It’s Not Goodbye

As I post this my finals are over, my room is almost all packed up, and most of my friends have left. I am in Aarhus for a few more days, and my parents are here too! I have the conflicting feeling of being excited to go home, and the sadness of leaving.

Aarhus truly has become my home over the past four months. I have made new lifelong friends, and had so many amazing experiences. I have grown and learned new things about myself in my time here.

The other night my friends and I went out to dinner, our last time all together. We sat and laughed and talked for hours, we reminisced on all the memories we have made in these four months. And I wanted to share some of my favorite moments.

Intro week was so much fun! I wrote a whole post about it, but it was the start of this whole journey. Although I was scared and unsure of everything that first week, I was able to slowly adjust to things through intro week. It was unlike anything I had ever experienced, especially anything I’ve done relating to University, but that is what made it so interesting. This was the week I learned about the city, the Danish culture, and where I met my friends for the first time. I think meeting so many people was the best part about the intro week. And those people I met are some of my closest friends now.


Some of my best friends the first week we met

Traveling. Obviously traveling was a big part of my experience abroad. I didn’t get to go everywhere that I wanted to, but that is okay. I have learned that traveling is exhausting, especially when you are only gone for a weekend. I am happy with the places I went, and am grateful that I had the opportunity to go to all of these places. I loved getting to experience new cultures and seeing new places. I learned how buses and trains are not normally on time, and that makes it very stressful when you have five minutes to switch trains. Being able to travel has always been something I wanted to do, and I have checked many places off my bucket list this semester. I am already planning a trip back to Europe to go to visit places I wasn’t able to go to this time. I now have the travel bug more than ever, there are so many places I want to go!


Amsterdam, one of the places I was able to visit

Most of my favorite memories from this semester are nights where we just hung out in Aarhus. From movie nights, to karaoke nights, to sitting around talking for hours, all of these things were what made Aarhus such a special place. I believe that the best days/nights come from not having anything planned. And these four months proved that. My friends and I would have tentative plans, but they would always change though out the day, and where ever we ended up or whatever we were doing, we had a great time. One of these nights involved a boat tour on the canal, another was dancing under a disco ball in an empty room, sometimes we just ended up in a cafe talking. More than a few times we sat in a restaurant until they closed just having fun. These are the best nights, and some of the memories I know I will keep forever.


A fun day exploring the beach

As I think back on everything that happened this semester I can’t help but feel sad that it is over. I will miss my friends, I will miss this city that I have now become familiar with. But I have to remind myself to not dwell on the fact that it is over, instead I need to continue to enjoy my last few days here. And when I leave I need to smile when I think of all the good times Aarhus has given me, not wish that I was back here or wish I had more time here. While that may be true at times, I don’t want to be constantly wanting what is in the past, because then I will miss what I am doing in the present.

So it is not goodbye to my friends, who I know I will see again someday. And it is not goodbye to Aarhus because I will always have the memories, and Aarhus is now a part of my life, so part of it will always be with me.




A Balancing Act

Each year as finals come around I find myself struggling to balance everything that needs to be done. This year is not much different, except that there are a few different things I am juggling.

Like everyone else I have been studying for finals the past few weeks. Long days in the library making study guides and going over notes gets old after a little bit. But studying needs to be done one way or another. This semester I have had a hard time finding the right study techniques, the exams I take here in Denmark are different from the exams I am used to taking. Here we take written exams based on a case study, the exams are timed, we are allowed to use our books, notes, and the internet. We type our answers and turn it in online, but for some reason we still need to be present while taking the exam. To me this process does not make much sense. If the proctor of the exam does nothing but sit there while we take the exam why do we need to be in a classroom. I would feel more comfortable just taking the exam in my room during the allotted time, no need to add stress of being in a classroom. But I guess that is just another difference of the education system that I need to get used to for this next week.

