Saturday, May 15, 2010


Ok. This might be my last day with my host family, but I think this was the best day ever. I woke up, got really dressed up to go to my host sister's confirmation. Although the service was completely in Danish and I didn't understand a word of it, I still thought it was perfect that my last day started in a church. The church was built in the 1500s for vikings (like everything else in Denmark) and it was hauntingly beautiful. There was an undescribe-able quality about the church that really spoke to me. I'm not sure what it was; maybe it was the fact that I didn't understand the service so I just had an hour of quiet meditation in a church. Either way, it was definitely one of my favorite experiences.

It was raining when we left the church. It was dark, cloudy and raining. My favorite weather (aside from sunny heat)!! What a nice going-away present from Denmark. After the service, we went back to my host family's house for some hygge-licious (hygge is a Danish word. It doesn't translate into English because it is too awesome/ It basically means good feeling, etc) time with the extended host-family. Granted, none of them really speak English and I ended up in my room working on a last-minute paper that is due on Monday, but it was still fun.

Then we went to Maria's party. Let me explain. Confirmation to the Danes is a little like a quinceanera. They get super dressed up and have a huge party. Maria's party was at a restaurant and it was 5 courses. It was a lot of fun and the food was so good! I'm glad I had a huge feast as my last meal (sort of) in Denmark. The wine was good too and there was champagne (my favorite!). Let's just say I had never had that much to drink at 3:00 in the afternoon. Those Danes know how to party. I got to talk to my host-mormor (my host mom's mother) and she is really cool. I had met her a couple times before, but had never really spent any time with her. I found out that she loves peanut butter! I wish I had known that when I still had some. Because I would have made her peanut butter cookies with it! But alas, I did not find out about it until today. I think I'm going to mail her some or mail her the recipe and a jar of peanut butter. Haven't decided yet.

It was really hard at lunch today though. Since I had never met a lot of the people there, Lise (my host mom) was telling them all about me. She didn't know that her brother was translating what she was saying into English and it was all really sweet. I almost started crying. Its going to be harder than I thought to leave. I thought I was ready to go. And I am in a lot of ways, but I'm not ready to leave the Klaris family! I am really going to miss them.

Anyway, the party was a lot of fun. I also got to talk to Serena, who is 19 and went to school with Maria (I think).  She was really cool and it was nice talking to someone my own age about real things. I have had a lot of integration with Danish culture, but I haven't spent a TON of time with people my own age. Maria is 14 and Mikkel is still 17. But my favorite part of the day? I GOT TO DRIVE! Oh man oh man. I really wanted to drive in Denmark SO BAD! And I didn't think I was going to be able to. But Niels had too much to drink at Maria's party and didn't want to drive back. SO I GOT TO! It was the best. I hadn't driven since I left the states. And since the car was parked going downhill (and is a stick-shift) it took me a couple times to get it going. It was also wet outside. Dude I didn't stall though. I was so proud of myself! Some of the adults were looking at me like I was crazy. But I was like, if you hadn't driven in 4 months, how would you be? Other than that, I didn't have any problems. It just takes time to adjust to a new clutch. Ah! That made my day. Seriously.

Now I have to finish a paper that is due on Monday. Mom and Dad are already here and I'm going out to see them tomorrow. I can't wait! I've talked to them since being here, but I haven't seen their actual faces in months! I am in such a good mood! As I try to avoid the cliche, this really has been the time of my life!

Monday, May 3, 2010

I think a song is stalking me!

Every time I start to think I could live in Europe, Chicken Fried by the Zac Brown Band comes on my iPod. Then I start to miss everything that is awesome and great about the south. The heat, friendly people, Ford trucks, cows, sweet tea, corn on the cob, biscuits and gravy, Shiner beer, BBQ (!!!!!!!), country music, bonfires, cowboy boots and cowboy hats. The list goes on and on.

GAH! I'm ready to be home.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Chicken Steaks?

