Believe it or not, this is how Hungarian people pronounce their capital city!

What a trip. I cannot believe how amazingly organized DIS is as a study abroad program. After meeting so many friends and friends of friends in various cities the past few months, no one has as many trips with their class as I do. I just spent a week in a new city with the opportunity to explore the actual city, learn about positive psychology there, and get to know my classmates and teacher in a new environment. We had academic, cultural, and social elements of the trip that were planned, as well as plenty of time to do what we wanted on our own.

We began our trip early Sunday morning, as we had to meet at the airport at 8a.m. I was about to take my first-ever connecting flight, and I was very nervous that my checked bag would not make it to Budapest. I was also worried about our 50-minute layover in Frankfurt, Germany, as I knew that even a small delay from Copenhagen would make us miss the second flight. Although we arrived on time in Frankfurt, we never stopped within the airport to regroup as a class; Kamilla walked pretty quickly at the front of the group and expected that we keep up. Two girls ended up back in security somehow instead of continuing to our next gate, so Kamilla actually had to ask the flight attendants to hold the plane for them. I can’t even imagine how stressed they probably were. Luckily, the people on the plane were nice about it.

My bags arrived safely with me to Budapest, but three people in my class were missing their bags, so they had to file claims in the airport. All of this ruckus took a while, and we were itching to get out of the airport. It was the warmest day that we’d have in the city, and we wanted to make the most of it.

A coach bus picked us up at the airport to drive us to the hotel, about a 35-minute ride. On the way there, the tour guide gave us some basic info about the city, explaining things like the currency (which is a super weird adjustment—about 280 “Hungarian Forint” is 1 USD—)and our transportation passes. We also learned that Budapest wasn’t always one city; it used to be two: Buda and Pest. The Danube River divides the two areas, and we were driving to the Pest side, which is much flatter. The tour guide made a comment about the city being super accessible for people with dietary restrictions like gluten-free or vegan, and everyone turned to look at me! I was very excited about this.

We finally arrived at our hotel around 4p.m. (long day of traveling!), dropped our stuff in the rooms (I had the same roommate as I did on the core course week trip, Martha), and headed back down to the lobby for some exploring. We had about a half hour before meeting Kamilla and our class at the hotel for a short guided tour of the city, with some suggestions of places to go later in the week. After going to the bridge that divides Buda from Pest and taking some beautiful pictures of the water and the green Chain Bridge, we headed back. Kamilla showed us the largest synagogue in all of Europe (and the second largest synagogue in the world), and she suggested we do a tour of it in our free time. She also took us to the street food market and the Ruin Bars, which we planned to visit later in the week.

Our first group dinner was at a fancy-looking restaurant close to our hotel. The menu was pre-set, and there was a gluten-free vegetarian option for me and my friend Sara. Honestly, the food would not have been my first choice if I ordered off a menu, but I was so incredibly hungry that it was completely fine. I hadn’t eaten real food since much earlier that day at the airport. We had three courses. After dinner, we had the night to ourselves, and I walked with a big group of people towards Fisherman’s Bastion, a beautiful village in Buda that overlooks all of Pest. The view was stunning; we tried to take pictures, but we all agreed that they did not do the scenery justice. I’ve never seen a city so lit up before. (Well, maybe New York…not a European city at least.) It was still fairly early after we were done hanging around Buda, so we decided to get some gelato. I randomly looked up gelato in google maps and directed the group towards a place that was a 20-minute walk away. It happened to be the most famous gelato in all of Budapest: Gelarto Rosa! The gelato was like artwork. The people scooping it arranged each flavor into little flower petals (see pictures!). We were all very happy. We headed back to our hotel, deciding to go to sleep instead of going to a bar, as there were plenty of nights ahead of us. Plus, Monday was our earliest morning.

We woke up on Monday morning and started our day with a group breakfast at the hotel. There were plenty of different options. I was psyched to be able to start my day with a good meal each day of the trip, especially since traveling with a large group is a little hard for me with eating (more on this later). Our first academic session was a lecture at a nearby hotel conference room. A Hungarian economist specializing in health care came to speak with us. Throughout the week, we’d be having different lectures relating to living in Budapest, and we were instructed to think about how each of these topics promoted happiness and well-being in the city. He talked to us about some of the factors that could undermine well-being and economics in a city, such as low levels of innovation, which is something that Budapest has struggled with in the past.

After the lecture, we had a few hours to explore on our own before meeting back up with the group, so I went with 11 other classmates (the 12 of us kind of stuck together throughout this trip) to the synagogue. We waited on a short line to buy tickets for a tour. The area inside the Jewish quarter was a bit confusing, but we ended up just listening to a tour guide who was speaking English, and that worked out well. We started in the chapel, which was beautiful. The tour guide gave us a little background about Jews in Budapest. I have to say that I had no idea how much Jewish history exists within Budapest and within all of Hungary, and it was interesting to learn about World War II and other historical events from another country’s perspective. Then, we went outside into the courtyard to look at the memorial. I learned that we were standing in the very spot—the ghetto that had been built in the 1920s—where 2,271 Jews had been killed in the Holocaust. I also learned that 600,000 of the 6 million executed Jews were Hungarian. Most of those people had been deported to Auschwitz, but the remaining people were sent to the Budapest ghetto. After hearing these heartbreaking statistics, our tour guide ended with some uplifting information about the Jewish community in Budapest. There are currently 27 active synagogues in the city, and Budapest has the 4th largest Jewish community in all of Europe. When the tour guide finished talking, my group headed downstairs to the actual ghetto where we read more posters of information. It was extremely heavy. Many of us are Jewish, though, and it was meaningful to have this experience with other people who had many of the same emotions as I did.

We weren’t exactly in the mood for lunch, but we only had a short time to eat before the next class activity, so we walked down the street to Karavan. This was a place Kamilla had highly recommended to us. Most of my friends got the burgers sandwiched between pieces of fried dough, but because that was not appealing to me for many reasons, there were luckily so many other places inside Karavan to buy food. I ended up getting a hummus/Mediterranean bowl with tortilla chips, which was yummy and filling. We all sat together at a big table outside.

The next academic session was with two middle school teachers in Budapest, and they were coming to tell us about how they implement positive psychology within the classroom. The lecture portion of the session was pretty intuitive, as they discussed concepts such as looking at situations with a more positive perspective. Then, we were divided into two smaller groups, and we did a few activities. The first was rating a bunch of statements from 1-10 depending on how stressful we found the described scenario. We then had to defend our numbers and why we stood there. The next activity was finding mutual things we liked and disliked with a partner by counting to three and blurting out a random word we associated with a particular topic. For example, for the topic ‘Budapest,’ my partner and I both exclaimed ‘baths!’. The purpose of doing this was to show us how positive emotions and personal connection can make such a difference in the social dynamics of a classroom. It was a good demonstration.

We had a bit more free time until dinner. Some people used it to nap, but I went with a few friends to walk around the city more. Initially, I was with a few classmates who all decided to look for mulled wine, which I actually hadn’t had since my time in Prague. However, we didn’t find any place that sold it, so we settled for regular wine instead. We walked along the pretty shopping street and the square with the Ferris wheel, the Budapest Eye.

The group dinner was again at a restaurant with multiple courses, dishes that I wouldn’t have selected if I was on my own. The portions were also a bit small, and I left dinner still feeling hungry, so I ended up getting a to-go container of rice closer to our hotel. We walked around a bit more before heading back for the evening and meeting in front of the elevators to check out the pool’s sauna and indoor pool. My friends were excited about the sauna, but I was a little skeptical. I decided to try it, but I only lasted about 30 seconds before feeling like I was choking on hot air. It wasn’t too pleasant, so I kept some other friends company in the main pool area. I didn’t go in the pool, but it was really fun to hang out with everyone. When we took the elevators back up to our floor, we walked out to a bunch of Hungarian people in business suits, and they all started laughing at us! Yes, we were wearing our towels and bathing suits, but I didn’t think it was THAT funny. It was something we talked about throughout the trip.

Tuesday started with a group meeting at breakfast, as we needed to discuss our research questions in more detail to prepare for an activity later that day. In lieu of writing a paper about what we learned about Positive Psychology in Budapest this week, we have a group presentation in class next week, where each group will present on a different aspect of Hungarian culture and its relation to psychology. I’m in a group with four other classmates, so we all got a table together to eat breakfast and discuss. Our topic is “current level of well-being in Budapest, focusing on generational differences.” We decided to break ourselves further into two groups, one focusing on people under 30 and another focusing on 30 and older. We would each walk around the city later that day, asking people “What do you do to live a happy life?” and “What do you think Hungarians do in general to live a happy life?” I suggested that we ask the questions in this order instead of the reverse order, as I learned in my research methods class that it is easy to bias people’s answers if you ask them what “people do” first; they will report that they themselves conform with the general population instead of giving us more specific answers.

The main morning activity was a class visit to the House of Terror, the site of so much Holocaust-related abuse. People there were tortured, slapped, whipped, and killed, and we walked through multiple floors of dirty and depressing cells where this occurred. We all received audio guides when we entered the exhibit, and Kamilla told us to meet outside in two hours, as this was a museum that we all needed to experience individually. In addition to listening to the audio portion about each room in the museum, there were many videos playing, mostly recorded bits from people experiencing the war firsthand. Since I had learned about a lot of the Hungarian Jewish history the day before in the synagogue, learning about World War II in this part of the world was familiar. What was most moving and difficult to absorb was physically walking through all the places people were terrorized and killed. It was a well-done museum, but it was extremely heavy, and after two hours of being alone with my thoughts and my audio guide, I was emotionally exhausted. We gathered outside as a class, and the mood was somewhat solemn. As difficult as it is to learn about history sometimes, I’m glad I got to see that.

Next was lunch at a nearby cafe, which was fairly uneventful. I had a spinach risotto, which scared me at first because of its deep green color, but it ended up being really good.

We had an hour to explore the city, but we needed to interview the local people before spending the time to ourselves. I walked around with Martha, and we decided to target an area near the university since we wanted to find people under 30 years old. We actually found it a bit difficult to pinpoint which people were locals and which were tourists, but at the end of the hour, we had spoken with six different Hungarians. It was interesting to speak with so many different people, and it was even more interesting to hear their responses to our questions about happiness. While some young students and adults told us expected answers as to what they do, such as spending time with boyfriends/girlfriends, friends, family, and sleeping, eating, and relaxing, a few people were genuinely confused by this question. It could have been a language barrier, but people in the younger generations have learned both Hungarian and English, so it probably wasn’t. One girl told us that no one in Hungary is happy; another girl said that Hungary is not a happy country, so if she really wanted to be happy, she would move. I found this shocking at that point in the trip, but as we started to interact more with locals throughout the week, I slowly began to understand why (more on this later).

