Vi Ses, Denmark!

It’s been a week since I’ve left the place I called home for 5 fantastic and life changing months, and it’s no coincidence that Buzzfeed published this article the day I returned to the U.S. Although most of the points are a bit general, it already gave me a burst of nostalgia that still pains me today. My last three weeks in Copenhagen truly reminded me how much it has become my home. From saying goodbye to my Internship at The Copenhagen Post, to cheering on DK for the annual Eurovision SongContest (WHO WON BY THE WAY), to further exploring the music scene and meeting a Danish band, to spending my last morning eating breakfast on the beach, every experience is so imbedded into my heart that I cannot even begin to fathom the fact I’m already gone. 

Being back at home for a week now has honestly made me realize how much I’ve changed since I hoped on the plane 5 months ago. For the most part, I’ve realized that I’m much more independent than I thought I was. Having to live in a Kollegium which forced me to cook and experiment on my own really helped me reach outside of my shell culinary, and tastebud-wise. I am now much more open to not only trying new foods, but also recipes. For the record, food tastes so much better when you know the effort that’s gone into it! 

Also, as I mentioned before in my previous post, I traveled to Barcelona completely on my own. I hate to pour on the cheese even more, but that experience seriously changed my life. Because I didn’t have the burden of another travel buddy (not that travel buddies are bad, don’t get me wrong,) it allowed me to plan my days of travel completely on my own, which is such a freeing experience. I saw the sights I wanted on my own time and agenda, and made the most amazing friendships that will last a lifetime. If you’re reading this and thinking about studying abroad, currently, or just thinking about traveling some more, take a trip on your own. Yes, I admit, it’s scary, but it’s something I would do again in a heartbeat. Trust me. 

Also, since I never had a car back home, and never had the connivence of living in a city, I’ve learned to take transportation into my own hands. I first took the metro and bus, which were both alright, but nothing compared to the freedom and independence of riding a bike in Copenhagen. 

Overall, I’ve basically realized that you know you’ve truly immersed yourself into a culture and genuinely love it, when you feel like you’ve left your home. I’ve met so many amazing people in not only Copenhagen, but Europe as a whole. They have changed my life in so many ways and it pains me so much to now be thousands of miles away. 

Until next time, Europe, I’ll be back.

Photos of the Last Few Days:

Tivoli, the amusement park in the middle of the city. It’s truly the most magical thing. 

Typical Danish Swans.

The Amager Beach by my Kollegium! (It was finally warm enough to go there.)

BRIDGE TO SWEDEN! (I CAN SEE SWEDEN FROM MY HOUSE)

May 1st, Denmark’s Flunk Day

About 20 days ago, my Danish language teacher led my class and I to this huge open park, Fælledparken, for International Worker’s Day. It was filled with food tents, stages, and picnics galore and with everyone’s universal spirit and love for each other, it immediately reminded me of Flunk Day back home. (Coincidentally enough, May 1st was Knox’s actual Flunk Day, so in hindsight, I was able to Flunk along with all my friends back home. It couldn’t have been more perfect.)

Unlike Flunk Day at Knox, International Worker’s Day traditionally involves demonstrations and celebrations organized by trade unions and left wing political organizations. So, it’s basically just a celebration of Socialism and Denmark’s Welfare State, which is actually quite amazing and has honestly changed my opinions on a lot of political issues after living there. 

(Some images of the demonstrations) 

However, most students my age (SEE ALL THOSE PEOPLE IN THE BACKGROUND?!) in Denmark use the day to take off of class and work and just enjoy each other’s company, and the warm weather, sound familiar?

Also throughout the day, there were a variety of musical performances, and if you know me at all, you’ll know that this is where I spent pretty much all of my day, which was about 9 hours outside…I had a killer sunburn to say the least. Among the performers were Danish indie bands The Sandmen and Ice Cream Cathedral. Check them both out, they’re seriously awesome. 

My Last Travel Break: On Returning to Paris

Two weeks ago, I embarked on my last travel break of the semester! As much as I don’t want to admit, the semester is coming to a fast end. However, the break came at the perfect time to forget finals lingering in the future, and finally soak up the sun while spending time with my parents, and Knox bud Allison.  

