Monday, April 4, 2016

Weeks 6-10 (Sorry!)

Week 6-  I started this week out by getting a new tattoo! Exciting for me, maybe not so much for my mom. My tattoo idea involved my moms participation, but she didn't know she was participating. I asked my mom to write on a piece of paper, "May you never take one single breath for granted" and send me a picture of it. She did this with no questions asked. The next day she asked me why I had asked her to do this and I just said, "well your birthday is coming up soon" and we left it at that. I got the lyrics tattooed on my back on March 4th and showed it to my mom on her birthday, March 5th. My mom is not a big fan of tattoos but I think she likes this one. The meaning behind this tattoo is what I carry with me everyday when I wake up and remind myself of how to live this crazy thing called life. 

A few days later my best friend, Maddie, from home arrived in Copenhagen to spend a week with me. I had plenty of exciting adventures planned for us. Our first adventure was to Møns Klint to ride Icelandic horses. The trip there would have only taken one hour via car, but of course we had to use public transportation so it took us four hours to get there and four hours to get back. I would say the trip was worth it though. I've missed riding horses since I left home and the views we saw while riding were alluring. Maddie is also experienced in the equestrian field so this made the ride much more enjoyable.

Next stop, Paris. I spent the previous week trying to refresh my French language skills, thinking I would desperately need them. Turns out most people in the Paris area speak enough English to be able to communicate with them. The night we arrived we ate at a French restaurant called Marcel&Clementine. I highly recommend this restaurant to anyone who visits Paris. We had some traditional French cuisine including duck, beef, puréed carrots, and chard.

We only had one full day to explore Paris so we started with the Louvre. No matter how hard you try to prepare for the large size of the museum, you can't. We spent three hours covering one of the four levels and had to stop. The amount of artwork and history in the museum is overwhelming. The only unsatisfying part about the museum was the original Mona Lisa. I was expecting it to be a large piece of artwork in its own room. Well, I hate to break it to you but its not. The painting is extremely small and surrounded by massive paintings on the other four walls. 

Next, we headed to the Arc de Triomphe. With my Denmark residence card I was able to enter the Louvre for free and walk the never ending spiral staircase to the top of the Arc de Triomphe for free. I stepped my way to the top one step at a time, in heels. The view was worth the deadly staircase trip to get there. I took several pictures, videos, panoramic photos, and of course selfies. Taking selfies by yourself in front of strangers can be embarrassing. 
In the evening we enjoyed dinner and the Eiffel Tower. The Eiffel Tower was beautiful, especially when it would light up and sparkle. We didn't go inside the tower but I found the view from a distance fulfilling. This was the end of our Paris trip and we headed back to Copenhagen the next morning, well Maddie traveled back to Copenhagen the next morning. I somehow made a mistake when booking my flight, shocking I know, and accidentally booked for the following week. I was a wreck in the airport and it took me a while to find another flight home and a lot more money. I definitely learned my lesson about triple checking flight bookings before hitting confirm. Oops

I spent the rest of the weekend showing Maddie Copenhagen nightlife. My week with Maddie went by way too fast. Next thing I knew, it was time for her to head back to the States. Knowing Maddie, I had a feeling something would go wrong on the day of her flight and of course something did go wrong. We were already running late to arrive at the airport and once we got to the airport Maddie tells me that she accidentally took my passport and not hers. Her flight was taking off in 30 minutes. I ran back to my dorm to get her passport for her and bring it back. Our goodbye to each other was quick and not the nicest. I was frustrated with her but luckily she made her flight!

Two days later I was off to England with my two friends, Andy and Victor. We flew into London and made our way to our hostel. The boys insisted I book an extremely cheap hostel, so I did. When we arrived at our "hostel" I thought we may have been at the wrong place. This was in closer relativity to a homeless shelter than a travel hostel. I will do all my readers a favor by not going into detail about the restroom facilities. I honestly didn't feel safe sleeping here and I wouldn't consider my guy friends that I was with as being manly when it comes to confrontation and protection. Thankfully, I made it through the night. 

Once again, we only had one full day to see London. We started at the Harry Potter platform 9^3/4 where we stood in line for 30 minutes just to get our picture taken in front of the sign. Since it was St. Patty's day and we all decided to head to an Irish pub to enjoy lunch and drink some good beer. After lunch we visited Abbey Road Studios and then I spent 15 minutes trying to get a picture of the boys crossing the same street the Beatles did. Our next stop was to see Big Ben. I got the classic red telephone booth picture with Big Ben in the background. This photo has turned out to be one of my favorites thus far. 

