Thursday, August 30, 2012

Enchanted Tivoli

It's no secret that I love fairytales. For those of you that don't know, I'm a little kid at heart. When you're an only child, you kind of have to get creative when you want to find something fun to do...playing Barbie is only interesting for so long, the dog can't talk back to you, and the adults aren't really interested in playing dress up. I used to spend hours out in my grandparents' garden creating magical worlds and adventures that would take my imagination for a ride. I'd only come back to reality (briefly) when it was time for dinner or time to go to sleep. My grandma used to ask me to tell her stories, and on the spot I would illustrate tales inspired by movies like The Troll in Central Park, Thumbelina, Sleeping Beauty, and The Princess and the well as many others. Even though I've "grown up" I still cherish these memories. To this day I find myself on Netflix and the first section I go to is "Animated" or "Kids and Family"...and be careful if you tell people that you still believe in fairies because you could end up being the joke at a college party.

Honestly though, I could careless. I embrace this childlike aspect of my personality because it makes the world a much more beautiful place. Every dew dropped flower, every fluttering butterfly, every shimmer of sunlight is a reminder of the wondrous magic of life.

Visiting the Tivoli gardens just makes me wish I could be a kid again and get lost in wonderland.

Here's the man himself, gazing over at Tivoli

Also, here's a link to Hans Christian Anderson's Fairytales if you want to read some of the original translations. I would suggest reading The Tinderbox, The Princess and the Pea, The Ugly Duckling, and The Nightingale just for starters. Then obviously there's The Little Mermaid and Thumbelina :)

Hej hej,

Monday, August 27, 2012

Gone Fishin' in the Oresund

Today I went on my first Day Trip with DIS!! Everyone in Denmark eats tons of fish. It is everywhere. From breakfast sandwiches with shrimp and scrambled eggs, lunch Smørrebrød with pickled herring, to dinner salmon fillets with green beans, the Danes love their Omega-3's. Not only do I love to eat fish, but I love to catch them too. My Grandpa and I have been talking this past summer about how great the fishing is up here in Scandinavia, and that if I get the time, I need to go on a fishing trip. Well DIS ended up saving me some research and planned a fishing trip to Helsingør Harbor for a day.

Helsingør is a city further northwest of Copenhagen along the coast that is most famous for being home to Kronborg Castle (aka Hamlet's crib). I didn't get the time to actually visit the castle today, but I will definitely be going back!

Our boat for the day had all of the equipment we needed and everyone got their own bucket to throw their fish in. Being one of the most experienced fishermen on the boat out of the DIS students, I couldn't make a fool of myself and not catch anything. Luckily, there was no need to worry because EVERYONE caught tons of fish. Our fish buckets were full of herring and even a few cod (which are really squishy).

I even caught four herring at have to reel in quickly though or else the seagulls will attack. They are vicious.

Yes it was rainy, windy, and a bit chilly, but something about being out on a boat with my line in the water gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling...maybe I'm feeling the hygge!! Unfortunately my host family doesn't know how to clean herring so I decided to give my bucket to another DIS student in the Culinary House. I'm sure they had a feast tonight.

Sorry Grandpa, I went fishing without you, but you should still come visit me and we'll show these Nordics how it's really done!

Hej hej,

Saturday, August 25, 2012

I'm in love...

With Denmark. I honestly couldn't have picked a more perfect place to study. Maybe it's just study abroad jitters, the sugar high from all these danishes, or the pretty darn good weather we've had all week, but I am infatuated. As part of orientation, we went on something called The Amazing Race which wasn't really a race, more of a "Hey let's go casually stroll through downtown Copenhagen and see all these amazing historical sites and beautiful buildings." Every group was assigned to see The Queen's Palace and the Parliament building, but our group also visited the State Department in Christianshavn, Rosenborg Slot (castle), and the Trinity Church that's connected to the Round Tower.