I took one final yesterday, and I have two more this week. I have had a hard time getting myself to sit and study for these exams. Partly because I know they are open book/note, so I feel like as long as I am at least familiar with the topics then I don’t need to study too much. The other struggle is that this is my last week in Aarhus, and I want to spend it having fun and out in the city, not sitting in the library all day studying.

There are many activities going on this week because most people are leaving within the week, so I have to balance my time between studying and fun. It is not easy to do, but I have somehow managed this far, and as long as I can make it though the week of activities and still feel good about my exams I will call it a success. Normally during finals my main struggle is finding the motivation to study, and it is harder to find motivation when there is so much to do.

Even with studying I have managed to put time aside for friends and fun. This week we went to a christmas party where made Danish Christmas treats, played a traditional Danish Christmas game and learned about some Danish traditions. I also went to another Christmas market, this one had a lot of delicious foods! We walked around the city center and looked at Christmas lights, and all of this made me so excited for Christmas!

By Friday I will be done with all of my exams and my time in Aarhus will be almost over. I can’t believe these four months have gone by so quickly. So this next week I have to find my balance between study and fun, but I may put more emphasis on the fun!


Christmas lights in Aarhus

Christmas in Denmark

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and it’s here! It is hard to believe that it is December and that Christmas is right around the corner. While I am missing some of my normal Christmas traditions back home, I am learning a lot about how Christmas is celebrated here in Denmark.

The first day of November Christmas is out in full force in Denmark. They don’t have a Thanksgiving at the end of November to worry about so they go straight into Christmas. I have to say I have enjoyed seeing Christmas decorations since early November. All of the stores on the main shopping street will put up Christmas decorations in their windows and all throughout their stores. The main shopping streets are covered in Christmas lights. The lights are all along the street and even on some of the smaller side streets. I love it, it makes me so happy to see the Christmas lights. And because it gets dark at 4pm here it is nice to walk down the street and look at the lights. Some of the bigger stores in the city center have lights on the sides of their stores as well.

Aarhus lights

The lights on the main street in Aarhus

Christmas Markets start popping up in November as well. People have little booths or tables set up where you can go and buy Christmas gifts or something for yourself if you want. At these markets you can also find typical Danish food and drink such as, gløgg (mulled wine), pancakes (similar to crepes), and Æbleskiver (tastes like a pancake rolled into a ball). These markets are fun to walk around and see all of the Danish gifts you can potentially buy. There are many markets in Copenhagen that are open from November through the month of December. In Aarhus there are markets that are open on the weekends, and a few booths open everyday.


Christmas Market in Copenhagen

Some people will say that the Christmas season really starts when the advent wreath is brought out. This wreath is the same as we use back home, it has four candles and one is lit every Sunday leading up to Christmas. They also have the advent calendars that you open everyday. Some have little gifts in them, some are just chocolate (my favorite, I may have bought one for myself). One advent thing that is unique to Denmark is a daily candle. This is a candle that has numbers 1 to 24 on it and each day you burn the candle to the number. You do this until the 24th of December when the candle is all gone.

danish candle

A Danish advent candle

A Danish Christmas tree is typically decorated with garland of the Danish flag. The Danes have a lot of pride in their flag and especially like to put it on their Christmas trees. There is always a gold or silver star on the top of the tree, never an angel. Hearts are a very common decoration to put on the tree as ornaments. Some families will have real candles on their trees instead of electric Christmas lights.


Typical Danish Christmas tree, this one is missing the flags

Christmas Eve in Denmark is when families all gather together for dinner and spending time with one another. The Christmas Eve dinner is typically roast duck or pork, red cabbage, and various types of potatoes. A typical dessert is rice pudding with whipped cream or jam on top. In the rice pudding there is one whole almond, and whoever finds the almond gets a special present.

After dinner the family will all sing and dance around the Christmas tree. They sing typical Danish hymns and hold hands while walking around the tree. I went to a dinner where they demonstrated this and had us take part as well. It reminded me of the Grinch when all the Whos were standing around the tree singing.