After the hour of walking around the city, we met up with the rest of the class at a metro station for our next academic visit, the Invisible Expedition. I honestly didn’t know much about what this experience entailed, except for the fact that Kamilla found it extremely worthwhile for us to do. We took a metro, a tram, and walked for quite a bit before reaching the destination. We were introduced to Yvette, who split the class into three groups. I was in the third group, so I chatted with my classmates as we sat in the waiting room for a while. When it was our turn to prepare, we locked our belongings in a locker and sat around a table. I don’t know what Yvette’s face really looks like, as she is blind and wears huge black glasses. She taught us how to write in brail, and then instructed us all to use these typewriter-like things to write our names, when she could then “guess” our names. She got all of them correct. Then, she told us what we were about to do. She would guide us through a completely dark room, through which we would visit several different rooms inside. It was ironic that a blind person was our guide, but the idea was that we would be using our other senses to make our way through, all of which would be heightened. Kamilla waited outside in case anyone freaked out and needed to leave. At first, I wasn’t nervous at all, but once we stepped inside the maze and darkness literally wrapped around us in every direction, I blinked quickly, trying without avail to catch even a bit of light. I found that even if I closed my eyes and then opened them again, the darkness level was the same. It was a darkness I had never experienced. Yvette instructed us to “explore the room” and tell her which objects we could find, so with our hands in front of us, we walked around, bumping into each other occasionally. There were no stairs, but there were definitely corners and big objects, so we had to be careful when reaching out and touching various things. We learned after a while that we were in a kitchen, as there were pots, pans, different fruits and vegetables on the counter. When we discovered something new, we would report to Yvette, who was always amused by our incorrect responses. The next room was a cabin in the woods, followed by a simulation of a busy street with traffic. We needed to use the bumps on the ground and the sounds of the crosswalk to guide us as to when we should walk over. We walked through a bathroom and then a Farmer’s Market. Finally, we went into a room with comfy couches and chairs, and we had a conversation about what we experienced—still very much in the dark. I asked Yvette when she had become blind: 5 years old. I also asked what the thing she missed most was…what did she wish she could see? She said that although she remembered her parents’ faces and her baby dolls and the blue sky and green grass, she’d never quite know what her children look like. As we emerged from the expedition room into the fluorescent lights of the waiting room, I blinked, adjusting. I glanced around at each of my classmates, and I almost started to cry. I was so grateful for my eyesight in a way that, prior to this hour of blindness, I hadn’t experienced. I could see each person around me; I know the faces of all my family and friends. I am so lucky. If you’re wondering what the connection is to positive psychology, there are actually a bunch. First of all, gratitude is something we have learned helps people capitalize on their previous experiences. Additionally, having this museum is a terrific way to employ blind people who may otherwise have difficulty getting the same job opportunities as someone with complete eyesight.

It was 5:30 by the time we left, and we had the rest of the evening to ourselves. A group of us had a dinner reservation for 6:30 though, so we decided to go straight there, as we needed to figure out how to use the tram and metro ourselves this time. We were eating at a trendy restaurant called Mazel Tov, which is primarily Mediterranean and Israeli food. The environment was also so pretty and fun, and the drinks were named after different cities in Israel. I had Tel Aviv, a fruity cocktail, which was really good. We ordered bowls with various combinations of hummus, feta cheese, cucumber and beet salad. It was delicious, and we had such a good time. We were also happily surprised that the restaurant was able to accommodate such a large group, so we didn’t have to split up into two smaller groups.

We walked around again at night. A bunch of people got a classic dessert called a chimney cake, where they didn’t have gluten-free cake. I could have ordered ice cream, but I was so full from dinner anyway that I decided to skip it.

We went back to the hotel for an hour before changing and getting ready to go out to the Ruin Bars. I was close to bailing, getting more tired by the minute, but I did really want to experience the nightlife in Budapest, and we were able to sleep until 8:30 the next day. We didn’t even end up staying out that late, which was perfect. We got drinks at the Ruin Bar, which actually has several different types of bars within the same area. I got “the Ruin Experience,” which was sweet and yummy, and we all sat at a big table and chatted. It was a fun night.

The first event on Wednesday was an “optional” academic visit to the famous Thermal Baths of Budapest, where we could spend time in a place dedicated to enjoyment. Of course, no one wanted to miss out. We took the metro there, and I carried a separate bag of my change of clothes for afterward. Although I was pretty sure I’d have time to come back and shower, I expected to be freezing when I got out of the bath and entered the 57-degree air temperature. We were all really looking forward to this part of the week, as the baths are something everyone who visits Budapest comes back talking about. It was fun to experience the baths altogether, which were super warm, even though they weren’t hot tubs. We took lots of pictures with the pretty buildings outdoors before going inside and checking out some of the different mineral baths. Some of them were flavored, which weirded me out a little, so I sat on the side. Kamilla and our TA both enjoyed the baths as well, and although we could be there until noon, our little crew had had enough by 11:30. We changed in the locker room and went to walk around Hero’s Square, which is a beautiful area of the city right nearby. We started walking back in the direction of the hotel, looking for a place to each lunch simultaneously. Even though our group of 12 ended up splitting off into six and six based on lunch preferences, I was getting tired of wandering around and not knowing what I could eat. This trip was very different than my other traveling experiences in that I was with many more people with many more opinions. I also hadn’t previously mapped out the best gluten-free spots in Budapest because I knew that where I’d be eating would just depend on where I was at a given time. Of course, people wanted to be sensitive to me, but there were also other allergies in the group, and not everyone could be pleased. It’s totally fine; it was just different. I had a very-okay omelet quickly before we headed back to the hotel to shower.

We met Kamilla and the rest of our class in the hotel lobby for our afternoon academic visit, which started with a long tram ride and a long ride. We entered what looked like someone’s house, where two women greeted us and welcomed us into their living room. They talked about their style of community housing, very similar to where we had visited in Western Denmark, except with a more urban and vertical feel because of the location.

After that, we were done with academic commitments for the day. We decided to see the Fisherman’s Bastion area in the sunlight, especially as sunset time was approaching, and it would be a beautiful look-out to watch it. We went supermarket nearby and purchased wine, cheese, grapes, and dark chocolate—an amazing pre-dinner snack. Then, we hiked up the steep hill to the gorgeous village, took a few pictures, and sat with our food, talking and enjoying the view. It was a great way to spend time there. The view—and the sky—was stunning. Next was dinner. Again, we had a reservation for our big group. After my food came wrong twice (it was funny, although the waiters were not so nice about it), I ended up eating the risotto I had ordered initially. We decided not to go out at night, but my friends Hannah and Chandler came to my room and we sat on my bed talking for a while, which was fun. I’m glad I got to know them better during this trip, as well as several other people in my class. And, after hearing a fair share of roommate horror stories abroad from my classmates, I am that much more thankful to share my room and experiences with Adina.

Thursday was our last full day in Budapest, and we had a packed schedule after a bit of a sleep-in, which was nice. We had breakfast at the hotel and then took the elevator to our own hotel’s conference room. A woman who is an educational school mediator—which sounds similar to the American version of a school counselor—came to talk to us about education in Hungary, as well as some methods with a positive psychology twist she uses in her own school. Her first demonstration was about the power of connection, which seemed to be a common theme of lectures this week. We played a game where we had one minute to walk around the room and discover a non-physical similarity with other classmates. We recorded each similarity on a small post-it. I won the game by “connecting with” 12 other people. Besides getting a sticker, I’m happy because I think that connecting with others is such an important skill to continue to cultivate, especially when I embark on new experiences such as studying abroad. The woman also mentioned that connection within Hungary was important to promote in her school, as oftentimes, Hungary is kind of stuck in the middle of a lot of European politics. Some people consider it Eastern Europe while others consider it part of the West, and no one but Hungarians speak their language, which can feel isolating. It can also lead to misunderstandings and miscommunications even with Hungary’s closest neighbors.

After the lecture, we had a few hours for lunch and exploring on our own. It was a beautiful day outside, and I went with my group of 12 to the famous shoe monument on the Danube River. We took a tram to get there a bit faster, and we then walked along the water until we saw them. Dozens of shoes made of metal are built into the ground to memorialize the Jews who died there. There were lines of people tortured on this very boardwalk; the Nazis tied the people together and pushed one into the fast-moving river below, sending all those people to a tragic death. The memorial was difficult to see, similar to other experiences we’d had in Budapest. However, again, I was glad I got to see them. We stood together, arm in arm, all lost in our thoughts as we looked at them. It was nice to have company for this, as I felt like everyone was empathetic and sensitive to each others’ emotional needs and feelings.

When we had looked at the shoes for a while, we walked around the grounds of the stunning and very old Parliament building, which we had seen from across the river the night before at Fisherman’s Bastion. Then, we went to the Budapest Market for lunch so that everyone could get something they liked. Unfortunately, most of the options were Hungarian food, which I have decided is my least favorite cuisine I’ve had so far this semester. Nearly every dish has meat, tomatoes, or bread—often a combination of these foods. All my favorites—ha! I was fine because I found a place that had a salad with feta cheese and rice with mushrooms. We walked quickly back to our hotel for the next academic lecture, which ended up being a favorite. For this academic session, three young Hungarians came to chat with us. They were 22 years old, so we could easily relate to them. We basically just had a question-and-answer session so that we could learn about Hungarian culture while they learned about American culture. I was shocked by some of their responses. First of all, I hadn’t quite realized up until this point how conservative the viewpoint of Hungary was. It’s not only illegal for gays to get married, for example, but it is completely shamed by society, and they said hardly anyone acts on gay sexuality. They asked us some questions about the Trump administration, to which one student assured them that we likely represented a cohort of people who does not favor Trump, and we are not representative of all American viewpoints. The Hungarians told us they felt trapped and unwanted in society, and that if they had the resources to move (and if their families moved also), they would move elsewhere in Europe. They said Budapest is a safe city, but it’s not a classy city.

After our new friends left the room, we debriefed as a class about that experience, as well as all of the experiences we shared over the week. Kamilla asked us to share some of our favorite moments so that we could relive them together—similar to what we had done in class. Then, we all went back to our rooms to change before the dinner cruise, our final class event. The cruise was absolutely incredible. Not only were the views unreal from all sides (and we got to hang out on the roof to take pictures), the food was the best we had all week, and it was a buffet, which was fun. Additionally, DIS gave us three alcoholic drinks… We entered the dining room and had a glass of champagne, and the waiters brought wine and cocktails with dinner.  We all had a great time, and it was a fun way to wrap up the week.