I made chicken-fried steak for my host family last night. I'm not sure they were impressed, but they ate it nonetheless. I didn't have classes Wednesday, yesterday and today and all of my friends left the country to go to wonderful places for the long weekend. So I volunteered to cook dinner for my host family. And I didn't know what to make them, so I decided on something they probably never had eaten before: chicken-fried steak! When I told my host mom what I was going to make, she got really confused. She was like, I'm not sure if you'll be able to find stuff to make this chicken steak but you'll find out when you get to the grocery store. So when I got to the store, all I could find were these oddly shaped steaks and wiener-schnitzel. I didn't feel like trying to explain in the 12 Danish words I know that I was looking for cube steak. So I ended up getting the wiener-schnitzel. The only problem with it was that it was way too think to cook as chicken-fried steak. When I got back to the house, I started looking for a meat tenderizer. I searched through all of the drawers in the kitchen and all I could come up with as an alternative was a rolling pin. Maria and Mikkel came into the kitchen and saw me banging steaks covered in butcher paper with a rolling pin. Lets just say it was an interesting experience!! I think my host family liked it?

Friday, April 30, 2010

Sweden Hiking and Canoe Trip

April 24

Today was such a good day! Last night I spent the night at Beth's house because she lives really close to where our ferry left from. We woke up really early and her host mom had breakfast set out for us! After a hearty meal of oatmeal and tea, we left for the bus stop. When we got to the train station, the train was delayed. I was really worried that we wouldn't make it to the port in time, but we were fine. The ferry was only about 20 minutes and then we went straight to the river. We canoe-ed (is that a word?) for a little over 2 hours. Beth and I were canoe buddies and we were the best a canoeing!! No, seriously. There were 6 of us (3 canoes) that were 20 minutes ahead of everyone else. But it was a lot of fun! So beautiful!! And Beth and I were having a great time singing songs. Well, mostly I was just being crazy and singing random songs. Haha.

Our canoe before we took off down the river!

Then we went to our hostel, which is really just a bed and breakfast. And we had a lovely lunch of beef stew and bread. It was so yummy! And it was warm--which was the important thing! I wasn't cold while I was actually canoeing but once we stopped, I got cold pretty fast. We had about an hour break before our next hiking trip, so the girls in my room and I all took a nap. I didn't fall asleep but it was nice to just rest my eyes. (haha what a mom thing to say!)

This is the outside of our hostel. It was really pretty inside too, but I forgot to take pictures!

Then we went to Nimis and went hiking. It was this really cool group of structres that someone built out of random pieces of wood. The walk down wasn't very bad. It was pretty steep, but luckily it hadn't rained in a couple days, so everything was mostly dry. After we basically walked down a mountain, we got to the 'city'. Walking in and on the structures themselves took some getting used to. But there were all of these giant rocks down there too and it was fun to jump around on them! We were on the beach, so the water was a beautiful background to these intereting structures. We ended up spending about 30 minutes walking down there, 1 1/2 hours wandering around the area/exploring and then maybe 30-45 minutes walking back to the bus. It was a lot harder to walk back up the side of the mountain than it was to walk down it!!

Me, on my way down the rickity path to the beach! Nimis was so much fun! 

We finally got back to the hostel and everyone was exhausted. I wasn't super hungry, but I think a lot of people were. Brittany, Ana, Beth and I decided to play Gin (I never go anywhere without my cards!!) until dinner was ready. When I went in the kitchen to make some tea, I heard some of the DIS interns talking about how no one actually knew how to cook the food or start the fire. So I ended up volunteering myself and I went outside to help the guys start the grill. We had legitimate charcol to work with, not the blocks like I'm used to. But in the end we made it work! I meant to just offer my assistance and then go back inside, but I ended up staying out there for over an hour and basically cooked dinner. We cooked sausages and chicken. The sausage was so good!! We were eating them right off the grill while we cooked. Never have I had a better sausage! Ah so good! The 2 other DIS kids that were out there were from SMU!! I haven't really met the other Texas kids since coming to DIS. We were talking about all of the common people that we know. It's kinda funny...meeting someone from Allen in Sweden on a hiking trip while you're studying in denmark! So random...

