and like a return at the same time.

I did so much in Europe, and now that I’m back, I’m not going to say that I feel like a whole new person, but I do feel like I’ve entered a new part of my life. In which I’m more of an adult, a little more confident, a little more sure of what I want. An emphasis on “a little” but still, it makes a difference. I understand more about how I want to be treated, what kinds of people I want to meet, and what kinds of people I can laugh about and not take too seriously. I learned a hell of a lot about people on this trip.

And also about places. I’ll never watch a movie set in Paris or Rome or wherever and not look for the places I’ve been. How it feels to walk on the street alone in London and how it’s different from Copenhagen or Barcelona. How I love cities but I love countries too. The crisp air in Bath, the dampness of the Czech mountains and caves, and riding my bike in the driving rain or wind or sun or dark in Fredensborg. And I’ll try my best to cherish it all.

And before I do a photomontage, I just wanted to thank my loyal readers and my drop-by-once-in-a-while readers. This blog made me feel really good about my writing, made me want to put off this last post. Which is why soon enough I’ll be starting another blog. Because Wanderlust was only ever going to be my abroad journal, for me and for you. Here’s a little map of where my readers come from– this map makes me happy. Thanks to my abroad friends for helping this map be a little more colorful. And thanks also to the abroad strangers who did the same thing. And thanks to my non-abroad friends and family for making the US such a standout.

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START THE PHOTO MONTAGE: The best of Wanderlust! (stay tuned, there’s a little something at the end)

IMG_1989Grafton, MA, USA

IMG_2211Humlebaek, Denmark

IMG_2532Odense, Denmark

IMG_2742Fredensborg, Denmark

IMG_2755Ugerloese, Denmark

IMG_3259Rome, Italy

IMG_3284Barcelona, Spain

IMG_3375Barcelona, Spain

IMG_3783Wiltshire, England

IMG_4252Cesky Raj, Czech Republic

IMG_4430Hilleroed, Denmark

IMG_4537Fredensborg, Denmark

IMG_4628Fredensborg, Denmark

IMG_4653Berlin, Germany

IMG_4796Berlin, Germany

IMG_4842Essen, Germany

IMG_4909Dortmund, Germany

IMG_4914Paris, France

IMG_5234Paris, France

Thank you to everyone I met, everyone I re-met, everyone who gave me a chance or taught me something or extended a hand or supported me. Thanks to people who smiled, who were concerned, who were patient, who played cards, who shared a beer or a laugh, who asked me for directions or who gave me directions or who showed me something wonderful. Thank you to people who ate the food I made, who made food for me, or who shared their company over a meal or who shared their company on a train or plane or platform or waiting room or airport terminal or theatre or their home. Thank you to the people who shared their children, their parents, their brothers and sisters and their grandchildren and grandparents or their friends. Thank you to the people who I visited, the people who I’ll revisit, the people who will come visit me, and to the people who I met who I’ll never meet again.

It was one hell of a ride. Thank you.

Cheeky and Posh: Winning London

What do torrential downpours, a bevy of charming accents, and the most confusingly wonderful department store in the world have in common? London. Obvi. It was a very easy question.

Day 1 (Sunday): Skipping the fluff, we arrived in London and headed over to Kensington for a bike tour. Our Australian tour guide was wonderful and we got to ride through the parks of London, seeing Kensington Palace (home of my favorite royals, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince Harry), Buckingham Palace (Prince Andrew, snooze. The Queen apparently only lives there about 3 nights per month), Big Ben, and Westminster Abbey.

Fun fact, “Big Ben” is the name of the bell inside the clock tower.

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Not Notre Dame, but Westminster Abbey, home of royal weddings!

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Buckingham Palace and bikes!IMG_3601

Oh look!

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Less exciting, but more likely to be home of royals you love (Will, Kate, Harry, and formerly Princess Diana)

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Then the rain started. Pouring rain, worse than in Rome, torrential downpour for a solid 30 minutes, while we rode back. I was wearing a poncho, but my boots took three days to dry.

We were all supposed to go to the Churchill War Rooms, but people were miserable, so they made it optional. I went, which was a great choice: 1) The war rooms were really cool, and I learned a LOT about the war 2) I ran into my family’s closest family friend in the bathroom. I was thinking “that woman has an UNCANNY resemblance to Kay.” And then I said hi and we both started shrieking.

A happy pic in front of the Blitz made the guy taking the picture cringe.

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This was all followed by dinner at an English pub and drinks with our prof (the most awkward man in the world) and seeing 10 Downing Street.