The boat docked around 8:30, and we headed back to the hotel to change for our final night out. First, we stopped at the ruin bar to enjoy that atmosphere again. We ended up talking to some people visiting from London. When I was standing at the bar with one of my friends, two men who were much, much older than us asked to buy us drinks that we obviously turned down. However, they kept trying to talk to us, so we decided to leave the area. Some people went back home after that, but I went with a few friends to a club called Instant, which was so cool. There were all these different rooms, each with its own bar and dj. We hopped around from room to room for a while, following the best music. However, I generally felt uncomfortable by many different people’s stares while I was there, and after a while, I was tired of being so on-edge. The young people had told us gender roles are really defined in Hungary, and I worried that someone creepy would do something scary to us. I stayed in a big group though, and I was very aware of people around me. We headed back around 1, and we packed up for the morning.

This morning, I went with two friends to a nearby gluten-free bakery that I had researched. I was sick of the hotel breakfast, and I wanted to visit at least one place with something specifically gluten-free. We got chocolate croissants, and I was very happy. Then, we spent most of the day waiting in airports and traveling, as we had a longer layover in Munich. Tonight I am catching up on this blog and my journal before the Harnicks arrive in Copenhagen tomorrow. I am SO excited to see them, as well as mom and Aunt Sheila in just a few days. It’s going to be such a fun week, and I can’t wait to show everyone around Cope. Adina also has one of her best friends visiting, as does Goldie next week.

a full week with no flights

Traveling is so exciting, but it was equally nice to stay in Copenhagen for a whole week. I am always happy to return after a weekend away. And, there was a moment when I considered traveling and the end of this week prior to Budapest, but I’m glad I stayed here instead. Here’s a summary of how I kept myself busy in Cope:


  • I had classes as usual on Monday, though it was a relatively quiet day. I was also very tired from my weekend, as even the one-hour time difference threw me off in going to sleep on Sunday night.
  • Adina and I went to the gym, as it was too cold for our typical Monday run.
  • I spent the rest of the evening working on a paper for my psych of peak performance class, and I was very productive.
  • I tried to go to sleep early, but I wasn’t able to fall asleep, which made me frustrated, so I decided to study for Danish instead. Adina took a funny video of me counting in Danish while in bed and wearing my retainers, and after getting all my giggles out, I tried to go to sleep again.


  • It was really sunny outside, and I woke up in a good mood. I headed to the gym, and I also needed to restock on things like paper towels, so I did those errands on my bike. Then, I went to pick up lunch at a new place from my list of places to try (Nordic Noodles) and ate it by the water while making flash cards for Danish. Then, I did some work in a cafe, and I attempted to nap but was unsuccessful.
  • I went out to Old Irish with Adina, Goldie, and Goldie’s friend from high school who is visiting her this week. We also met up with Yoni and his friends there. The music was so much better than it was last week, and we had a really good time. I fell asleep immediately when we got home.


  • I had to wake up very early for a field study with my Travel Writing class. We were given instructions to meet at a metro stop at the very end of the line that’s not near the airport. It took about 20 minutes to get there. We walked with my teacher to a park about 10 minutes away, where we were introduced to a novelist and traveler-hitchhiker. She told us about her recent experience hiking and hitchhiking from the top of the Mexican border all the way through the United States to the Canadian border, which is a well-established trail that takes five months to complete. She was very graphic in describing her journey, including all her injuries and bruises along the way. She embarked on this trip to “find herself,” and face her fears of being alone, and she kept a blog while she was away. A publisher contacted her and asked to make her blog posts into a book, which she had not expected at all. Now, she is publishing that book, and she may write others when she does other backpacking trips. It was interesting to hear about her experiences, although hitchhiking is really not something that sounds appealing to me. We talked with her and asked her questions while sitting in this hut on the water; it was freezing! We didn’t do anything specifically in the outdoors, though, so I was confused as to why we couldn’t have listened to her story in the warmth of a building.
  • I was tired and a little wet after my field study, but I was really looking forward to brunch with Adina when I got back. We had decided we would try Dalle Ralle, which is a brunch buffet place just down the street. Goldie had been there with her host family before and she enjoyed it. I ate so much food! We had eggs, potatoes, cheese, fruits, vegetables, greek salad, and chocolate pudding, and it was really yummy and fun to have a buffet.
  • I stopped at DIS to print my paper for Thursday, and then Adina and I did some work on the second floor of Emmery’s, my favorite spot. I couldn’t stay for too long, though, as it was my second cleaning week in the apartment and I needed to wash the dish towels. I figured I would do my own laundry while I was at it.
  • As I was doing laundry, I saw that the sun had come out, and I was itching to get outside. I decided to go for a bike ride, and although I started on my initial route to the path I usually run, I got myself a little lost (intentionally), as I haven’t done that in a while. It was fun to explore an unknown area for a bit before coming home. I also stopped and chatted with Bella for a while, as we needed to catch up and discuss her upcoming trip to Cope!
    • I was home for the rest of the night, and I finished studying for my Danish quiz on Thursday, as well as getting to sleep early.


  • Although Thursday was a long day, it was very exciting, as it was the last day of classes before another week-long break. (Do we ever have school?) I had a guest speaker in my Positive Psych class about the history of Hungary to prepare us for our study tour, and then Kamilla explained our itinerary. It looks like it’s going to be such a fun and informative week; I’m so excited! We also get a lot of time on our own to explore the city, which is different from Core Course week, where we had to be with the class most of the time.
  • My Danish quiz was challenging but fine. I’m glad it’s over. Now I just have to remember what I studied for our written final, which is actually coming up very soon.
  • In my Travel Writing class, we had another guest speaker, who happened to be friends with the hitchhiker from the day before. This person spoke about her experiences working in the North Pole and journaling about the wildlife she sees there. Because it is so cold there, she explained that she needed to sleep on an insulated mattress, and she said that her body lost so many calories just by sitting still that she would eat chocolate at all hours of the day. That sounds fun. 🙂
  • Adina and I went for a run after class, as the temperature reached the mid-50’s. It felt so warm outside that I didn’t even bring a jacket.
  • I had dinner at Simple Raw with Dani. She lives downstairs and although I don’t see her often, we always have a good time when we hang out. She’s good friends with Hannah from school, which is how I know her. The dinner was so good. We had both been to the restaurant before, but we didn’t know that they changed their menu to add more items! Everything there is gluten free, which is so fun.
  • Adina and I booked our hotel for London, as well as looking into Seders we can have there because it will be Passover. And, Rachel and I booked our hostel for Berlin. I am all booked for the rest of my trips!


  • It was a fun first day of break! I had been feeling a bit run down after my lack of sleep this past week, so it was nice to have a more relaxed day and get myself better. I definitely need to feel energized for my trip.
  • Adina’s friend Kristina visited her this weekend, so I spent an hour in a cafe with her near DIS while Adina had class. It was interesting to hear about what it’s like to study as an exchange student in Milan. We also met up with Aly.
  • Goldie and Adina joined us after their classes, and we all headed to the Glass Market for lunch. My friend Cate (the one with Celiac) told me I needed to try the gf crust at Gorm’s there, so I took her suggestion, and I was not disappointed.
  • I had a quick meeting with my Travel Writing teacher in the afternoon to discuss my upcoming paper, as I had a few questions about it. He was very helpful, and he even offered to read it and give me feedback before it’s due!
  • Goldie and I headed to Vesterbro for a few hours in the afternoon. She wanted to get jeans at a mall called Fisketorvet, and we also browsed some other clothing stores along the way. I hadn’t been to that area yet, so it was fun to explore.
  • Then, we came back to my apartment, where we talked with Adina and Kristina for a little while. We went for an early dinner at Cafe Paludan, a favorite. We decided it’s one of the best bang-for-your-buck places around here, as the portions are enormous, and no one has ever had a bad meal.
  • At night, we finally went to Desserthuset, which has been on my must-try list since the beginning of the semester. I was honestly just expecting to get ice cream, as the crazy milkshakes certainly don’t look like they are gluten free. However, I learned that the brownie is actually just made from eggs and sugar, so I was able to get the most outrageous and delicious dessert ever.
  • We went out to Miami, which is half-bar and half-nightclub. We were all tired and very full because of the desserts, so we decided to sit on the lower level, which was more of a bar. It was a fun place; I would go back.


  • I slept in a little, and it took me longer than usual to pack for my trip this week.
  • I ran on a different route, and I also biked around the city for a while before getting lunch with a friend from class.
  • I hung out with Adina and her friend in the afternoon, finishing up things before I leave.
  • Tonight, we are going to Bluetaco for dinner, which is the gluten-free taco place I’ve been to once before. I’m so excited. And we may go out, but I need to get up at 6:30a.m. tomorrow for my flight, so I definitely won’t stay out too late.

My next post will be after Budapest!


Luck of the Irish

This weekend was one I had planned for a very long time: meeting up with my school friends in Dublin, Ireland in honor of Saint Patrick’s Day. I had booked my flights and hotel back in October, so I was excited to finally experience an Irish St. Paddy’s celebration with so many people from school.

I landed very late on Thursday night, and I had planned to take an AirCoach bus to the hotel, as it was a cheaper option than a taxi. However, people were pointing me in different directions as to how to get to the bus line, and it was dark and pouring rain, so I decided to take a cab anyway. Luckily, the hotel was pretty close to the airport. My roommates had gone to sleep by the time I got there, as I arrived well after midnight, and we were getting up at 5:30a.m. for a day trip we had booked. I knew I was going to be exhausted, so I planned to sleep on the bus.

Sure enough, I woke up very tired on Thursday morning, but I was excited about our adventure. It was still pitch black as we walked to the bus stop, but we were able to board at the front of one of the busses, and I was able to curl up next to a window. As we pulled away, our (very ecstatic, coffee-hyped, and thick-Irish-accented) tour guide, Phil, explained the schedule for the day, laying out exactly when we could use bathrooms, when we would stop to eat, etc. It seemed like we would have a very full day, and I also knew we had gotten lucky with our bus driver. The bus company had dozens of busses we could have gone on, and Phil was not only enthusiastic but extremely knowledgable about all of Ireland. Additionally, Phil was obsessive the entire day about “beating the other tour companies” at each of the stops, and that made a huge difference in our day: we were first for the bathrooms, the lines at lunch, and the first to see all the sights, minimizing our time spent waiting in the cold. Phil briefly told us about Dublin as we left the city, pointing out some of the major landmarks like the cathedral and Trinity College. Then, he was quiet for a bit, and I was able to fall asleep!

The first leg of our trip was a three-hour ride, but we stopped for a bathroom and convenience store along the way. This was a perfect stretch and breaking point, but I was happy to have plenty of time to catch up on a little sleep I had missed the night before. Phil started talking again about a half hour before we reached the Cliffs of Moher, our first stop, and he explained some of the history behind them. Here’s a fun fact: scenes from Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince were filmed there! Additionally, Obama’s great-great-great (Phil didn’t remember how many generations) grandparents were born in a small town of Western Ireland, and he pointed out this village as we passed. We also passed a “Leopercan Castle,” which was so tiny it was pretty funny. Also, Phil mentioned that the Cliffs overlooked the Atlantic Ocean, which I hadn’t realized. It’s amazing to think that I was looking at the same ocean I can see from Long Island.

