Back to Germany for a visit to Munich!

Before going to Munich, I had pretty high expectations. A friend from exchange, Dominik, studies there so it is fair to say I had heard a lot about it. Luckily all that I heard was true and I really liked it (especially with my personalized maps – thanks Dominik!)

IMG_3960

Some cool things in and around Munich:

* The Surfers

There may be no beach in Munich but there are still surfers. How you may ask? Well replace the sand with snow and the sea with a river and you have surfing Munich style. I am unsure if these guys were aware that it was in fact cold, but if they were it certainly wasn’t stopping them or their style.

IMG_3890

IMG_3885

IMG_3888

* The university and surrounding area

Again, the university building was stunning. Apparently it is amongst Germany’s oldest university and the entrance foyer is quite majestic. The surrounding area was probably my favourite part of Munich. It was filled with students and hence cheap and funky cafes and food places.

IMG_3914

*Dachau Concentration Camp.

Ok not really ‘cool’. This palce, althought definitely worth a vist, was not what I would call enjoyable. This was the frist Nazi Concentration Camp in Germany. It was quite daunting walking around the buildings considering and imagining the torture that went on here. I still can’t, and don’t think I or anyone will ever be able to fully comprehend it. You could just feel in the air, that nothing joyous ever happened there.

IMG_3931

IMG_3933

IMG_3945

*Japanish eller Danese?

I think I invented a new language in Munich – a mix between Danish and Japanese. Let me explain. For those of you who don’t know, back home I learnt Japanese for about 7 years befor having to stop studying it for 1.5 years. Before stopping though I had a reasonable grip on the language. Then I went to Denmark where I learnt Danish. Now Danish and Japanese aren’t exactly related, or similar in anyway really. So when I met my Japanese room mate and we started talking in Japanese, well I got a little confused. In one sentence I would subconciosuly combine Danish and Japanese. Often it would be Japanese words with Danish grammer with the random Danish word here and there. It is fair to say, I didn’t make too much sense…

I think it is fair to say, I will be back in Munich one day!

Ballet and friends in Vienna

My time in Vienna was lovely. Suddenly everything felt familiar again. Maybe it was the sound of german, not too distant from danish, or that I was in a city where my friends lived or visited often. But something about this city was comforting. As I arrived I was hit with a blizzard. Snow was EVERYWHERE! I thought I had seen a reasonable amount of snow in my life, but nothing quite the same as this. The streets were covered, as far as you could see (which wasn’t very far at all) was white, and man it was cold! I took refuge in a classic Viennese Café, ‘Café Central’. That afternoon I met up with a friend, Marlene, who I met on exchange. We went back to her house where I was staying and after a quick dinner (yep 10 mins flat), I was off to the ballet!! Yes the ballet!!!!!! (ok so I was a little excited maybe…)

IMG_3771

Every since I was little, I have wanted to see a ballet. For some reason though, I had never been. This year for Christmas however, my brother and sister gave me a ticket to see one whilst in Europe! After discussions with friends and their European expertise, I decided that the Opera Theatre in Vienna was the place to go. Whilst I didn’t know the ballet, everything about that night was magical. The theatre, the gracefulness of the dances, the live orchestra. I may have been slightly under dressed (jeans aren’t really the most adequate dress for the opera), but I didn’t care. I was at the ballet!

IMG_3766

IMG_3780

The next day I toured the sites of Vienna. Starting out at Schloss Schönbrunn (a former summer residence/castle), I walked the snow covered castle grounds. When I started sinking a foot into the snow, I decided it was best to return to the snow cleared streets of the city centre. I essentially walked district 1 (the city centre). I must say, I feel Australian universities could do a little better…Vienna University was more like a palace. Come on Australia – you and your uni’s need to age a little! That night Marlene and I went ice-skating in front of Rathaus (the Town Hall). I successfully managed to avoid running into anyone, or having anyone run into me, despite some near fatal incidences. It was so much fun, ad something I really love about European Winter.

IMG_3785

IMG_3799

IMG_3841

IMG_3848

The following day, after a rather large breakfast with Marlene and Julia (another friend form exchange), Marlene and I ventured in search of a view. We ended up on the roof terrace of a uni building. My afternoon was spent seeing ‘Hundertwasserhaus’. These quirky were designed and built as the result of the Austrian artist, Friedensriech Hundertwasser who had the idea the straight lines were godless and hence no straight line exists in these buildings. I then went to this beautiful and large park before returning home, where Marlene and I enjoyed a relaxing night watching a movie.