Fun Facts and pictures about each place:

1. The Queen's Palace, or the Royal Palace, wasn't actually built with the purpose of being a castle. It was originally four really rich people's homes and they are all connected. There's a church across the street from the palace and the way everything is lined up was supposed to represent God, King, and eternity because the palace is right on the canal. Now the opera house faces the palace from the other side of the I guess it's God, Queen, music.

2. The Parliament building was supposed to be the palace actually, but the royal family didn't want to move back into the center of the city. It burned down twice because of people lighting fires in the wooden chimneys...not smart

3. The State Department might not sound interesting, and it's not particularly that pretty of a building... but this was one of my favorite stops. The state department in every country deals with international affairs. From the economy of Russia or human rights violations in Syria, this is the governmental area that is involved with these issues, so it was really cool to actually see where Denmark's heads of state fight for the rights of people all over the world! Here's a cool picture of a boat in front of it:

4. The Trinity Church is beautiful. The gold chandeliers are so ornate...I want one in every room of my house. What's cool about this place is that it was built as a students' church. There were classes taught on the floor above, and attached to the church is the Round Tower that was built for astronomy. So the "trinity" here isn't the father, the son, and the holy's actually Religion, Science, and Education :)

5. If you're strolling around Copenhagen and happen to run into a castle it's pretty normal. The Rosenborg Slot is located in the center of present day Copenhagen, but back when Christian IV built it, that area of Copenhagen was considered the country, so he used it as his "summer home" and I thought CPH was small now! Chrisitian IV isn't just known for building almost every recognizable landmark in Copenhagen, but he was also an avid drinker. There is a lion statue right outside the palace that has an open mouth, and apparently C4 (the abbrevation he's getting for the rest of the semester) used to leave his keys in the mouth so he wouldn't lose them on one of many inebriated jaunts to the bars. Gotta get that tourist pic for sure.

I also had my first day of classes on Thursday. Here's a look at my schedule for the semester:

Humanitarian Law and Armed Conflict- This is the course for my Justice and Human Rights program. We will be going on a short study tour Sept. 3-5 to Aarhus in Western Denmark, and then from Sept. 30- Oct. 9 we will be going to Kosovo. I have two professors for this class and they both work in the Ministry of Defense here in CPH. I can't wait to go bowling with them :)

Danish Language and Culture- Danish is probably one of the most difficult languages to try and learn...but I'm going for it. My professor knows seven languages so I think she knows what she's doing. I'm looking forward to our field study to the WWII Resistance Museum and listening to some Aqua

Holocaust and Genocide- I am so excited for this class. A year and a half ago I went to Poland with the SMU Human Rights program and got to see almost all of the concentration camp sites around the country. Genocide studies has become my area of focus regarding human rights issues, and I'm looking forward to seeing the Neuengamme concentration camp in Hamburg in just one soon. On a random note, my professor has heard of Dr. Rick Halperin, my human rights professor at SMU...not surprised at all, the man is amazing.

Hans Christian Anderson and The Danish Golden Age- Basically self explanatory, but I get to read 30 of Anderson's fairy tales and write papers about them and his life...for real. I'm definitely reliving my childhood, and I can't wait to go to Tivoli this Tuesday and see The Tinderbox ballet! Tivoli is the oldest amusement park in the world and it's where HCA and even Disney got inspiration for their fairy tales.

I'm also taking Literary London, but that class doesn't start until September 11th. I'm so excited to start the semester and learn (nerdy yes).

In other news...I got chosen to be an official student blogger for DIS!!! My blog will be placed on the DIS student bloggers website for future students to see in the coming years.

...I can't think of a good way to end this incredibly long post, so here's a funny link from a past student blogger about the Danish look and fashion:

How to Look Like A Dane

Hej hej,

Monday, August 20, 2012

Velkommen til København!!

I have arrived!!

I have officially been in Copenhagen for a little over 24 hours, so technically I have survived my first day! Before I spill the details of my life here thus far, let's backtrack to Saturday.

