The End of the Abroad Blog

I have officially been home for about a week, and now I am back at Bucknell University working reunion, and it feels as though I never left this campus.  It is crazy to think that the past four months are simply memories now. I am thankful for starting this blog because I can always look back and reflect on the memories I made and the stories I wrote about.

I started this blog as a way to stay in touch with my friends and family back in America, on a whim, I applied for the Medical Practice and Policy student blogger and to my surprise I was selected. It was truly an honor to represent DIS, MPP, Bucknell and myself on a platform I have literally no experience with. I would never consider myself a writer but through this experience I have found myself learning how to enjoy expressing myself through writing. I never ever thought my blog would be what it is today; as of Wednesday, May 31st 2017 I’ve had over 3,000 views, 1,300 visitors (there’s 1,300 people that think my life is worth reading about????) with my blog reaching all corners of the world from the obvious of the USA, Denmark and Canada, but as far as Singapore, Thailand, Nigeria, Colombia and 32 other countries.

I am truly shocked by the number of likes, shares, comments and contacts I get from people I don’t even know. I am so grateful for everyone that has been interested in reading about an ordinary American abroad. As I settle back into my normal life of studying, sleeping, and occasionally running, I realize once again how incredible these past four months have been and I must truly thank everyone who has read my blog for making it a success.

For future DIS students reading this, your semester in Denmark will be ~extraordinary~ and you must strive to be mindful of every moment because before you know it, you’ll be back in your traditional grind reminiscing on the memories you have.

To the end of an era (aka four months)

xoxo

Margaret Dengal

TAK

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One of the first words I learned in Denmark was tak, which means thank you. In Danish, they really emphasize saying thank you and they do this by there being so many ways to say thanks: mange tak, tusind tak, etc.  Reflecting on my study abroad experience, I have realized how thankful I am for all it has provided me with:

Thank you to my host family:

You really made leaving Denmark one of the hardest things I’ve had to do.  There are endless times that I have no clue where I’d be without you guys, from saving me after my phone got stolen or breaking out into Mamma Mia songs at the dinner table. Thank you for showing me endless love and what it’s really like to be a Dane, I understand from the five of you why Denmark is the happiest country in the world.

Thank you to my parents:

There are no words for the people provide you with the opportunity of a lifetime, there’s much more than the financial and emotional support that comes with sending your daughter abroad. My parents taught me everything I needed to survive in a different country on my own, independence, courage, a sense of adventure, optimism, love and more. Thank you for giving me the world.

Thank you to all the patients that let us learn from them:

I have gained a newfound love for medicine and it’s because of the patients that let us ask millions of questions and practice our minimal knowledge of physical exams on them. Having patients put trust in you and believe in your learning creates a great sense of confidence for the future of our medical careers, and for that I am thankful.

Thank you to my friends I met abroad:

You all have provided me with roots in Denmark and our respective schools, thank you for adding some humor to my life whether it was traveling the world together or simply eating in a cafe.

Thank you to my Bucknell friends:

Whether it was letting me sleep on your floor, showing me around your home for the semester, facetiming me on my boring train rides or simply staying in touch, thank you. It has been crazy to know that the people I’ve spent the last two years surrounded by are on every corner of the world. It has been amazing to watch each of us grow and learn to live in the place we are and the distance between us makes going into senior year a little sweeter knowing I’ll be back with you all.

Thank you to my history teachers and the NYS history requirements

I hated (and still kinda do) learning about history, I thought it was boring and unimportant to my life. But after visiting so many incredible places with such great history, it has reengaged my interest in world history. Traveling to Germany, I went to the spot of the Berlin Wall, Hitlers bunker, palaces and more. In Greece, walking up to the Acropolis was like walking out of my 6th grade textbook and realizing the realities of the ancient  world. All the history in that city is so vital to the world we live in today, and I am so grateful to have been able to experience it and understand it.

Thank you to everyone who read my blog:

I never thought my blog would be what it is today, I started it as a way to keep in touch with my friends and family, and in turn was selected as my programs representative blogger.  I am always honored to see where my blog has reached, around the world and back again and I am continually shocked by the countries that roll up on the list and the comments I get. Thank you for taking a look into my life, I am so glad I got to share the last four months with you all.

This semester has provided me with plenty of reasons to say tak, and I am beyond grateful for each and every opportunity that I’ve had and will cherish it for the rest of my life.

 

An Open Letter to my Host Family

 

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To my lovely host parents and siblings,

There are no words and not enough thank yous to say to you guys. I am beyond grateful to have filled out the housing application perfectly enough to be placed in such an extraordinary, loving, kind and amazing family. From the second you ran to me with smiles and pure joys after the stress of flying for eight hours and having my luggage lost to today as I said goodbye to the people that have provided me with a home and a family for the past four months. When I found out I was one of the only people from Bucknell to chose to live in a host family and people telling me I wouldn’t have fun I questioned my decision, but I am so thankful I stuck with it because I cannot imagine a semester without a host family, and specifically all five of you.