The Christmas season is here and I have loved getting to know some traditions from another culture. Although I won’t be spending Christmas in Denmark I can feel the energy and the Christmas spirit all around.

Glædelig Jul – Merry Christmas!

merry christmas danish

Finding Home

Homesickness is something that is almost impossible to prevent while being abroad or anytime you are away from your home. It is not a bad thing to be homesick, to me it shows that you have something back home worth missing.

I have thought about homesickness a lot this year, not just because I was spending half the year away from home, but also because my family moved out of our home this year. When we moved out I was sad, I didn’t want to leave that house, and even though we moved somewhere in the same town I thought I would be homesick. Leaving home to come here to Denmark I thought the same thing, I would miss my house. I have come to realize that being homesick is not longing for a physical place, but for the people who are there.

“Home is where the heart is” is a quote that is said all the time, and sometimes it takes being away from home for so long to realize that it is very true. “Home” can be a specific place, a city or a town, or even your childhood home, but it is not that place that made you feel at home, it was the experiences you had there, the relationships you made and the memories you have of that place.

Being in another country there have been many things I have missed from back home, like the food, mainly the restaurants (Chick-fil-a), having stores that you can get everything you need at, being able to drive, and a lot more. But I have realized that what I was most homesick for was my friends and family.

I miss hugging my parents

I miss sitting around for hours talking about anything and everything with my friends

I miss going on random adventures with friends because we are bored

I miss my mom’s cooking and eating dinner with my family

I have found that the times I am most homesick is when I am traveling, because I just want to share these experiences with my friends and family from back home. I will see something that would remind me of someone and want them to be there with me.

While I do find myself longing for my own big bed, I don’t find myself wanting to be in one specific place.

Home is where I am comfortable

Home is where I can be with people I love

Home is where the heart is

According to these things I have many homes, Pittsburgh is where I was born and lived for 11 years, Plano is where my parents are and where I went to middle and high school, Fayetteville is where I go to university and where I have made some of my best friends. I consider all these places my home, and there are so many more places where family and friends live that I could consider home as well.

I will now call Aarhus my home as well, after being here for almost four months I have grown to love this place and the people here. And since making friends from all around Europe I know I will have a home in all these places.

Homesickness can be hard to handle sometimes, but it is good to have something to miss. Being away from home allows you to realize all the little things you never thought you would miss. And in a way will make you appreciate those things more when you get back home.

I have been homesick while being in Denmark, but I know when I go back to the US I will be homesick for Denmark. That is because I will have left a place that has had such an impact on my life.

I have found that surrounding yourself with amazing friends and keeping busy by exploring is the best way to fight being homesick. Also it is the best way to make yourself at home in a new place.

This is one of my favorite quotes about home:

It takes hands to build a house, but only hearts can build a home. ~Author Unknown

No matter where you are, if you leave part of your heart in that place it is your home. My heart is in so many places with people I love, so it is hard to be homesick for one specific place, but I am so grateful to have people to be homesick for.


Aarhus from the Aros museum


Hygge pronounced like “hooga”, is something you hear Danes talk about all the time, but unless you ask its hard to understand what exactly it is. And even after having someone explain hygge to you, they will tell you it is hard to really understand.

Hygge is roughly translated to ‘coziness’, but almost every Dane will tell you it is so much more than that. From what I have come to understand, hygge is being with people you love, just enjoying life. You can experience hygge when you are wrapped up in a blanket with a cup of hot chocolate or tea, candles or a fire in the fireplace is involved, and you are surrounded by family or friends taking pleasure in the simple things in life. However because hygge is more of a feeling, it is different to everyone. Anytime that the atmosphere is warm and cozy and you are feeling happy can be hygge.

To Danes, hygge is something they take seriously, and try to make every situation as hygge as possible. This could possibly be why the country of Denmark is so happy!