The day I left for Copenhagen, my Aunt Mary Jo gave birth to little Vincent! I was lucky to see pictures before my flight, and it reminded me of how precious and incredible life is. Both he and I are beginning two amazing journeys (suuuuper cheesy)

I didn't sleep at all on the plane from Dallas to Frankfurt. Instead I filled my time with reruns of How I Met Your Mother and Modern Family, while splashing a few movies in there too (mostly cartoons). The flight was easy and I was lucky enough to have a good seat buddy! We were both going to Copenhagen, but she is actually spending three months at the Ikea "mothership" in Sweden because she is an Ikea cool. Hopefully we will meet up sometime soon! During the layover to Copenhagen I met a few DIS students. It was a nice reassurance knowing that I'm not the only one with so much luggage.

Here's a typical Instagram pic of my travel accessories and a very German Lufthansa snack

Flying into Copenhagen was really fun because we went around in circles. I couldn't figure out if the ground I was seeing below was Denmark or Sweden, but finally when we started going straight again I saw the city. I instantly knew it was Copenhagen because of the canals and the terra-cotta orange roofs. There were so many sailboats in the harbor too because it was completely sunny outside!! Seriously, it was like 80 degrees and beautiful. However, I was sweating like crazy because of my jeans and boots and no one in Denmark has air conditioning since there are so few days that it is needed. I shouldn't be complaining though because everyone in Dallas is dealing with 100+ degree weather for the next month.

The biggest news so far is that I met my host family! Winnie and Johnny picked me up at the hotel and we drove home to the suburb of Ballerup. I unpacked a little, but then we walked down the street to meet their daughter Anna and her husband and kids. Everyone in their family is either white blonde or redheaded, so I guess I fit in nicely :) For dinner we had a very traditional Danish meal called Frikadeller, which are fried pork meatballs.

This is an example of what it looks like...but Winnie's looked much better, and they are so delicious

And for dessert I had my first danish, or wienerbrød, called kæmpe flødeboller. It's basically a fluffy marshmallow covered in chocolate and coconut with a wafer cookie at the bottom...sooooo good. I think I'm going to like it here.

After passing out at 8pm, I woke up this morning at 6am and COMPLETELY unpacked. Then Winnie showed me my bike! I haven't been on a bike in years so it's going to take a little getting used to...right now I look like a fool. Another host mom and her student picked me up and we all biked to the train station together where we met tons of DIS students and found out we're all in the same orientation group! 

So far, I am completely in love with Copenhagen. I decided not to get too picture crazy the first day with all of the beautiful architecture in the city center because I am going to be here for four months. Nevertheless, I am awestruck. I feel like all day I was looking up and around at the sites more than I was watching where I was going, which in retrospect is probably a bad idea with all of these insane bikers. There around literally thousands of bikes. I did take some pictures of my new home though!

My home!!

The little park in front of our house (those are apple trees...yeah be jealous)

My room!

My very cluttered desk at the moment

Look at that perfectly organized closet! Let's see how long that lasts...

The dining room! So many windows

And of course the very important kitchen!

Well I'm going to go organize my books and calendar, but more updates to come soon!! Plus my host mom is making BBQ... I feel like I'm home already :)

Hej hej (Bye bye)


Saturday, August 18, 2012

Chaos in The Mankowski Household

The final day before I leave has definitely been a hectic one. I didn't mention this before, but my mom is leaving for Los Angeles for four months as well to take a temporary nursing job! I have a lot of family out there so they will hopefully help with her withdrawal symptoms while I'm gone :) Anyways, she will be driving to L.A. right after she sends me we are both the same time. Talk about some serious chaos. There are bottles of lotion and socks flying everywhere and my dog is just chillin amidst it all. I wish I could channel his serenity.

Last dinner and goodbyes at my grandparents' house. Sooooo many tears! Don't worry though, I will see you all soon. And my Grandpa even mentioned that he might make a surprise trip out to Copenhagen so we can go salmon fishing together. Sounds like a good plan to me!
Mmmm mmm, I love spaghetti!