Day 2 (Monday) : Started with a relatively routine site visit at Saxo Bank which is a pretty cool Danish bank, which, as far as I can tell, helps people trade stocks (but not like, professional stock traders) and went out to lunch, where our prof made fun of us when they served mac and cheese and we were all taken aback with shock and delight. Because Danes don’t like the best food? Idk.

In the afternoon we visited the BBC. The tour guide was amazing and from “the Midlands” which to me meant she sounded like the coolest British person (it’s not a “posh” accent). At the BBC they still have radio dramas, like I would imagine were only popular back before TV. But we got to perform one, it was pretty cool. I’m definitely going to try to find some radio drama podcasts.

British Broadcasting Company

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Europe’s largest newsroom

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Love me some Matt Smith

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That night I went to see Billy Elliot the musical by myself because no one in my class was cool enough interested in seeing it with me. I sat in the very last row, which meant the actors were pretty little, but I was so impressed. The songs were really great and the dancing was truly fantastic, with the cast about a 50/50 split between young girls and middle-aged men (it’s about ballet and a miners’ strike) plus a few young boys. The kid who played Billy was so wonderful (his name is Elliott Hanna), but Playbills are not free in London (in fact they’re about $13) so I went without. I highly recommend the show. There’s this song in it called “Merry Christmas Maggie Thatcher” which seemed to make all the British people around me very uncomfortable, but is super catchy.

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Day 3 (Tuesday): We went to see PR firm Ketchum, which was international and nice and gave us tea and I ruined my shirt but nothing too special. I had been experiencing a lot of pain in my ear and a swollen and painful lymph node and just feeling really poopy, so this wasn’t my best day. After Ketchum, we had lunch and did some shopping at Spitalfields market (which I immediately recognized from ANTM) and I bought a Christmas present for a friend who I will see before Christmas and after Christmas but not at Christmas. So she might get it at her birthday, who cares if it’s nearly 5 months away…

Then we went to Wimbledon. It’s a tennis tournament I’ve watched before, but it wasn’t like the most exciting thing, going in, but I realized they are incredible at their company and branding and just being a fantastic place to play tennis. In the museum after, I watched clips from two GREAT tennis matches and realized I’d watched both with Harry (mon frere <–brother in French) and Gram (min bedstemor <–Grandma in Danish translates to “best mom” which is perfect). The matches were mens singles: Federer v. Nadal and women’s singles: Williams v. Williams. Some epic matchups right there. The tour guide there was very handsome and had a “posh” accent and so it was lovely.

Press room

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me and Wimbles

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These are the real thing. Even the winners only get to HOLD them

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Serena being sassy and classy

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They never changed the sign

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I got a good seat

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Then me and two girls from my class went to dinner in Picadilly Circus where NATALAY (aka Natalie Portman) and Chris Hemsworth were having the British premiere of Thor 2. But the girls I was with thought they were too cool for it, so I missed it, unfortunately. I could hear the screams of rabid fans from a few doors down the block where we were having dinner. Then we went to a mediocre comedy show, thanks to DIS.

Wednesday: Dreams came true and I went to Stonehenge. Pictures ensued as I was baffled.

Stones as tall as giants, in a perfect circle (Children of Eden song reference)

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What’s the meaning of Stonehenge? (Ylvis song reference)

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Then we went to Bath, which is the home of the Roman baths at a hot spring when England was part of the Roman Empire. I walked around with Mickey and Chris, two cool people who also have not found Strat Comm to be a particularly hospitable community.

A nice cathedral

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Me and the bath

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Mickey, Chris, et moi

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Another cathedral

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BEANS ON TOAST BEANS ON TOAST (that put me off beans and toast for life)

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We went shopping and drank tea and ate pasties (THEY’RE PIES GET YOUR MIND OUT OF THE GUTTER). I bought some mittens.

Day 4 (Thursday): Small group site visit to Three Fish in a Tree, a small and cool graphic design firm. After the visit the group walked over to the London Bridge, and when a woman asked to read my map, the group ditched me. SO then I was free of them and hit up platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross Station (very different than I expected) and ate another pasty (If you need to be hasty, I recommend a tasty pasty) and went to Harrods, a giant an maze-like department store which I’ve read about before. I bought some more Christmas presents.

So real.

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Not so real

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Then it was time for a traditional afternoon tea at Fortnum & Mason (like Harrods but more Christmas-themed). In business casual, I was very underdressed, but the food and atmosphere were magical. I can’t imagine how expensive it was (DIS paid) but I highly recommend it.