After Big Ben we were headed to see the London Bridge but made an unplanned visit before that to a place called, The London Bridge Experience, where we were introduced to all this history behind the London Bridge and entered the London tombs. The London tombs portion of this "tour" was a horror attraction. I didn't think this part would be as scary as it turned out to be. We were chased, had to squeeze through tight spaces, blinded by strobe-lights, and weren't allowed to run. My friend Andy screamed like a little girl the whole way through. I on the other hand quit being scared when I felt like I was going to pass out from the strobe-lights. We all made it through safe and sound but a little shaken, We finished the day off visiting Tower Bridge,

Early the next day we took a coach to the city of Bath, where the Roman Baths are located. I was excited to see the baths. By the time we arrived in Bath we were tired and hungry so we decided to book a hostel and spend one night there so we could relax for a little bit. We got settled in and then headed to the Roman Baths. The baths were beautiful but hard to get good pictures of. The boys went out at night but I stayed in as always. I am the mother of the group. 

The boys weren't feeling their best the next morning but I was ready to make our way to Stonehenge. Stonehenge ended up being quite disappointing. It was expensive to get there and you can't get very close to the stones. Pictures were also a challenge to take because of the amount of people standing in the background. It was cold outside so we only visited Stonehenge for about an hour or so. Then it was back on a train and on our way to Brighton.

I was most excited to visit Brighton, located south of London along the English channel. We heard night life was wild here and it was Saturday so we prepared for a night out. This was the only night I went out but, we had a great time and met some awesome English people. The next morning began Tessa's day. I scheduled myself a Thai massage which was the best decision I have ever made. I felt so much more relaxed and less likely to strangle my oblivious male travel partners after this. In the evening we visited the Brighton Pier just in time for sunset. It was so nice to be on the beach even though this beach was rocks not sand. Our time in Brighton went by way too fast and next thing I knew we were headed back to London on Monday to make an early morning flight on Tuesday. The boys had been a pain this entire trip and they topped it off by almost making us miss our flight Tuesday morning. I couldn't wait to get back to Copenhagen and relax. Traveling can be extremely exhausting when you are the one in charge of accommodation and transportation. I still love my friends Andy and Victor but from now on I need at least one female travel partner with me.
The next few days I spent relaxing and trying to get back into a daily routine. I started eating healthier and going to the gym everyday. I caught up on some school work but of course still made time for social activities. During this time I encountered my second breakdown since leaving home. When I spend too much time inside my dorm room my thoughts are always about home. I started to miss my mom more than I ever have before. I've been gone a little over three months now and the longest I've gone without seeing my mom is probably about one week. I know this is a time for me to grow as a person but sometimes I just want to stay my mommy's little girl forever. I couldn't be more thankful for technology, which has provided me with the capability to video chat my my family and friends via FaceTime. 

I finally decided to really immerse myself in the Copenhagen lifestyle and bought a bike. Cycling here is taken very seriously and the amount of people riding through the city center can be overwhelming. I was extremely nervous to ride my bike home from where I bought it but it was fairly close by so I ended up being okay. It only took that first ride to make me fall in love with cycling. I've seen so much more of the city that I would never see if I hadn't bought the bike. I cycled to my University's campus today which should have been about a 30 minute ride but I got lost this morning so it took me about an hour to get there. I was okay cycling home though, it just takes practice learning all the streets and what streets take you where. 

As far as school goes, I have been working really hard the past week on a group research paper. We finished the report today and I couldn't be happier. We have a practice presentation tomorrow and then our final is on Monday April 11th. I will be done with block 3 after this and have two weeks off before my block 4 classes begin. During this time I will be traveling to Budapest, Malaga, Seville, and Lisbon. This will be my biggest trip during my time abroad and I am stoked! 



Saturday, March 5, 2016

Week 5 and a little more

I would say this past week has been one of the best and one of the worst so far. The week started out by me getting news that two people from home had passed away. One person I used to work with and was extremely close to at one point and the other was a friend of a friend. Not only did this happen but a few days later my best friend's mom and sister had been in a car wreck. Both were okay but still suffered some severe injuries. These incidents made me want to be home so bad but what had happened had happened and I was going to have to learn to cope from where I am.