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My first stop was a wonderful 3 days in Paris. The flight there went quite swimmingly, mostly due to the fact that I fell asleep due to utter exhaustion before the plane even took off, and then proceeded to sleep until the attendant announced we were landing in 10 mins. 

I then successfully maneuvered through multiple trains and metro connections to meet up with my Mom and Stepdad at the hotel! It was in the nice district right next to the Opera. Although I’ve been to Paris once before when I studied in France for a month in high school, the city was still as magical as I remember. 

There’s a different feeling and sense of self you obtain when returning to a city. Five years ago, I set my feet on the same soil, looked up at the same Notre Dame, and walked through the same hallways of the Louvre. As almost a direct reflection of my past travels, there was still something different. Something new. Sure I was now traveling with my parents instead of my high school classmates, but there was a certain familiarity that deleted all the excitement and manic sightseeing which often comes hand in hand with travel. 

I had no desire to wake up at the crack of dawn see things such as the Sacre Coeur, or Notre Dame, but instead saw them in different ways. For example, the first night my Mom, Stepdad, and I had dinner in a 15 person restaurant whose window looked out directly onto the white, sacred building. Seeing the monument through the small window in a way took away it’s hype and popularity, and instead allowed me to see how much of a daily integration it is in Parisian’s lives. No Parisian sits in front of the Sacre Coeur all day, not the Notre Dame, etc. 

I was also able to navigate myself through the city with incredible ease. Although it had been 5 years since my last stay, I could still remember how to find the correct metro stops, and even the famous ice cream shop that my classmates and I loved so much. And yes, I brought my parents there. 

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When you also return to a travel destination, as noted before, it no longer feels like traveling. With Paris, I felt as if I were returning to another home. The entire atmosphere was full of relaxation and ease. In fact, the things I enjoyed the most in Paris was when I would sit in a café with my parents, or Allison, who joined me at the last day of the trip, and to simply drink wine, enjoy each other’s company and conversation, and watch the crowds trickle on by. 

To truly experience a place, you have to sit down and breathe in its air. Observe its people, and become one of their own. This, of course, cannot be complete without a wonderful glass of wine. 

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(Note: This is possibly the best photo I have even taken on a digital camera. I’m quite proud of it.)

I Cykel in København

Recently Copenhagen has gone through some significant changes. The sun has come out, along with it’s people, and now the city is exploding with excitement and the fact that we no longer have to wear our winter coats. (Note: It’s still only about mid-high 50s, but I’m not going to complain because, in my mind, that is dress weather). 

Because of the significantly warmer weather, I finally decided to brave the Copenhagen streets and bike everywhere I go! A Dane who lives on my floor is kindly loaning me one of his old bikes, so I also get to experience this Danish custom FOO FREE (which is a very great incentive at this point in the term…)

Thus far, biking has given me an entirely new perspective on Copenhagen. There are so many new things I’ve seen while biking that I missed while taking the bus or metro before. For example, I’ve discovered this amazing library called The Black Diamond which is made of glass and looks onto one of the canals, and that, when the sun is shining, all young Danes like to #occupybridges and spend the entire afternoon drinking and listen to portable DJ booths. 

(The Black Diamond)

The City has literally transformed now that the Sun is shining and I couldn’t be more in love and saddened to leave in 16 days. (Wait, is it really that short amount of time? SAY IT AIN’T SO). 

However, biking in Copenhagen isn’t like coasting through the streets of Galesburg or Minneapolis, it has serious culture and mentality that makes it the most unique bike city in Europe. First of all, everyone bikes. Yes the buses and metro are frequently packed with commuters during rush hour and the like, but if you want to get somewhere in the most efficient way possible, biking is your only option. 

When biking in Copenhagen, you have to be aware of the certain biking ‘road’ solely designated for bikers. Slightly higher than the road, and lower than the sidewalk, this strip of pavement is the main paths for all bikes.