As we got closer, I was talking across the aisle to Emma and her home friend, who was also on this trip with us. She’s very nice, and Emma talks about her a lot, so I was happy to spend time with her. Then, two solo-travelers joined our conversation, and we small-talked about where we were all from. John had just finished his term in the army, and he was on a 6-month travel adventure before he starts USC in the fall, while Justin currently serves in the navy and he was just taking a weekend trip to Ireland.

Although muddy and very wet, the Cliffs were absolutely beautiful. I felt like I was on the edge of the world, and the foggy atmosphere made it especially interesting. We walked all the way to the top. I was incredibly happy I had brought my gross sneakers to wear on this expedition, as they got so muddy. Phil told us that it is basically always raining on the Cliffs, but that we were very lucky because that day it was only a slight mist. We were given a little over an hour to explore the area, and we took in the scenery, as well as taking some pictures. Then, we went into the gift shop, where I got a postcard of a sunny version of the sight. As I paid for it, I realized that for the first time since I’ve been abroad, I was in a country where the predominant language spoken is English. Although it’s cool to hear so many different languages, it is very comforting to know what everyone is saying around you, so I was looking forward to that aspect of the weekend.

We boarded the bus to head to lunch, where we had the option of buying food in either a cafe or a pub. My friends wanted to eat in the pub, but I decided that the cafe would probably have better gluten-free options, so I headed there to be first on line, and after buying a salad, joined the rest of my group in the pub to eat. Then, we had another long drive to see Galway, another city in Ireland. On the way, we stopped at another look-out spot called DOOLEY CLIFF, which was beautiful as well. It was super windy, and I was glad I had so many layers to wear. Something that was especially unique about this trip in comparison to my other weekends so far is that because Ireland is such a small country, I was able to see three out of four of the main regions in the entire country during my stay, whereas I usually just focus on one city.

When we got closer to Galway, Phil started talking about all the things there were to do, and he gave us a few suggestions of how to spend our 90 minutes to explore. I remarked to Emma that Phil was incredibly animated about his description of Galway, despite driving the same tour multiple times every week. He said we would love the city, and that he wouldn’t be surprised if we decided to stay there instead of coming back with him. Galway is a small city with a hipster-vibe, and it has a lot of good shopping and food. I asked Phil if there was a relation to the song Galway Girl by Ed Sheehan, and he explained that the music video was actually filmed in a pub there! We stopped inside to take a picture, which is pretty cool. We also got a snack in an indoor mall and walked around the shopping streets. The forecast had been for rain all day, but we were super lucky in that it was clear the whole afternoon.

We met back at the bus for our last three-hour drive back to Dublin. I took another short nap after admiring the scenery for a while, including rolling hills and cattle, sheep, cows, and horses on the grass. We arrived in the city at 7:30p.m., avoiding most of the traffic that Phil had been concerned about. He gave us a few suggestions of where to have dinner and go out that night, but we had already decided that our first stop after the bus was the hotel: we wanted to freshen up before heading back out. I also hadn’t been drinking a lot of water that day because I knew the bathroom opportunities would be limited, so we bought water bottles from a grocery store and drank them on the way back.

We changed for the evening and I decided to bring my umbrella, as it had started to pour. On the way into our hotel, we met up with Amanda from Cornell, who was also staying with us. Then we headed to dinner at one of the suggestions we had gotten, but it turns out that they only took people with reservations. The main area of Dublin called Temple Bar was packed with people eating and milling around, even though it was raining. We looked around for other dinner places, finding an Italian restaurant called Milano that had a very big menu. It turned out to be an incredible last-minute find, and after snacking on random chips and bars the whole day to stay fueled, it was nice to have a filling meal. We headed to the bars straight after dinner, and I was surprised when we were carded at our first stop. Although I’m 21, not everyone in the group is, so we had to find somewhere else. Luckily, there was a pub called Buskers just down the road, and it was apparently hopping.

As soon as we walked inside, I saw three people from high school as we made our way to the bar, which was super weird. We waved quickly, but it was pretty crowded and loud to start having a conversation. I also ran into people from camp and others from Cornell, as well as Lindsay, my second cousin. We had been texting because we knew we’d both be in Dublin for the weekend, and somehow, we found each other in this incredibly crowded pub. We caught up for a few minutes, and then we were pulled away by our respective travel groups. I was meeting up with Rachel (finally!) and Ben from school, and I was super excited to see them. It took me and Rachel a long time to figure out how to describe where we were in the bar, but our reunion was so much fun when they arrived. Throughout the night, I continued to run into people from all different walks of life, which was crazy! I mostly hung out with the Cornell people there, and it felt a little like a school mixer, especially with all the aephi/sammy people: a taste of home. The music was good and the environment was fun, and we ended up staying there until we were all yawning and ready to turn in. We walked back to the hotel (again in the rain, yuck), and went to sleep. Just as I was falling asleep at 3a.m., people in the room next to us started BLASTING music, which was super annoying. Emma’s friend even went out to ask them to be quiet, and they weren’t too nice to her. I finally fell asleep when they quieted down. It was a super long day since I had gotten up before 6, so I was very tired.

I woke up Saturday before my alarm to more people screaming in the hallway. I should mention that aside from these crazy neighbors in the hallway, the hotel was super nice and in a prime location for the weekend. It was a close enough walk to the Temple Bar area but far enough from the parade on Sunday that the streets to the airport weren’t affected, which meant we didn’t have to leave an insane amount of time to get there. Anyway, our first booked activity of the day was the Guinness Experience, the famous beer company. Although I can’t drink beer, I decided it would be fun to learn about the process anyway, and so I headed there with Emma and Rachel. It was a 45-minute walk, and it was pouring…again. Although I had my umbrella, the wind was so intense that the handle kept whacking me in the face and nearly knocking me out several times, so Rachel and I decided to buy cheap green, ridiculous-looking rain panchos at a store we passed. I was glad not to be the only one in this get-up, as we got very funny looks. But, we stayed dry, so I thought it was a worthwhile purchase. We also stopped to grab breakfast foods in a grocery store along the way.

We learned about how Guinness is made and processed, and there were interactive parts of the storehouse as well. I happened to think the “experience” was a little underwhelming, but I’m also not a beer person. I was glad that my ticket allowed me to get cider at the rooftop bar while my friends got the famous beer. The sky bar was a nice view of the city, and we hung out there for a while before going back down all the escalators—the building is enormous. We were starving for lunch, and since we were four people and it was still raining heavily, we split a cab to get back to the main area. We got lunch at a place called Taste Food Company, where I had a phenomenal gluten-free sandwich.

There was no set agenda for the rest of the afternoon aside from enjoying the St. Paddy’s festivities, which was a super nice change of pace to the rest of my weekends, which have been jam-packed with tourist sites. Although we passed a few of these in Dublin along our walks, there aren’t too many well-known places to explore in the city itself, so this weekend was more about spending time with my friends. After lunch, we planned to meet up with a few Sammy people and some other friends back in the main Temple Bar area, and the weather alternated between super sunny and pouring within seconds. During one of the rains, we went inside and I got an Irish coffee. We also popped into a few other pubs and bars, and I saw many people I know again.

Someone had spilled an entire beer on Rachel’s jacket, and as she is traveling for a full month with this one jacket, she was not a happy camper. Then, we walked outside, and a bird promptly pooped on her head, so we decided to call it a day and head back to the hotel. We were all able to shower and hang out for an hour before dinner and the evening, which was relaxing.

We decided to have dinner at our hotel’s downstairs restaurant before heading back to Temple Bar. The menu didn’t have a ton of options, but we actually all ordered the same thing, risotto, and it was probably the best risotto I’ve ever had. It was butternut squash and pine nut flavored, and it was very filling. Then, we headed out for another night, and our first stop was Buskers. I knew from texting Lindsay that she and Taylor, another second-cousin, were hanging out there, so I met up with them for a while. As we introduced each other to everyone’s friends, we surprised people by explaining that we were all cousins. It was so much fun to see them, and I wish I was able to see them more. I also ran into Adina’s best college friend’s roommate abroad, and we figured out that we actually worked at Sunrise together in 2017, which is why she looked so familiar. Everyone was in a great mood that night, and I saw a lot of people that I know, so it was a fun few hours. We decided to check out some other bars afterward, although it did take us over an hour to actually leave Buskers, as we hugged and chatted with so many people on the way out.

Rachel, Emma and I walked through the Temple Bar area, and it was finally not raining, so it was nice to walk around and get a better feel for the nightlife of the city. After spending a few minutes in other heavily-populated bars, we decided we were hungry, so we met up with a bunch of the Sammy guys at a nearby fastfood restaurant and ordered a ton of food. As I was sitting there at 2:30a.m. eating ice cream after a night out with my Cornell friends, I felt like it was freshman year again and we were back at Nasties. Then, we walked back to the hotel, and I fell asleep almost immediately. I said goodbye to Rachel, as she had an early flight the next morning. It wasn’t too sad, though, as I see her again in a few weeks, and we will have a lot of time together then.

I woke up before my alarm again on Sunday, as everyone staying in the room aside from me and Emma had to go straight to the airport. Emma and I decided to get up and pack up our stuff to get ready for the day. When you only travel with a backpack, that doesn’t take too long. We left our bags at the front desk, and we started walking towards the parade streets. Although I planned to throw out my rain pancho before leaving Dublin, I was happy I still had it, as the rain was pretty strong again. We stopped at an Irish breakfast place for brunch, where I had an omelet with potatoes and coffee. Emma and I were talking about how well we travel together, and how many cool memories we now have together from our time abroad. It was said to say bye, as now I won’t see her for the rest of my time in Europe. Her program ends fairly soon.

After we finished brunch at 11:30, we had a perfect amount of time to find spots to watch the parade starting at noon. The sun was finally shining. We stopped in an apparel store to buy these fun and cheap green clover glasses, and when we exited the store, we had a very amusing experience. For whatever reason, several tourists came up to us and pointed at our glasses, asking to take a selfie with us. Hysterically laughing, we crouched to get in a picture with these people; we felt like celebrities of some sort. Then, they began clapping. It was particularly funny because many people were wearing far crazier accessories along the streets. Feeling festive, we walked to the parade and planted ourselves within the crowd. We weren’t right up front, so we had to look into people’s raised phones sometimes to see what was happening, but only when the floats were short. We were able to see the taller ones just fine. The parade was different than I had pictured it, as the floats seemed kind of random and not related to St. Patrick’s Day. However, it was fun with everyone cheering, and the sun felt amazing. We stayed there for about an hour before we had to head back to the hotel to grab our bags. Emma’s flight was an hour earlier than mine, but we traveled together to the airport, so I ended up with extra time to wait there. It wasn’t a bad thing, as I knew I’d lose an hour on the way back to Copenhagen, so I started my homework for Monday.