Ana, Beth, Me and Brittany while we were playing cards after dinner

We ate dinner and had wonderful ice cream for dessert. Then we played cards some more with a guy named Scott. Around 10 we all kinda were losing it and needed to get to bed! We came back to the room, loaded some pictures on to my computer and then got ready for bed. I came straight from school on Friday to Beth's house, so I still have my laptop with me. It was cool being able to see our pictures on a bigger screen today! I should get to bed- we have an early morning start tomorrow. As I write this, I can hear that everyone else in the room is asleep. I just wanted to get this typed out before I go to sleep. Goodnight!

April 25

Well, today marks 30 days until I come back to the states!! I'm ready to come home, but I know that I'm going to miss being in Denmark, but I'm ready to be back. Today was a good day. We had a lovely breakfast this morning and then we grabbed our lunch packs (there was a Twix bar in mine!!) and headed off to go abseiling and orienteering. My group went abseiling first. It was so much fun! There were 2 rocks that we could go off, a small one and a big one. I only did the small one because the rope hurt my hands and they started to swell. I didn't think about bringing my gloves with me, even though I had them in my backpack on the bus!! Nevertheless, I climbed up on the big rock to take pictures. It was so beautiful! I really enjoyed semi-rock climbing to get up to the top. I miss nature. It's been weird being in Denmark where everyone is outside all the time, but everything is flat!

Ana, me and Brittany after we went abseiling!! Notice the beautiful scenery in the background!!

After lunch, we went Orienteering. It was more like a scavenger hunt, but it was still fun. We had to climb down this hill, using a rope, and go into a cave. But the cave was on the shore and we had to climb over all of these rocks to get there. It was so beautiful! If it had been warmer outside, I would have just wanted to sunbathe on the rocks, but it was a little chilly. All in all, it was a really fun trip!!

This might have been my favorite thing that I saw in Sweden. It's a cattle guard. Hahahahaha. There were tons of these!! Apparently they use a ladder instead of what we would use in Texas. I just thought this was hilarious!

Swedish Longhorns! Moooooooooo

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


I left London on Saturday night and then I got to Santorini on Sunday. When I first got to Santorini, I thought it was absolutely beautiful and though I was exhausted because my flight there had been overnight, I really felt rejuvenated. HOWEVER that good mood ended really quickly. After I paid 20 Euro to get a cab to my hotel, I couldn't find anyone at my hotel!!!! I walked around, knocking on all of the doors for about an hour. Then the man who owned the hotel next door helped me look for someone and he was really nice about it all. But I was freaking out because the ATM at the airport had run out of money and I couldn't find one that was working near the hotel. And it looked like the building was under construction. There was no one there! Since I was there 3 days earlier than everyone else, I had to get a hotel room. But the place we were all staying at was full, so I had to book a room somewhere else on the island. Luckily, I found a hotel really close to where we stayed. But because I couldn't find anyone, I ended up walking down the beach to Stelio's Place, where we would all be staying. But the rooms there were all booked, so I just walked back to my hotel and hoped that there would be someone there. After being in Santorini for about 3 1/2 hours, I finally got into my hotel room. As it turns out, the hotel I booked a room in actually was under construction and I stayed in the hotel across the street. However, how was I supposed to know that? It was a really stressful morning. I left the airport around 7 and I got into my room at 11. I slept all afternoon and woke up at 5:00. Outside, I heard gunshots and people screaming. Of course, I was freaking out. So I just stayed locked up in my room all night. I didn't eat anything all day; it was horrible!

We sat in these chairs while we were on the beach! (Notice the black sand!!)

Stephanie and I eating our delicious lunch of tuna, bread and Greek yogurt!

The next morning I went and found an ATM that was working. Then I found a really cool 24hour bakery. The owner was behind the counter when I got there and he gave me all these free samples. I bought some food and then I went to the beach. I spent almost all day on the beach, reading Atlas Shrugged. It was a lot of fun, but I got a burn on my back. While I was laying there, I realized that there was this guy behind me watching me. I wasn't the only person on the beach- so I didn't exactly feel unsafe, but I also didn't want to roll over. It was an awkward situation. I was going to reapply sunscreen either. After about 90 minutes, he left. But was awkward.