I'm going to miss these Texas sunsets...but I'm sure the ones in Denmark almost compare.

So here's what I'm bring (luggage wise) on the plane:
  • 1 gigantic pink's so obnoxious, but it fits everything!
  • 1 large-ish suitcase for the rest of my clothes and toiletries
  • 1 smaller duffel bag as my overhead carry-on for the plane. Basically it will have everything I can't fit in my bags in order to make sure they stay under the 50lbs weight limit
  • 1 backpack for under the seat. I'm going to be using this backpack for travel trips and it's awesome. All of my in-flight goodies will be stored here, including my journal, laptop, some fruit leather (don't hate), and goldfish (obviously)
I have a purse that I'll be shoving in the duffel once I get on the plane too! 

This website has an awesome packing list for going off to college, but it works pretty much perfectly for studying abroad as well! You can add or delete items off the list to personalize it too. This was SUCH a help because I always forget to pack at least one important item (like my phone charger), and this list already has most of everything you need written down, so you don't have to remember on your own. Just print it out and start checking things off as you pack!

Well, it's after midnight here in Dallas and I'm 13 hours away from my flight to Frankfurt, with final destination set for København, Danmark!! Time to get some much needed rest.

I'm about to embark on the most amazing journey of my life thus far, and I can finally and confidently say that I am ready. Bring it on Europe.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

PACKING and canker sores :(

Woke up in the middle of the night because the power was out, I guess those t-storms got a little carried away. I went to the kitchen to get some water, and there was a terrible pain when I swallowed. My mom is a nurse, so after further inspection by her, turns out I probably have a canker the back of throat. Really? These things are the worst. They are soooo painful and annoying and it takes forever for them to heal. Perfect timing three days before I leave, yay! Anyways... I'm going to the doctor tomorrow for meds  :)

Times like these make me realize that I'm going to really be on my own in Copenhagen. I go the Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX which is where I'm from. When I graduated high school, my mom decided to move closer to my college so it would be easier to visit. After freshmen year I started living with her to save money, and it was only 5 minutes from campus so it was perfect! Technically then, my semester abroad will be my first experience really away from home. Just to be fair... when I lived on campus I did my own laundry and bought my own groceries, but being back at home makes it easy to be less independent. I'm so excited to be on my own because I feel like I'm strong enough to handle what comes my way, and I feel like this is an amazing opportunity for me to grow in my independence. That being said, I won't have my mom around remind me to take my vitamins so I don't get anymore canker sores...

On a lighter note (literally...) I started packing! Woo hoo, a pair of jeans!!
And I caved into Instagram... My first photo!! If I'm gonna have a blog, I gotta have it :)

I thought for a minute that this was going to be easy. I can consolidate and limit what I am bringing to Europe. Packing will be simple. I don't need that many sweaters or boots or dresses or scarves....or maybe I do. I can't possible wear the same sweater everyday, especially since people in Copenhagen are so stylish. I need to fit in with the locals!! The last thing I want to do is look like a silly American tourist.

So then this happened...

Here's the scene after I took away 5 pairs of shoes and a few sweaters. This is just my clothing. I still have all of my toiletries and a few books and electronics. I just hope it all fits!!

We'll find out tomorrow...


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

I'm going to miss these thunderstorms

Worst thing about Texas summers: 100 + degrees for four months
Best thing about Texas summers: THUNDERSTORMS

They don't happen very often, but when the hot and cold waves meet just perfectly in the air, the thunderstorms erupt over Dallas. I'm not talking about tornadoes, which are awesome but extremely dangerous and destructive, but the loud, bright, downpours of rain storms just electrify (figuratively) everything. Plus...the rain brings down the temp for a few days! I don't know why, but I've always loved them, however my dog Sampson feels differently...

