Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a family holiday. Its a day you spend with the people who raised you, making and eating way too much food. Maybe watching some football (the American kind) and see Snoopy float through New York. But Thanksgiving isn’t so when you live far away.

While I do have times of homesickness, and I miss my family and friends dearly, Thanksgiving was a little harder than usual. My family was together, at least in parts. My sister was home with my parents. My friends we back in Austin. Everyone was taking a few days off from work and life and university to spend time together, be thankful, (shop), and relax. But thats in America, and thats not where I live now. I know if I had been home I would have probably been annoyed about the chaos of the holiday, and would have worked Black Friday. But its a lot easier to miss these things when you don’t have them.

I spent Thanksgiving in class, discussing political theory and Buddhism. I worked on an essay (that I should be writing right now) and had leftover soup for dinner. There wasn’t my mom’s amazing mashed potatoes, or my Mema’s pile of desserts. But there was sweet text messages from my family, full of love. There was silly and fun messages from my friends at home, reminding me how thankful I am of them, even from 5,000 miles away. My flatmates told me Happy Thanksgiving, and made sure I was okay. It was a good day. But not Thanksgiving.

But tomorrow, on Saturday, we’re having Friendsgiving. Its not the same as being at Kayla’s house with all my high school friends, but it will be great. My kitchen is full of food, and I’m so excited to share the day with friends, even if it doesn’t have the same meaning for them. Because my Thanksgiving is just being grateful. For my incredibly supportive family, my amazing best friends, my new friends and their willingness to celebrate with me, for the opportunities I have here.

Alex

**Also, happy birthday to the light of my life and best friend Malvika, because I couldn’t write something on your birthday without mentioning you. I’m so grateful for our friendship, I don’t know what I would do without you. See you soon!

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Copenhagen

One of the reasons I fell in love with the idea of going to school abroad is the ability to travel. Not having to cross the ocean makes everything much easier (and cheaper). Its something people here seem to take for granted. They think a three hour train ride is long, when that train ride gets you all the way across the country. The fact that a three hour train ride can get me to the southern coast, or a train ride and a short airplane ride can get me to a whole new amazing European country is mind-blowing.

I spent 3 amazing days in Copenhagen, and no matter how much I saw or how long I stayed, there would always be more to see. Its soaked in history and culture, with castles and canals, filled to the brim with amazing food and interesting people. Copenhagen is something special. IMG_3909IMG_3908IMG_3913IMG_3912We started by visiting the Christiansborg Palace, that now houses parliament. This of course included a trip up to the tower.

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After the Palace, we stumbled across what was one of the most beautiful buildings I saw. The old Royal Library has been turned into the Danish Jewish Museum. With ivy creeping up the walls and a beautiful courtyard with fountains and statues, its the kind of place you want to stand in front of for hours.

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I didn’t know Copenhagen had canals, or at least as many as there are. The funny part is some of the canals are so small you don’t always notice you’re on a bridge unless you look over the edge. Some, like the one below, are much bigger.

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The National Museum is a beautiful example of the modern design of Copenhagen meeting with the rich history of the country. The high ceilings and glass walls of the museum hold ancient artifacts, from Egypt and beyond, to Denmark’s own Reformation history. Its a beautiful museum, and I know if I stayed longer I would have had to come back.IMG_3946IMG_3945The Christmas Markets that were beginning to fill the streets in the evenings were a highlight of the trip. While I’m not normally a Christmas person, even my ‘scrooge heart’ was melted by the magic of these markets. Maybe thats just the crepes talking.

Oh look! The food photos begin. Just wait, it gets worse. This was one amazing pain au chocolate and chai latte. There was a cookie on top of my latte. Oh Copenhagen, how I love you.

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The Design Museum was one of my favorite things of the weekend. Sadly, the outside of the museum doesn’t do it justice. This poem was the intro to my favourite exhibits of the museum, MindCraft. It sums up the exhibit, and the museum, quite well.