Anu, Ana, Beth Buehler, Beth Cash, Stephanie, and myself at a restaurant in Santorini

Beth Cash, Beth Buehler, Stephanie, and myself at our favorite Santorini bar!

My third day in Santorini was boring. I woke up, got breakfast and then went back to my room. My burn was pretty bad, so I wanted to stay out of the sun. So I just sat around reading AS. I really wanted to finish the book, so it wasn't too bad. Plus, I didn't want to wander too far from my hotel room because of the sketchy Greek men. Around 3:00, 2 of my friends, Stephanie and Anu, showed up! I didn't think that they were getting in until really late that night, so it was definitely a surprise when they walked in the courtyard and called my name! We went to the grocery store about 4 km up the road and bought groceries. Then we went to the beach for a little while. We went out to dinner at the cutest Greek tapas place! It was really good food. We actually went back the next night for dinner as well! The woman who owns the restaurant is actually from Chicago. She met a boy from Santorini and they fell in love. Then they moved to the island like 5 years ago. After dinner, our friend Ana got in. It was Stephanie's birthday, so then we went out to a bar after. It was a lot of fun.

This was our hotel, Stelio's Place

The next day we all went to the beach. Early that morning, the other 2 girls arrived. Beth and Beth had been with me in London and they were the ones I was supposed to travel to Italy with. We all hung out at the beach for the day. Of course, we went out after dinner again.

View of the other islands from Santorini

The following day, we went to Fira. That is the port city of the island. It wasn't bad, but it also wasn't as beautiful as I thought it was going to be. But there was a lot more stuff to do there than on the side of the island that we were staying on. But it was still a fun experience. I think I just expected to see more color on the buildings. We went to the top of the hill where most of the pictures are taken from and looked down on the scenery. Then we compared what we saw to the postcards and photos for sale. They just photo-shopped the pictures!!!! I was in shock. I don't know why they couldn't just paint the actual buildings themselves!!

View of Fira, the port city on the island

I took the ferry on Friday afternoon to Athens. We thought it was supposed to be about 6 hours, but the ferry ended up taking 8! When we finally got to the hotel, we were just so exhausted that we went to sleep. Then we woke up and explored Athens for a couple hours before taking the metro back to the airport. Athens was such a dirty city!! I mean, yeah it was cool to see really old ruins, but everything was covered in graffiti!! It was neat seeing the city, but I honestly don't know if I will go back. I think my favorite thing about Athens was the donut that I bought right outside the metro. It was the biggest donut I'd ever seen and it was covered in cinnamon sugar--all for 50 Euro cents!!

View of Athens

Me, in front of some old tower. :)

Overall, I was glad that I had the chance to go to Greece, but I'm not sure if I will spend the money to go back any time soon.


Big Ben in the background!

I loved London so much! I know that a lot of people don't like it because it is so crowded, but I really don't think it was bad. When you get out of the city and into the suburbs, it's a lot nicer. I mean, yeah there are places that are not so great, but Westminster, where my room was on my last night in London, is a really nice area!

I saw this while we were walking around in London! I just thought that it was funny, so I took a picture. :)

We saw all of the London classics. But I think my favorite thing that we did while there was going to St. Paul's. We were there the week before Easter, so one night we went to an Easter service. It was all just music, but it was amazing. I've been to a bunch if churches and cathedrals while being over in Europe, but I haven't actually worshiped in any of them. I light a candle while I was in Notre Dame, but that's about it. There are churches everywhere in Denmark, but the Danes aren't very religious. (though most will tell you they are Christians....)

This was a garden near Buckingham Palace. It was beautiful!

I'm not one of those people who can spend all of my time with 1 other person and not get tired of them (except a few close friends and my family). Unfortunately, the girl I was with in Dublin and London was not one of the few. That was a huge stress factor for me and I should've known better than to think it would be ok. Luckily there was another person that I traveled with in London, but I felt bad for her. There was a lot of tension. I'm also not one to hide my feelings--I can, but I don't like to. Therefore, it was fairly obvious that I was tired and annoyed.

