The Final Weeks (and Finals Week)

 

Let me start this post by saying I know it is soooo long overdue. In my defense, I seriously spent two hours writing earlier this week only to have completely deleted the post when I attempted to post it (You may have seen a title published with no content). I rely on technology far more than I should, and the lesson was learned. That was quite the bummer, especially because free time to journal is so rare. Needless to say, I am using this semester as a practice round. I promise to blog more frequently next semester now that I have my routine for life in Copenhagen sorted out!

The greatest reason for my absence is that I have been on so many great adventures since my last post. From London, to Edinburgh, to Berlin, to Paris, my last few months of school have been packed with airport study breaks. As we are wrapping up the semester, finals week is already upon us. I have no clue how an entire semester flew by so quickly. Reflecting on how much I have experienced since arriving here in August, I am all at once overwhelmed with gratefulness and a sense of awe of my opportunity. I will do my best to recount what I have not shared with you. In order to do so, I will write several blogs while taking breaks from writing papers and studying for finals!! ūüôā

This post will be about my adventure to London and Edinburgh. For our fall travel break, five friends and I travelled to the United Kingdom. We first spent several days in London. Between running around to see all the sights and stopping to take it all in, our trip was packed full of touristy goodness.

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The first day, we went to Buckingham Palace. Sadly, the Queen did not make an appearance. I wonder what it is like to have thousands of people standing outside of your house taking pictures at all hours of the day. To get to the Palace, we walked through Green Park. The park is one of my favorite places of what I have seen of the world. Standing in the midst of Green Park, you would never know you are in one of the largest cities in the world. In late October, the ground was completely covered in the most vividly orange leaves I have ever seen. I walked out of the way several times over the course of our trip just to stroll through the park.

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Next, we went to the Sherlock Holmes museum. It is actually located at 221 B Baker Street! We did not get tickets, but I had to just walk outside to make my father proud. We had tea at Harrods department store. We had a blast sitting around for hours eating scones and feeling fancy. I bought tea at Fortnum & Mason, so we have afternoon tea in the dorm occasionally.

The next day, we just explored the city. We found Shakespeare’s globe and the most adorable used book sale under a bridge. We found a pug that lives in a bike store and listened to people playing music by the river. We passed MI6 and headed over toward the parliament building. A recurring theme of our trips seems to be that major landmarks are under construction. We did not see Big Ben, because he has been completely covered in scaffolding for repairs until 2020 (boo!) We did get to go inside of Westminster Abbey! It was incredible, and I think we all had a sense of “how on earth did we get to be inside such an important place” while visiting. In a slightly creepy way, the cathedral is most intriguing because of the people buried there. We saw the tombs of most British monarchs, and even Charles Darwin. It was incredible. I may be sneaking back next spring because I hear some important people are getting married soon.IMG_2861.jpg

One of the coolest experiences of of trip to London was to Soho’s Secret Tearoom. I heard about it online, and found the address on maps. When we arrived, it was nowhere to be found. I mean we circled the block 10 times and could not find it anywhere. I did some research on the website, and all it said was to find the golden spoon and ask someone about a tea room. After about 20 minutes of searching, we spotted a tiny golden spoon on the wall outside of a bar. I walked in and asked the bartender if she knew anything. She told us to follow her, and we walked behind the bar, ¬†and up a hidden flight of stairs. At the top, we were seated in the most adorable 1950s themed tearoom. It was probably the coolest I’ve ever felt in my life. Later, we went to a live performance of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. It was incredible and we laughed all night long.

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On our last night in London, which coincided with Halloween, we went to a giant ball pit inside of a bar!!! We felt silly at first because we were dressed up for the holiday and apparently Halloween is not a huge deal in London. Then, we quickly realized that it is impossible to not look silly while in an adult ball pit, so we actually fit in quite nicely. It was the perfect way to top off our time in the city.
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The next morning, we took a train from King’s Cross Station. To my fellow Harry Potter fans out there, I am sorry to report platform 9 and 3/4 does not exist. You can, however, pay people to take your picture with a plaque on a random brick wall. A four hour train ride later, we arrived in Edinburgh. I had forgotten to book a hostel with the rest of my friends, and after a lot of stress, I finally found a place with an opening. I ended up being about 2 minutes away from my friends, but the moral of the story is will be checking my plans ahead of time now!