He's either terrified of lightning or he can sense that I'm leaving in FOUR DAYS for Denmark! Either way I'm enjoying the snuggle time :)

Today was a big day full of shopping for the essentials and beauty "necessities"

1. Coat- Most people traveling to Europe will be going to warm, beachy, sunny places...and I will be traveling to these during breaks, but let's be real... Copenhagen isn't necessarily Barcelona. Scandinavia is known for brutal winters, however Denmark is located along the currents of the North Sea, so their winters are more temperate (think London or Boston). It will still be cold obviously, but not as snowy like Midwest winters in the U.S. where you can easily get 6 feet of snow in one storm. I have two coats, one warmer, black peacoat and today I bought a tan, rain resistant jacket that's functional and super cute.

2. Suitcase- The biggest hurdle I'm facing right now is in I haven't even started. BUT I did purchase an awesome, lightweight suitcase to try to fit as much as possible into. I'm trying not to overpack...but I'm starting to realize that, in fact, I am more of a stereotypical female packer than I thought. Hopefully when all is said and done, I will have one big suitcase, a smaller suitcase, and a backpack as luggage, with an empty duffel bag for when I return to pack all of my European trinkets in, and of course a purse and book bag for daily life in Copenhagen.

3. Jeans- Incredibly essential!!! I love comfortable jeans that I can wear with everything and would wear everyday if I could. I think it is important to have one pair of jeans that you can wear for many different outfits. I personally love dark wash jeans, and the ones I bought today are straight leg so I can tuck them in my boots! The dark wash easily transitions from day to night, and the cut is very slimming. I also have a pair of skinny jeans and "jeggings" that are easy to wear.

4. Make Up- As my grandma and I were walking through Sephora, browsing the racks of eyeshadows and bronzers, I realized how much of a girl I am. I have always thought of myself as more of a tomboy because I love sports, fishing, camping, and playing poker and it's very easy for me to be one of the guys. My favorite person to hang out with is my Grandpa...nuff said. I usually HATE shopping, but when I go with a purpose for what I want to buy (and when clothes fit) I don't really mind it. Shopping for make up is one of the exceptions that I love to do. I love all of the sparkles and colors, and trying things on makes me feel like I'm a kid again playing dress up. As much as I love hanging out with the guys, I would never want to be one. Being a girl is just too much fun. With that said, today I purchased the must-needed compact, a light and shimmery lipstick **I love lipsticks because my hair always gets stuck in the glosses, and sticks last longer**, a blush/bronzer duo, and a smokey eye eyeshadow set. I still need (aka want) more eyeshadows and lip sticks, so a trip to CVS is probably in the near future.

The time before departure is getting shorter and shorter...I just hope I don't forget anything important!

I will leave you with a super, creepy, stalker picture of what I think is my host family's house in Ballerup, Denmark! It's about 20-30 minutes outside of the city by car, but by train it'll be about an hour. I guess I'll get used to those early morning commutes!


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Summer Nights Are Coming To An End...

It's Friday of my first Fridays off this entire summer, and I'm stuck at home recovering from oral surgery. Stupid wisdom teeth...I just hope my chipmunk cheeks disappear before next Saturday when I'm on my way to Denmark!

As I lie here watching reruns of House Hunters International, I can't help but reflect on this past summer. Even though most of my weekends were packed with work, I still managed to spend time with my friends and travel with family.

The first vacation of the summer was the annual fishing trip to Canada with my Grandpa and our family friends. Here's the whole gang. I'm gonna miss these guys, and I can't wait for next June! (Grandpa is second from the top left)

Doing as the Romans do at Shakespeare in the Park...
Rocking out at the Coldplay concert with Aunt Katie, Uncle Andrew, and Rachael!
 So freaking awesome...
Visiting family, especially my baby cousins, in Los Angeles! Pretty little Vivienne.
 Always funny Uncle Ben with Baby Goldie!

And of course I can't forget my island paradise vacation to the British Virgin Islands with my momma!