We saw these guards walking on the road, and we followed them because we weren't sure if it was part of the changing of the guard. It was the changing of the guard for the Calvary and not the palace, but it was still fun, nonetheless!!

Even though there was unnecessary drama on our trip i still had a great time! I saw King's Cross Station and though I was by myself, I found another tourist there and got my picture taken. I also went to Baker Street and intended on going to the Sherlock Holmes museum, but there was a massive tourist group waiting to get in, so I just walked around the area instead. It was so pretty while I was there!!! Then I hopped back on the tube and went to Hyde Park (my hotel was right by there) for a little while. I think my favorite thing about London was the parks. I fell in love with them. I don't take the time to appreciate the parks and gardens back home. I really should...especially by Trinity because there are a lot of them.

This is in front of the National Gallery right before these creepy men wanted to take a picture with me. Absolutely not!

I think this trip has just made me realize that there is so much of my own country that I don't know about and haven't seen. I've only been to the west coast once. There is a lot of Texas that I haven't seen too!! I just really love traveling to new places now. Before this semester, I hasn't really traveled on my own and I wasn't comfortable with mass transportation. But now I feel like I'm ready to take on the world!

In the gardens again near Buckingham Palace.

Back to London-- Harrod's was an intense experience! I got completely distracted in the jewelry and food sections and didn't get to the rest of the store, but I'm sure it was just as beautiful and expensive!! The building itself was gorgeous too. I'm glad I got to see it. We got lunch there one day and then we went to a park to eat it. It was cold, rainy and windy but I still enjoyed it!

Buckingham Palace!!

We also went to Notting Hill one day. It was a really pretty area. I'm sure the houses are worth a lot of money though. The Portobello Markets are over there (I think...I can't quite remember which one it was. We went to a couple markets) and they had some pretty cool stuff! There were these 2 fantastic men walking around joking about these fake diamond door knobs and about how they would make fabulous cuff links. Hahaha they were priceless. I wanted to take them home with me!!

View of London from the Millennium Bridge. This is my attempt at an artistic shot!

We also went to a farmer's market while we were there. I got a bacon and egg bap (apparently a British classic). IT WAS DELICIOUS! I should have taken a picture of it. One of my friends and I were trying to figure out what we were going to order, but we didn't know what a bap was. The minute we asked the woman behind the counter, she told us that if we wanted to experience an actual British meal, we should order one. Haha so I did. 

Shakespeare's Globe Theatre

While I was in London, I could definitely see myself living there. But now that my time here is ending, I've realized how much I would miss my friends and family if I lived abroad. But who knows what the future holds....

This was some graffiti that I saw outside on a wall in Notting Hill

Another shot of London from the Millennium Bridge

London Tower Bridge

View of London from the Tower Bridge

Platform 9 3/4!!!!!! :)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Sweden 2.0, Brownies & Teach for America

This weekend I am going to Sweden with DIS to go hiking and canoeing. I AM REALLY EXCITED! :D I paid for this trip back at the beginning of the semester, so I am glad that I am finally getting to go. We leave really early tomorrow morning from downtown Copenhagen. Luckily, one of my friends going on the trip lives 15 minutes from the port where our ferry is leaving. So I am just going to spend the night at her house and then go meet the group there instead. I'll get an extra hour or so of sleep that way! And we're going to make her host family dinner. I think we are making hamburgers, which is cool, but that's what I ate last night for dinner! Haha.

Yesterday my class was canceled, so I just chilled at home all day. And I made my host family brownies. They devoured them when they got home! But I have to admit, they were some pretty fabulous brownies! I'll have to double the recipe next time I make them. It is really funny watching them eat new things. They are so skeptical at first and then they end up loving it! I am going to make them potato salad when it gets warmer out. For a country that basically lives on potatoes, I find it hard to believe that they haven't had it before!

