What a girl wants

In true Amanda Bynes style, I was off to the land of Harry Potter, Jane Austen, the Beatles, Shakespeare, James Bond, red telephone booths and funny accents….

Yes I was like a giddy schoolgirl as my Communications class headed off to London for the week. With my obsession with castles and royalty….I soon felt at home and was prepared to stalk William, Kate, and the rest of the royal family. Maybe more specifically Henry…in hopes to finally receive my official invite to join the Cambridge clan.

Our class started off with some bonding over a biking tour of the city. You can’t imagine how “excited” I was (refer back to Biking in Bornholm post…or any other entry explaining my love hate relationship with bicycles). However luckily London was FLAT, and the biking tour turned out to be quite enjoyable! It was actually one of my favorite parts of the trip. We roamed through where all of the Queens and Kings of the past and present have lived, taking the same trails as Queen Elizabeth and King Henry. We saw Buckingham and Kensington palace galore. Although in true style of my luck with bike rides, it began to rain towards the end of the tour. Either way we all still had a great time.

The next day we visited the well renowned Saatchi Gallery, which aims to provide publicity and space for contemporary unknown young artist to present their work. Afterwards we stuffed our faces at Jamie Oliver’s Italian Restaurant, a famous British chef featured on food network. I probably gain about 10 pounds each time I travel with DIS thanks to them spoiling us with food. Not complaining though.

On our way to our tour at BBC, I was lucky enough to be interviewed with some of my classmates about our first kisses for a BBC podcast. The star treatment continued as we were soon given an exclusive look into the BBC newsroom, famous studios, and celebrity dressing rooms. One of my favorite things about the tour was finding out how diva like some stars can be. For instance, Mariah Carey requested puppies to play with before her interview and Jennifer Lopez refused to sit on anything that wasn’t white. Guess she’s not Jenny from the block anymore? We ended the entertaining tour with a friendly game of trivia amongst our class. After a close tie with Amelia, I was crowned the winner. As a prize I won an antique and very valuable BBC pen.

Later that night my friend Kate took us to an adorable London residential area where she grew up. She also brought us to this great family Italian restaurant, which use to be one of Princess Diana’s favorites! While in London I got to see my friends Zacc and Emma, which was awesome! Emma took me out to this exclusive club, and to our luck the recent Olympic crew gold medalist team joined us. They had just come from a party hosted by the Queen, so they were decked out in their Olympic gear. I finally got my chance to wear the Olympic gold!

I loved visiting 3 Fish in a tree while in London, which is a small yet very successful communication and creativity, design, and branding company. I enjoyed the family feel of the company, and they produced some amazing simple yet powerful designs for clients around the London area. They work great as a team, and everyone is expected to voice their opinion on every project. One thing that really stuck with me was when I asked about what they look for in an applicant. They emphasized that although your resume really matters, your personality might sometimes be the thing to get you the job.

One day our class took a day trip to Stonehenge and the Roman Baths. Both were  interesting and beautiful sites to see. It’s still a mystery why the stones stand in Stonehenge today. Some in our class would say aliens perhaps? I was particularly amazed by the well-reserved Roman Baths, which date back to the 19th century. Its naturally heated water makes it one of the seven natural wonders to see in the world.  Afterwards we had some time to explore the town of Bath, which was an absolutely beautiful small and quaint English city.

Visiting the Lords Cricket Ground later in the week gave me a glimpse back to my time spent studying abroad in Barbados. In both places cricket is extremely popular, however the cricket lifestyle in England is completely different. It’s an all day high-class event that can last up to 5 days. During the day people only take breaks for breakfast, tea, lunch, and even dinner.

Amongst studying the European trends in communications through business visits and class lectures, we were given the chance to also be a true tourist. Some of my favorites included Saint Paul’s church, where Princess Diana was married, as well as Shakespeare’s round opera house and Big Ben.

Abbey Road definitely wins for best touristy picture. Let me tell you a little about Abbey Road. It’s an actual road. So while tourist line up to get their perfect picture, there is ongoing traffic. You can imagine the chaos. I bet everyone in that neighborhood hates obnoxious Facebook picture alcoholics like us.

Favorite nighttime activity: seeing Mamma Mia on London Broadway! We treated ourselves to some show tickets. It was totally worth it!

Favorite meal: Chipotle. Finally got my Mexican fix. We traveled all over to London to find it, and no I’m not ashamed.

Between group tea dates, a London eye ride, and other shenanigans, our communications class really became a big family. DIS did a great job providing opportunities to see aspects of the London communication field that we wouldn’t have seen otherwise. Along with that, we had some great opportunities to site see, eat food we can’t afford, and get to know each other better. Towards the end of the trip we were totally delusional from exhaustion, which made for an entertaining last day in the big city.

Similar to the rest of my travels, even though I love them all it just reminds me of how much I REALLY love Copenhagen. London was so big and exciting, but a little overwhelming at times. I missed Copenhagen’s more livable small city feel. I also missed seeing the sun (the weather while in London was a tad rubbish), and I felt like I spent all my time on the tube. In London it’s ALL about the tube. Those Britts just have to keep calm and carry on…but I’ll stay in Copenhagen please!

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Snapshot Saturday

Living in Copenhagen means taking casual day naps in sunny castle gardens.