 Along with biking on the correct path, you must always follow the traffic lights for the bikes. Slightly smaller than the lights for cars, etc. they have completely separate timing and, unlike in the states, if cars see you or are driving when you’re trying to ‘sneak’ on by, they WILL OBNOXIOUSLY HONK AT YOU. And, that is also the only time you will ever hear a car honk. 

Although this might not apply to all because my bike is slightly too large for me (the problem with being 4’11 and living in Scandinavia…), stopping at these traffic lights is always a struggle, especially when there are 1000 other people also at the traffic light. When stopping, you must slightly get off of your bike, to well stop, obviously. However, because I’m so short, my feel don’t touch the ground so I have to attempt to lean my foot against the higher part of the sidewalk, or if I’m lucky, there will be a metal stand installed solely for this purpose. However, these options are normally unavailable and thus I must awkwardly coast very very slowly until the light turns yellow (the lights turn yellow before they turn green here) or try to stop and then run into someone else ahead of me. (The amount of times this still happens is embarrassing).  

However, despite the slight difficulties, biking has truly changed my perspective on the city and has made me fall in love even more. Though slightly dangerous, there is nothing more exhilarating and freeing than zooming down the Amagerbrogade bridge (the bridge that connects the ‘island’ I live on to the city) after a night on the town. Every Dane will tell you the same thing, but you don’t truly understand or realize how essential it is to Danish culture until you switch gears and experience it for yourself. 

Some Medieval Magic: Study Tour to Prague & Český Krumlov

Last week was my Core Course Long Study-Tour to the Czech Republic (and a bit of Austria). I’m not sure if it was because everything was so extremely cheap, or if it was the simply magical atmosphere of the entire country, but it is definitely now my favorite place that I’ve visited thus far. 

My class and I arrived in Prague Sunday afternoon and immediately had a walking tour of the city. My favorite part of the tour was definitely the Old Town Square. Set right under the beautiful astronomy clock, the square is filled with old wooden booths filled with homemade potatoes, hot wine, candy, trinkets and, my personal favorite, tredelnik, a type of Transylvanian pastry made with cinnamon, sugar, dough, and walnuts…all wrapped and baked around a wooden stick. Sound amazing? Trust me, it was! Here’s a bit of the square below: 

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Next, we continued to endure the (unexpected) extremely cold weather to explore the Charles Bridge. This is a huge bridge which is lined with hundreds of different art vendors. There were so many cute, unique, and cheap little trinkets, it was hard to resist escaping the group to go explore on my own! image

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After a frigid, but exciting, day of walking, we finally arrived at dinner. Hidden literally in a dungeon on a side street from the Old Square, I felt as I was literally being placed into an episode of Game of Thrones. This was especially true when we were given a huge plate of just meat for dinner. No, this was not an exaggeration. The plate had about 4 different kids of meat including: Ham, Chicken, Beef, and Duck (which I tried for the first time, and absolutely loved!). The night continued with a lovely bowl of soup, bread, and a sort of pastry-cake for dinner. Little did I know, this copious amount of food (all paid for by DIS) for meals will become the norm for the rest of the trip. 

The next day we met up with the director, Filip Remunda, who helped create the film, ČESKÝ SENthat we watched during class. The film basically a coverage of a fake advertisement campaign for a ‘Hyper-Market’ that doesn’t actually exist. Although the concept is quite hilarious on the surface, it conveys the mindset the Czechs are in after the Communist regime. In the film, many fooled customers complain that the ‘government has lied to them once again,’ etc. Because I enjoyed the film so much initially, it was really cool to be able to hear the motivations from the director himself! 

Next, we had dinner at this wonderful ‘communist era’ restaurant (where we had some more meat, and then tasted our first peak at the Czech dumping..very vital to every meal, apparently). But why was it called a communist era restaurant, you ask? Because of all the amazing communist-pun woodcuts, of course! 