You have all presented me with such positivity and happiness that I hope to bring back to America with me. You’ve provided me with an authentic Danish experience, from the immense amount of Danish pastries you fed me, waking up for Casper’s birthday, meeting your family, attempted to teach me Danish and plenty more. From letting me borrow your phone when mine got stolen to breaking out in Mamma Mia, there was never a dull day and I am so thankful for that.

Thank you for showing me the world from the Danish side, thank you for treating me like your fourth child, for translating things into English for me, the countless pick ups from the airport and everything else you have provided me with this semester.

I  am so excited to stay in touch with all of you, to watch my host siblings grow up and to hopefully see you all again someday.

xoxo

Margaret

 

Captivating Croatia

For my last hoorah of my semester abroad I decided to embark on my first solo trip through Croatia for a week. Starting in Dubrovnik, a quick trip down to Montenegro, up to Split with a trip northeast to Krka National Park. Each place provided something unique and exciting, as well as the heat a7nd sunshine that is just starting to approach Denmark.

Dubrovnik

A city known for its old town walls and place right on the water, I was surely in for a treat when my airbnb had a balcony overlooking the beautiful city.

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But, that came with a price of 317 steps up from the old town, so I definitely got my workout in. I explored the city by the best way, from up above, by walking the walls of the city and it was a stunning contrast of the insanely blue waters and the orange/red rooftops. Reminents of the war of 1991 are seen in the ruble of some buildings, making the city extremely unique.

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After walking nearly 15 miles I decided to take a breather by watching the sunset at the beach directly below (by 317 steps) my airbnb. I then spent my last day in Dubrovnik with a friend exploring the winding streets of the city before leaving on a catamaran to Split.

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Montenegro

Read about it here!

Split

Split was a bit bigger than Dubrovnik, but had its own style, I was fortunate to find a lovely airbnb right on the outskirts on the old town.  I felt more like a local between a small soccer match was played between me and a little kid ending in high fives (and me losing). Or when my airbnb host made me a traditional Croatian dinner, I guess traveling solo can have its perks!

Split is a city also made to explore, the small streets are more maze like and I felt like every turn was leading me in a completely different direction. Highlights were climbing, and I mean really climbing, the bell tower. The steps were higher than my hip and eventually it was smaller stairs with no hand rails. I watched quite a few people attempting to conquer their fears of height on my trek down, but the views were completely worth it.

I spent my last day at the beach soaking up the sun and the heat, which proved to be too much for me so I headed back to the cooler streets of the city. All in all, I left Split headed back to Denmark with a sense of accomplishment for finishing my first solo trip.

Krka National Park

After countless suggestions and pictures I decided to book a day trip to Krka National Park, and I am SO glad I did. Krka is known for its stunning waterfalls and clear blue water. After a few stops and panoramic views we finally got to the park. The park is designed in a one way walking tail that is essentially a bridge over the many many small to large waterfalls.

On my tour I befriended an older woman from South Africa who walked with me and we discussed how beautiful it was, and I’m honestly still in awe of such natural beauty existing.

As we finished our walk through the park and sat down to eat it started to sprinkle and we thought okay no big deal, but then it turned into a torrential downpour, not ideal. Luckily we had made it through the park and all we needed to do was get to a boat to get to our next location.  The rain stop and our large boat seemed to pierce through the fog as we made it to our final destination, in which we got to have a wine tasting, tasting wines from a family owned vineyard. Krka proved to be an outstanding natural beauty in the hills of Croatia.

Now I am back in Denmark for a few days before I start my trip home, it’s all bittersweet, let’s be real I’m craving some real American food, but I also don’t want to leave the incredible life I’ve been living in Denmark for the past for months.

4 days until I’m stateside, 7 days until I’m back in Rochester.

Until next time

Margaret

 

5 Lessons Learned Outside of the Classroom

  1. Independence/Confidence – Traveling forces you outside of your comfort zone, people around you may talk in different languages, signs will be harder to follow phones may not work and plenty other things will force you to muster up the courage to take a chance and see if it works.  Although it can be wrong ~cue getting on the bus going the wrong way in Berlin~ it has taught me to be confident with my choices, even if they’re wrong.  With that, has come my ability to be independent. Although I feel like I was fairly independent before coming abroad, as I sit here at Gruz Port in Dubrovnik, Croatia, halfway through my solo trip through Croatia, I’ve realized how much more independent I’ve become. There is a true sense of achievement traveling, and managing on my own, and it has truly brought my independence to the next level.IMG_1522.JPG
  2. Saying Hello – With traveling alone, I’ve realized how important it is to simply say hello. I have met some of the nicest people, including people I have plenty in common with, by saying hi to the people on my tours, trains and more.  Nothing beats a long uber ride than striking up an interesting conversation with a local, which can get pretttty interesting when you tell them you’re from the USA ~ cue taxi driver in Amsterdam asking if we knew Beyonce.16939159_10209171621350126_2626432959957491333_n
  3. Happiness – This one I can pretty much source back to my host family, but I;ve realized that it is SO important to be happy. I mean if someone told me I’d have traveled to as many places as I did this semester five years ago I would never had thought it was possible. I am so grateful and thankful for everything I’ve been able to do this semester and the best think I can do in return is being happy and am reminded of it every once in a while ~ “Smile, you’re on holiday!” – Random man in Athens, Greece.img_0203
  4. Values – Traveling has forced me to gain a different perspective on the world, and I have learned how other people view things similarly and/or differently than myself. By being abroad, and being asked questions about my opinions I’ve slowly gained a better stance and understanding of my values.  program image_1.jpg
  5. Community – Many may have heard of the accident that occurred in Denmark affecting students as DIS, last Sunday morning every DIS student woke up to an email with the tragic news of the passing of two fellow DIS students after a boating accident.  The accident was a result of a jet ski sailing at high speeds, colliding with the boat holding 7 DIS students and then fleeing the scene. As a result, the DIS community’s heart has shattered as two students simply enjoying the end of the semester sunlight will not be returning home to their family. Nobody is ever prepared for the tragedies that can ensue while abroad, I cannot imagine the heartbreak their close family and friends feel, although I did not personally know the two students involved, what I have come to realize is the community that DIS has created over the course of these last four months.