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Oh wait, more food photos. Trovehallerene is an outdoor/indoor market that houses over 60 stands of food, drink, and more. Outside there are stands selling fresh produce and more, like a giant farmer’s market. It was, of course, on my list of absolute must do’s while in Copenhagen. Whats the point of travel if you don’t eat a ridiculous amount of food? IMG_4042That salad was so good I wanted to cry. IMG_4062My way to order food is to just ask the person at the counter for what their favourite item is. That was an amazing berry crumble, so it hasn’t failed me yet.

Copenhagen is filled with amazing Churches. These were in the Church of Our Lady, the cathedral of Copenhagen and the National Cathedral of Denmark. If it hadn’t burned down so many times, it would be one of the oldest.

More Christmas Markets!! That’s a dark chocolate covered apple that was heavenly.

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On Sunday, the last full day in Copenhagen, I skipped all formality and had cake for breakfast. In another incident of just asking for whatever they liked best, I had this amazing pastry. It was chocolate shortbread, with salted caramel filling and a passionfruit meringue.

Another amazing church, Fredrick’s Church is a 18th-century Lutheran church with the largest dome in Scandinavia. Its silent inside, and so incredibly peaceful.

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Oh, we’re back to some food photos. The lovely guy at this cafe specially made me a veggie club sandwich, which was amazing. Copenhagen has a couple of very well known coffee roasters and shops, which clearly meant I was going to drink a ridiculous amount of coffee. I did, with absolutely no regrets. My favourite may have been at Original Coffee, that latte rocked my socks. Which I was actually wearing because it was very cold outside.

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I was laying in bed about to go to sleep when I read about the Paris attacks. Being abroad, you are physically so much closer to many issues, and you can really sense that in people’s reactions. This is across the street from the French embassy. I never saw the embassy without people in front of it, at night holding candles. It was a beautiful outpouring of love.

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One last night at the Christmas Market. IMG_4155

We got to the airport nice and early, just incase security was tight. The extra time was spent eating, as it should be.

Leaving Copenhagen was sad, as leaving any place that wonderful would be. But goodness, it was an amazing weekend. Till next time, Denmark. IMG_4216

Alex

Week 7

This post is technically over a week late, and the only reason I’m actually writing it is to keep the continuity of weeks in order.

It was a very short week, I was only in Lancaster for 4 days, and spent most of Wednesday in Manchester. It was however, and absolutely crazy week. It felt like I never stopped moving. I do love to be busy, but I can’t say I like being as busy as I have been the last 2 weeks. IMG_3551IMG_3571

I don’t have any details to write, because other than lectures and meetings, I don’t remember doing much. I think I slept somewhere along the way. But the crazy week was very worth it for the amazing weekend it led to.

Alex

Week 6

Technically this post is late, but considering I was out of town this weekend, I don’t think it counts.

Last week was a little bit busier than usual, as I my first essay was due on Thursday! I also had an essay due today, Monday, so there was a lot of research, writing, and late night editing. But they were both finished and turned in! PoliSci has been a interesting experience as of late, with our focus on the application of principles of liberal democracy. Basically we’ve been talking about the structure of the American Government. Shout out to Esler (and Girls State) for my extreme understanding of the US Government. In our seminar on Thursday, my teacher managed to split us into groups to answer questions, and we had a group of international students with a question about the British Government. We just googled it. I did however, explain how the US legislative system works, and the checks and balances from the executive and judiciary branches. It felt like being on Lege Staff all over again.

I don’t have an excessive number of food photos (I blame being busy, and that it gets dark so early!!) but here is a photo of my breakfast (I eat the same thing most days)IMG_3416

Club wise, the week was all over the place busy! I had an article about the “My Culture is not a Costume” movement on campus, as well as the use of Dia de Muertos as a party theme for the newspaper, but I didn’t pick up a copy of it today! We had a bake sale on Tuesday as part of a year long fundraiser for a women’s charity in Lancaster. Basically I stood outside for a few hours and couldn’t feel my toes! Yay for cold weather?