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I mean, Hotel ‘Stal-Inn’? How much better can that get?! And, of course the Czech cow: image

After lunch, we had free time to explore the Franz Kafka and Mucha Museums. Although it was extremely experimental, my personal favorite was probably the Kafka.It had a bunch of really amazing journal entries written to his father, which gave huge insight to his life, identity, and writing. He, like many other figures we’ve studied, lived in a border city, which blurred much of his personal identity and race (i.e. A Report to the Academy, Metamorphosis). In front of the museum was an iconic art installation done by David Cerny: 

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Yes, those are too mechanical men who are peeing onto a map of the Czech Republic. You can also send a text to a certain number to have them ‘draw’ your phrase. Classy things. Speaking of Cerny, he has a bunch of different installations all over Prague including a embryo in which my friends and I accidentally stumbled upon while trying to find dinner:

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If you look closely, you can even see an outline of a baby. Why you ask? Even Cerny didn’t really have an explanation when we met him that evening to have some beers. Yes, I drank beers with David Cerny. I wish I could say it was awesome, but it was in reality a very strange and confusing experience. Especially while watching on of my professors get extremely drunk and fan-boy all over him. It was quite hilarious, 

The next morning, we visited Radio Prague (basically the npr, BBC equivalent of Prague) to listen to one of the journalists discuss the radio’s involvement in WW2 and the Cold War. Because I love journalism, I thought this was extremely interesting. It was also one of the many ‘hits of reality’ we encountered on the trip as he proceeded to tell us how tanks shot at the building right alongside the road we had just walked on. There are constant memory sites such as this throughout Europe, bringing a certain atmosphere and history that can never be replicated. 

We then had a couple hours of free time in which we got lunch, and explored the many back streets and antique shops. My favorite discovery was this old bookstore which had hundreds of old photos and vintage movie posters—my walls are going to be happily covered next year! After free time, we visited the National Gallery where we saw the amazing Slav Epic by Mucha. Another thing that we just briefly studied during class, I was awestruck by how extravagant the paintings were. Different from his iconic posters and advertisements, this epic consisted over over 20 different paintings, each about a hundred feet in length. 

After the gallery, we returned to the hotel to get ready for (basically) the most amazing and expensive meal of our trip. It was at the most expensive meal in Prague, and we could definitely tell. Here was our meal: 

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PUMPKIN SOUP (w/pesto, balsamic vinegar, and pumpkin seeds). Basically, was the most amazing soup of my life. image

This was some mushrooms wrapped in spinach with some sort of paté-esque mush. Wasn’t much of a fan of this, but it was still quite good. 

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DESSERT was this delicious cherry-tiramasu with a chocolate cracker. yum yum.

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(The restaurant itself). After dinner, we went to this local church concert, which was interesting. It was extremely traditional czech music with a splitz of baroque influence. Wasn’t exactly my type of entertainment, but it was pretty interesting to listen to. 

For our last day in Prague, we took a trip to the Prague castle which was beautiful. However, it was a bit difficult to truly enjoy because of the extreme cold, but we certainly made the best of it:image

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At the bottom of the castle was this extremely cute (and extremely touristy)  mini village. At the bottom of this, my friends and I found this AMAZING sausage stand where I probably had the most amazing sausage of my life. You thought Germany and Denmark were pretty handy with theirs? You are wrong. They will never compare to the perfect combination of spice and crunch that this had. Seriously. I would go back here just for another. Well, if I had the money for a plane ticket back, of course. We then departed for the former town of Lidice. 

It’s a former town because it was completely terminated by the Nazi control. They literally murdered every male over 16 years old, and sent the rest to extermination camps. The only survivors were certain Czech children who could past as German children (another example of the Czech/German identity crisis). What stands there now is solely a Lidice museum, a few ruins, and a memorial dedicated to the children lost during the extermination everywhere: image

Being there, and especially walking through the museum was probably one of the most haunting and emotional parts of the entire trip. 