IMG_3870

I think I met Prague’s parents…Budapest

Budapest was a special place. It felt a bit like the parents of Prague. Everything was on a bigger scale; the elaborate buildings, the river, the mountains.

IMG_3703

IMG_3664

After arriving quite late after a 7 hour train trip, my first ‘day’ in Budapest consisted of food and then bed. However my hostel – ‘Hipster Hostel’ – was fantastic. The two owners offered me their home cooked Hungarian chicken stew and we sat down and shared a meal. It was such a lovely welcome and trust me, when you are travelling alone, sharing a meal with people is something you really appreciate.

IMG_3715

The next day my legs and I went to explore the city. Basically I just walked. Budapest is the sort of city that you can just keep on walking and continually discover things. Probably the most beautiful building was the Parliament Houses. Situated on the river, they are not that unlike from a castle.

IMG_3692

IMG_3669

The next day, feeling like a good coffee and a little bit of home, I went to a café called ‘My Little Melbourne’. Whilst perhaps the whole ‘Australian feel’ was a little overdone, and the coffee not the best, the relaxation factor bit the spot. After some relaxation I was in the mood for a walk and so went for a walk up the mountain to catch a fabulous view of Budapest.

IMG_3727

IMG_3721

That afternoon I went to Szabdsagter. These are traditional thermal baths, something Budapest is famous for. I managed to be there at what I felt the perfect time. The sun was setting and outside, despite the negative degrees, sitting in a hot bath (more like a swimming pool) was surreal. I could see the sky turning beautiful shades of yellow and pink, and the air was misty from the water vapour. Despite all the noise from others enjoying the baths, if I put my ears under the water, it was like I was all alone. Unfortunately I didn’t have my trusty phone to take any photos with 😦

There was something so interesting about Budapest. Whilst from a glance it was this great, majestic city, with grand buildings lining the streets, when you looked closely, you could see evidence that not everything here was grand. The bottoms of buildings just two blocks back from the main streets were crumbling. Homeless people sat begging at each street corner. Yet this didn’t detract from the city’s beauty. In a way it made it more interesting, as you could really see it’s age.

IMG_3678

Pip in Prague

Prague was a city full of unexpected, delightful surprises. Before going, everyone said Prague was something special, but I wasn’t really convinced. After 3 days though I am convinced. Actually after the first night I was convinced.

IMG_3549

Prague is interesting place. The buildings are magnificent and old, and the bridges that cross the river are so beautiful. The castle upon the hill is like out of a fairy tale. Yet surprisingly most of my time spent in Prague was just in coffee shops and walking.

IMG_3580

I went to this fantastic coffee shop, Můj šálek kávy. The atmosphere here was so chilled and I felt like I was at home. I quite happily read my book in that café for a few hours, enjoying great coffee. Coffee that I could afford to buy two cups worth, especially after living in Copenhagen for 6 months…

IMG_3554

After living in the world of Narnia for a few hours, I decided that perhaps I should also explore some of the famous sites in Prague. I took a walk up towards the castle situated on top of a hill. When I arrived I was greeted with a fantastic view of the city. I then ventured to find the Lennon Wall, which was surprisingly small, but still cool. Now it was at about this time I realised how cold it was!! -4 degrees is pretty cold, even with two pairs of gloves on. And once you are cold, you never quite warm up. I ventured back to my hostel, where I learnt an important lesson. Never put your freezing cold hands under warm water – it kind of hurts.

IMG_3590

IMG_3576

That night I decided to treat myself to a dinner in this vegetarian restaurant. Everything in Prague is incredibly cheap so it is hard to resist a good meal. It was here that my view of the Czech character really developed. After finishing up, I went to pay with my card as I had no cash on me. The restaurant however wasn’t quite up to date with the current systems, and still used those old fashioned card machines which imprint the cards number (not too sure how exactly it works…). Naturally my card was not old enough and so couldn’t be used. I explained this to the waiter who promptly told me there was an ATM about a 5 minute walk away. They let me go, with complete trust in me that I would come back to pay my bill. I really was astounded. When I arrived back they smiled, let me pay and wished me a good night.