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Edinburgh is a quaint but lovely city. We visited the castle, where Addie let me hear her astounding impression of Merida from the movie Brave. We went to 6 pubs around town and sat in on a trivia contest among locals. Most of our time in Edinburgh was spent find Harry Potter sites. For those of you that don’t know, J.K. Rowling started the series and wrote many of the books in Edinburgh. We ate apple pie in the Cafe in which she started writing the series. We shopped on the inspiration for Diagon Alley. We also visited the graves of William McGonagall and Thomas Riddel (Professor McGonagall and Tom Riddle respectively). Speaking of graves, we went on a pretty spooky free ghost tour on our last night in Edinburgh. I for one, am not the bravest person in the world and I’ll admit to screaming in terror during a few jumpy moments during the tour. All in all, Edinburgh was a magical experience.

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So, that brings me up to the end of Fall Break in blog posts. I will be writing about Berlin and Paris soon! I am currently in a frazzled but excited state. I go HOME a week from Monday! This time, home means North Carolina, and not just back to Copenhagen. I am so eager to see my family and friends and spend a month just relaxing. I am so thankful for this experience, largely because I will finally have interesting stories to tell at holiday parties! Christmas has always been my favorite time of the year, and I cannot wait to spend it with people I love. But for now, I have people that I love in Copenhagen too, and I must say Christmas is a hygge wonderland. Candles are everywhere, and even though its nearly dark when I get home from school, the spirit in Copenhagen keeps my heart warm. Julia and I have a tiny Christmas tree and lights in our room. I cannot wait to be home for the holidays. In the meantime, I will be kept super busy wrapping up schoolwork, so it will be here before I know it!

Stay Warm!!

Love,

Anna ūüôā

Venice, Amsterdam, and More

I would like to start this blogpost by apologizing for my inconsistency. These last few months have been the craziest in my life, and the writing I was doing was not for fun. In any case, I will do my very best to update you on the past month or so of my life and to make more time for updates in the future. I have a lot to say, so please excuse any sporadic thoughts. ūüôā

October in Copenhagen is stunning. Fall is in full swing now. Our teachers tried to prepare us for the cold and darkness, but we were not at all expecting it to happen so quickly. It’s been raining most days, which is no problem for me. There’s nothing I love more than a good rainy day (or year in this case). It’s around 50-55 degrees in Copenhagen at the moment, which is bearable, except for some particularly frigid morning bike rides. Speaking of bike rides, I finally feel like I am finally developing a routine here now. I know my route to school by heart. To be fair, there’s only like 3 turns and 15 minutes from my house to school, but if you know my sense of direction, you probably know that this is a huge accomplishment for me. My friend Emma and I have a tradition of getting bagel sandwiches at our favorite shop by our classroom building. We vow to continue Bagel Sandwich Monday for the next three years at Wake. Hopefully, we will all be lifelong friends and we can eat bagel sandwiches every Monday for the rest of our lives. ūüėČ

While I am making new traditions here, I do miss parts of traditions at home. It’s sad to see pictures of Wake football games and not be able to be there. But let my temporary absence be a testament that we have an equivalent workload to that of on campus students. We had midterms the first week of October. It’s interesting to live and take classes with the same 16 people, we all study and do homework at the same time. Needless to say, midterm week was quiet in our house. But the second that midterms ended, we had the first of our long study tours. The Danish Institute for Study Abroad (DIS) is the school that partnered with Wake Forest to let us study in Copenhagen. We are the only freshmen here, and we are the only people who stay longer than one semester. Every DIS student has study tours through the university around Denmark or Europe. Teachers travel with students and the content of the tour is used for assignments in class. First, our Wake Forest group had a short study tour in September around Denmark. We visited a folk school, which is a place that Danish people of all ages can go to take classes without grades or the reward of a degree. At first, I was skeptical because I, being an member of the American education system, have been conditioned (and not necessarily negatively) to work for grades. However, after talking with students at the school, folk schools are incredibly interesting. Think of them as gap years – students go after high school to take classes without pressure and find out what they are interested in before going to college. Interestingly enough, folk schools cost tuition, while all other forms of Danish schooling are free. We also visited several castles on the tour, and pictures do not do them justice. IMG_1611.JPG