I spent a day exploring a little more of Copenhagen and got to see one of the beautiful canals, Kastellet, and the mermaid statue. This was a good day spent with friends from my dorm. My friend from Brazil loves to play soccer so we brought along a soccer ball and played with the ball throughout the day. Sounds lame but it was really fun.

I then took off for a class trip which was definitely an experience. The trip was long and we spent several hours traveling from place to place on a bus. I did appreciate getting to get out of the city and see more of the country side of Denmark and some animals. There were parts about the trip that I enjoyed and many parts about the trip that I did not enjoy so much. I did enjoy getting to know some of the girls in my class a lot better and I think I may have made some lifelong friends from China and Taiwan. I did enjoy getting to see some animals and play with a dog. I know once again sounds lame but it was just what I needed to feel like I was back at home in Indiana. The class I am taking is called Organic Food Systems so I thought I would just be learning about the organic food system within Denmark. Boy was I wrong. This class is almost like a debate class. People feed their opinions and then argue their point and try to prove that what they think and do is better than what I think and do. I have been extremely open and accepting of people's ways in Denmark and I came here to learn more about it but after this trip I am not so open and accepting. Being from the United States on this trip put me in a very tough position. I felt attacked and belittled by some of the statements that were made towards me by some of my classmates. I won't go into detail but I think as exchange students we all need to respect each others ways of life. Apparently that is not the case.

I was so happy to be back in my dorm in Copenhagen. My best friend from home will be here on Monday afternoon and I could not be more excited! I am taking a break from my class this week and taking a trip to Paris with my friend when she gets here. I am so excited to go to France but I have spent the last few days trying to refresh myself on speaking French. I think I will be able to communicate for us fairly well over there. I will post about our trip and my week with my friend here some time next week.

Today is my mom's birthday and I did something special for her but I have not shared it with her yet so I can not share it on here yet either. Follow up with me on Facebook to see what I did for her. I hope all is well for everyone at home and I really appreciate everyone who has been reading my blog!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Week 4

I survived a week in Spain! Before I start to talk about my trip I just want to say the 3 best things about Spain is the FOOD, sangria, and hospitality. My friend Andy and I took a week long trip and spent time in Madrid and Toledo. I was so excited to get out of Denmark to go somewhere with warmer weather. After our plane landed and I stepped off into the airport in Madrid I experienced culture shock all over again. Luckily Andy speaks fluent Spanish, well what us Americans would consider fairly fluent Spanish. I on the other hand can only speak the basics. Spanish is definitely easier to read and try to comprehend compared to the Danish language. I also like to call it Spainish in Spain and then there is Spanish which is spoken in Mexico. This trip was extremely a go with the flow trip. No transportation methods booked and we had only booked a hostel for the first two nights. We took a cab from the airport to our hostel. The cab driver did not speak any English therefore Andy's Spanish was put to the test. We arrived at our hostel around midnight and we were starving! We dropped our bags off and headed to find something to eat. There was a pizza shop within 30 seconds walking distance that had large slices of pizza for only 2 euros! We ate as much as we could then went back to the hostel to try and get some sleep. As we walked back to the hostel we were harassed by people begging for money and club promoters.


In the morning we participated in a free walking tour of Madrid. Our tour guide was awesome! He took us to see several historical buildings and monuments without making it your average boring historical tour. We of course started out taking a shot at a local bar. The shot came in a chocolate waffle type shot glass. Take the shot and then eat it too! We got to visit the oldest restaurant in the world! Sobrino de Botin was founded in 1725 and is still open for business. Inside the restaurant there was room filled with pigs that were being prepared to cook. It was definitely a sight some may not want to see but I found it extremely interesting. We also visited the Almudena Cathedral which was amazing! This cathedral is a place that is hard to describe with words. The prettiest part of the building was the ceiling! The Palacio Real de Madrid is the residence of the Spanish Royal Family. The building has 3,400 rooms! The next day we visited the Botanical Gardens. Being in the garden and seeing so much green life and flowers and the warmth of the sun on my skin was just what I needed after being in Copenhagen for a month of wet, windy, and cold weather.

The night life in Madrid is wild! The hostels we stayed in had pub crawls each night for around 15 euros. These pub crawls included free shots, discounted drinks, and entrance into all bars and nightclubs. The pub crawls were fun besides the fact that people in Spain do not go out until around midnight and then stay out till past 5 AM. I did not like the fact that people stay up so late.