I've been dealing with apartment stuff for next year a lot recently. Its a little stressful, but only because my roommates and I aren't in the same country, so we can't just sit down and talk about all of it for an hour. I am really excited to move in though! Talking about all of this stuff for next year is making me a little homesick. Maybe not homesick, but I'm getting close to being ready to go home. I think if I was taking easy classes (which I should have done!!) then I wouldn't want to leave as much as I do. But I'd rather be traveling around with my parents than sitting in a library writing a paper about Spain's approach to universal jurisdiction. UGH! But, I am glad (somewhat) that I am in this International Law class. It has just helped me realize that I don't want to go into law. If I could go to a school taught by Dr. Burke (my business law professor at Trinity) then I would sign up today. But unfortunately that isn't what law school is. I had convinced myself that I needed to go into law in order to help the unfortunate masses. But there are a lot of ways to do that. I am actually looking into doing Teach for America after graduation. Ever since I was little, I've always thought that I would end up being a teacher. Some of my favorite people in the world have been my past teachers and they have had an enormous impact on my life. It's a really competitive program, but I am going to try and get a teaching spot. I know that it would be a fantastic experience!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Oh my Guinness!!

Dublin was my first stop for travel break and I absolutely loved it!! It was actually the first place that I wanted to go when I came abroad. When we first got to Ireland, I was stressing out because I couldn't find the girl who I was supposed to stay with for the night. Luckily I was traveling with 2 other girls, so I went to their hostel with them and got a room for the night. Unfortunately, that just means I had to pay for 2 rooms for 1 night. Which was annoying, but I'm glad I didn't have to sleep on the streets.

We saw a majority of Dublin attractions the first day-- including the Paris, Texas restaurant above!!! It was completely random and I had to take a picture! We did a hop on/hop off bus, so we could take it around the city to the different sites. I went to the Guinness Factory museum that day as well. It was a lot of fun! We learned how to pour our own pint! It is a 2 step process, apparently. And I have a little certificate saying that I passed. Hahaha. But then they didn't take our ticket, so then we went up to the bar at the top of the building and got another pint of Guinness! (1 pint was included with the cost of the admissions ticket) The Sky Bar (as it's called) is really beautiful! The walls are made of glass, and they are labeled with the locations of Dublin attractions. It's a really neat idea. 

On my second day in Dublin, I went on a tour into the countryside. It was really nice seeing the rest of Ireland. I don't exactly remember where we went, but we saw a couple towns and also where they filmed Braveheart. Even though it was set in Scotland, it was filmed almost completely in Ireland. Strange...but we saw where they did it!

It rained almost the entire time we were on our tour of the Irish countryside, but I didn't mind it at all. I felt like I got the real experience! Below is a picture of one of the oldest churches in Ireland that still has a roof. There are ruins in a lot of places, but they are sans a roof.

Below is a picture of some sort of castle in Ireland. I forget what it's name is, or which super famous aristocrat lived there, but the coolest part are the barns. They took them and turned them into a shopping center and (I think) a hotel. It was pretty neat to see.

We also did some shopping in Dublin. There were some pretty cute shops that I wish they would bring over to the states! Honestly, I think we were in Dublin for too much time. I got a little bored with it towards the end. It might have been because I was with just one other person--it might have been better if I was traveling with more people.

This is pub was nothing special--I just thought it was cool because of the name. We saw it when walking back to our hostel from the Guinness Factory. 

This super cute bakery was a place that we ate one day for lunch. I the food wasn't anything special--I just really liked the name of it! It was absolutely adorable and probably sat about 20-25 people inside. If I was to open a bakery, I would want one that was a bit like this one.

I took a bunch of pictures of these Georgian Doors in Dublin. The door above it one of the most photographed doors in Dublin. These row houses used to house politicians and other rich Dublin residents, but now they are now owned mainly by investment companies. I wish I could have taken more pictures while I was there, but it rained a lot and it was hard. I really loved being in Dublin though!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Parlez vous francais?