Now for the most exciting part, this weekend! This past weekend a attended a training/conference of a society I am in called Enactus. Thats the link to the website, but basically its an organization that focuses on creating social enterprises to address a variety of world wide issues! I know, Alex, in a business organization?? What is happening. However, I am working on a project looking to find a way to help human trafficking victims in Eastern Europe. There has been so much going into the development of that project I could write a whole post on it (and might some time fairly soon) but to keep it simple, we’re looking for a way to help provide education, job training, or a sort of business product to human trafficking victims. The conference was not project specific, but was around the structure of the society as a whole, and I attended sessions mostly on how to build international projects (Lancaster’s society currently has a few amazing local projects, but we’re working to branch out) and a few more on leadership and running meetings, as I am our project’s Project Leader (is that grammatically correct?). It was a great experience, and I met a ton of amazing people from all over the country! Z, one of our Project Directors, is a great photographer and took some really fun photos! We attended sessions, did some crazy team building activities, and had a formal dinner/dance.

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I have another busy week ahead, and I’m fighting a cold. I think I’m going to sleep before 10:00pm tonight, and hope to sleep like the dead! Another adventure is coming up this next weekend, so expect fun things.

Alex

Week 5

I’ve been staring at a blank screen for a while, words and my brain just aren’t getting along today. It’s probably because the majority of what I do everyday is read and write, and my brain is protesting. Which would also explain why editing my essay has been so unsuccessful today. Come on brain, we’re on the same team here.

Okay, SCHOOL: it’s good, it’s boring, it’s learning. Even though I only take classes about things I want to study, sometimes it’s still a struggle to drag myself to class. Well, morning classes, because my duvet is my favourite thing on this continent and I’m still not sleeping well. Other than that it’s just polisci classes, but our Political Philosophy unit is ending this week. Thank goodness. Fun story time from class! (instructions from mom to write about this) We’re studying Intersectionality in my GWS (Gender and Women’s Studies) class, and we were talking about privilege in my seminar on Friday morning. Our TA found a really fun way for us to visualize how privilege affects lives, and it went like this. We were all given little cards that had our ‘character’. For instance, mine said [Journalist, female, 38, Christian background, highly successful]. We then wandered out of our tiny seminar room into the big meeting room in the building we meet in, and lined up across the room in a straight line. We all agreed that this made us feel like ‘primary’ (elementary) school children again. Our TA read off a list of questions (ex: I speak the language of the country I live in, I know where my next meal will come from, I feel safe walking down a street alone at night) and we stepped forward if the situation applied to us, and backward if it didn’t. At the end, scattered across the room, we read the character descriptions aloud. While it’s easy to know that a refuge and a successful journalist have very different amounts of privilege, it was an even better illustration of how gender and race can affect people of the same socioeconomic class.

Some quick food highlights: This leek and potato soup I made (and ate on 3 different occasions because how does one make small portions of soup?)

 This goat cheese, roasted tomato, and onion tart from the market on Thursday. Scarfed down in the 1 hour break I have between my first lecture and the 3 hour block of class in the afternoon, it was a lovely lunch.

 I really hope bananas are actually healthy, because they are a significant part of my diet. Banana, honey, and almond butter for breakfast, Frozen banana “ice cream” for late night studying, all the banana options please.

Other fun things this week!

I finally had time to wander through the little farmer’s market that’s in Alexandra Square on Thursdays. It wasn’t even as rainy as this photo makes it look! I bought the previously mentioned tart, some fresh eggs, and, unpictured because I was far too excited to eat it by the time I settled into my room that evening, a pumpkin cheesecake brownie. I’m not much of a cheesecake girl, so I’m not sure if I was just preparing myself for Malvika Month, or the pumpkin distracted me. Either way, it was delicious.  I’m writing for the newspaper (SCAN) and the first copy I wrote for came out this week! While library openings are not hard-hitting journalism, writing has been so much fun. 

Fall is really pretty. Thats an UNEDITED photo of the ground. I just want to roll in the leaves. But I don’t because they are very wet. And also because I am a responsible adult. 

The fact that Halloween was this Saturday should have left me with more stories, but I spent Halloween like my other saturday nights, writing essays and articles, and most importantly, curled up under my duvet. Wild nights in the life of Alex!

Well there you go! Another incredibly calm week abroad.

Alex