København…the big city

Today was my first day actually going into Copenhagen! (The Danish way to say it is “København”.) Although figuring out transportation with all my new Folkehøjskole friends was pretty hilarious…the morning didn’t start off too great. With a mix of being jet lagged and having a cold I was already feeling not too great. Feeling sick when your trying to explore somewhere new and foreign is probably one of the most stressful things ever. I randomly got sick in a Danish bakery bathroom. This would be my luck. (Leaving my mark in Denmark already..?) Kind of sucked but at the same time I felt so much better afterwards, which was in perfect timing for the beginning of our city traveling. I was really proud of myself for powering through, and all my friends in my travel group were perfect for the extra comfort!

DIS sent us in groups on an “amazing race” around Copenhagen. Our group definitely added our own spin with some extra leisure time and ADD adventures, but it was a really great way to see a glimpse of the city. I hope I can fit everything in before I leave! It’s also so hot here; yesterday broke a record for the hottest day in Denmark. It was a whopping 80 degrees, a little different from the south, eh?

We’ve been taking advantage of the unusual warm weather with canal tours, picnics, and we have plans to swim in the canal and kayak sometime this week. The heat almost got too much…we had to cool off in every fountain we passed during our long walks today. It took a lot not to jump in.

Denmark is the perfect place to continuously feed my castle obsession. It’s the oldest monarch ever, and has the most castles in Europe. We saw where the current Danish Royal Family lives today. So breathtaking. Denmark is known for their architecture. The city is mixed with buildings dating back to the 1600s built by King Christian the IV and then modern buildings known for their environmental sustainability. Since it’s my first time in Europe, I’ve never been around such history that dates back that far. I absolutely love it.

The more I learn about Denmark, the more interesting the country becomes to me. They are extremely liberal…just found out today that they were the first place to legalize pornography and same-sex marriage. Also crossing the street is extremely dangerous…they don’t warn you by a “count down” that we find in America before the sign says don’t walk. Hopefully I can get the hang of that? Don’t step in the bike lane or you will LITERALLY get run over. And I was kind of surprised but there is hardly any English, if any, on signs or menus. Ordering food is definitely interesting.

After a long day defeating my sickness and exploring Copenhagen, some of us decided to continue to enjoy the nice weather in the city by ordering some drinks and appetizers at a cute outside cafe.

It’s a little quiet back at the Folkehøjskole since the Danes haven’t moved in yet, but we have been having so much fun getting to know our small group of Americans better! I still have no voice from my cold…so my roommate Aleah has been calling me “Vivian” until my “sexy” raspy voice disappears.

Hej Denmark!

I had a weird reflection while people watching in the airport today. Airports are such an interesting place…filled with so many different emotions. I saw so many tears as people parted from their loved ones. Extreme happiness when people reunited. Airports are what brings you home to see old friends and family, and for me the airport today was my gateway towards an exciting new adventure that I can’t even begin to understand or explain. I only got a taste of it today, but I already know that Denmark will offer me something that will forever change my life.. and give me experiences that I’ll never forget.

Landing in London for my connecting flight was pretty surreal. It was my first time ever being in Europe. Luckily I met one of my new DIS (Danish Institute of Study) friends Deep while waiting for my Copenhagen flight. Even though it was about seven in the morning we decided to start off our European experience right and share some “breakfast beers”. I’ll always remember my first drink in Europe at the London Airport! (Carling logger…very delicious)

Once I arrived to Copenhagen…a Ms. Alana Romans attacked me. It was so nice to see a familiar face…but honestly I wasn’t as nervous or anxious as I thought I would be. Just really excited!

We finally made it to Hillerød, the small town suburb we are staying in right outside of Copenhagen. I’m excited to get the chance to experience both a big city and small town feel.

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We made it to where we are staying and I met my roommate Aleah who is great. Alana, Aleah, and I really hit it off! All three of us will be staying with around 10 other DIS students at “Grundtvigs Folkehøjskole”. It’s absolutely breathtaking. It’s basically designed like a greenhouse…so there is so much natural light. Perfect for those future cold days where we can still enjoy the sun without sitting outside.

A Folkehøjskole is basically a place where Danes can live and take all different classes without receiving any grades. This alows them to try different things and figure out what their interests are and what they want to major in. So basically, where I’m living has facilities for classes such as art, music, film, dance, photography, philosophy, and more. 60 Danes will be moving in with us in one week. We have our own personal chef, as well as a student bar and “discotech”. We will be able to eat meals and have celebrations with the Danes during our time here in Denmark. Many themed parties, get togethers, and cocktails/formals take place as well!

We took advantage of the beautiful weather and had dinner in the garden with Kim, a philosophy teacher at the Folkehøjskole. He warned us that Danes like to party hard, which is ok with us!

My favorite part of the night, and probably one of the most memorable things I’ll see here, is when we walked to Frederiksborg Slot Castle. I’ve always had a weird obsession with castles and royal history (probably because I obviously secretly want to be a princess). But this castle was probably one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen. It’s the largest Renaissance castle in Scandinavia. And the best part about it is that it’s basically our next-door neighbor. Just a short walk and we can enjoy the castle and it’s extravagant gardens whenever we want. We are planning to do a wine and cheese picnic there sometime this week!

Can’t wait to see what else Denmark has in store for me!

Study Abroad Inspiring Quote

Found a really great quote while reading “The Happiness Project” the other day. It really connected and eased a lot of my anxiousness towards spending a whole semester on the other side of the world. And hey, what better way to start off a travel blog than with some inspiration?

“We seek to control our lives, but the unfamiliar and unexpected are important sources of happiness.”  

Can’t wait to discover what unexpected adventurous Denmark has in store for me in exactly three weeks. I’m excited and nervous all at the same time. But I bought some snow boots today…so this southern girl is getting prepared!