While it is a widely talked about concept in Denmark, hygge is something Danes take pride in and will tell you that it is hard to experience if you are not from Denmark. Since I first heard about it, I decided I was determined to experience this hygge. So with the Christmas season here (apparently the best time to experience hygge) we decided to experience this feeling with a weekend away.

With the determination to have a hygge weekend my friends and I headed off to the little town of Ebeltoft (about an hour away from Aarhus). We rented a house through Airbnb, and as soon as we got there we fell in love with the place. It was a little cottage in the country side just outside of town, and it was such a typical Danish house with the minimalist style of furniture and art. Even with the minimalist style the house still felt cozy and welcoming. My favorite part was a moose on the wall right as you walked in, we named him Marvin!


The town of Ebeltoft was such a cute little town. To me the whole town had a bit of a hygge feeling, there were not many people around and there was a cozy feeling about the town. The streets were decorated for christmas and it was just perfect!


We cooked all of our meals while we were at the house, everyone helping with something, and we all sat around the table discussing random things while eating. At night we would sit in the living room drinking hot chocolate and talking about anything and everything. To me that was hygge, I don’t know if that would match up to a Dane’s definition of it, but I would say we reach our goal of having a hygge weekend.


Also when we woke up this morning we were surprised by a blizzard. This was the first snow since being here in Denmark, and it was a lot of snow. We were all excited to see the white fluffy flakes falling from the sky. Unfortunately we had to leave the house today, but I think that being snowed in and watching movies or just enjoying each others company would have just added to our hygge weekend.


Danes will say hygge is hard to understand, but in my opinion if you surround yourself with people you love and just enjoy being in the moment you can experience this hygge.

If you are interested in learning more about hygge, just google it and you will find many articles about it.


Where Worlds Collide

This week I had the opportunity to go to Skagen, the northern most town in Denmark. At Aarhus University they have a program called Fiat likes U, where you are able to ‘rent’ a car for free. I couldn’t let this opportunity pass me by, so I jumped at the chance to get a car. The only downside is all of the cars are manual, and I cannot drive a manual, but it worked out because I have European friend who can!

Our ride for the day

Our ride for the day

We decided to go to Skagen because I had heard many people talk about how beautiful it was and that if I got the chance I should go. I had been trying to take a trip up there since I arrived in Denmark, but it is difficult to get there by public transportation, so this car was the perfect opportunity!

Just north of Skagen is a place called Grenen, this is a land area of mostly beach. At the very top of this peninsula is the northern most part of Denmark, as well as where the North sea and the Baltic sea meet. When you stand on the point and look at the water you can see the waves coming from opposite directions and crashing into each other. It is very cool to see, I could have stayed there all day just watching it. But it was cold and windy so we only stayed there for a little bit.

Touching where the two seas meet

Touching where the two seas meet

After seeing the seas collide we went into the town of Skagen to explore and get some lunch. It was a cute and quiet little town, all the houses and buildings were the same color and style and I just loved it so much! There was only one short little main street with a few shops and restaurants on it, and very few people. Skagen is definitely a summer destination, but I am glad we went in November because it was not crowded and a unique experience not many people have had.

The little town of Skagen

The little town of Skagen

Seeing the two seas collide I immediately thought of worlds colliding, and then I realized that these last three months I have been in Denmark have been nothing but different worlds colliding. The other four people I went to Skagen with have become my best friends here in Denmark, and we all come from different places and different worlds. But we have created our own little world here in Denmark, one that we all share. If you had told me two years ago that I would be in another country making friends with people from all over the world I would not have believed you. But here I am now, with friends from all different places and I still can’t really believe it. I feel so lucky to have made friends like these to share experiences like this with. I don’t want to think about it yet, but I am dreading the time a month from now, when we all have to go back to our own world and leave this one behind. I will be forever grateful that our worlds collided this semester.

Laura, Tessa, me, Aina, Elena. My Denmark friends!

