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. 🙂

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. 😉

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 🙂

 

 

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