IMG_3598

IMG_3599

The next day started out much the same…in a coffee shop. This one, though not as good, had a quirky feel to it. There is something comforting about reading your book, listening to an ABBA sound track being played throughout the café and hearing chatter in a language you can’t understand at all.

IMG_3593

My afternoon consisted of a lovely picnic (well until my hands froze), and I walk up a mountain to see Petrin. This is a replica of the Eifel Tower, yet is 1/5 of the height. Funny enough though if you climb to the top of the tower (which I didn’t), you are 5 times the height of the Eifel tower, due to the varying sea levels.

IMG_3614

My last day/ morning was lovely as I got to meet up with Jasmine, a friend from exchange. We were by chance both in Prague and so met up for breakfast. It was so nice to be able to chat over a meal with someone and say our final goodbyes. Well that wasn’t nice, but it was super cool being able to see you Jasmine!!

I am now headed for Budapest, where it is apparently warmer (about 2 degrees). After my mind being blown away by Prague, I don’t know what to expect with Budapest!

An afternoon in Hamburg

Another train ride, another blog. I think this is the way it is going to work. I am really loving train travel at the moment. The trains aren’t busy, the scenery is great and I can just spend the time reading and listening to music. Outside the fields have a white dusting of snow and the trees look so beautiful with snow lining their branches. I don’t think I will ever stop to marvel at the beauty of snow. This train trip would be even better if it weren’t for the Scottish bagpipe music I can currently hear from a fellow passenger…

Yesterday I arrived in Hamburg, and spent the afternoon trying to get a glimpse of the city. From what I saw (which wasn’t much), it is really nice city. I decided to go to St. Michaelisis church. This church was built in 1606, and has since been built another 2 times on the same site. It was originally built as an expansion of St. Michaelis chapel, however in 1750 it was struck by lightning and burnt down. It was rebuilt however due to construction work it burnt down again in 1906. The new rebuilt church was damaged in the war however was able to be repaired and today it stands tall over the city.

IMG_3481

IMG_3494

Feeling a little energetic I took the stairs, which I slightly regretted halfway up. Climbing 100+ meters up stairs isn’t fun, especially when there is a lift. In the end though it was worth it. The view was spectacular. You could see all over Hamburg, and I think I got there at the perfect time. The sun was setting over the city, and was so beautiful. I stayed up there for ages enjoying seeing the sun again (it had been a while).

IMG_3503

I also realised how much Danish has been programed into my brain. I accidently bumped into someone at the train station as I was looking down at my phone and instead of saying ‘sorry’ in English, I immediately said ‘undskyld’ without even thinking about it.

~a little while later on my train journey~

The train is currently weaving its way along side this beautiful river. The mountains are popping up all over the place and cute little German houses are everywhere. I am tempted to get out at the next stop and just stay in this town! There are even castles on the top of stone capped mountains!!

[please note – I have not yet mastered the art of taking photos on high speed rail]

IMG_3521

IMG_3519

IMG_3508

Next stop however is Prague, of which I have heard is a fantastic city. Looking at sub zero temperatures which is going to be interesting, however hopefully after living in Denmark I can survive!

A new step in the adventure!

Once again I am sitting on a train, but this time it is because I am leaving Denmark. The snow is dappled upon the hills (not mountains – Denmark is much too flat) and the sun is shining through the clouds. As I was waiting for my train this morning the snow fell on my eye lashes, covered my hair and as per usual, my hands were freezing! But to me, I’m not just leaving Denmark. I am leaving the most beautiful country, a place that has become known as my home. Copenhagen is an amazing city, but actually it is the people that make it what it is.

IMG_0683

This week has felt like a highlighted version of this. I had the pleasure of staying with the most amazing lady, Daniella. We met at ‘speed friending’ at church in August and were immediately friends. Over the past 6 months we have become closer and closer and so staying with her and her parents this week was so nice! Today my throat is sore and my eyes are tired, but that is only as a result of talking too much (not really, that isn’t possible with Daniella!) and staying up way past my bedtime (9:30pm felt a little early). Yet I don’t care, because I am going to miss her so much!! She put up with my poor attempts at speaking Danish, but I feel I was justified as she tried to speak Australian.