I got back fairly late on Sunday night, but luckily, my first class on Monday was canceled, so I was able to sleep in a little later than I typically do. Between my varied sleep schedule this weekend and the short time difference, it was tough to fall asleep. I have a few papers due this week as well as a Danish assessment on Thursday, so I’ll definitely need to do a lot of work in the next few days. However, I am so happy to have shared this weekend with my Cornell friends, and I’m glad I got to see so much of Ireland!

halfway point

Despite having very few commitments outside of classes these past few days, they have seemed like a whirlwind, sandwiched between two trips. I am so glad I had some downtime to get work done this week, get back to the gym after a little vacation, and catch my breath before leaving for a long weekend. This blog post won’t be super long, but here is a quick recap on my week in Cope.


  • In positive psychology, we had a discussion about savoring our best moments from travel week. Kamilla said that in order to reap all the possible benefits from positive experiences, we should be sure to share our feelings with others, as the process of telling someone about an event that made you happy actually has the same psychological impact as does witnessing the event itself the first time. Each person described her favorite moment from traveling the week before, and it was fun to see each person’s face light up with a happy memory.
  • I ran with Adina at sunset, and although it was colder than usual, it was nice to get outside exercise.
  • I spent most of the evening writing my blog from last week in Barcelona and in Copenhagen with Emma.


  • On Tuesday morning, I visited Cafe Mellem Rummet (the place I had gone for my first ever field study with my Travel Writing class) for a paper I have to write. The assignment is similar to others we have had in the past, in that I must approach a stranger with an interesting story in a place with “good reportage potential.” I ended up talking with an older woman who was volunteering there, as well as several customers who I thought may be able to contribute some details to my essay. This class is constantly putting me outside of my comfort zone in that I have to talk to strangers, especially Danish people. However, even though it may seem awkward at first, I usually leave these conversations feeling like I learned something, which may not happen as much if I kept to myself.
  • I met up with Goldie after her classes, as we were going to get manicures, but after trying three different places that were all booked for the afternoon, we gave up.
  • I worked on a Danish assignment for the rest of the afternoon. The paper is due on Monday but I don’t expect to have too much time this weekend for homework, so I’m glad I got most of it done.
  • I went with Adina and Goldie to Old Irish Pub on Tuesday night for an “American Tuesday,” and we had fun. We left on the earlier side, though, because they both had early morning field studies.


  • I was able to sleep in a little, which was nice. I still feel behind from last week.
  • I booked my trip to Berlin with Rachel via facetime, and then we did a workout video together. I think I have all of my flights booked now for travel this semester, which is exciting. I may decide to do one more trip at the end of April, but I would book that more last minute.
  • I had lunch with Adina and Goldie at Paleo, which is very close to my apartment. I forget about the food there and 42 Raw, and I really should go to those places more often. They are both healthy, filling, and quick restaurants with food that is entirely gluten-free.
  • I spent the rest of the afternoon getting more work done and getting ahead on starting some assignments due in a few weeks. I have a bunch of papers due immediately when I get back from my class trip, and I want to avoid having to do work while I’m traveling, as there is hardly any time for it.
  • I took the train to my host family’s house for another exceptional dinner. Pernille made lentil soup with bread, broccoli and cauliflower patties, and roasted potatoes. It was very, very good. We also drank tea and sat in the living room, and I told her and Oscar about my recent travels and experiences in Denmark. Some topics we discussed were divorce in Denmark vs. the United States and family lifestyle in both countries. I always love spending time in their house, as it is very home-y.


  • In Positive Psychology, we had a super interesting guest lecture about the psychology of time, which is actually a class that I was super close to taking here. We learned about how we subjectively appraise time in different capacities and for different tenses, such as the past and future. We also did a survey that measured our “temporal profiles” based on how we answered a bunch of questions.
  • In my Psychology of Peak Performance class, we did a bunch of exercises in studying the theories behind concentration. They involved finding specific numbers within a grid, and we had to zone out the other distractions in the room.

Before ending this post, I also wanted to write a little reflection about my abroad experience so far, as this week officially marks the halfway point in my semester, which is crazy! On the one hand, I can’t believe how much I’ve already seen and done, it feels like I have been here for way longer than two months. On the other hand, two months sounds like a really long time, and days feel long, as I have been packing a lot in. I still have so much ahead of me.

I have been journaling a little bit about my personal goals for this semester, and I just re-read them to make sure I was following what I set out to do. Although I have a lot of learning and seeing left to do, I am so proud of everything I have already absorbed. In addition to learning about the customs of a whole new country, I have learned how to plan itineraries, book flights, and navigate my way confidently around Copenhagen. Things that seemed overwhelming and nearly impossible in the beginning have become so much easier, such as supermarket shopping. I have been trying to “go with the flow” when it comes to traveling, especially because people’s plans change last minutes with flights, and there is really very little to do about that.

I’m learning more about Denmark with each class and each day that passes, especially as I have been trying to talk to more locals and tourists about their experiences, even if it’s a quick exchange. I have been open to exploring and trying new things, sights, foods, and routines, and I have tried to vary my Tuesday and Friday schedules so that I’m never really doing the same thing each week.

I miss the comfort of my friends and family at home, but I have been so fortunate to meet amazing friends here, especially Adina (full credit to the DIS housing placement system for matching me with someone so compatible) and Goldie, who may as well be our honorary third roommate. And, I also feel lucky to be abroad during a time when keeping in touch with people at home isn’t so difficult; no one is more than a phone call or facetime away.

I leave for Dublin tonight, so I’ll update you on that when I get back.

Trading cities

Sorry for a longer-than-usual post; a week of traveling is a long time!

I spent the past week with Emma: five days in Barcelona and three in Copenhagen. It was so much fun to show each other our study abroad experiences. I have learned that it’s especially amazing to visit a city where you have your own personal tour guide who knows it well, as you get a lot of insider information and experiences you may not otherwise receive. I flew to Barcelona from Milan on Monday night. Emma instructed me to take a cab to her residence, as she does not find the public transportation safe once it’s late, and it was almost midnight when I landed.

When I got to her apartment, we took the elevator so as to avoid running into security. She’s technically not allowed to have guests stay over, but she had already had visitors earlier in the semester and said it was fine. We spent about an hour discussing our itinerary for the coming days. Tuesday especially required a lot of planning because we were going to Carnival at night when it would be a fairly different temperature than it was during the day. I wore a few layers under my sweatshirt and shoes that I knew could get dirty.

On Tuesday, Emma had a bunch of classes in a row. Luckily, Adina and her parents were also visiting Barcelona, and they generously allowed me to hang out with them while Emma was busy. Sight-seeing alone is fine, but it is definitely different than sharing what you see with other people. Emma showed me how to use the Metro lines, which are similar to Cope’s, except they are much more crowded. She told me to hold my phone like a claw so that people couldn’t grab it, and she said to always keep my eyes on my bag. While I’d like to think that I’m always somewhat vigilant, I do not typically take these same precautions in Copenhagen, at least not to that extent.

I was a bit nervous about navigating Barcelona’s public transportation system by myself, as directionality is really not my strong suit. However, the app Citymapper that I use in Copenhagen came in very handy in Barcelona, as I could plug in my destination and see all the different options I could take to get there. Emma suggested that I buy a 10-pass for the Metro, as I would likely use it often during the week. My first stop on Tuesday morning was Park Guell, which is fairly far from Emma’s residence. I successfully took the metro and walked up a very steep hill to get there, and I met Adina inside. Park Guell was initially designed to be a residential neighborhood at the top of the mountain overlooking Barcelona, but the high prices to live there made it so that the project was ultimately a failure. Additionally, it is far from the center of the city. When no one decided to live there, Park Guell was converted into a public park and tourist attraction of stunning architecture, with a beautiful view of the city. It was midday and the sun was super hot, and I was sweating. I wasn’t able to bring my sunglasses that day because then I would have had to take them out with me at night, so I squinted when necessary. I walked around the park with Adina and her parents.

After leaving Park Guell and walking down the mountain, we headed back to the city center, visiting Casa Mila and La Pedrera. These are gigantic houses that are beautiful on the outside, as well as the inside, although we did not get tours of either. These buildings were a stark contrast to the relatively ordinary buildings and stores that surrounded them, as they are both on a busy road. We stopped to decide where to eat lunch, and we found a cute place called Hummus Barcelona that was just down the street. The menu ended up being not super gluten-free friendly, but the waitress was really nice and allowed me to order a salad off the dinner menu, which was delicious. We were also able to eat outside.

Next, we walked around Las Ramblas, which is a very long street lined with restaurants, souvenir vendors, and fun dessert places. We also passed the Gothic quarter and saw the Cathedral from a distance, and we went into a store that sells Happy Pills (jelly beans and other chewy, colorful candy). Adina and her family headed to their reservation at La Sagrada Familia, and I went in the other direction on the metro back towards Emma’s school, as she would be done with class soon. I also needed to shop for a “costume” to wear over my clothes to Carnival, so Emma had given me the name of a store to visit. There were so many costume pieces to choose from, but I settled on a blue boa. Emma was bringing a mask for me to wear as well, and she was wearing a hot pink wig. Then, I walked around the neighborhood by myself to kill the last 20 minutes before meeting her, stopping to get an early dinner at a place nearby.

I was on time to meet Emma and her friends outside their class at 5:15, and we headed over to the extremely American-dominated scene at a place to pregame. It was super strange to run into several people from high school that I had not even thought about since senior year, as in addition to Barcelona being a hub for students studying abroad, this was also a popular week to visit the city for Spring break. I was happy I was there at such a highly-desired time, though it did make the crowds harder to navigate. After hanging out at the bar for a little while, we boarded a coach bus that drove us for an hour to Sitges, a beach town where Carnival was held. We had bought tickets through a company that would drive us to the Carnival town and back, and they also gave each person a one-liter box of Sangria, which is a very popular drink in Barcelona. We arrived around 7p.m., though the parade didn’t start until 9. There were plenty of bars and clubs in the area to keep us busy, though, so we walked around and stopped by in various fun places. It was crazy how early people had started partying for this event, and even more so that Carnival is a 7-day event. We headed over to get a good spot for the main parade, and I couldn’t believe how many people were there. The street was lined with rows and rows of people. There were dozens of floats the passed us, and each float had a “crew” of about 30 dancers, all dressed very provocatively and waving at the crowd. Even the dancers had drinks in their hands, so it was very rowdy and loud. It was so fun to be a part of it, though, and I was glad I got to see a culturally important event the one week I was there. When we got tired of standing along the sideline, we got food at an Indian place, where I had a large bowl of white rice. I was hungrier than I realized. Although we headed back to the bus stop around 1:15 in the morning, we didn’t get home until 3:00. It took us a while to find the actual location of the busses, which was somewhat frustrating, especially because they were not parked where they were supposed to be. Anyway, I resisted sleep on the bus so that it would be easier to fall asleep, and when we finally got back to Emma’s apartment, I was sleeping within minutes. The experience was so fun, but incredibly exhausting.