Later that day, we made our way towards the lovely Český Krumlov, but before we had dinner at the original Budweiser Brewery where we ate our body weight in a free buffet and then regretted it 30 mins later when we realized we couldn’t even finish our beers because we ate so much. It was major struggles for the entire bus the ride home. After a long day of travel, we finally arrived to our hotel and I was immediately under the spell of this amazing little town. To get to our hotel, we had to rough it and climb down this narrow pathway in a hill and then across a board walk which was made up of mainly black ice:image

The village was also completely covered in snow, but for the first time I wasn’t even mad. It just added to the complete beauty and wonder of this hidden medieval village:

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Surrounded entirely by a split river, is the village’s amazing castle.

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The town also had a ‘main square’ very similar to Prague’s but about 10x as smaller and as magical: image

One of the coolest (and most historical) parts of the castle is that it’s home to one of the last fully preserved Baroque Theatres in the world, and they even still have shows about 5 times a year!

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(View from the top of the castle). Looking like right out of a picture of a storybook, I honestly couldn’t even believe this was a real place. Because of it’s quaint simplicity and just utter beauty, I’m decided that once I’m rich I will buy a vacation home here before perhaps retiring here forever. Just have to learn some Czech first. 

Lars Von Trier and a Bit of Hygge

Last week I had the once in a life time opportunity to attend a pre-screening of Lars Von Trier’s new film Nymphomaniac at his production studio Zentropa. Because I attended the screening, I also got to help with the post-production process! This involved answering a long questionnaire after the movie which made sure we understood the story and that there weren’t any story gaps. Another extremely cool part of it was the space to actually give suggestions for the film..,so who knows, Lars might be using some of my ideas RIGHT NOW. I mean, I was even in the same room as him (he was lurking in the background of the screening room, it was awesome). 

Although I had to sign a confidentiality waver, I just have to say that, even though the film editing/effects were far from complete, the movie was an amazing piece of narrative. Sure it had Trier’s quintessential explicit-almost-porn scenes, but it wouldn’t have been the same film without it. But the main character’s life and emotions were captured so incredibly well on scene, that I’ve never related to such an un-relatable as much as I did then. If you can handle it, I will definitely recommend everyone to see this film when in releases this fall. With it’s perfect balance of humous and emotional content, It’s truly Trier’s best film yet. And hey, you will also see Shia LaBeouf naked so…

Anyways, after the film I was given a tour of the studio itself. I got to see where they actually edit the film itself and then Lars Von Trier’s office. 

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This was pretty much one of the most amazing experiences of my life and I wish more than anything to blog my heart out about it more, but alas, this will have to suffice until the film’s release. The experience as a whole however just reemphasized my love of film. It’s experiences like these which truly help me discover what I want to do after I graduate, and now who knows, it might be something film industry related. 

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I have also recently discovered the true meaning of ‘Hygge’. Although it literally translates to ‘Cozy’, it is actually so much more. Hygge is the feeling of absolute relaxation and happiness. Where stress doesn’t exist, and you are surrounded by lovely people and hyggliet candles. I finally discovered this feeling last Saturday while hanging out with my buddy network (a group of Americans and Danes set up by DIS). We originally planned to play some games and/or watch a movie at my buddy network coordinator, Stine’s, house, but instead ended up becoming lost in each other’s presence and conversations for 6 hours straight. To experience no sense of time worry about social networks or cell phones and to just enjoy the presence of great friends, etc was just what I needed and I couldn’t have been more relived. 

Travel Break: Dublin & London

Sandwiching my amazing trip to Barcelona were two amazing weekends in two amazing cities: Dublin and London. The first weekend was a mini Knox reunion in DUBLIN. 

After I arrived (two hours late thanks to a concert at the O2) to my hostel in Dublin, I quickly met up with Nicole and Caitlin for the most amazing of Knox reunions. We were at this really cool multi-level micro-brewery called Porterhouse which had live music and the most amazing strawberry beer of our lives. In fact, the only strawberry beer of our lives. Nonetheless, it was really refreshing and exciting to be able see familiar friends. 

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The next day I made use of my sources and snuck onto Nicole’s Dublin walking tour coordinated by her school. We learned some cool things like how the Jedi Library in Star Wars was inspired by the library at Trinity College:

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After the tour, we decided to go on a tour of the Guinness Factory. This basically meant that we quickly walked through the tour so we could get our pints of free beer. However, we saw some cool things along the way. 

