Week 11

 

IMG_4495alternately titled: ‘what I learned in the blackout’

-Showers are terrible because the water is cold and the air is cold and your towel is never dry and warm

-The little things in life really are the best. Like having light when you’re trying to go to the bathroom

-Listen to your mom and don’t procrastinate on things like emails and washing your hair.

-I may be able to move to another country on my own, but sleeping in an empty building with no power is really hard.

-You meet some really amazing people.

-You make good friends very, very, very fast.

-You might as well stay up incredibly late with those friends because nothing else is going on and you have so little time together

-Wear your pajamas to breakfast even though its the tacky American thing to do. Then take really bad pictures.

-Don’t try to plan friendships. Being friends with study abroad students is worth it, even if they leave you after a few months.

-Dance. For hours. Even when the power is back on.

-Don’t sleep the night before everyone leaves, even if you have 17 hours of travel the next day. Enjoy those last hours.

-I am so incredibly grateful for the last few days. I didn’t know being stuck on campus with no power could be so wonderful.

Alex

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The Blackout of 2015

On Saturday evening, the lights flickered. Then, they went off. We had no idea then what was coming.

For a country where it rains constantly,  a flood sure did a lot of damage to this city. Apparently rains north of us flooded quite a bit of Lancaster, including the power main. This resulted in a city wide blackout.

When we woke up on Sunday (after spending most to of Saturday night awake, gathered in a kitchen, my housemates and I found there was still no power and ventured out to find information. Things were beginning to feel apocalyptic, though I blame that on the fact that everyone watches Walking Dead. The Chaplaincy Centre had a backup generator on, so we went there for power, tea, and information. This is where we found out that school was cancelled. For the rest of term. This would be great information, if you know, I wasn’t in a different country.

So while all of my British friends called their parents and packed their bags to go home, the international student looked around, lost. We were told to ‘pack our essentials’ and head to the Great Hall. This turned into us spending the night in the Great Hall, which felt like a scene out of Harry Potter (thanks Sirius Black) and the worst sleepover I have ever been too. I know when I walk across stage at graduation in a few years, I will look over at the spot I slept in and think of this adventure.

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We had some hope on Monday when the power came back on for a few hours, but it did not last. The power has been out since, though we were originally told it would be back on by 7pm on Tuesday. Now we are hearing 4pm on Wednesday. Who knows?

They’re feeding us and we’re supposed to be sleeping in one of the lecture buildings tonight, so its another night of cold floors and close proximity with people I don’t know.

Its an adventure to say the least.

Alex 

Week 9

Oops, late post.

Last week was busy, but wonderful. I had a few extra meetings, and a few social things, but they were all quite good.

I’ve found myself eating oatmeal (porridge as they call it here) which is a shock, because I hate oatmeal. I think my body is just trying to cope with the intense wind and rain that leaves me chilled to the bone if I spend more that 10 minutes outside. Luckily, oatmeal can be made slightly more bearable, with additions like fruit, copious amounts of cinnamon, and my favourite, raspberries and dark chocolate. I like to think that because its dark chocolate, and I don’t add sugar, its still healthy(ish).


I got to Skype with so much family last week, it makes it a lot easier when they’re all grouped together and not at work/school. It was really great to see them and hear voices, and I know they’re probably just as excited for my trip home as I am. I think my mom is more excited than I am.

Saturday we had a Friendsgiving, which consisted of 6 of us eating a ridiculous amount of food, and talking until much too late at night. I stuffed turkey with brie and apple (not the whole turkey, that would never fit in our tiny oven) made mashed potatoes, stuffing, and roasted veggies. I learned that and rutabaga is a sweed and also evil. I now have a least favourite vegetable.

I finally made pumpkin bread with the pumpkin I ordered online, and its heavenly. It made the entire kitchen smell like home, and I will probably eat entirely too much of it in the coming days. I have no regrets.


I have one last essay due on Thursday, and then its just lecture until term ends! I’ll see you in 11 days Austin!

Alex

 

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!

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