Making it Work in Montenegro

When booking my flight home from Denmark I decided to extend my time because let’s be real, I’m not ready to return to good ole America. So for the last bit, I’ve decided to spend some time in Croatia before my last few days soaking up Denmark. 

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I started in Dubrovnik, and when I finish my stay there I am sure I’ll have plenty to tell, but today I took a day trip down to Montenegro via the advice of a friend. Montenegro proved to be absolutely stunning, with incredible landscapes, unique walled towns, and the warmth of the Mediterranean climate. 

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My bus trip’s first stop, after the long process of passing borders, was Budva, a walled city right on the water surrounded by beaches, islands and more. It was great to wander the very small and slim streets, wandering for the time I was there.

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Our next stop was Kotor, most known for the bay of Kotor (supposedly one of the most beautiful bays in the world, and I agree) the main city is again walled and one could spend hours (aka me) getting lost in the streets. If I had more time, and probably a better stamina, I would have taken the trek up to the top of the city walls aka the top of a mountain. I can imagine the views were amazing, but I don’t think I could have climbed up and down a mountain in two hours. 

Anyway, the real adventure of this day trip was my need to budget. Although I would consider myself a fairly good budgeter regarding my semester abroad, when my card got declined (because my bank isn’t a fan of my excessive traveling) I had to figure out how I was going to spend a whole day with less than 5 euros I grabbed last minute from my previous euro usage. So what did I spend it on you ask?? 

– a bottle of water – 1 euro 

– a prosciutto and cheese sandwich (the two foods Montenegro excels at apparently, and I again support that statement) – 2.5 euro

– a gelato (only one scoop though) – 1 euro 

So I survived, even though my meals weren’t gourmet and I couldn’t buy any souvineers, I was able to enjoy the beautiful cities I visited (with a growling tummy)! 

Until next time 

Margaret  

Saying Goodbye to MPP E

In case you didn’t know, MPP is my core course Medical Practice and Policy, and section E is the ~best~ section around. 

Anyway, as we conclude our last class and I take the train home (yesterday, sorry had to study for my Danish final 🙂 ) from our final class dinner, I feel like it’s important to point out how amazing this class was.

Being a biology major I’ve focused my first five semesters at Bucknell on all the heavy sciences: organic chemistry, molecular/cellular biology, biochemistry, physics and plenty more. But for the first time in my academic career I took a class dedicated to medicine, something I hope to at some point devote my life to. Therefore, this class was what really made this semester worth while and interesting. 

There are only so many classes (pre-medical school of course) that can provide you with the experiences and opportunities we had, such as; 

– watch a live natural birth (still number one on my list tbh) 

– Practice suturing

– Literally play with placentas that supported a baby only hours prior 

– ‘Play’ with a one of its kind simulator to practice laparoscopic removal of ovarian cysts 

– Interview real patients with real problems and write a report (okay the writing part wasn’t that cool) 

– Learn from real doctors (who are super cool btw @ben, @Wendy & @Mia)

– Learn how to insert IVs and even insert them into classmates 

– Get to wear scrubs (amazing)

– Practice an emergency simulation with fake patients (that can breath and act like they’re throwing up) and pretend to save a life

– Meet an incredible group of people, MPPE, from my perspective, had an incredible bond that was felt throughout the semester that simply added to the experience of this class. Of course we can laugh, now, at the rather unfortunate things that have happened 

  • Getting stuck in an elevator in Poznan
  • Touring a boat in Ebeltoft in the freezing cold
  • Running through Berlin for being 20 seconds late to meeting
  • Trying to find the best position to sleep on the long bus rides through Denmark

But this semester and the closeness of the people in the class wouldn’t be the same if it weren’t for all the events that made this class possible, thanks MPP E for being an extraordinary academic and social experience this semester.

I guess since classes are over starts the countdown to the dreaded ~going home~: 19

Peace and Studying

 

Here’s some pictures for your enjoyment