Laura, Tessa, me, Aina, Elena. My Denmark friends!

A Danish Education

It’s November, which is crazy to think about. I have no idea how the time has gone by so fast. With December approaching quickly it is time to start studying for my final exams. As I was sitting down to study today I took a minute to compare my classes and study habits here to what I normally do back home.

The class schedule is different than I am used to. I touched on this in a previous blog, but I’m going to come back to it for a second. All of my classes here in Denmark only occur once a week for two hours. And all of these classes are lectures of at least 60 people. These lectures are set up very similar to my normal classes, the difference comes with the extra “tutorials” we take. One of my classes was set up like this: we had lecture, for five weeks, and now we have been put into groups and we present and oppose case studies. The teacher no longer comes to the class, there is a Ph.D student who critiques our presentations. I found this strange because I am used to the teacher being in every class especially when there are presentations. But I guess this is pretty normal for classes here.

Denmark is a country that prides itself on equality, and no one likes be seen as too much of a higher authority than others. Because of this the professors do not like being called “Professor”. They prefer to just have the title “teacher” and many of them introduce themselves by their first name, and are completely fine with students addressing them like that. I am a little hesitant when I address a teacher because I have always been taught to call them Professor or Mr. or Mrs. out of respect for them. Here in Denmark they do not think of it as disrespectful, they see it as a way for students to feel more equal to them.

As a result of the feeling of equality between professors and students there are many interruptions in class. Students feel they can speak out whenever they want in class. While this seems to be encouraged in the Danish education system, I can’t help but think it is kind of disrespectful. It is not a constant stream of people just talking out, and many do raise their hands before just saying something, however they will shoot their hand up in the middle of the teacher speaking and not let them finish before interrupting. I think it is good to have conversations in the class and with the teacher, but I don’t understand why the teacher should stop mid thought to hear a comment that could just as easily be said after. I don’t think this is meant to be seen as disrespectful, it is just how they were brought up and what they were taught to do, just another example of cultural differences.

As final exams are sneaking up on me I am starting to realize how much is riding on them. For every class here my whole grade is depending on one final exam. I am used to having some tests or homework assignments throughout the semester. These assignments kept me on track and allowed me to see if I was really understanding what I was learning. Now with everything depending on the final I am starting to freak out a little. However the exams are also very different here. All of my exams are essays, one is a “home assignment” so I will have a week to write the essay and turn it in. I have two three hour exams and one six hour exam, all of which I have to present for. I am still not entirely sure what to expect for the exams, but from what I understand we will be give a case to read and questions about the case we need to answer. We are also allowed our books, notes, and the internet in these exams. That makes me feel better, but I have been told that the average grade in these exams is the same as a low B or high C back home. So I can’t help but wonder why the grades are low when you literally have everything to help you. That is why I have started studying a month in advance, at least to be familiar with all the concepts and theories and to know where each topic is in the book for quick referencing when it comes to the exam.

With all that being said, this next month here in Aarhus will be spent at the library studying. I can’t really complain, the public library here called DOKK 1 is beautiful. This is the view you can have while studying.

Foggy view of the harbor from the library

Foggy view of the harbor from the library

And having a group of friends to go study with you is always helpful.

I can’t talk about Danish Education without at least mentioning the fact that Danes are paid to go to school. Yes, that is right, not only is there no tuition fee, the government pays the students. Students receive about $900 a month which is intended to pay for housing and other necessities. They can receive this money for a maximum of six years, and if they drop out or fail they do not have to pay the money back. The only requirement in order to receive this money is that they do not live with their parents. The government provides this money because they want the students to focus only on learning, and not have to worry about balancing a job and school. This is why Danish students are able to study at least 40 hours a week as well as attend classes. Also because of this no one graduates with student debt. It’s a pretty good deal if you ask me!

On another note, fall in Aarhus is beautiful!

