- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
1. A huge dose of Danish Culture
There’s nothing like waking up at six am to sing a Danish birthday song (that I don’t know the words to) to my host brother on his 10th birthday. Living in a host family has provided me with a true Danish immersion. There are so many things I have seen and done that I never would have if it weren’t for a host family. Between gossiping with my 15 year old host sister about her life in school and talking to my host mom about family life or even just grocery shopping for a family of six I feel like I am learning way more about being a Dane than my Danish Language and Culture class could ever provide.
2. A second family
The day after my phone was stolen, I was up until 4 am changing all my passwords and accounts, I woke up at a bright and early 12pm and my host family was all smiles and support with breakfast ready and a phone for me to use in the meantime. This is just one of the many examples of the love and support I’ve gotten from my Danish family. I’ve met my ‘host grandparents’ and have had brunch with all my ‘host cousins’ and I truly feel like part of the family.
3. A place to call home
Everyones definition of home is different, I personally have had many many homes since I haven’t ‘lived’ at home with my parents for more than a few weeks at a time between living at Bucknell and working at a sleep away summer camp. So having a place to call home for four months and come home to after a long day of classes or a weekend away and relax and be comfortable in is something that just adds to the study abroad experience.
4. The food
I would consider myself a fine cook (feel free to ask my host family as they’ve enjoyed all the meals I’ve prepared for them) but after a day of classes from 10-5:30 the last thing I want to do is cook myself a healthy meal. Cue my entire host family who are all amazing cooks (including my 10 year old host brother). It is great to come home to dinner made, and a fun family dinner table. I’ve even learned plenty of new cooking habits, specifically soft boiled eggs which I eat (and now make on my own) roughly every day.
5. The network
I have met SO many Danes thanks to my host family. Besides their relatives I’ve met friends and friends of friends and other families with hosts. All together I’ve been able to interact with a wide variety of Danes. Without a host family, I have no clue how I would meet Danes. Since we all take classes together with American students, we befriend Americans and so we do everything with Americans. But with a family I am able to meet so many natives and they have continually showed me what it is and what it means to be a Dane and I am so grateful for that.
As a whole, I am so thankful to be in a host family, but more importantly, I am so thankful to be with my specific host family. I could not think of a better match.
My week in Greece has made me appreciate the sun way more than I ever have. Probably because the sun rarely comes out in Copenhagen, but we’ve spent almost every night somewhere to watch the sunset and I’ve realizd how obsessed I am.
1. My Mom (I know you’re reading this) – one of her favorite things to do is take pictures of sunsets or walk out on the pier to watch the sunset or capture it in any way possible, so I guess you could say it’s inherited.
2. Everyone loves them for different reasons – there’s so many reasons to love sunsets, the calmness, the colors, the meaning, and plenty more, and I love hearing about what they mean to each person
3. They force you to embrace them in that moment – unless you’re a professional photographer (which is not me) a picture will never ever do it justice, so it forces you to take it in “the old fashioned way” with your eyes.
4. A scientific phenomenon – during my dreaded year of physics, we learned the actual scientific background behind sunsets and it made me even more amazing at our ability to see it
5. They’re visible everywhere – whether in in Rochester, Keuka Lake, Denmark (occasionally), Greece or wherever there is always a chance of seeing a sunset and it creates a sense of connectability no matter where in the world I may be
A few more days on this amazing spring break embracing the sunset every day.
A few weeks ago my phone got stolen…average mistake taking my eyes off my bag on my body for literally 5 seconds and looking back and not being able to identify the culprit. Luckily, my amazing host mom let me borrow one of her phones so I technically have had a phone for the last few weeks, but I’ve learned a few things since then and now that I have my own phone, I hope to learn from it.