There are so many more memories this summer that I didn't capture on camera, and many memories that I only shared in spirit, but regardless of whether I was there or not, all of you lovely people have made this summer one I will never forget.

As I prepare myself to begin a whole new chapter of my life on my own, I know I will always have your love to keep me grounded. Even though I'm going to be half a world away, I will keep you all close in my heart. Heck, what are Facebook and Skype for anyways??

I might be nervous and a little bit frightened for the adventure ahead...but because of your support, I know I have the strength to make it through anything.

Love you guys!!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Heard from my Host Mom!

Yesterday I received a call from a random number that I didn't recognize, and when I answered, this lovely women named Winny told me that she was my host mom, quelle surprise! Winny and her husband, Johnny, live about an hour outside of Copenhagen by train in one of the suburbs near Roskilde (I think...I don't know the name of the town they live in yet). She has two daughters, Anna, the oldest, has two kids that are 5 and 3 years old. Pia, the youngest, has three children that are 10, 8, and 5. Both of their daughters live within walking distance of their home! I'm so excited to be a part of this little family!

Winny said that she has hosted close to 35 different students over the years, so she's definitely a pro at this...which is good because I'm going to need all the help I can get navigating around Denmark. They have been to the US ten times, but never to Texas...yet. One of their previous host students is moving to Dallas to get married and they were invited to her wedding, which happens to be this November! So while I'm on one of my travel breaks, they will be galavanting around my hometown, hopefully eating all the Mexican food they can get. Maybe they can meet up with my mom and grandparents and get to know my family! It's like we're trading places...

I have a feeling that we are going to be a perfect match, Winny and I, especially since our favorite season is fall... this is already turning out to be a semester jam packed with hygge :)

I'm not sure if the names of everyone are correctly spelled since we only chatted over the phone. Hopefully soon I will receive an email with pictures of the whole family that I can share with everyone!

As for now, I have an 8am appointment with the dentist and my wisdom teeth so I must get some rest...not looking forward to this at all.



Monday, August 6, 2012

Can it really be only 12 Days away?

Well here it is very first blog post ever! I can't believe the summer is coming to an end, and my semester in Copenhagen is about to begin.

To give all you readers a little bit of background, I am a junior at Southern Methodist University and I will be studying in Copenhagen for four months with the Danish Institute for Study Abroad (or DIS). You might think that Denmark is a little random for a country to study abroad when compared to the usual places (England, France, and Spain), but this little pocket of Scandinavia couldn't be more perfect. I am majoring in Human Rights at SMU, with an emphasis in International Law. I really wanted to find an abroad program where I could continue my studies, as well as take some fun electives! DIS offers a Justice and Human Rights core class, along with several other human rights oriented courses... as well as a super awesome course on Hans Christian Anderson (aka the author of The Little Mermaid, Thumbelina, and The Ugly Duckling).

It was difficult deciding between the Copenhagen program and a program in South Africa, but one of the most important aspects of my study abroad experience is the ability to travel! Copenhagen is centrally located between Scandinavia and the rest of Europe, making it very accessible to explore all of these places :) I am a huge history nerd... so much so that just walking down cobblestone streets that are 500 years old gives me goosebumps. Europe has such a rich heritage, and every country is unique. I can't wait to embark on European journeys during my travel breaks! Also, hopefully I will have the three-day weekends to explore Copenhagen and Denmark as well. After all, I need to get to know my new home!

I made a goal this summer to learn everything I could about Danish/Scandinavian culture. I have spent almost all of my free time on internet blogs instead of Facebook, reading travel guides instead of watching Tv (except for the Olympics, duh), all with the hopes of preparing myself for the most amazing experience of my life. I think I overloaded on info... Excel spreadsheets of "Things To Do While Abroad" listed by country can only hold so much before my brain explodes. There are too many things I want to do, places I want to see... it's extremely overwhelming... but incredibly exciting at the same time :)

I have been waiting for this adventure ever since I started college... and I'm only 12. Days. Away.