Our first long study tour was to Venice, Italy. We were accompanied by our History of European Art teacher Suzanne, as well as a guest history of Venice professor named Carsten. I can not express how amazing this trip was, so I’ve decided it’s best to just include a lot of pictures to make up for when words fail me. Suzanne and Carsten are both masters of their fields, so I got such an in-depth perspective on art pieces we viewed, as well as the architectural, cultural, and political history of Venice. I have realized what an incredible opportunity I have been given. I literally got to see the artwork that I studied for weeks in class. All of Europe has become our classroom. We were in Venice for 5 nights, and I feel like I took advantage of all that the city had to offer. Incidentally, I found that it actually is possible to eat too much gelato. My friends and I tried for 10 scoops in one day, but we never actually conquered that goal. We came dangerously close every single day though. A gelato shop beside our hotel made a vegan dark chocolate gelato and I truly believe it was the best thing I’ve ever eaten.

We got back from Venice last Friday. This Friday, 6 friends and I went on a girl’s weekend to Amsterdam. Amsterdam was a dream. We stayed in a female only hostel affectionately called “Hostelle” and it was adorable. We only had Saturday in the city, and boy did we make the most of it. I was thrilled to visit the Van Gogh museum (Van Gogh is my absolute favorite). I saw the biggest collection of his works in the world. Then, we had an amazing lunch and hot chocolate by the canal. Meanwhile, I accidentally flung my favorite ring onto a boat in the canal. It is gone, but I’d like to think it “my ring is lost somewhere in Amsterdam” makes for a good story. We visited the infamous “red light district.” It was certainly¬†a learning experience. We had dinner, and I had a delicious sticky cauliflower (highly recommend). But, perhaps the most incredible experience I’ve had in Europe so far also happened on this trip. We visited the Anne Frank house. I can only say that if you have not been and ever have the opportunity, you need to go at some point in your life. It was overwhelmingly heartbreaking, but also extremely moving and powerful. On this topic, I will leave you with a quote that stuck with me, from Otto Frank, the father of Anne Frank.

“We cannot change what happened anymore. The only thing we can do is to learn from the past and to realize what discrimination and persecution of innocent people means. I believe that it’s everyone’s responsibility to fight prejudice.”

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Europe is opening my eyes in so many new ways. I am learning from my exceptional teachers and classmates, but I also have discovered that I often learn the most from simply exploring on my own. Everyday has something new to offer me. There are less than two months left in this semester, and I intend to make the most of it!

I promise to write again soon!
Anna ūüôā

 

 

Home

I am taking a class called Sense of Place in European Literature. On the first day of class, my teacher Birgette introduced the concept of place.  The opposite of place is space, which is simply an empty, meaningless location. Place, she said, is a space that we fill with our own meanings and memories. When I arrived in Copenhagen almost two weeks ago, I certainly found myself in a world of empty space. I did not know the language, the people, or the rules of biking (there are a lot). I have spent the last two weeks struggling with my sense of place. I bought throw pillows and blankets to make my spacious dorm room into a cozy place. I lined my shelves with books and strung lights over my bed. I made a picture board in an attempt to force memories to enter my space. Of course I miss my family and friends, but I am quickly finding a new place in Denmark.

My dorm is incredible. I live in a residential section of the city called Amager (pronounced Ama).  We are about 4 minutes by bike from a mall and metro station. There is a daycare right outside of my window and as it turns out the sound of giggling children is a wonderful backdrop for studying. The 17 of us are split into two apartments separated only by a hallway, so we freely flow through both rooms. We have family dinners on Tuesdays and we all seem to get along quite well. I am extremely excited to see how we grow together over the next year. However, we all live together, and all of our classes are composed only of the 17 of us, so I am trying to meet other people and have some alone time. In fact, I discovered the loveliest beach about a mile and a half from our house this morning while on a run. It was pouring rain, and a danish gentleman stopped running to high-five me and utter what I presumed to be a term of danish encouragement. One of my biggest goals is to gain an understanding on conversational Danish.