1. It’s not the end of the world – although I did call my mom crying acting like it was the end of the world the minute after it happened, it’s just a phone, I still have my health, my memories, and my time abroad
2. There so much more to look at than your phone – I’ve spent a lot of time not connected with my phone in these past few years, at the summer camp I worked at for the past two summers, we’re not allow to have our phones on us, and we can really only check them at night, so I’ve tried to keep that trend ever since my phone got stolen. In between classes I try to stroll rather than get there 10 minutes early to scroll through all of social media and take in the sights on the train ride home
3. It’s nice to not have to deal w a phone – during my travels this week, I was unable to get service, so I was literally forced to only use my phone when I had wifi, luckily I was surrounded by people who could use their google maps, but I never had to stress about the data I was using or keeping up with my messages
4. It gives you something to look forward to – let’s be real I couldn’t really live without a phone, I love getting messages from my family and friends and checking out instagram and Snapchat, so when you finally have access to your phone you actually have something to do rather than just reread and refresh
5. It stops me from reading the news – I like to know what’s going on in the world, especially now in America and even back at Bucknell, but sometimes the news can be depressing and upsetting, so not having a phone distracts me from the realities so I can really enjoy my time abroad
Now I do have a phone, and I do keep it on me, but I am really really trying to not completely rely on it
Until next time
This coming week I will embark with my fellow Medical Practice and Policy classmates to Poznan, Poland and Berlin, Germany. During this time we will have plenty of educational experiences but cultural as well, here’s what I’m most looking forward to:
- Poland – My dads side of the family has some Polish blood in them, so I am super excited to visit my “homeland”. I did some research, and I think my dads family is from a small town a few hours north of Poznan.
- Pierogis – I am in love with pierogis, for many people who have never had them before, they’re somewhat like raviolis but instead of ricotta inside, its potato. We get to do a pierogi making class and I could not be more excited.
- History class finally paying off – I am not the biggest fan of history, but the majority of my senior year was learning about German history, I’m looking forward to see so many sights I learned about and understand part of our global history.
- Wearing Scrubs – Wanting to go into the medical field means wanting to wear scrubs, I don’t think anyone understands their comfort, but also how cool you feel wearing them. During our visits in Poznan, we have to wear scrubs, and although mine are huge on me, I am very excited.
- Medical Visits – We get to go to some incredible academic visits, our teacher even told us the rules are so relaxed in Poland we might see a delivery! We get to go to some pediatrics, OBGYNs, surgical centers, and family planning centers
Although this week is titles “Long Study Tour” its hard to count it as studying when it seems so fun
This weekend my friends from Bucknell came and visited me in Copenhagen, I hope they had an amazing weekend, especially through these things:
- The pastries: We spent a considerable amount of time eating pastries, and I may be biased, but the pastries (especially cinnamon rolls) are amazing here.
- The views: After visiting multiple European cities, Copenhagen just has a different feel to it. Especially since we did a boat tour, I hope they realized how cool the city of Copenhagen is (despite it being an absolutely frigid weekend).
- My amazing host family: Since they both stayed with me they had the opportunity to meet my incredible host family and get a major dose of Danish culture.
- My cooking abilities: My friends were fortunate enough to be able to eat my lovely cooking, two of which were frozen…but I did make some amazing french toast.
- My life abroad: Plenty of our conversations were about how different our lives our from our lives at Bucknell, but also how different our lives are here in Europe, so I hope that they really enjoyed learning about what my four months here are like!
1. Bikes: one of the first things you’ll notice in Copenhagen is the incredible amount of bikes that rule the streets. I feel like there’s more of a chance of getting hit by a bike than a car because there’s simply more of them. It seems like there are most bike racks than parking spots!
2. Fresh Air and Danes: Danes love fresh air, I could write a whole post about it. Keep in mind that it is about 30F right now. But, Danes still eat outside when eating meals if the sun is out, and the restaurants provide blankets! Beyond that, one of the craziest things I’ve noticed is that parents leave their children in their strollers while they go into stores. They believe kids sleep better in the fresh air, it is simply crazy.
3. Birthdays: this weekend I was able to celebrate my host family’s cousin birthday. Birthdays are typically celebrated over brunch, where I got to meet my host mom’s side of the family. One major difference is how much the country of Denmark is represented, there were Danish flags everywhere even on the cake! For the cake celebration they sing a cute Danish song (where the only work I knew was fødselsdag – birthday) and the cake is almost like a giant caramel cinnamon roll sheet cake but cut out to look like a girl and after you sing the lovely song, you cut the neck and everyone screams, can’t say I experienced this first hand because they decided to skip it since she was so little!
4. People: there are two sides to this, one is that all Danes look super similar, blonde and white. The second part is they are impeccably dressed, like everyone is incredibly fashionable, one of the major statements I’ve noticed is fur coats. My other favorite fashion statement that Danes wear, specifically kids, is a one piece snow suit, simply adorable!
5. Homes/buildings: I’ve been in a couple Danish homes and plenty of Danish buildings and one common theme is the minimalistic attitude. Everything is white or black, and everything is straight lines and simple. It’s an interesting design but represents the Danes well.