Before I can blog about my 2 week travel break in Europe, I have a lot of catching up to do! My week in France back at the beginning of March was absolutely wonderful!!! That trip really helped me to realize how much I love baking and pastries. Oh man! Such a wonderful time! We were in Verdun and saw the battlefields from WW1 and went to the Verdun museum. That really was interesting. It was sad how completely devastated the fields were from all of the bombshells.

Then we went to Reims. While we were there we went to a champagne cave and had a champagne tasting. It was a lot of fun and I bought a bottle of champagne. I'm not sure how exactly I'm going to get it back to the states with me, but I have it nonetheless. We also saw Notre Dame de Reims while we were there, which looks almost exactly like the Notre Dame in Paris.

We spent the majority of the week in Paris, which is such a fun city!! My friends and I hit pretty much all of the major tourist spots while we were there. I think my favorite thing though while we were there was the food. One night we took a dinner cruise around the city and that was pretty awesome too. They served us phenomenal food while we were in France. I'm glad too--because I could have never afforded the food that we ate! I also liked the Sacre Coeur. That might have been my favorite church that we saw. It sits on top of a hill and looks down on all of Paris. There was also a market there where I bought a painting of the Eiffel Tower.

On the trip I also got to know a couple girls in my class pretty well. I like my other friends here, but it's nice to have a different group of friends to hang out with.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Travel Break and an assortment of other things

Tomorrow is the big day! I leave for my European adventures tomorrow night after classes. My super-awesome host family is taking me to the airport. My first stop is Dublin. We will be there until Tuesday, when we hop over to London. On Saturday I'm taking an overnight plane to Santorini, Greece and I'll be there for a week. I plan on taking copious amounts of pictures!! I am so ready for the warm, beautiful, sandy beaches of Greece! I wish I wasn't traveling during will be weird not going to church. But I am really excited!! A lot of people are going to 5 or 6 different places, but I am glad that we are only going to 3. I don't want to spend a huge portion of my break in an airplane, bus or train.

I've been biking to the train station (instead of taking the bus) for the past couple of weeks and I really like it! I think I am going to try and either bike or ride the bus in San Antonio next year. It won't save time, but it will definitely save me money! Riding the bike makes me feel like such a Dane. They really use bikes here! It is a common sight to see a woman in a skirt and heels riding a bike, smoking a cigarette and talking on her phone. Its crazy, but so is texting and driving and way too many Americans do that!

Right now my host sister, Maria, is unpacking her suitcase. She just got back from being in London for almost 2 weeks. It is really cute to watch her interact with my Lise, my host mom. It's obvious that they missed each other!! Maria just sat down in the middle of the dining room and started unpacking and telling Lise all about her trip. Since most of it was in Danish I have no idea what she did, but its still cute to watch. My host brother, Mikkel, is also in London right now with his school and is getting in tomorrow. Maria goes to a private school, and every year they take the 14 year olds to London to follow around a student so they can work on their English. Mikkel is 17, so he is in high school. But their schooling system here is different than the one back home, so technically Mikkel is done with his basic schooling requirements for Denmark. I believe they are only required to go until the 10th grade.

I had a really interesting conversation with Lise last night. We somehow got to talking about banks in the US and I said something about the drive-thru windows. Apparently they don't have those here in Denmark and she thought it was hilarious! It took about 5 minutes explaining for her and Niels, my host dad, to understand what I was talking about. It's interesting. Then I started realizing that we actually have a lot of services where you don't have to get out of your car- the dry cleaner, pharmacy, donut shop, etc. It's hard at home though, especially living in Texas where public transportation doesn't really exist, because it is really convenient to just have all of these services available to you via your car window. Plus, if I wanted to be like a Dane and ride my bike everywhere it would be almost impossible! Here, the grocery store is only a 10 minute bike ride away and the sun isn't so intense that it would ruin any refrigerated items. But I digress. It is going to be really strange going back to the States and getting in a car to go everywhere. I've only been in a car 4 times since coming here! Once on my way to my first host family's house and another time going to Bilka, basically the Danish Walmart, with my old host family. Then Neils came and got me after work when I moved in with them and on Tuesday Neils, Lise and I went out to dinner. So....yeah. Driving is going to be weird.

