Friday, July 26, 2013

How study abroad changed me:

This is one of the moments when I wish I could freeze time. 
    It's been two months since I got back. Can you believe it? Nope, me neither. I can still feel that brisk Copenhagen breeze on my cheeks.

   I quit my job at Cedar Point because I frankly hated it. I visited my host family in Las Vegas! I was so excited to see them but devastated to say goodbye again. I travelled around Tennessee, North Carolina and to Pittsburgh. Now, I'm interning at a travel agency. I also have a part time job with a catering company helping with some weekend weddings. I've also been reading a lot of novels. Staying busy.

The busy street of Norregade
I find myself thinking of Denmark and my study abroad experiences on a daily basis.  Heck, I'm even dreaming about it. I dreamed that I somehow took a flight back to Copenhagen and I was on the train going from the airport to Espergaede admiring the city. I was glued to the window, in awe of the magnificent buildings. In my dream, I hugged everyone that I've been missing and they welcomed me back with smiling faces. If only my stupid alarm clock didn't have to go and ruin it.

I'm certainly not the same girl I was before I left. I view the world much differently and find myself doing little things that I didn't do before.

Love this picture of Ulrik! It's hanging right
next to my calendar. 
Things I do now having returned from Copenhagen: 

- Drink tea in the evenings. My host family brewed a pot of tea in the morning and evening. We all sat around drinking it and chatting. My parents don't drink tea but I find myself still making a cup fairly often. I learned to really like tea and as an added bonus: whenever I drink tea, I think of Gitte. 
- Biking. Anytime I ride my bike, I think of Copenhagen and how 1/3 of the population bikes to work. It's so engrained in the culture. I rode my bike to the train station sometimes but never in the city. Biking= Denmark. Too bad I live out in the country and can't easily or safely bike anywhere. 
- Trying to make bread. Every morning, my host family baked bread. When I visited them in Las Vegas in July, they shared the recipe with me. My first attempt to make the bread didn't work out but I will try again. I've never baked bread before but I'm determined to recreate the delicious Danish breakfast bread. 
- Leaving work at work. Part of the Danish culture is leaving work at work and knowing that home is for family. I think that's why Danes are so happy. I find myself striving to distinguish the two worlds and not bring work negativity to my home life. 
- Complaining about paying for healthcare. I'm joking here. I didn't even use my free healthcare while I was over there. 
- At stoplights, I notice how in America it goes from Red to Green but in Denmark they went Red, Yellow, Green. It's the little things that count.
- I view grocery stores differently. Danish grocery stores were a place where you stuck to your preplanned strategy and got out quickly. They weren't gigantic but could be disorganized. Today I went grocery shopping and noticed I was devising a strategy plan of attack in my head to try and get in get out. I'm still not adjusted to how big everything is in America. Was it always like that? :)
This beloved picture of Julie and Pernille is also proudly
displayed on my wall.
- I'm not afraid to travel. After surviving all of my Europe travels, I know that I can conquer any travels. Drive to North Carolina by myself? Bring it. Ain't nothing like Italy was. 
- Eating different foods. If you had told me a year ago that I'd be buying herring and blocks of cheese from IKEA, I wouldn't have believed you. I learned to love eating cheese and herring while in Denmark. In America, I sometimes struggle to find cheese that is anything as good as it was in Denmark. Ulrik knows cheese! My parents were really surprised when they noticed I was ordering salads at restaurants and eating smelly fish from a jar (don't let that fool you. Herring is the bomb.) I used to be a picky eater but have opened up to trying new foods. 
- I talk to strangers. By this I mean, I strike up friendly conversations with strangers. For example, Alaina and I were waiting for the zip line and I turned to the guy behind us and asked him, "Nice shirt. Do you go to North Carolina State?" I used to be afraid to talk to strangers because I was shy. Europe forced me out of my shell. In Copenhagen, if I didn't ask a stranger what an announcement on the train said, then I might not be getting home. My friends and family have all commented on my new confidence. Yay!

This picture from my going away party
is now in a fun purple frame from...Tiger!
This week, I printed out several of my favorite photographs from Denmark and put them on my wall of photos. I always smile looking at them. I framed the picture of me with my host family and the picture of me and everyone at my going away party.

They weren't kidding when they said study abroad changes you. For the better.