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^Thought this tied into Knox quite well: FREEDOM TO FLOURISH (on Guinness). 

When we reached the top of the storehouse, where you have an amazing panoramic view of the entire city, the rest of the girls in our group decided they DIDN’T WANT their pints and would rather leave to go to the zoo. This was a problem because now we were responsible for not two, but FIVE pints of Guinness. After analyzing the situation, we decided to give one of them away to a nice gentleman sitting near us (his face was priceless) and then have two for ourselves. (NOTE: It was about 3pm in the afternoon at this time). So, about two hours later we stumbled out of the building and wondered around a bohemian market, accidentally drunk, for a few hours. After the market we attempted to run around and find a couple small bookstores and then historical sites related to James Joyce, but unfortunately didn’t find them in time.  

The next day we decided to switch things up and went to visit Nicole’s long lost Serbian/Irish family friends who live just outside of Dublin. Serbians have this HUGE tradition of inviting guests over for a BBQ and have it be a 5+ hour event, thus we were picked up to go to their house for lunch at promptly 10:15. We then picked up a few things at the grocery store before sitting and talking for 4 hours before the BBQ was finally prepared. AND WOW IT WAS THE MOST AMAZING THING. There was a delicious chicken soup, homemade bread, about 5 different kinds of meat, and a delicious tomato and cucumber salad…..let’s just say I had no need to eat dinner that night either. After dinner, we were served this AMAZING homemade cake which can only be described by photo: 

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After a long chain of goodbyes, I was then rushed to the airport to catch my flight to BARCELONA. (photos).

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Four days later, I arrived in LONDON. To be honest it was my least favorite destination of my trip, but one definite highlight (besides from all the iconic tourist destinations) was seeing THE HARRY POTTER STUDIO. It was seriously amazing. I saw most of the sets used in the real films, which were actually much smaller than imagined, but definitely still brought all the magic ever so close to home. I felt like I was fulfilling some sort of life pilgrimage as the tour ended and brought my list of Harry Potter things to look forward to, to an almost close. (The last thing being HP World in Florida of course). Here were a few highlights: 

BARCELONA

"Climb a Mountain and Turn Around": Travel Break to Barcelona

Edit: Sorry for the extremely delayed post(s). When I returned from my travel break last week I was bombarded with internship applications and multiple tests and essays. Anyways, here is a summery of my adventures in the wonderful Barcelona. 

An hour late, I walked through the doors of the hostel exhausted and relived. 

“ASHLEY?!” the man at the front desk, Adri, “We’ve been waiting for you arrive, let me take you to your room and you can meet everyone,” he explained in a rushed Spanish accent. A few minutes later, I was lead into the kitchen where a group of fellow hostel guests were gathered around plates of food and Sangria. Sweet exotic melodies came flowing out of one of their guitars, while another girl belted out vocals to a traditional Spanish song. After indulging in my free traditional meal made by the hostel, I closed my eyes, slowing drifting into complete relaxation.

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It was raining as I stood waiting for the sole cable car to make its ascent up the mountain. Bright yellow, it acted as a false sun in an otherwise gloomy and wet day. Despite the weather, I was excited. After staring at photos of the holy Montserrat Mountains, I generated an aching desire to visit before I departed on my next adventure and the rain would not stop me. Growing closer to the platform, fellow tourists in the car burst into a chorus of clicks and flashes, capturing the awe that quickly consumed us all. I joined in, capturing as much as the journey to sufficiently allow my family to experience it as well. After a few minutes, we arrived at the top, and stepped out into a square filled with tourist filled cafeterias and gift shops. There were signs directing arrivals to the Montserrat Museum and even a movie theatre. Disappointed to find a European version of Lake Placid, I gazed up.