The people of Copenhagen are reserved but also kind. I certainly see the title of “happiest country in the world” in action. I can’t tell you how many strangers have helped me in the grocery store or even just smiled on the street. Being in such a happy place has given me certain joy in my heart, even with a ridiculous amount of school work.

We started classes last Thursday, and we were all hit with the reality that this is not a grand vacation. We are now in college. I am surprised by how little free time I have. I  bike 20 minutes to school each day, attend each class in the same room on the 4th floor of our central Copenhagen School building (soooo many stairs), bike home, and (attempt to) study until I go to sleep. My friends and I are learning to balance studying and fun just like any other college student. I am writing this as a break from sociology reading, so apologies if there are errors!

I have already experienced so much of my new home. From the colorful houses of Nyhavn, to meeting my wonderful host family in Fredericksburg, to running a 5k on a freezing Sunday morning at the harbor with my friends, to finding a trampolines park on the canal, I am thriving. The food is amazing. The people are amazing. The parks, castles, and museums are amazing. I still have so many cobblestone streets and small cafes to discover, and I feel so incredibly blessed to have the opportunity to do so.

I already have travel planned! I will be going to Sweden this weekend, Venice for a week in October, and Amsterdam for a weekend. I also hope to explore the United Kingdom for travel break in November and Paris for Thanksgiving. Stay tuned to see what spaces I will turn into places!

Love,

Anna ūüôā

The Waiting Game

IMG_0322.JPGIf you know me, you probably know I am not one to eagerly step out of my comfort zone. I adore the idea of an incredible adventure, but I have never truly experienced great change in my own life. I would not say that I am afraid to embrace change, but I have found it easier to avoid change whenever possible. A grand change is coming, and I am  learning to embrace it and run with it. On August 15th, I will make the easy journey (about 25 minutes from my house) to Wake Forest University to begin my college career. Three days later, I will fly to Copenhagen, Denmark, where I will spend the entirety of my school year with 16 other WFU freshmen.

You may be wondering what is enticing about Denmark. The truth of the matter is, I have wondered the same thing. As of approximately one month ago, I could not point out Denmark on a map if you asked me to. I did not exactly grow up dreaming of eating sm√łrrebr√łd and riding a bicycle to class each morning. However, Wake Forest chose to create a new program to immerse incoming freshmen in world studies right off the bat. Denmark, ranked the second happiest country and one of the ecofriendly capitals of the world, was chosen as our new home, but I will also be building a foundation of world knowledge through European travel. I have study tours to Venice and Vienna, and field trips around Scandinavia each Wednesday instead of class. I am also provided with two weeks of free travel each semester in addition to holiday breaks. In case you are curious about the classes I will be taking (and they are nearly perfect) I will link them here!

Fall 2017: European Humanities-themed semester

  • FYS 100.¬†Competition, Cooperation, and Consumption: Issues of Social Networks and Social Participation (3h)¬†**Fulfills first-year seminar basic requirement**
  • SOC 151.¬†Principles of Sociology (3h)¬†¬†**Fulfills Division IV requirement**
  • INS 120.¬†Danish Language and Culture (3h)
  • HMN 213.¬†A Sense of Place in European Literature (3h)¬†¬†**Fulfills Division II requirement**
  • ART 198.¬†European Art of the 19th Century (3h)

Spring 2018: Global Perspectives-focused semester

  • COM 120.¬†Introduction to Film & Media Aesthetics (3h)¬†¬†**Fulfills Division IV requirement**
  • COM/FLM/WGS 370.¬†Gender in Nordic Cinema (3h)
  • REL 389.¬†Islam in the West: Changes & Challenges (3h)
  • ENV 301.¬†Sustainable Development in Northern Europe (3h)
  • POL 235.¬†The European Game of Politics: Crisis and Survival (3h)