Fall colors in the Botanical Garden

Fall colors in the Botanical Garden

Tricks to Traveling

This is the first weekend in a month that I have not been in a different country, and I have to say it is nice to just sit still and relax. Having traveled so much in the past month or so I like to think I’ve become somewhat of a professional traveler. Okay, maybe I shouldn’t take it that far, but I have learned a lot. Here are a few of my tips and tricks to traveling on your semester abroad.

  1. Plan in advance: This can be depending on where you are, but I think it is always good to plan trips at least a few weeks in advance. After I got to Denmark and got my class schedule I sat down and found what weekends would be the best to travel on. Sometimes I had a 4 or 5 day weekend, those are ideal to have. Especially because traveling from Aarhus is not that easy. The Aarhus airport is very small, and only has a few flights out of it which are normally pretty expensive. So you need to take a four hour train or bus to Copenhagen if you want to fly anywhere. Because of this you basically need a whole day for traveling, which is why it is nice to have long weekends. Another reason to plan in advance is because tickets are cheaper when you buy ahead. Being a college student I always look for the least expensive option, so buying tickets early is the way to go. If you plan ahead you have something to look forward to!
  2. Stay organized: If you do plan in advanced, you will have many tickets for planes, train, and buses. Probably all in your email, and it can get confusing what tickets go to what trip. I recommend making a folder in your email for each trip, that way all the tickets are in one place and you do not have to spend time searching through all your emails looking for the right one. Also double check if your ticket needs to be printed or if an e-ticket is ok. I have been able to use e-tickets for most of my traveling, but some train companies require you to have the ticket printed. Check this before you leave because the chances of you having a printer when you are traveling are very low. If you have printed out tickets make sure you keep them in a safe place that you will remember.
  3. Find a travel buddy(ies): Traveling alone can be fun, but also scary and intimidating. I personally prefer traveling with people, so I loved having a traveling buddy. With many exchange students at Aarhus it wasn’t hard to find people who want to travel. The real trick is to find someone who you can spend multiple days with and not get annoyed. It can be multiple people or just one other person, depending on where you are going and who wants to go. I find it can sometimes be hard to travel with a big group of people, you are always worried about pleasing everyone. Also it can be hard to get everyone to agree on something, someone might want to have the day completely scheduled while someone else will just want to wander around. But you can also just split off and do your own thing if you want to.
  4. Have entertainment: Depending on where you are going, the journey can be long. I have spent multiple days traveling for over 12 hours. It is imperative to have something to keep you entertained while traveling. I spent a lot of time talking to the people I was traveling with. I also made a playlist on my phone and added new music when I could so I would not get bored of the same songs. Some trains and buses have wifi so you could watch movies or videos online, although it is not always the most reliable wifi. A lot of people bring books to read, I get motion sickness if I read while on a bus or train, so I opted for music. I also downloaded some podcasts to listen to which is a nice change from music, and I think it makes the time go by faster. Whatever you choose make sure it is enough to keep you entertained for a while.
  5. Pack light: Depending on when you arrive you might have to carry your luggage around before you can check in. I bought a backpacking backpack to carry my clothes in because it is easy to carry around and can fit a lot of things in it. If you are traveling for only a weekend you won’t need too much anyway, just take what is absolutely necessary. I have a problem with overpacking, but I have learned my lesson this semester. It is not worth it to carry around so much that you don’t even use. Also if you pack light you leave room in your bag for any souvenirs you buy 🙂
  6.   Find directions before you arrive: When you travel to another country you do not have internet on your phone unless you connect to wifi. Sometimes wifi can be hard to find, or they will say it is free but you really need a log in to use it. Look up directions from the airport or train station to where you are staying before you leave so you know where to go. Take pictures of the directions so they are saved on your phone and easy to access. After a day of traveling I was very tired and just wanted to be at the hostel or Air b&b, so already knowing where to go was very helpful.
  7. Look up the city before you go: Going to a new place is exciting, but at least for me I knew very little about each city. I would look up the city before we went and made a list of things I wanted to do or see. This way we had a list of things to do so we were not just sitting around trying to figure out what to do. We didn’t plan out everyday, but we had an idea of what we wanted to do. If time is short in a place prioritize what you want to do and then do as much as you can! It is also good to look up the public transportation before you get there, just so you have an idea of how to get around. Some cities will have a card that you can get that will get you free entrance into museums and attractions. We did this in Stockholm and really liked it. Depending on where you are going and what you want to do something like this can be good!
  8. Have fun: Traveling can be stressful, but so much fun at the same time! When you are gone for a few days you can get very tired and just want to sit. I found it was good to find a time in the day to just sit and have a little snack or drink to recharge before continuing with the day. I had to tell myself a few times to just take it all in, these are places I probably will not get to return to, so make the most of it while I’m there. Do not get hung up on little things, enjoy them! It is tiring going and going when you are traveling, but you can rest when you are home. Forget everything and just enjoy the place you are in and the people you are with. Make memories!