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I soon learned the two performer’s names were 29 year old Alejandra and Pako, two best friends, and professional musicians from Mexico, taking a break from their careers to travel all over Europe. Almost a decade older than I, the two welcomed me with open arms into the temporary family that had been formed. Also around the table was Romana from Switzerland, Gustavo from Portugal, and one of the Hostel Staff, Santiago, from Argentina. We all quickly bonded over our love for music, writing, and horror movies; each taking turns singing songs and telling stories from our pasts. For the night, nothing else existed outside our tight circle. Although I was the only one who didn’t know Spanish, we communicated through broken snippets of English, learning a few phrases and words by pure context and assumption. As the night soon developed, we left the warmth of the kitchen and, lead by Santiago, embarked into the unexpectedly cold Barcelona night.

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I gasped at the beauty I saw above. Hidden by grand mountain peaks was this beautiful chapel which created its own light in contrast to the dense mountain behind it. I quickly snapped a few pictures, then turned around and traveled to the nearest bridge to take some more. I wasn’t at the highest point; I was still standing in the middle of the tourist hub. However, the look down from my height gave a rush of excitement that immediately had to be captured. A few fellow tourists began to gather around, snapping a million pictures a minute. Not knowing when I’d get another chance, I asked one of them to take my picture against the vast landscape. Smiling and posing my umbrella, I waited for the flash to go off. But instead, the lens rolled up back into its shell. It was out of battery.

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Finally taking shelter from the rain, we soon arrived at a quiet bar close to our hostel. The hole-in-the wall bar was filled with cat photos, vintage advertisements for obscure beer, and old LIFE magazine covers.

“Have you ever heard of the sad sad story of the ghost of Marina?” asked Romana mysteriously. We all shook our heads as she continued. “You see, Marina was princess. Not of the castle or tower type, but she was quite well off and poised for her age. She was in love with the man who actually designed the metro; spending each day with him she knew they were meant to be. However, forced to marry a richer man, one that her parents approved of, Marina became very sad and would live for the nights where she could see her lover’s face on television and in the news. Soon, the metro was completed and her lover named the most beautiful Metro stop after her. However, Marina was still extremely sad, given the fact her lover had moved on as well and was married off someone else. When she’d had enough, she jumped in front of the Metro sharing her name, and thus haunts it ever since.” We all stood dumbfounded by this story, but it wasn’t before long that Romana burst into laughter, revealing the entire story was made up. We agreed she was an amazing story teller, and quickly began to tell more ghost stories and experiences learned throughout our youth.

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I was initially quite upset that my camera’s battery died soon after arrival. There was no longer a way to prove the amazing sights I will see. However I soon realized that I could never truly capture the pure immense views of what I was seeing. The lens will always scale the landscapes, making it impossible to allow the audience to see that this grand old mountain that simultaneously makes me feel insignificant but yet integrated into a part of the mountain itself. When you go to a location to take pictures, attempting to capture your experience so others can back home, you lose part of your own experience while hidden behind the camera’s lens. You miss things like how the leaves on the plants lovingly cradle the heavy raindrops; how the folds of the earth shimmer as the sun suddenly bursts through the clouds. With no more barriers, I made my way to the very top of the mountain. The view was breathtaking. I honestly never thought such a beautiful and moving moment could really exist; or that this is something that I could actually experience. How could something so grand and ominous be so pure and cleansing? I eventually found my way to an old cave on one side of the mountain peak and leaned against the weathered wooden railing.  Sheltering me from the rain, I stood there and stared out into the distance; watching the heavy raindrops fall off of the ceiling and clearly fall into the unknown beneath. This is what it feels like to travel and to be truly free. I know longer knew if the wetness of my face was from the humid condensation, or from tears of relief. After an hour of embracing the landscape, the sun began to beam onto the horizon.

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Gathered in the hostel basement, it was our last night together. Alejandra and Pako provided the music and vocals, while Romana attempted to teach Santiago and I how to Salsa. Blurred from too much Sangria and two left feet, we all eventually crumbled into a laughing mess onto the couch. What was an exciting three days was now fleeting. While I tried to continue listening to the music, I couldn’t help but think that come the next morning, we will all be departing separate ways, millions of miles apart. Fighting the alcohol, my consciousness began to fade as Alejandra began singing one more song: “But time makes you bolder/Even children older/and I’m getting older too.Suddenly, one of my favorite songs as child had a completely new meaning.