Tea!

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Finger sandwiches!

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Scones!

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Sweets!

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I met up with my friends from AU, Kim and Kathleen, and we went shopping for a few minutes at Fortnum & Mason before getting Chinese food and froyo (at a place cheekily named “Snog”) and caught up and it was so happy and nice to see them.

Snog mood lighting

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Hehe

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Silly

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Kathleen, Kim, froyo, and me!

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I then went to see “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time” which is a play based on the book of the same name. It was a great play, with talented actors (Mike Noble starred), and innovative staging. It was one of the most captivating plays I’ve ever seen.

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The stage/set when I leaned forward in my partial-view seat. A grid blackboard with lights and projectors

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Day 5 (Friday): My last day in London (you must be happy, because this post is essay-length). After a visit to the Chelsea Football Club Stadium (a stadium roughly the size of a small college’s in the states and conveniently located 50 feet behind the hotel, I convinced Mickey to hang out with me. I was dead-set on my schedule so I was a little surprised and very happy she was up for joining me. We walked across the Millennium bridge (better known as the dementor bridge from Harry Potter) and visited the Tate Modern (aka one of my lifelong dreams) we spent a total of 2 hours which was about an hour less than I wish I’d spent, and several weeks less than I could have spent, but we had to get back to good ol’ Copenhagen. I got the last S-tog AND the last lokalbanen home from the airport, which if you live in Fredensborg (hi Linea!) you know how wonderful that is.

St. Paul’s Cathedral

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St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Millennium Bridge as seen from the Tate

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Me and the Tate

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Art, but I don’t remember whose.

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Nefertiti Shades of Grey (Black Version) (a race commentary)

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Really cool quilt against Thatcher for the Falklands war

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I recently got into Cy Twombly

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I’m all about this (not joking). It’s a white paper octagon

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Robert Delaunay

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Well, that was London. I really liked it, as a British version of New York City. It was fun (cheeky), fast-paced, and obviously a world capital. I definitely will go back, and now I can watch movies set there and be so happy. If only I’d gone to Downton Abbey (next time!) Cheers!

DANES. Different from AMERICANS.

So I wanted to make a post that was a little less adventure-oriented and a little more life-oriented. Because being that this is not actually a vacation, I actually have to do work and have a routine and stuff. I know, snooze. But it turns out, not so much.

I’ll start with my classes.

Women, Art, and Identity (the oxford comma’s not in the course title but heck if I’m not going to use it.): It’s basically art history with a focus on women’s art from the late 1800s to the present. I had to drop my 8:30 Danish Design course because getting up at 5:45 twice a week was super unrealistic. So, Women, Art, and Identity was my next (open) choice. So far so good. Every class has two field trips built in to the schedule, but this prof is awesome and so we get to do 5. I will see ALL the Danish art museums! Actually no, but a lot!

Designing Communications Campaigns: To give you an idea of this class, let me begin by saying it is co-taught by these two guys probably in their early thirties who met in high school when they were in a punk band together– the band’s name was “Baked Beans.” So, they’re a little ridiculous, but they know their stuff about advertising, which hopefully means soon I will too.

Strategic Communication: This is my core course, and we do a lot together. Next week we have core course week where we travel in Denmark (I’m going to the 2nd and 3rd biggest cities, Århus and Odense. Yes, there is a tiny circle on top of that A.) and then we’ll have a long study tour when we’re going to LONDON! AKA why I picked this course. So far, super easy. Like freshman year’s Understanding Media but less fun.

Danish Language and Culture: A very interesting and HARD class. If you’ve never heard Danish spoken, there are a plethora of unpronounced or weirdly pronounced letters in every word (Rachael, if you’re reading this— you would HATE it. @EveryoneElse– Rachael hates silent letters). For example, asking someone what their name is is spelled like “Hvor hidder du?” but is pronounced like “Veh heela du?” There is this thing called a soft D. It sounds like an L usually, but sometimes not. For example, I live in “Fredensborg” but it is pronounced like “Fre’ensboh.” Also, the train broke down and it took me 3 hours to get into the city yesterday, meaning I missed Danish class. Not good.

Food Systems: SO excited for this class. The most excited. So far, the prof is very Danish looking (i.e. tall, blonde, and attractive) the readings are great (lotsa Marion Nestle and such.) Fall freshman year I took food-themed college writing and it was the best, so I’m pretty much assuming this class will be the best too. I’m really interested in food. Plus– FARMS. WE WILL VISIT ONE. YAY.