On Wednesday we were able to sleep in a little bit, and then Emma and I met a few of her friends at a brunch place called Citizen Cafe. None of them had eaten there before, but it was actually a recommendation from a girl I’m friendly with at Cornell with Celiac. She and I have been giving each other suggestions via Whatsapp this semester, as we are both abroad and traveling to various cities around Europe. Emma was able to take most of Wednesday off from going to class, which was really nice. Then, we spent the morning walking around the city. I saw the Arc de Triomf, as well as the Ciutadella Parc, which is really big, and it has a beautiful fountain. We also walked through some streets that they hadn’t visited yet, and we stopped at this place they heard had good coffee. In the afternoon, they had to go to their classes, so I met up with Adina and her parents again. Our first stop was La Boqueria, which was similar to Copenhagen’s Glass Market, except the foods were more snacks and fewer meal places. It was also less organized according to the item so a vendor selling fish could be across from a vendor with fruit. Emma said I should try a fruit smoothie at the back of the market for only one euro, so I got a papaya and mango one, which was amazing. I also got chocolate-covered strawberries on a stick.

It was an overcast day—one of the first ones all semester, according to Emma—but it was our only opportunity to visit the Barcelona beach, so we walked for 40 minutes to get there. It was so pretty, even though we couldn’t watch the sunset. In Spain, it is customary to eat dinner at 9 or 10 p.m. at night, which is a whole lot later than I usually eat, so I ate a snack on my way back to Emma’s apartment. Emma had made a 9:00 reservation for this place called Flax and Kale, which has an entirely organic, gluten-free, and relatively healthy menu, including delicious desserts. I think this was my favorite meal in Spain, although it wasn’t authentic food. I had a pesto avocado and cheese flatbread, followed by chocolate cake.

I was feeling pretty tired, and it was only 11:30 when we finished dinner and got ready to go out. I told Emma I was exhausted, and she said we could stay in if I wanted, but that if we went out, we couldn’t really prevent it from being a late night. The way it works with particular promoters on certain nights of the week is that you have to go to bars within specific time frames, you get stamps, drinks, etc, and then you head to the main club. I decided that I was only in Barcelona once this semester, so I should make the most of it. So, we headed out for the evening—it was almost midnight already. First, we stopped at Ovella Negra, which was a bar primarily populated with American study abroad students. We met up with Emma’s friends and got our hands stamped for later in the night, and we sat there for about a half hour. We walked to D9, where the bartenders made sleeves of six shots per person, but I only had a sip of Emma’s because I didn’t want to drink that much. We ended up talking to some tourists who spoke Dutch as well as five other languages, but we left them before we went to the club. Finally, we went to Razzmatazz, which is an enormous nightclub. There were probably hundreds of people on the dance floor; it was such a fun and high-energy environment. We had a really good time singing and dancing along to the music, and before I knew it, it was 3 a.m., and Emma and I headed home so I could get at least a few hours of sleep that night. I have no idea how she does that regularly, but I’m so glad I got to experience nightlife in Spain for a week. Copenhagen style is definitely more suited to me.

Waking up at 8:30 on Thursday was exhausting, but I really wanted to join Adina and her parents to ride the cable cars up Montjuic. It took us a long time to figure out exactly where we were supposed to go, but after asking several people and hiking up a fairly steep hill, we saw the entrance point. It was about a five-minute ride to the top of the mountain, and the view from the cable car was gorgeous. We went on a really nice walk once we reached the top, and there were a lot of cool views of both the water and the city.

Adina and her parents left to catch their flight back to Copenhagen, but Emma’s friend Shreya had texted me that she could get lunch with me at a paella place between her morning and afternoon classes. That was really sweet of her. She’s a senior from Cornell, so we had plenty to talk about. I wanted to have paella at least once while I was in Spain, and Shreya had heard this was the best place (she actually hadn’t tried it yet). For 11 euros, you got a huge dish of paella (we got seafood) as well as three different tapas, which was so much food for two people, but it was incredible.

Shreya had to go back to class, and I had a reservation for a tour of La Sagrada Familia at 2:45, so I headed to the metro to get there. Although I knew it was a large building because I had heard about it, I literally gasped when I stepped out of the metro station: it was so much bigger than I imagined. I felt so tiny standing next to it. I think it might be the prettiest man-made structure I have ever seen; between the stained glass windows that lined the inside walls to the symmetrical columns that supported the ceilings and the Hogwarts-like top of the outside, it truly was incredible. I’m so glad I spent the extra money on an audio guide, especially since I was by myself and it gave me something to do, as well as being super interesting and informative. I learned that La Sagrada Familia was an architectural vision of the famous Gaudi, who died in 1926. It is actually still under construction, and it will be completed in 2026 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of his death. If you’re thinking about how it could be possible for a building to take 100 years to build, you should see the details within each inch of the structure. The audio guide explained that there was a specific reason behind each architectural decision. For example, the tallest pillar in the building is 172.5 meters tall, as Gaudi wanted it to be just shorter than the tallest mountain in Barcelona, Montjuic.

I took my time walking around and reading everything about the building, and then I decided to take a break, sitting in the sun and continuing to admire it. I walked back towards the city center, as I was supposed to meet Shreya for an afternoon hike to the Bunkers. Emma had to do a group project since she would be gone over the weekend. I had a little time to kill before Shreya’s class ended, and I ended up stumbling upon an all gluten-free bakery nearby, so I got a muffin, and I sat in a little park called Placa de Tetuan. Shreya showed me her homestay apartment, and then we brought a bottle of wine to the Bunkers, which is essentially a beautiful lookout spot to watch the sunset and hang out. I even ran into a few people from my DIS classes back in Copenhagen, which was funny.  Getting there was definitely a hike, and my legs really felt it, especially since it was my second mountain-climb of the day. However, the view was worth it. We sat and admired the view before heading back down, and I went back to Emma’s to get ready for dinner, which was at 9:00 again. That night we went to a place called Sensi Tapas, which was a packed restaurant with delicious and unusual tapas. I got a risotto dish and a scallops dish in some creamy sauce, and they were both really good. We were going to get gelato, but by the time we got home at 11:30, I was more than ready for bed. Emma and I had an early flight the next morning, so we decided to go to sleep.

We took a metro and then a bus to the airport on Friday, which was a whole lot cheaper than the cab I had taken in the other direction. I am so happy I was able to nap on the plane, as I felt really behind on sleep and I wanted to feel good enough to show Emma all around Copenhagen. I ended up sitting in an Exit row all by myself, which was great. I put my feet up and curled into a ball, and I slept for at least half of the flight. I read my book for the other half, which is getting very good. Although I don’t read every day here like I do at school, it’s the perfect activity for plane rides.

We deboarded the plane to find that it was sunny outside, which was very exciting, as the forecast had been for it to rain the entire day. We dropped our stuff off and headed for lunch at the Glass Market. I showed Emma all my favorite places to get food, and I gave her a few suggestions. She ultimately ended up getting porridge from Grod, and it was her favorite meal the entire weekend! We headed straight for Nyhavn and the trampolines, which Emma had mentioned several times already. It was cute that she was so excited to jump on them. We decided to walk to Christianhavn and climb the Church of our Saviour, but it was actually so windy that it was closed for the afternoon. These Bulgarian tourists came up to us and gave us their business cards, which was a very strange interaction, but we told them we were busy when they invited us to get drinks with them. I showed Emma Christiania while we were near the neighborhood, and then we headed back to the city center to walk through Stroget and climb the Round Tower while it was sunny. It was super windy and cold, but we had a good time anyway.

We headed back to my apartment to change for Shabbat dinner, and we actually met up with Ellie, one of my aephi friends from school. The three of us went to dinner with Adina, Goldie, and their families, so we sat at a big table for a yummy meal and a fun evening. It was good to see Ellie and hear about her experiences in Dublin so far, especially as I am headed there this weekend. After dinner, which lasted several hours (as usual), Emma and I went to Xocovino, a place I have been meaning to go. It’s a chocolate and wine cafe, and we did a chocolate-wine tasting, where each of us had three different types of wine and three different chocolate truffles. The waiter came over and explained each chocolate-wine pairing, and I actually learned a lot about where the wine came from and why the pairs were meant to be together. Then, we went to sleep.

We woke up at 7:30 on Saturday morning to beat the crowds at Mad and Kaffe, as I had learned from my visit there with Josh that it would be crowded when it opened at 8:30. I’m glad we went; the food was worth it. Unfortunately, it was pouring rain, but we huddled under my umbrella for the walk there. I tried three different dishes than what I ate last time: scrambled eggs with mushrooms, blood oranges in tarragon sugar, and smoked salmon, which had been Josh’s favorite dish.

By the time we finished eating, the rain had cleared up. I got to try so many touristy things this weekend with Emma, and I am slowly realizing that I’ll never be able to do everything here; there is so much to see and do. However, visiting friends are a great reason to try new things. I showed Emma the Black Diamond library, and we climbed all the stairs to the top for the pretty view of the water, which I hadn’t done before. Then, we headed to the Christiansborg Palace, as a friend from class had recently told me that you could see the view at the top for free. We weren’t exactly sure that we were in the right spot, but we figured that a long line must be a good start. I was explaining something about Copenhagen to Emma when a tourist tapped me and asked me whether I recommended the climb. I was so flattered that the person thought I knew what I was talking about! I said that while I hadn’t yet seen it, I heard it was pretty. Another woman also asked me if I had been to the Church of our Saviour, which I have, so that was cool, too. As I told Emma more about Copenhagen, I am discovering that I am proud to call this ‘my city’ for the semester, and I am really getting to know my way around. For example, I only had to use google maps once the entire weekend, and it was to go to a brunch place I hadn’t been before. Anyway, the view at Christiansborg was amazing; it was cool to be able to point out all the different tall landmarks from the top.

When we came down, we walked around the Magasin mall nearby for a few minutes, and we got a bunch of free samples of caramels and chocolate, so that was fun. Emma also wanted to return to the canal while the sun was out, so we did, and she got a waffle. Then, we walked towards the botanical gardens, where I have not yet visited. We bought student tickets and we walked around the greenhouses, which were filled with pretty plants. It was also very warm inside. At that point, it was late in the afternoon, and we took a break in my apartment before meeting up with Emma’s friend from home at Paludan. Later, we ate dinner at Cafe Norden, which is known for its typical Nordic food. Emma was able to try open-faced sandwiches, and I think these are a key part of eating style here, so that was good. We were tired after dinner, but I wanted to take Emma to Bastard Cafe, which she loved. We played chess and scrabble, and we got good drinks. It was a fun end to a long day.