The Nationalmuseet and The NeverEnding Ballet

Wednesday was a field study for my Danish Language and Culture class! We got to visit The Nationalmuseet (The National Museum), watch the film A Royal Affair, and attend The Danish Ballet! 

The day came to an interesting start when I proceeded to get myself extremely lost on my way to The Nationalmuseet. After asking two different people for directions, I followed the Map App on my new iPad and found myself in front of a huge ‘national’ ominous building. Exhausted and stressed that I was already 15 mins late, I desperately attempted to open what looked like the main doors, but was abruptly stopped by a guard who was wondering why I was there. This is because I WAS AT THE PARLIAMENT BUILDING.

 

                                    (This is not The Nationalmuseet)

Thankfully the guard told me I was only a mere 50 feet from the museum, and I quickly found my class. My teacher was thankfully perfectly ok with me being late, and promptly allowed the rest of the class and I to wonder around the museum after a quick introduction. The museum was pretty small for the most part, however they had this adorable recreation of a Danish town—made of DOLLHOUSES. It was super kitsch. I mean, they even have a STARRY SKY:

After wondering around the museum, we returned to DIS to watch the film A Royal Affair. The film depicted the affair between Queen Caroline and Doctor Johann Struensee that occurred during (the crazy) King Christian VII’s regime. I haven’t seen the film that won Best Foreign Film at the Academy Awards, but I honestly wish it was this, I loved it so much! You can watch the trailer HERE, but you should all watch the entire movie because it gives a great background and depiction of an important part of Danish history because it was this royal family that set the foundations for the Danish Welfare state. 

Also during the movie, we were treated to these AMAZING cinnamon rolls. I was so excited that I ate some of it before taking a picture. 

(Also, I have no idea what the dark spots are on the left side. I took the picture 4 times and it was always there, so it’s probably a demon.)

We then were set free for a couple hours until we met up again at The Royal Danish Theatre to see a Ballet! The show was a collection of three different ballets, all completely different styles. 

The first was a contemporary piece called “Chroma” that was set to orchestral versions of "The Hardest Button to Button" and “Blue Orchid” by The White Stripes….it was AMAZING. I think it was probably my favorite one of the three. After the first show, it was our intermission where the lovely DIS served us FREE WHITE WINE. My friend Maggie and I were pretty psyched about it:

(Yeah, I don’t know what I’m doing with my hand either. This has become a major question in most recent photos of me.)

The rest of the theatre was pretty darn fancy also: 

The second art was a bit too experimental for me because it was set to complete silence, allowing only their bodies to make the ‘music.’ It would’ve been ok for about 5 mins max, but it was an hour long piece. I can only take squeaking bodies for so long, you feel?!

The last piece was an extremely traditional piece about dancing swans, but not Swan Lake. However, throughout the entire piece I couldn’t get my mind past how all the ballerinas looked like The Childlike Empress from The Never Ending Story. SERIOUSLY. They looked JUST LIKE THIS:

Do you all remember how incredibly meta this movie was for a child to watch?! It’s seriously about a boy reading about a world, Fantasia, being consumed by ‘The Nothing’, which is a void of darkness that consumes everything. While the boy (BASTIAN) is reading, he notices the characters inside the story are aware of his reactions (i.e. a scream, etc). At one point in the movie, the main character in the book (ATREYU) looks into a mirror to see his true self, and sees BASTIAN. #WHOA #SOMETA #PLOTTWIST. A majority of the movie consists of Atreyu flying on the dragon-dog creature, Falkor, trying to save Fantasia from the darkness, etc. The Ballet didn’t have anything that resembled the dragon-dog though. Atreyu finds himself in the void at the end with the Empress, where Bastian is directed by the Empress herself to give her a new name and save the world. You can watch the extremely exciting scene, HERE

So, I was basically trying to relate the plot of the movie to the dancing I saw on stage for the entire performance. Because it too was NeverEnding.