I have had so much fun traveling the past month, so many different places and cultures. These are just a few of the things I learned, and I know as I continue to travel I will learn so much more. There is a lot more of the world I want to see, so I know I’ll be traveling a lot more!

Happy Halloween from Denmark!


English – an Entitled Language 

English is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world. Since being in Denmark and traveling around Europe I’ve started to realize how important English is. I’ve also realized that with English being your only language it is easy to get by, but it is also your ONLY language.
In Denmark the official language is Danish (obviously), but all the Danes speak English pretty perfectly. Denmark is a small country, and also the only place Danish is spoken, so if you ever want to leave Denmark you need to learn English as well. Children first start learning English at about the age of 6 or 7 in Denmark. By the time they are grown up they are speaking English very well. Although they know English they will still use their native language first. When you go into a store or restaurant they will speak to you in Danish until you start speaking or ask them to speak in English, and they are very kind about it for the most part. The only two cities I have been to in Denmark are Aarhus and Copenhagen. Copenhagen being the capital and filled with tourists every Dane there speaks English, and in some places in the city people will just assume to speak English before Danish. While Aarhus is the second biggest city, it does not get that many tourists. It is however a student town with a big international student population. Because of this all restaurants will have English menus as well as Danish menus, and everyone will speak English if you ask them to. I don’t know what other cities or towns in Denmark are like with the language, but I imagine it is pretty similar. Maybe in smaller towns or villages there are less people who know English, but with the Danish language being not so wide spread everyone essentially needs to know English. 
I knew coming to Denmark that everyone would know english and I wouldn’t have to worry about language barrier. When free lessons to learn Danish were presented I thought I should try to learn at least a little something to communicate with people in their native language. It was not the best decision on my part. Danish is a really hard language to learn, or at least it is for me. When speaking Danish you use more of the back of your mouth to talk and in English we use front more. The pronunciation is also so hard, they have about 4 different sounds for the same letter, and the only way to know what sound to use is to actually know the word. I’ve been in Danish class for about a month now, and I only know how to say one word, and I can understand very little. So don’t ask me to speak Danish, because I can’t. When I told Danes that I was taking Danish lessons all of them laughed and asked why? They said I would need more than 5 years to learn Danish. I understand that now. Although Danes speak perfect English, you can easily tell when it’s a Dane who is speaking English, they have a certain way of talking that makes it noticeable, probably because they are used to talking with a different part of their mouth. 
Being surrounded by international students all the time I hear many different languages every day. But everyone knows English, and at least three other languages as well. I never really thought about it but when you live in Europe there are so many languages close to you that it will only benefit you to learn a few of them. I know people who go to school in a city where they speak a different language than their first. It is only slightly embarrassing when someone asks you what languages you speak and you can only say English, and the person next to you lists off 4 languages they know fluently. It is also a requirement in most schools in Europe to learn another language, but not like the “requirement” it is in the schools in the states. In Europe they teach it so you are fluent by the time you leave, as opposed to the states where you can take 4 years of the language and still not be fluent. It’s just not necessary in the states to know another language, everyone speaks English and unless you speak it at home or have a job that requires it there is no need. I think it is amazing to know more than one language and almost wish they pushed it harder in schools. 