Sunday started with brunch at Far’s Dreng, which was on my food bucket list. It was really good. Adina and Goldie were able to join me and Emma, so I was glad they got to know each other a little more. The food was presented really beautifully, and we ended up staying there and chatting for a while. Emma and I took a long walk to the Little Mermaid, as well as the star, which is always a nice activity, especially in the sun. We kept remarking how lucky we were with the weather this weekend, as the forecast had really been crappy.

After that walk, I brought Emma to the Amalienborg palaces, and we saw the guards marching for a quick minute. We spent a while observing the door guards and talking about their jerky movements; it was very interesting to see what they were doing. We headed back to the city center, stopping at the Glass Market for a snack on the way before Emma headed to the airport. Luckily, our goodbye was super easy because I will see her this week again in Dublin.

I spent the rest of the day on Sunday catching up on life: emails, the gym, laundry, etc—all the things that you don’t usually hear about from abroad stories, but things that are important, nevertheless. I had felt super disconnected from everyone in the past week, as traveling is exhausting and very busy, so I was also able to facetime that afternoon with Josh and my family each for a while, which was very nice.

Couldn’t get enough of Italy

I am still in the midst of my week of travel, but I finally have a bit of down time to catch up on my weekend before continuing on my adventure.

Only two weeks after my weekend in Rome, I spent a few days in Milan, and I am so glad I chose to do that. It had taken me a while to find someone looking for a travel buddy for only the first three days of break, as I knew I’d be with Emma beginning on Monday. Most people traveled with the same friends throughout the whole week, or they met up with friends from school. Adina and Goldie’s families visited. Luckily, I found Natalie, who is in my core course. We flew together from Copenhagen to Milan, and we parted our separate ways on Monday—I went to Spain, and she went further south in Italy to Florence.

We arrived on Saturday afternoon after a very smooth flight to Milan, and we exited the airport surprisingly quickly. Booking a shuttle to our hotel was expensive, but for a huge city like Milan, it was super nice to be able to meet a man that had our names on a sign, who could drive us safely to our destination. We arrived at the hotel just before dinner, dropping our stuff off quickly before trying to catch a sunset behind the Milan Cathedral on the Piazza del Duomo, the most famous site in Milan. Unfortunately, we missed sunset by a few minutes, but the view at dusk wasn’t too bad. We took our time walking to dinner, as our reservation was not until 8:00. We walked past the Brera district and did some window-shopping; it was a cute area filled with people sitting for dinner and drinks.

Finally, it was the moment I’d been waiting for: ordering pizza at Mama Eat in Milan. I had been looking forward to the dinner reservation since eating in the Rome location, and I was very glad that my meal lived up to my high expectations. I got a different kind of pizza this time, and Natalie got a non-gluten-free pizza, which she said was delicious. I was happily full, and we walked back to the hotel, deciding that we needed a good night’s sleep for our long day of sight-seeing ahead of us. Natalie was so sweet about going way out of our way to have a meal at Mama Eat, and I’m glad that she liked it, too.

On Sunday morning, we woke up early, knowing that we needed to seize the one beautiful day in that weekend’s forecast. Learning from my previous mistake in planning an itinerary for Rome, I spent a few hours making our own walking tour of Milan, marking sights to see based on their location within the city. This was a great tactic, as we were able to pack in so many more sights in just one day. I will definitely make the time to do this for my other trips. Traveling smartly takes work!

Our first stop was breakfast on the Piazza del Duomo, which we ate in the sun. It was so nice not to be mobbed by tourists, as we had been the day before. Getting an early start was a good call. We got fruit and coffee at one of the vendors. Unfortunately, the place did not have gluten-free croissants, so I ate my bar. After walking around all sides of the Milan Cathedral, taking pictures of it in the daylight, we headed to the next destination: Grand Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. This was an area enclosed by glass walls and many high-end stores and restaurants, and it was beautiful to walk around. We decided that we would spend time there the next day when it was supposed to rain.

On our way to Castello Sforzesco, we stopped in a random store to do some shopping, and I was so tempted to purchase a leather jacket on the spot, but I didn’t want to hold it the entire day, especially since the weather was so warm. We decided that we would come back to look more closely at it later. Castello Sforzesco was an enormous property, and we visited the various statues and read their plaques, learning that one part of the castle housed the Austrian Troops during the Spanish occupation and that one statue had a defensive function.

We walked towards Santa Maria delle Grazie, and we passed a chocolate-tasting shop on the way, deciding it was a perfect time for a mid-morning snack. Because it was Sunday, there were actually church services going on inside the Santa Maria building, but there was still a tourist area we could view inside. It was beautiful.

Next on the list was the Torre Branca, another famous landmark within Parco Sempione. After taking a few pictures, an amusement park within the actual park caught our eyes, so we went to check it out. It was kind of like Tivoli in the sense that it was a huge amusement park in the middle of a metropolitan area, although we got the feeling that it was open for some special occasion. We ended up doing a little rollercoaster, which only cost a few euros, and we spent time walking around the ponds in the park as well. It was a really pretty area.

It was 1:00 and we were getting hungry for lunch, but we really wanted to eat along the canal, as we heard there were dozens of restaurants there. It was a pretty long and hot walk, but it was totally worth it. We didn’t know where we should eat! All the food we passed looked so yummy. We settled on a place called Prima, where I got some potato dish and a vegetable dish, both appetizers. They had gluten-free pasta, but I wasn’t in the mood. Afterward, we went to a gelato store that had gluten-free cones, so that was exciting. We spent a while walking around the canal area with our ice cream; the weather at that point was unbelievable.

Continuing on our walking tour, we headed for the Basilica di San Lorenzo. On the way, we passed a stand where you could get Aperol spritzes for only three euros—a bargain. Those were yummy and summery. We spent some time on the Piazza Sant’Ambrogio as well. We decided we needed to rest a bit before heading to dinner, but we first stopped back at the store we saw earlier. I tried on the leather jacket once again, and I just did not love the way it fit. Even though it wasn’t super expensive, and this was surprising for Milan, I decided not to settle. We spent some time in our hotel room, took a short nap, and got ready for the evening.

We ate dinner at a delicious restaurant called Be Bop Ristorante, which had also crossed my suggestions for gluten-free options. The menu was entirely gluten-free. The two of us ordered way too much food (no one warned us about the portions at this place), but nothing was short of phenomenal. I ended up getting a fried calamari and seafood dish as my main meal. We spent a few hours at the restaurant, and Natalie and I had a fun time talking about college/home/school, and getting to know each other more. We had discussed the possibility of going to a bar, but after deciding we needed to be at the Milan Cathedral when it opened at 9 a.m. (both to avoid the crowds and the afternoon’s rainy weather), we went home instead.

Climbing to the top of the cathedral was definitely one of my favorite things we did the whole weekend. Natalie and I got tickets ahead of time, and we got the ones where we could climb the stairs all the way to the top. The view was incredible, and it was cool to walk around on top of a roof. We also were able to walk around the sanctuary itself, tour the basement/ruins area, and use binoculars to look at all the intricate designs on top of the cathedral’s pillars.

Next, we headed for brunch at Glu Free bakery, an entirely gluten-free dedicated kitchen. I wanted to buy out the entire store, but I settled on a rice ball/croquet type of thing with mozz, ricotta, and spinach. I also got a cannoli because gluten-free ones are rare, and it was very good. We knew the art gallery would be closed on a Monday, but we walked around the perimeter of Pinacoteca di Brera anyway. We still got to see some of the sculptures. On the way there, I saw another cute-looking leather jacket, and this ended up being the one! I am so happy that I waited until then to buy one, and I can’t wait to wear it around Europe.

It was pouring at that point, and we decided to walk around the higher-end stores in an area known as the Golden Triangle. We wandered into stores such as Prada and Chanelle, pretending we had the money to spend on coin purses for 850 euros. We amused ourselves by guessing the prices of various items, which was funny, as we were always incredibly out of range. We also went back to Grand Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II and walked into those stores, where I was able to buy a postcard of the Duomo. Since we were tired of walking and it was raining so hard anyway, we stopped for coffee at Pasticceria Marchesi, an extremely fancy dessert shop, where you have to pay even to sit at their tables. Everything in the café is green and pink. I got hot chocolate that was as rich as drinking hot fudge—so yummy.

We ran across the street to the opera house (the rain was still coming down) to try and get tickets for a tour, but it was closed on Mondays, unfortunately. Then, we went back to our hotel so our clothes could dry for a little before heading to the airport.


keeping up with cope (again)

It has been quite a busy week leading up to my first travel week, where half the core courses will go on their long study tours, while I have the week off to go wherever. Today I am headed to Milan, and then I will fly to Barcelona for the week. But those adventures will be included in another post. 🙂

This Wednesday was my first day with two field studies, and it was a lot of activity in one day. I took Josh to the train for the airport, and then I headed back to grab my backpack before going to the concert hall at Tivoli. My morning field study was for my Psychology of Peak Performance class, where we would be participating in a ballet workshop. My teacher told us to wear comfortable clothing because we would be moving around a lot. I was looking forward to a dance class; aside from taking an occasional Zumba class at school, I haven’t taken one since the days of American Theatre Dance in high school. We started out with a warm-up, and I was having a great time with my classmates; the energy in the room was high, and we were doing fun movements. However, the coach quickly flipped a switch in the middle of the class, and she went from nice-Danish-lady to extremely-harsh-and-scary-Danish-lady in a heartbeat. She wanted the class to do almost impossible turns and spins, and she singled people out, telling one boy he was the “worst in the class.” For the rest of the class, my number one goal was to avoid being called out apart from the group and needing to perform by myself. When we debriefed with our teacher and the coach at the end of class, they explained that her behavior was completely intentional: we are learning about how the environment and stress-level can impact people’s “peak performance.” While the concept was interesting, the class was definitely stress-inducing for me.

Luckily, I had eaten a very big breakfast since I knew I’d have no time to spare between my two field studies. I walked quickly to Norreport station to meet my Danish class for the afternoon. We headed to a nearby Danish high school, also called a Gymnasium. I really enjoyed my time there. My teacher divided us into small groups of two students from my class and two Danish high school students so that we could have more intimate conversations. We were allowed to talk about anything we wanted with the students, although we had been told to prepare questions for them. It turns out that in my group, the high schoolers had way more questions for us. We compared our school systems and experiences in high school for a while. One thing that struck me as particularly interesting is that there is less overall pressure to “do well” in high school in Denmark. The students explained to us that while attending a university was an elite experience and something that people strived to do, there were other options that were considered almost equally as valuable, such as taking a gap year or time to travel. I also know that Great Neck is a particularly high strung environment when it comes to applying to college, so it is not representative of the entire United States, by any means. However, between me and my partner, who is from Boston, we at least represented two different experiences of American high school. One of the Danish students asked me what I did in my free time during high school, and I started to list a few of my extra-curricular activities such as Key Club, the school newspaper, and theatre. He was shocked by this answer, and he said, “But when do you have time to eat breakfast and sleep?” I realized that in high school, while obviously I ate and slept, these activities sometimes took a back-burner position in comparison to achieving good grades and participating in a bunch of activities. The other Danish student asked why getting good grades wasn’t “good enough” to go to college, and my partner and I explained that we mostly did outside activities because we enjoyed them, but it was true that they also helped our resumes. I like the idea that here, there is not one “correct” path to achieve success; there are many definitions of what success looks like.

