Tellus: (tel’us), n. 1. [Latin] earth, soil, and the land; a country; the world. 2. a collection of Willamette University student’s insights, stories, photos and thoughts from their experiences studying abroad.

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A Snapshot From My Life Abroad

At the end of last month, my friend Mariah and I flew off to London for nine days of seriously, SERIOUSLY jam-packed exploring. We saw Buckingham Palace, celebrated the arrival of a very royal baby (free flags! old men dancing!), ate fish and chips, crossed Abbey Road, investigated (har, har) Baker Street, and did the grand viewing of The London Eye, Westminster Abbey, and Big Ben (as well as both Regent’s and Hyde Park) — I’m now confident I can navigate nearly any subway or metro system, regardless of language. The bus stations didn’t always appear where we expected them to, but the buses have two stories so you win some and lose some, I guess. We saw the Van Goghs at the National Gallery, and marveled at the Natural History Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum. Our last day was spent wandering the famous Oxford Street, trying not to break the bank, all the while snacking on street waffles and milkshakes.

We also attended a rather fancy-looking club (for free!) which was a neat experience that I probably will never do again! But, much to Mariah’s utmost joy, a few of Beyonce’s backup dancers happened to be there. Who knew?

We did so much walking that at the end of each day, my feet hurt like never before, and since the trip, my left ankle hasn’t quite been the same. I’m not yet physically equipped for such a fast-paced, demanding city, though I loved every minute there. London is quite the shift from mostly-quiet and comparatively-small Aalborg (I called Aalborg small once and I was laughed at by a few Danes — my apologies, I come from an even smaller city, so it’s ok, I can say things like that). It’s a massive international hub, and I heard tons of languages. Despite the (still shocking) ability I had there to read every sign and advertisement perfectly, I felt like I was in many different places at once.

We returned to rainy, chilly Denmark, met with equally dismal (but not all bad) work on our upcomoing project, which is due in three days. It’s hard to believe May is coming to an end already, and I have less than three weeks left abroad. Mariah and I did manage to make it over to Copenhagen for 2 days, which was a nice look into the big city life of Denmark. We visited Tivoli and rode a bunch of rides with screaming schoolchildren, saw the wild district of Christiania, viewed the Rosenborg Castle, explored Nyhavn for that quintessential Copenhagen canal-shot, and wrapped up our visit with some photos with “Den Lille Havfrue” (The Little Mermaid) herself. I also had a tattooed Danish man pierce my left ear with a large needle (intentionally, I paid him — this was no act of wild Danish rage against me). All in two days’ work.

Finally, yesterday was the famous Aalborg Karneval (the largest Carnival in all of Nothern Europe) in which 200,000 people (locals and tourists alike) dress up and flood the streets, insanely drunk and ready to party all day and all night. And then some, probably. A few of my housemates and I woke up promptly at 8 AM, put on our costumes, cooked some breakfast, and by 9:30 that morning, as per true Danish tradition, we took horrible shots of this licorice vodka which seems to appear nearly everywhere in Denmark. I know you Danes love your licorice — but will never be ready for it, especially at nine in the morning. The day was nuts, and I lost my steam around 5 PM as my cat ears began to cascade off my head. Never have I seen so many people on the streets of Aalborg, and so many Aalborg-locals disobeying pedestrian traffic laws! It feels good to jaywalk, doesn’t it, guys? Come on. Everyone in London is doing it!

The sun is like, kind of here, but not often. I have gotten used to the grayness of it all, however, and am in for a rude awakening upon my imminent return to California.

I really will miss this charming little city I’ve had the privilege to call my home for four months, and the wonderful friends that have come along with it. I’m a bit sad to be packing up my room in the next week, folding up maps and somehow cramming everything back into my suitcase. But, fast approaching, I have a European reunion with Ryan, a quick trip to Barcelona, one last presentation to finish up my project, and, hopefully, a fast stop in Sweden. Then, I’ll be back on a plane to the states after a whirlwind of goodbyes — going from one life experience and onto the next is never an easy feat.

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