After a few late nights in Madrid it was time to head to Toledo. We made the decision to go to Toledo on our second day in Madrid. We used an app called BlaBlaCar which is similar to Uber but much cheaper. It cost us only 10 euros from Madrid to Toledo. Toledo is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen. It was nice to have a break from so much city life and to see more scenic views. Hospitality, food, and sangria were still the best parts of Toledo. Toledo is a small city so it is easy to see everything within a day or two.

Of course the morning of the day we needed to get back to the Madrid airport to come home to Copenhagen, I got extremely sick. Our BlaBlaCar driver was on his way to pick us up when I got sick in the middle of the street. Luckily I started to feel much better after getting sick and was able to tough through the car ride to the airport. Flight home went smoothly. Crazy to think that while I was in Spain I got homesick. This homesick wasn't for my home in the US but for my new home in Copenhagen.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Week 3

Week 3 was filled with going out with my new friends but more importantly school started. I am only taking once course for the first 8 weeks of the semester called Organic Food Systems. The class only has about 14 students and around 12 of us show up for every class. School here is much different compared to back home. My class is full of open discussion and quick presentations about our thoughts towards certain issues regarding "organics." The class is also filled with a long 3 hour lecture which can be difficult to want to sit through. It does feel nice to have somewhat of a routine schedule now. I have Mondays and Fridays off from class so I will utilize this time to get some traveling in! I am definitely much more adjusted than I was in week 1 and 2. I want to share several photos in this post because I spent a lot of time out with friends and seeing some of the beautiful parts of Copenhagen. Oh and before I forget, the weather is pretty dreadful here most days. Its always cold, windy, and wet. Therefore, I will be leaving for Spain on Wednesday the 17th! My next post will be about my time in Spain.

This group of pictures are just some street views from walking in the city centre and to class.

Yes, I can cook for myself.
Starbucks will never spell your name right no matter where you are in the world.
Carlsberg is a great Copenhagen beer.
Coffee is still a need not a want.
These are my friends Alica from Germany, Scotty from Australia, and Sam from North Carolina


Katerina- Australia               Me                    Sam- Alaska

Week 2

Week 2 for me in Copenhagen was from January 28th to February 4th. I know I am writing days later but I will try to post week 2 and 3 today and week 4 by Thursday, then I will be all caught up! Week 2 definitely was a better week compared to week 1. I took a trip to the Copenhagen Aquarium which was not as good as I was expecting but I still got to see some cool creatures. I also participated in a MeetUp group event. This is where people go to meet other people with similar interests. Everyone knows back home that I would never go to something like this by myself, but I was dying to meet some new people and hopefully make some new friends. Coming here is like starting school for the very first time. You have to put yourself out there and step out of your comfort zone to be able to find out who you truly are and to make sure you don't miss out on any opportunities. This MeetUp event was a cocktail workshop so of course I was interested. I was extremely nervous showing up but ended up having SO much fun and met some really nice people from other parts of the world. It seems to me that one thing everyone around the world has in common would be the use of alcohol at social gatherings! As we all know, it definitely can help make things less awkward. This was also the week of orientation and when all the other international students were moving into my dorm! At orientation I met many people also studying at the Faculty of Science and found out that many of them were living in the same dorm as me! I now have a big group of friends living in my building that I have started to grow very close to. I started a Facebook page for my dorm so we could all keep in touch and communicate quickly with each other. The Facebook group has been a success, we have all been able to go out together, eat together, and help when we lock ourselves out of our rooms!
Frederiksberg Campus
Copenhagen Aquarium

photo 1-1 photo 1-2

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Week 1

My fist week in Copenhagen was beyond overwhelming. I can not describe the feeling of stepping off the plane into a foreign country thousands of miles away from home and familiarity. My first challenge in this new country came very quickly. My housing was not available until February 1st. I had arrived on January 21st. Therefore I was now a homeless American in a foreign country. Luckily I was able to room with a fellow student from Purdue for the first night. The next day I was able to move into a spare room in my dorm building. The first few days were lonely and cold. I wanted nothing more but to be able to hug my mom and be able to understand what the people around me were saying. When we talk about culture shock in study abroad meetings it has no comparison to actually experiencing it. You can not prepare yourself for this but to just try and keep an open mind and consistently remind yourself that everything will be okay. I spent my first few nights trying to experience Copenhagen nightlife with my two fellow Purdue students. It was interesting to try new beverages and food. Pizza will still remain my favorite food no matter where I am in the world! Grocery shopping and cooking for myself have become a daily routine that I am still getting used to.