The limbo between high school and college is a strange time for everyone. For me, I have found myself completely and utterly bored. My great, life-changing adventure is so close, but still not here yet. This is also the first summer that I have not been researching in a lab for the past three years. I thrive when I am busy, so having time for myself is foreign to me. With boredom came a bit of sadness because when I am left with free time, I am left to think. So, I have decided to spend my summer reinventing myself. I created a list entitled “102 ways to better myself.” I am not using it as to-do list, but I refer to it for suggestions of improvements that I can make now to make my transition abroad as smooth as possible. I want to be able to depend on myself while abroad. I have¬†to be able to depend on myself while abroad.¬†This summer is dedicated to making the best version of Anna Jones that there can be. So, I started research of my own. My purpose is to determine how to be as happy as possible. Now don’t get me wrong, I am happy. ¬†I have an incredible life, and I do not want it to seem as if I am taking advantage of or complaining about it. I simply want to be able to know that I make the most of every blessing, every moment, and every opportunity that I have been given.

My research sparked with reading The Happiness Project¬†by Gretchen Rubin. I have not finished it yet. To be completely honest, in the spirit of making my own happiness I have made a mistake. I have allowed myself to switch between several books to fit my mood of ¬†the day, so I am currently in the middle of¬†The Happiness Project,¬†Les Miserables, The Sun Also Rises, and I have yet to start my required reading¬†How To Be Danish,¬†which is probably the most important at this time. Anyways, in what I have read so far, Rubin reflects many of my own philosophies about life. She is not unhappy with herself, but she wants to ensure she lives her life to the full. As a result of my reading, I have embarked on my own “happiness project.” I am incorporating journaling, reading, exercising, and hydrating into my daily routine. Journaling has taught me so much about myself. Reading has granted me new outlooks on the world around me. Running clears my mind, and a clear mind makes every thing easier to accomplish. Hydrating may sound like it does not belong on this list, but I have found it is one of the most important parts of my daily routine. Water is life, in all senses of the phrase!!!

Over spring break of my senior year, I travelled to the Bahamas with friends. Amidst the never ending entertainment of the islands, I found a little life knowledge. When we were overcome by beautiful views or the excitement of the cruise, we would look at each other and scream, “I AM THRIVING!” Now, at home for the summer, without the obvious stimulus of tropical islands, I am learning to thrive in all aspects of life. To thrive is not just to live, but to prosper, to flourish. ¬†I am thriving by taking care of myself. I am thriving by learning about my world and preparing for the future. I am thriving by laughing loudly and often. I am thriving by trying new things, finding new music, and meeting new friends. I am thriving by singing all the time: in the shower, around the house, in the car, with friends. ¬†I am thriving by painting again. I am thriving by staying inside and watching all the movies I desire, but also reminding myself to go exploring outside. I am thriving by reinventing my health. I am thriving by spending every possible second with my friends and family. I am thriving by learning to love my whole self, and then loving others with my whole self. Most importantly,¬†I am thriving by having faith and taking heart in God’s perfect plan for my future.

This summer is bittersweet. I dread saying goodbye to the people I love most in a few short months. I dread trying to pack a semester’s worth of clothes in a suitcase.¬†I dread great things having to end for even greater things to begin. However, I know my God made me for more than I could ever imagine. In this unfamiliar time of my life, I am comforted by my favorite Bible verse –¬†Hebrews 11:1.

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see.”¬†

I do not know the plans that my heavenly Father has in store for me. While it is hard for me to let go of control of the next year of my life, it is easy to hand my cares over to the one who knows me better than I know myself. Instead of worrying, I am sure in my faith, and certain in His unfailing love for me. I may be traveling halfway around the globe and leaving everything I know, but God’s love knows no country or time-zone. I am thrilled to experience even more of His incredible creation in just a few short months. I have the most lovely life, but I have a feeling it’s about to get a whole lot lovelier!

 

Thriving!

Anna