DSC_0464

But in Copenhagen I became friends with some other amazing people too! Yesterday and this morning were just a few examples of that. Yesterday was my last day at Hillsong Copenhagen for a while. The friends I made there, and the opportunities that were provided to me I will never forget. I know you have heard me talk about it before, but seriously I cannot express how much this church and the people inside it meant to me! Yesterday friends made me cake, prayed for me, went out of their way to say bye and gave me advice I hope I never forget. If any of you are reading this – meget tak fordi du er så amazing. Du er min venner og jeg vil selfølgelig savne dig. Hver søndag i Hillsong Kids og kirken bliver jeg meget glad. Mange mange tak!! This morning two friends, Steph and Cecilie surprised me at the station and said good bye. I was so shocked and absolutely loved having both of you there to see me off! Thank you! When I was told last night I had to say good bye in 5 mins, I knew this wasn’t possible. I think it took me maybe 30 minutes. Hillsong du er min familie!! (ok apologies for the randomness of that whole section – I am feeling a bit confused right now)

IMG_3472

But now it is time for the adventure to take a turn. I am currently on the train to Hamburg, where I begin my big back packing adventure around Europe for a month. 27 days of living out of one bag, in hostels, on my own and seeing sights I have been dreaming of. It is going to be a month full of surprises, fun, snow, trains and hopefully meeting some people along the way. I am excited to see how it will all turn out and can’t believe that I will be home in less than a month!!

IMG_3465

Vi ses København!! Tusind tak 😀

The things you learn on exchange

As I sit on the train home after an evening spent with my friends Daniella and Luca in ‘our’ cafe/restaurant, I am realising what a special time I have had here in Copenhagen. My time here is quickly coming to an end and so over the past few days I have been thinking a lot about all that I have learnt whilst on exchange. Although it may look like I came here just for fun and games, I actually came here hoping to learn things both at university and about myself and life in general. I can happily say I most definitely have! This list isn’t exhaustive in any means – some things, like how to make lasagna, are a little personal and I would rather not share to the world, but here is a summarised list, in no particular order.

1. How to build a snow man

It snowed the other day in Copenhagen, and whilst I have seen a fair bit of snow in my life time (especially considering I am Australian), I still get really excited when I see snow floating down. Those little white snow flags look so pretty and often to the embarrassment of myself, I can’t contain my excitement. So when it began snowing and there was a (thin) layer of snow covering the ground, I decided it was time to build a snowman! Little did I know, this is much harder then you think. To build a snowman you need to acquire buttons (or blueberries), carrot and when assembling the snowman one must ‘handle with care’. As I discovered, you can’t just shove each body part together. No. Sadly this results in you smashing your snowman to pieces. One must be patient, avoid in coming snowballs and be willing to sacrifice your scarf and beanie so your snowman doesn’t look completely strange.

IMG_3405

2. How to make dinner out of seemingly nothing, or the most random array of ingredients. Or both.

Quite often these last 6 months I have come home to a fridge comprising of what seems like nothing. Maybe some potato, a carrot, cheese and lettuce. Yep not much to make a meal. But when the supermarket is far away (ok I admit – it is across the street), sometimes in your desperation to just eat something you somehow manage to come up with a meal. I am not sure if it is because at 9:30pm my stomach isn’t too fused about what I am eating, as long as it is food, or it is my cooking skills, but somehow the meal usually tastes pretty good. It has also made me really really appreciate how nice it is living at home and being able to come home late and night knowing Mum or Dad has already done the hard work and cooked dinner. Thanks Mum and Dad!

IMG_2308

3. How to ride a bike in any weather.

Yep any weather! Rain, snow, wind, sun (yes occasionally the sun comes out in Denmark), during the day, at night. Anytime!! Riding a bike is basically how you become Danish when in Copenhagen. They have the most lovely biking oaths everywhere which really make it easy to ride any time. Sure sometimes as I was riding along Ørestad Boulevard (a really long straight street) to come home I would not really have the best time due to wind and rain slamming against my face, almost pushing me backwards. But all in all biking the past 6 months has been such a joy. It really is part of what makes Copenhagen Copenhagen, and even when you are riding home late at night, there are always others doing the same thing. I had to sell my bike yesterday, and I really am going to miss it 😦

IMG_1497

4. How to speak Danish.

Well almost. In 6 months I am so surprised with how much Danish I have learnt. Taking classes at uni was definitely a good decision, especially the pre-semester course, but actually I think I learnt most of my Danish from 3 and 4 year olds. Speaking to the kids at Hillsong Kids was amazing. Kids don’t seem to care if you say the wrong thing, and when they only understand Danish, you are kind of force to speak it. I think I have really shocked myself as well, that when sitting around a table with my danish friends, sometimes they would switch into Danish and I would still be able to follow the conversation. I wish I was staying longer so I could become completely fluent, but in 6 months, I am pretty proud of my efforts, especially coming from an english speaking background.

