Thursday, January 4, 2018

Returning Home

January 4

Today is my last day in Europe and it is starting to become very apparent how difficult returning to 'real life' is going to be. I've already gotten notifications for classes and assignments when I return, my schedule for the first month is already getting full and I am dreading the first few days back when I have to adjust my body and mind back to the United States.
There are a few things that seem imposing on my adjustment back to American life:
1. School will be completely different from what I have been used to for the past semester. Much more fast paced, much more class time, and A LOT more homework. I think I can get back to the swing of things pretty quickly, I've always been a good student. But I'll definitely miss being able to do less during the term and only focus on exams. Speaking of exams, I still have one more exam for my study abroad experience, which will probably warrant its own blog post when the time comes.
2. I will no longer be of drinking age, which is a very singular problem for me since most people are seniors by the time they return from exchange. This seems like a fairly superficial and childish observation, but let me give you a little information on why I think it is important.
In Europe, because everyone in university can drink, there's no separation of older and younger students. As I come back to America, all of my friends will be over the drinking age, going to bars and being able to consume alcohol. This puts me at a disadvantage back home because whether we want to admit it or not, alcohol is a very social and friend-based environment. Simply because of my age I am restricted from spending time and conversation with my friends on weekends where they choose to go out. It will definitely take some getting used to not ordering drinks or getting carded at bars.
3. My city will not be as beautiful. This is hard to say because Corvallis is such an amazing place and it has become home. But its really the people who make it, not the places or things that are there that make it special. In Aarhus, or any European city, the architecture and people and culture, even just how old these places are, makes it just that much more magical to live in or travel to. It will be hard not to walk down those tiny little streets, get lost in large parks or see cobblestone everywhere I go. There's a special feeling of 'Europe' that I love and will always want to come back to.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Vienna, Austria

December 22-24

Vienna is the first and last stop of our family vacation this winter. We are doing a round trip river cruise along the Danube that is centered around the Christmas markets and German/Austrian Christmas traditions.
I had spent the previous few days with my mom in Warsaw, which was a lovely city but the bad weather and lack of things to do made it a slow, but relaxing trip. When we got to Vienna I was just excited to be able to see my sister Madie and my dad. It had been just about
five months to the day (which is the longest I have ever gone not seeing my family). It was such a wonderful and happy feeling to see them walking towards us and I ran to hug them both. I think the hardest thing about studying abroad was being away from my family for so long.

As we waited for the rest of the family to arrive my mom and I wandered around Vienna, seeing all the impeccable architecture, adorable Christmas markets and great shopping. Rathaus Christmas Market was the largest, and in my opinion the best one we went to. It is my opinion that places like Austria and Germany are meant to be seen and traveled to in the winter because they really know how to do Christmas.
As I get closer and closer to returning to the states I have come to realize that my life will be very different back home. Its very difficult to describe, but Europe just has this older, more distinguished and refined feel about it that I don't think America will ever have. However I'm very ready for a good cheeseburger, seeing my friends and getting to drive my car again.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Last Day in Aarhus

December 18

I'm sitting in a Copenhagen hotel with a feeling of finality to an amazing experience that is very hard to say goodbye to.
My mom came to see the city before my send off, which was amazing and a long time coming. I don't think I've ever been more excited to see her in my life; this was the longest I have ever gone without seeing my family. We spent the day wandering the city and visiting Den Gamle By, which was awesome for me, having not been there yet.
It was a very surreal feeling, walking the streets and realizing I may never be there again, or leaving my room for the last time ever, and watching the city disappear as I rode the train away from this place I've strangely come to call home. I know that Aarhus will always have a little part of my heart and I hope that one day I come back here again. I will miss this place so incredibly much and I cannot believe that the best six months of my life are already over.
I look forward now to traveling with my family for the next three weeks and returning to Corvallis and all of my friends. I know it will go by faster than I want it to, but I'm trying to enjoy my last few moments here in Denmark and in Europe.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Finals Week