Speaking of dinner, it was so good! Last week, when Neils suggested it, Mikkel freaked out because he was going to miss it! The restaurant was about a 15 minute drive from the house, out in the middle of nowhere. They only serve 1 thing each day, so there is no menu to order from. On Tuesdays they cook traditional Danish food. We had this fried pork with potatoes, pickled beets and sauce. OH MAN OH MAN. It was really good. :)

Lets see. What else has happened recently? Last Saturday I made my host family banana bread. They had never had it before!! It turned out pretty good and they really liked it! I think the entire loaf was gone within an hour. And when I made chocolate chip cookies the weekend before last, those weren't around for too long either. Haha. When I come back, I've already told them I'm making them brownies because they can't get them here in Denmark. And I am going to cook biscuits for them and make breakfast sandwiches one morning. And I am going to make calzones. The Danes don't really eat much Italian food. I don't know if it's because they don't like it or if they just haven't really been exposed to it. But we shall see!

Last weekend I watched this horribly scary movie with my host brother and his friend, Paranormal Activity. DON'T WATCH IT. Seriously, it was so creepy! The next day Lise decided she wanted to see it. Her face was hilarious when she got done watching it! Oh goodness. It was so scary!!!

On Monday night I took a tour of the Red Light District of Copenhagen. We saw approximately 13 prostitutes. It was really weird. The strangest experience, by far, was one Danish woman we saw working. She was dressed completely normal. If she hadn't been soliciting every man who walked by her there would be no way of knowing that she was a prostitute. It was very strange. But Denmark has a huge problem with prostitutes now. In 1999 when Denmark legalized prostitution, there were about 900 prostitutes. Now there are over 6000. Many of them are trafficked, but it is nearly impossible to prove.

Luckily my horrible, stupid, waste-of-time 8:30 class tomorrow has been canceled so I don't have to wake up at 6:00. But on Wednesday, I went into Jutland with my Criminology class and we toured an open prison. It was a little boring, not gonna lie. But I think that was just because I've already been to one before. This at least looked like a prison--there were fences. But the gates were all open. Part of the prison is designed to become a closed prison for overflow, so there are a lot of unused security measures in place. One of the prisoners who was on the tour with us was a 22 year old ex-gang member. He was in prison for kidnapping, molesting someone (we weren't told the age), threatening people, and for collecting on debts. He claims to have turned his life around, but I wonder how much of it was just an act for the prison staff on the tour. The other prisoner was in for his 3rd arrest for drunk driving. There is absolutely no excuse for that, but especially in Denmark where there is SO MUCH mass transit! There are night buses that run all during the night, even on weeknights. And the trains run all night too. He apparently has also changed. If these men have, it certainly isn't the prison system that converted them. Honestly, I don't understand how anyone is deterred from crime here.

Tomorrow I am going to try and find the post office so I can mail postcards! I have about 5 that I just keep not mailing. Some are from my trip to Paris and some are just from Copenhagen. But I don't know where the post office is, so I just haven't mailed them still.

I really like being in Denmark, but I know that I will be ready to come home in May. It's hard to believe that I've been here for 2 months already. My time spent at my other host family's apartment feels like a different time...almost a dream. I was so unhappy there and I am so happy here that the 2 are completely incomparable. Is that a word? Well, it describes the total disparity between my 2 Danish residences. Before I just had a room, but I actually feel at home here. It's nice to finally be able to relax.

Friday, March 19, 2010

France via Photos, part 2

Here are the rest of my pictures from my week in Paris!

The famous Moulin Rouge

Napoleon's Tomb

in front of Notre Dame with Megan and Amanda

I light a candle in Notre Dame

inside the Louvre

The Mona Lisa!

I just thought this was pretty :)

At night before our dinner cruise

Oh man, best dessert ever!

One of the train stations had letters everywhere, all over the ceiling and walls. I looked up and this is what I saw! I was really excited to find my name :)

Sacre Coeur