IMG_0712

5. All about European geography. Well nearly.

So before coming on exchange I will admit, my European geography wasn’t the best. I may have had difficulties describing where Germany was, let alone Denmark. My friends in Denmark quickly discovered this and so for my birthday I received a map of Europe. Since then my skills have quickly developed, and I can now tell Europeans where random Austrian towns are!

IMG_1848

6. How to ride on the right hand side of the road.

When I first arrived I remember being completely confused by all the cars driving on the right hand side of the rode. Each time I would cross the road, I would look the wrong way. Going around round-er-bouts was just completely confusing and doing funny left hand turns the danish way – well that took some getting used to. But now my brain has changed and the thought of driving on the other side of the road is foreign. All those in Australia – watch out on the roads when I first get home!

7. Australian’s are a little weird.

Yep – I admit. We are a little quirky and say some strange things, like ‘capsicum’ and ‘heaps’. But you know what – I love that. I think it is cool that we have weird accents, and come from a land known for its dangerous animals. Being away from Australia has really made me realise what a special place I come from. Nowhere is like it! When I go back home I really want to remember this and really see more of my amazing country. I think it is so easy to want to go overseas and explore other places, but it has shocked me that people from Denmark (a tiny dot on the world map) have seen more of my own country than I have.

8. Winter doesn’t really exist in Wollongong, Australia.

I know we think it does, but 15 degrees doesn’t really count as winter. For me now, that almost seems like summer weather!! When I look at the weather forecast now, if I see anything above 5 degrees I think it is warm. If it isn’t raining, I think it is a nice day. If it is sunny, it might as well be summer. Not to say – I am not looking forward to coming home and having a proper summer again!!!! As nice as snow can be, once it turns to brown mush the novelty kind of wears off. Also with snow, comes cold weather (surprise surprise). Also going for a run wearing leggings, a jumper, beanie and gloves and coming back after 7kms still not hot  isn’t really the nicest…Another thing – when it is winter in Europe, you really must allow an extra  minutes to allow time to put on all your clothes!

9. Part of exchange includes goodbyes.

No one ever tells you this when you go exchange. Everyone always talks about how awesome it is, but they forget to mention the part about having to say goodbye to all your friends you made whilst overseas. The past few weeks, and the week to come have been full of goodbyes. I know when I leave Denmark on Monday there will be tears. I know I will be a mess. But at least then I know that my time here was worth it. Well I already know that. I am excited for the times I will get to see my friends here again, whether it be in Australia or somewhere else in the world! But the good bye part ain’t fun.

10. My friends and family are AWESOME!!

Ok so I knew this before I came on exchange, but being here has really highlighted even more so. To my friends and family back in Australia, despite me being on the other side of the world, in a completely different environment and timezone, we still have managed to stay in close contact. Thank you for all being so supportive of my trip, and your messages, letters and Skype talks have been really cherished and valued!  I have missed each and everyone one of you so much, and am counting down the days until I am back home and get to hang out with you all again.

And to my friends here in Denmark. Wow!! Without you, this exchange would have been not nearly as good. The countless dinners, laughs, adventures around Europe and memories will never be forgotten and nor will you. I think it is awesome that I have made so many great friends from so many different places and that we met in that cool little place called Copenhagen. Also to everyone at Hillsong Copenhagen – you have been my family away from home. Each week I am counting down the days until it is Sunday, and the amount that you guys mean to me is not even possible to describe (that is why it sounds like I am saying the same thing over and over again – sorry). The friendships I made at hillsong are so special to me and I am incredibly sad to be leaving. A special mention to all those who are a part of Hillsong Kids. You guys are the most amazing team of people, who I look up to and you have all taught me so much. Each Sunday serving with you all is the highlight of my week, and I just want to say thanks for being so awesome!! I know I will be back and can’t wait to see and hear all the stories that come out of Hillsong CPH. Make sure you keep me updated!!

10929066_10155147092940346_2030711155951445481_nIMG_1901

9.