December 11

I have one week before my family meets me here in Europe and its starting to hit me how quickly this experience is going to end. On the one hand I'm so ready to be with my family and get home, but I'm also so sad to be leaving this place and its people behind. Its weird to think that I many never be here again, and even if I do end up in Aarhus, it will be under very different circumstances.
Finals are in full swing right now, and studying has enveloped my life. Although I'm not as stressed as I thought I would be, mostly because I have so much time to spend studying and reviewing and boring myself to sleep. The process here is so different, and I still haven't decided if its better or not.
Right now I'm taking a break from studying, and after a full day of sitting on the computer and going over notes has made me realize that I actually know more than I expected. Sometimes I feel, or people make me feel, like I'm not as knowledgeable or experienced and its very discouraging. Throughout being here I've realized that those people are going to think what they think, do what they do, and there's not much I can do to change their minds. What I can do is prove to the world, but more importantly myself, that I am much more capable than it may seem.
I'm killing my finals, ahead of schedule for moving out plans, and already starting to balance the new pressures of starting my regular life back home. Its going to be a crazy few weeks, but what's keeping me going is that I am going to be surrounded by everyone and everything I love in a very short time, and its going to be one of the most euphoric times in my life. 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Copenhagen, Denmark

November 24-26

This was my last getaway before the term ended, and was very much needed to de-stress before the start of finals. The weekend was mostly spent walking around the city, getting lost in the streets and seeing some of Copenhagen's iconic sights. We obviously spent time in Nyhaven and the city central, but also ventured out to see the Little Mermaid, Christiana and the royal palace. Overall a well spent weekend, and quite relaxing for me having been there a few times before. I was pleasantly surprised to remember a lot of the town and be able to show my friends around.
I feel that a theme of these travel posts has been for me to talk about something I've learned, specific to the trip. For this weekend I think the thing I recognized the most is both the necessity and want to spend money. More and more I've realized that my time here is so limited and the likelihood of me going to some of these places ever again is very slight. With that, I've known that spending money in order to enjoy my time abroad has always been necessary. I want to have that extra cup of coffee walking the streets or have a nice dinner in the center of town or spend the few dollars for an entry fee to something that is completely unique to somewhere I'm travelling.
This partially comes with a bit of wisdom for any fellow travelers; budget generously, spend wisely and come to grasp with the idea that experiences cost money. It sucks, but missing out on things and good food and amazing places will suck at lot more. The one thing you do not want to come home with is regrets. I see coming home without money as a successful time spent here. 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

London, England

November 10-12

This trip was probably my favorite place out of all the travelling I've done during this term. I think there were a lot of contributing factors to that, but mostly because I got to see Taryn and meet her new friends along with exploring one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

What I enjoy most about travelling is just taking to the streets and wandering the town. Of course not all of my time can be spent getting lost in a city, but I think it gives me an idea of what its like for the people that live there rather than just being a regular tourist the whole time. I think that I've learned that although being a tourist can let you see some incredible things, it doesn't give you the same impression of the city. I've realized that I go places not to see the sights, but rather to become part of the culture, even if only for a short time, and possibly see myself living there. I have become more and more open to the idea of living in a foreign country since I've been in Denmark, and I think its mostly because now I know I can do it on my own, and its not as difficult as everyone seems to make it.
In London we spent most of our time near the river, walking along the water to find little Christmas markets, eating good food and even finding a Cider-Fest that felt very picturesque. We went and saw Big Ben which was unfortunately covered in scaffolding, rode the London Eye, shopped at Covent Garden and ate at a few proper English pubs (gin included of course). It also happened to be Veteran's Day weekend while we were there and we watched the parade on Sunday morning with a visit from the Queen.
The weekend was all too short and I know I will be back someday to this wonderful city I just got a taste of, but for now I'll just have to look forward to Copenhagen next week. I am also realizing how quickly this semester is coming to an end, seeing that I only have a month left until I see my family!

Monday, November 6, 2017

Making Friends

November 6

Being here has really changed my perspective on what a friendship is. I've come to realize that I rely a lot more heavily on my support system of friends and family than I initially thought, so being here as an individual has given me new challenges.
The system obviously creates the pathways and knowledge to make great friends here. Most of the people I'm closest to here I met in the first few weeks during orientation and the first weeks of class. They are all amazing people and I hope that after we leave here we will stay just as connected and one day reconnect somewhere on the planet. However with all this hope, I still know that I'm not as close with some people as I wish I was, and hopefully in the future weeks we can grow together before we have to leave.
The other group of people here I've had more trouble connecting with is the local Danes. Although extremely friendly and gracious, they are a much harder group to break into. I don't have much contact with locals to begin with, and the few I do, mostly roommates and a few classmates, are weary to new friends, given they've already created their long-term friend groups. Still all lovely people, but definitely not as likely to be bffs.
Also, even more surprisingly, I have become close with many OSU students while here. Although we didn't know each other before, I think the comradary of a similar school and language make bonding much easier in an initially scary situation. It may be against some people's views to keep friends from home rather than branch out, but I think a little bit of comfort and friendly "go beavs" nature while here is that little piece of home that keeps it together.