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! 

Best,

Tess

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