less sugar-filled but just as excited

Hi, my friends!!!!

We have some catching up to do!! If I haven’t talked to you in awhile, I would love to hear about what’s happening with sweet wonderful important you via email or Facebook message or text or Snapchat or any fancy form of communication. And if you want a postcard, send me your address!! Mail is my favorite thing.

If you don’t have a soundtrack for your day yet, I would suggest “It’s a Good Day” by Kay Starr. The sweetest song!!! Anyway, I am so grateful for some time to be able to write this, because this past week or so has felt very go-go-go. I wrote before about life being big here. I think I want to edit that sentence to make it this one:

Life is saturated here.

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This life is saturated with streets worthy of wide-open eyes, and meals worthy of savored bites, and small moments of kindness and wonder, adding up all day, repeating again and again with each sunrise so the weeks read like one long “Thank you” note. I just can’t snap out of feeling like I live in a movie.

I laughed out loud seeing 20 three-year-olds sitting happily on the train platform, pointing at the sleek red trains as they hummed beneath little baby feet. My heart swelled a few sizes when an elderly woman on the bus offered her extra kroner to a girl just my age, panicking because she’d come up short a few coins for the fare. My host family noticed my amazement, standing at the picture window, because God paints the most beautiful red-yellow-blue sunsets each night as we sit down to share dinner together.

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I remember a conversation from early on in college, with a couple of girls the year older than I am, about how quick we are to deem things “the worst.” They commented on how every small problem we have gets magnified: writing papers becomes “the worst” and slow walkers on the bridge are “the worst” and not getting out of class early enough to get Commodore Chicken is “the worst.” And then they declared that not everything is “the worst” and they were going to hold each other accountable in order to stop saying that, because there is no possible way that the grievances we complain are “the worst” are actually so.

I doubt they remember that conversation in that car over a year ago (hi Jenny and Anna!!), but it’s a conversation, one I didn’t participate in but was listening to, ears peeled, that stuck. And so when another friend (hi Browncat!!) decided that her new word to affirm with was “amazing”, I did too.

Complaining about a situation is easy and my first route when I want to participate in conversation or connect with people. But then I realized how much I hate when I complain, and decided that if I couldn’t find anything “amazing” about a situation, I wouldn’t say anything at all. This is hard for me because I like talking. But I think the words we use are significant; they can bring people and situations to life, or they can relegate entire experiences to being “the worst.”

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I understand that there are difficult situations written throughout our lives, ones that might merit a “the worst” label in the moment. But the amazing part I’ve learned about those situations is that they teach us a lot about who we are and who our God is. And especially while I’m here in a beautiful new country, cultivating gratefulness rather than bitterness is important–for my parents, for Vanderbilt, for my friends, for me.

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This week was the one where I left Copenhagen and the one where Copenhagen became home. It’s funny but not surprising that the two go hand in hand. This week was Core Course Week, a week DIS schedules where we don’t go to any regularly scheduled classes. We all sign up for a core course, a class in a major discipline with academic travel linked to it. I decided to take my core course on Prostitution and the Sex Trade.

Prostitution is legal in Denmark, but policies vary throughout the Nordic region and rest of Europe. This past week, we spent two days in Copenhagen and two days in Sweden, a short drive across Øresund Bridge, connecting the two countries. The class is eye-opening and heartbreaking in a lot of ways. There’s too much to write here, but if you’d like to hear about it, I would just love to talk to you about it!

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There were 44 of us on the trip to Sweden, and we loved it. After all of our lectures and presentations, we got to explore the cities of Malmö and Gothenburg. Gothenburg was definitely the highlight, as we got to spend all of Friday night at Liseberg, the largest amusement park in Scandinavia. Y’all, it was amazing.

We went on 6 or 7 rides, some several times, and were just not disappointed. The kiddie rides weren’t even disappointing. Europeans take their amusement parks seriously! The park closed at 11, and when we realized the wooden roller coaster was still running, four of us sprinted halfway across the park to ride it two more times by 10:49. By the end of the night, we fell into our cozy little hostel beds and conked out.

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On the bus ride back to Copenhagen, it felt like this place had become more like home to each of us. Through sleepy eyes, we each chimed in about our lazy Saturday plans. Pretty much everyone’s included a bed or a couch and some Netflix and snacks. As much as we all loved being in Sweden together, we needed to recharge. Sometimes I see tourists walking the streets of Copenhagen and realize how different our lives are. Their lives in Copenhagen are a little bit like my 24-hour life in Malmö and Gothenburg: on the go, exploring, taking it all in. I’m thankful for the extended time I have in Copenhagen so it can feel like a real-life home.

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The semester will just pick up from here–in just a couple weeks, Adeline, Laura and I will be exploring Germany, Austria, and Prague, and then two weeks later my class is off to Amsterdam. I know it is a privilege to have such a support system back in the States and am overwhelmingly grateful for each one of you! Thank you for continuing to love me well, and keep me updated on how to care for you!!


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