I’ve had a lot of time to talk to and get to know people from all over Europe, and in almost every conversation we get to English words and rules. And it seems that nonnative speakers know more about English rules than I do. Because it is not their first language they remember the rules better and actually apply them, whereas for me and most English speakers we don’t think about the rules because we don’t need to all the time. It is also interesting to find out the words they don’t know. In my mind I don’t always think about the fact that not all words we know are translated or taught in another language, but being English speakers I just think they are always known. It is mainly the “slang” words and expressions or sayings that are unknown. Sarcasm does not always come across as sarcasm because they listen to everything literally, and are just trying to understand what we said. 

Being around so many non native speakers has made me more aware of what I say and how I say it. Although most people I talk to have a very good understanding of English and can speak it very well. Many people came to Denmark to improve their English, so they are excited to talk to native English speakers and learn from us. In return they have been teaching me a few words or phrases from their language! 
Having travels to only major cities in Europe I have not run into many problems when it comes to language. The only problem I have had is on the train, or in a small local cafe where only one person knows English. It is when you get into smaller towns in countries where you might run into language barriers and might not be able to communicate. 

Update to where I am this weekend: I am in a little village in the Eastern part of Belgium. This is the German speaking part of Belgium and not many people know a lot of English. So it can be a bit of a struggle, but that’s why I have my friend to help and to translate! Very different from the cities I have been traveling to, but so nice and pretty! I went home with my friend for the weekend and it feels really nice to be in a home again, and to have home cooked meals! 


11 Days, 3 Cities

Sadly fall break has come to an end, but I’d say it was a very successful week! I’ve already told you about Berlin, the first stop on the fall break tour, now I want to tell and show you the highlights of Prague and Amsterdam. 


  Prague was amazing, I mean just look at this beautiful city! Prague really took me by surprise, I wasn’t sure what to expect, I had not heard a lot about the city itself. From the time we passed into the Czech Republic on the bus I could tell this place was special. The landscape was beautiful with mountains and cute little towns, and when we pulled into Prague I fell in love. The city has such a cool atmosphere and everyone there was very kind. We started the trip with another free walking tour (I love them!) and after that we were able to navigate the city pretty well. We walked across the Charles bridge where there were local vendors selling handmade jewelery and paintings, ate some traditional Czech food (so good), took a tour of the palace, and found the John Lennon wall while just wandering around.  
 My favorite part of Prague was going up in the tower of the astronomical clock (which is apparently the second most disappointing tourist attraction in the world) and watching the sunset over the city. From the tower you could see everyone walking around the old town square, and everyone was having a great time.  


  After a 12 hour overnight bus ride from Prague we pulled into Amsterdam at about 6:30am. Lucky for us we were able to check into our hostel early and get a little rest. Once again we started with a free walking tour, and saw most of the main parts of the city. Although I have to say I was completely lost as to where we were the whole timeline, and I still haven’t figured out how to navigate his city. We went to the Anne Frank house, took a canal tour, went to a concert that was part of the ADE music festival going on this weekend, and just spent time walking around all the cute canals. (And I also found the Fault in our Stars bench).  
 There was also a carnival in the city so we took advantage of that and went on the Ferris wheel! We took a short day trip to a cute, typical Dutch town just outside the city. There were windmills and little bridges, it almost felt like a miniature model of the city but more countryside. There was also a store that made wooden clogs, there were so many shoes!  

We travel back to Aarhus tomorrow, and although I’m sad this week is over I am happy to be going back. I’m excited to see my friends who have been traveling to other places, I’m excited for some familiarity of where I am, but mostly I am excited to have my own room and be in my bed again!