Dats it. My classes.

Now onto culture:

Surprise– people live their lives differently here. No, really, this was surprising for me. I did a LOT of research before I came, but none of it really prepared me for a really different life than I’m used to. Not that my host family is really different or something– they pretty much are the functional, happy version of my family when it was a conventional mom, dad, kids set up. But DANES. They’re different from AMERICANS. You know, as a whole. And so to reflect that, DENMARK is different from the US. I hope the caps helped. They helped me.

FOR EXAMPLE:

      -PDA (public displays of affection) are TOTALLY normal here. It’s not unusual to see young people making out in the middle of the street or even middle-aged or old people showing their love on the subway, for example. Yup, it’s a little gross. I guess they didn’t originate from Puritans.
      -Similarly non-Puritan, people can drink (alcohol). ANYWHERE. Well, obviously not anywhere, but in public- go for it (as my host dad would say). Teenagers party on the streets even in my small town. There was a guy sharing a bottle of wine with himself next to the fountain near school. Totally normal.

-People eat with their knife in their right hand and fork in the left. They never put down their knife or switch hands, and they cut their food up one bite at a time. My left wrist pretty much hates me for this.

      -Oh. Just remembered another. There are no water fountains. This seems small, but you actually use them all the time. You just haven’t realized it yet.
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N’existe pas en Denmark.

      -On the note of public amenities, public bathrooms are SO different. The bathroom (always just called the toilet) is one room for both men and women, usually a tiny room with a sink. Attached are one or two “stalls” which are full rooms with full length doors which have a toilet (though not an industrial style one that I’m used to) and a sink. But don’t be fooled, you will probably be able to wash your hands WHILE sitting on the toilet. They’re SMALL.
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Small like this.

      -Ooh, something I really like. The doors on the train don’t all automatically open. You have to press button, whether on the inside or out, to get the door to open, and then when you get in, you’re in an airlock with seating on either side of you, but to get to the seating, press another button, and the doors will open. This means that the loud people or the making out people usually hang out in the airlocks, and also, it means that you won’t get a gust of cold air every time someone might step onto the train. GENIUS.
      -On the train, you don’t have to prove you have a ticket every time. Meaning you just get on, and they pretty much trust that you do. No scanning or swiping or showing. Sometimes they check, and when they do, watch out. On the S-tog (commuter rail) the ticket checkers generally are middle-aged people dressed in normal clothes and always wear a bag and earbuds. They look very normal. THEN they pull their S-tog badges out of their shirts and you show your ticket. If you don’t have one (or haven’t “checked in” to the train before you got on– different kinds of tickets) then you’ll be fined 7500dkk = $135
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The lovely S-tog. This car (with the bike on it) is the bike car. Yes, a car for bikes only. Danes ❤ bikes.

      -Taxes are SO high! The Danes complain about them, but they admit they love the system. Free education FOR EVERYONE FOREVER is amazing, as is free health insurance. My professor said “I could break my leg every day for the next ten years and never see a medical bill.” WOAH. AMERICA, GET ON THAT! People drive cars, sometimes here (my host family has two, but some families have none). Why, you ask? They love the environment, you ask? False, I tell you. Prices are sooo high. Tax on cars is.. wait for it…. 200%. That’s right, buy three cars, get one! You buy a $20,000 car? You pay $60,000. Seriously. And gas prices? Yesterday, I saw about 11,86dkk = $2.13. But you’re saying, that’s SO cheap. That is per liter, which is about a quarter of a gallon. So really, $8.52 per gallon. Yeah. And taxes are high on normal things too, but always are included in the price, so you don’t have to calculate it. Which is nice. Yesterday, I bought two postcards for 20dkk = $3.59. And, obviously, 5dkk = $0.90 of that was taxes. Whereas in Massachusetts if I bought two postcards for $3.59 (which would be pretty pricey for two postcards) at the register, they would add $0.22. Just a little food for thought.

Wow. I ended up writing a lot. I hope you’re not bored out of your mind. I thought it was fascinating. 🙂

OOOH– and I found a girl who may be interested in visiting Rome and Spain(?) with me at the end of September, so that’s something to look forward to. ALSO, I’m doing this thing called the Czech Trek which is a bunch of awesome adventchas in The Czech Republic with DIS folks. And it turns out three lovely people that I’ve met are also going and now we’re thinking of exploring the area post-trek. A few tidbits to get me through the first week yay!