Another interesting thing we discussed is the stereotype that Americans carry guns around, and the students asked us if we often saw our friends carry guns at school. Neither I nor my partner has had this experience, but I explained that that would be unusual on a relatively liberal college campus, and the stereotype that all Americans have guns is definitely not true. It’s scary to think that this is the perspective young Danes have of the United States.

My next activity of the day was a group project meeting with people in my Danish class, as we had a cultural presentation the next day. It was fairly quick, and I was exhausted by that point. Adina and I caught up on another beautiful sunset run, and we spent the evening catching up on work.

Thursday was a happy day of classes, as students and teachers were all excited to begin their week off. Although I was tired when I woke up that morning, I left my first class feeling absolutely amazing about myself, thanks to an uplifting game that we played in Positive Psych. We were split up into groups of four, and we had boxes of cards with various “characteristics” on them, such as kindness, gratitude, humor, honesty, love, and about 25 other ones. There were also cards with prompts to tell stories, such as “an instant connection,” “a film that means something to you,” or “your biggest hero.” Each person in the group had 3-5 minutes to pick one of these prompt cards and use it to tell a personal story. While that person was talking, the three others in the group were collecting the “characteristic” cards that they thought you exhibited in the story. When the speaker was finished, the three listeners explained why they chose each of the characteristics, and you tallied up all the positive virtues you didn’t even know you exhibited. We each got to go twice. For my stories, my most prevalent virtues were apparently gratitude, perspective-taking, social intelligence, leadership, kindness, and fairness. What a great way to feel good. We also had a reflection with the whole class afterward, and Kamilla asked us to try to use this game in real life: there’s no reason we can’t make friends’ days by telling them what positive qualities they demonstrate.

In my Sociology of the Family class, we had an interesting discussion about the cultural differences regarding hook-up culture, which was fascinating. Prior to the class, we were each assigned different countries to read about, and then we compared notes during lecture. My country was Denmark, but my classmates covered information from 10 different places around the world. It’s crazy to think about how different Americans view hook-up culture in comparison to countries in Europe and Asia.

Thursday night I went with my friend Hannah from class to the Jason Mraz concert, which I had been looking forward to for months. He is a phenomenal singer, and seeing him in concert was so cool, especially the songs I’m Yours and Have It All, my favorites. Also, we were so much closer to the stage than we thought we would be, as we got there on time and it was a huge standing-floor. The commute was pretty easy on the train, too.

Today I have been catching up on my blogs, doing laundry, and packing for my trip. I also went to the gym and had lunch at a new place called Plant Power Food, and the menu was so extensive that I probably looked at it for 15 minutes before I decided what to get. My meal was delicious, but I’ll definitely have to go back. Tonight I am going with Adina, Goldie, and Adina’s parents to Shabbat dinner, which should be fun. I can’t wait for my trip!

weekend get-away with my visitor

Despite Josh’s first flight being delayed and him needing to switch to another flight, which involved two layovers instead of one, he made it! We were both worried on Friday that we were going to lose time together, but in reality, he arrived only a few hours later than the original plan. I am so grateful that he was able to get here. Even though I no longer had to wake up early to get him at 7:15 from the airport, I wasn’t able to sleep in—I was too excited. I had to kill time in the morning, so I decided to go for a short run, though I took a different path than the one I usually run with Adina. I also used the time to update the itinerary I planned with Josh, as I still wanted to make the most of our daylight time on Saturday.

I got to the airport with an hour of time to spare, but I ended up enjoying my time in the Arrivals area. I realized that something I should probably do for a writing exercise is going there again and writing about what I see, as watching people reunite with their loved ones proved to be very entertaining. There were smiles, tears of joy, big hugs, and little kids running. I was so anxious for it to be my turn, but people-watching did help pass the time. When Josh texted me that he landed, I waited in the line of people. It was amazing to finally see him.

After dropping off our bags, our first destination was a late lunch (it was 2:30 at this point) at Kalaset, a place I hadn’t been before but had on my must-go list. It was incredible food with a huge menu, and we were both starving. We went to the Christiansborg Palace, the same place I had gone with my Danish class, except this time we had tickets to explore all the rooms. There was one pretty room after another, and we were able to go at our own pace. I wanted to get to the top of the Round Tower by the time the sun set, so we walked directly there afterward. It was a beautiful view. In honor of Valentine’s Day, I made a reservation at The Union Kitchen for us that night, which is a fancy restaurant that I had only visited for brunch before. I heard that dinner was even better, and I was not disappointed. They have a lot of different “balls” such as salmon, falafel, and vegetable, and they also have gluten-free french fries. It was also pretty close to our hotel. We were both exhausted when we finished dinner, but we still went to the hotel Ice Bar to get fun drinks. It was freezing cold even inside the enormous cloaks they gave us to wear, but we still had a good time.

On Sunday morning, we woke up pretty early to get to Mad and Kaffe for breakfast, as Adina and Goldie had told me that their waitlist fills up quickly, and they do not take reservations. We arrived only a half hour after they opened, but we still didn’t even get a table inside. Luckily, it was nice and sunny outside, so we sat under a heated tent, snagging the last one of those tables that they had. It was definitely one of my favorite meals we had all weekend. The concept is designing your own brunch, so you order 3, 5, or 7 little “plates” of items on the menu, and they come together on a platter.

We headed to the Nyhavn Canal area, and we pretty much spent the entire day there. We walked along the water, and I took Josh to the trampolines. It was so warm that at some points, I took my jacket off. We had booked a canal tour, and we went on that hour-long tour that departed right near the canal. It was cool to see the city from the water’s perspective. We passed the Black Diamond library, the Opera House, the Little Mermaid Statue, the bridge leading to Christianhavn, and several other Copenhagen landmarks. I selected seats at the back of the boat, as these were not covered by glass and it was easier to see everything. The tour guide stood at the front and talked to us on a microphone, explaining everything we passed.

After the tour, we weren’t done on the canal. We decided to get drinks at one of the restaurants where you sit along the water, and Josh also got one of the classic waffle-on-a-stick desserts, while I got gelato from the same place. I had never seen the area so crowded with tourists; in addition to being there on a Sunday, there was not a cloud in the sky, and it was the warmest I have ever been in Copenhagen. It really was an amazing afternoon. Then, we headed to our segue tour meeting spot. I hadn’t segued since I went with my group in camp on our CIT trip, and Josh had never been before. Our tour guide was fantastic. She did a great job of sharing factual information about the sights we passed, as well as funny stories and jokes along the way. There were only six people on the tour, which also meant that she could give us each individualized attention and take pictures when we stopped, which was very nice. That hour ranked among our favorite activities all weekend.

Here are some interesting things we learned from the tour guide:

  • The main clock tower chimes at random times; it does not chime on the hour, half hour, or quarter hour like most other clock towers. For example, it rang at 3:55.
  • The Little Mermaid statue is the second most underwhelming statue in all of Europe. I turned around to look back at Josh when our guide said this, as I had literally just been telling him how not-exciting it was when I went with Goldie a while ago. Later, Josh asked the guide what the first most underwhelming statue is, which is apparently the Manneken Pis in Brussels.
  • When we stopped at the Amalienborg Palace Square, we learned that each of the buildings belongs to a different member of the Danish royal family and that the flags flying on top of each castle indicates whether or not that particular family member is home at the time.

We headed to Tivoli after sitting and resting our legs, which was especially exciting and well-timed because it was the last day of the winter season. Josh bought a one-time entrance pass, and I used the season pass I bought last week, but we both added rides once we got inside. We did the Star Flyer ride, which happens to be the highest carousel in Northern Europe at an impressive 80 meters tall. It was actually way higher than I expected once we got to the top, and the view of the city was incredible—especially at night. We had also bundled up for our night in Tivoli, and I am really happy we did that because the wind was really intense. We even had to leave our phones outside the ride instead of within our zipped jacket pockets because the wind was so strong. We planned to eat dinner at Tivoli (google said the park closed at 11pm), but when we went into the food court at 9, we learned that it was closing. We had been too caught up in all of our activities to eat a real meal since brunch, so we were both starving. I looked up nearby restaurants and suggested we eat at Riz Raz, the amazing Mediterranean place I had eaten at on my first ever night in Cope. It was a good choice because they have a buffet, so although I didn’t eat until 10pm, at least it didn’t have to be later. When we got back to the hotel, I reviewed quickly for my Danish quiz the next morning.

Monday was another beautiful and sunny day, although it was much less exciting to go to class when I knew our fun day would start right after I got out. My Danish quiz was fine, and I’m glad I didn’t get more stressed over it. Luckily 2/3 of my afternoon classes were randomly canceled that day, so I only ended up “skipping” one class, which is great. I changed our itinerary for Monday afternoon because after talking to some people in my first class, I learned that the Church of our Savior was open, and it was an experience we wouldn’t want to miss. I canceled our lunch reservation and we went to the Glass Market instead, as I wanted to make sure Josh got to see that. He got a classic Copenhagn open-faced sandwich with fish, and he loved it. I’m glad he got to try the most “authentic” version of the food here during his visit. I also tried a new place within the market, and my favorite part of that was the yummy feta, shrimp, and lime salad I ate.

We headed across the bridge to the Christianhavn neighborhood, where we climbed the 400 steps to the top of the famous Church. The climb was way more exhausting than we expected, and we were both definitely out of breath by the time we reached the top. I think there should have been some sort of warning about this. 🙂 However, the climb to the top was very worth it. The view was absolutely incredible, and it makes the Round Tower seem like an ant’s perspective of the city. We also learned the other day on our canal tour the urban legend behind the church: the architect jumped from the top of it (killing himself) when he realized his mistake in constructing the staircase in a counter-clockwise direction, which meant he would go to hell.

After we descended the stairs, we decided to walk about Christiania so Josh could see the “free town,” and we also stopped in a Christianhavn cafe to get coffee. We ate dinner at Paludan Cafe that night, one of my favorites. We brought the “hygge” card game that Josh had brought (so cute!), and basically, they are just cards with discussion topics on them. The idea is to create a cozy atmosphere with the people you love. We were distracted by one conversation, and before we knew it, just one of the prompts had kept us busy for over an hour. As we ate our dinner, Adina and Goldie stopped by to meet Josh and chat. That was really fun, and we traded stories about our weekends. We left Paludan after three hours, and Josh and I headed to Bastard Cafe, the board game bar. We played a few card games, as well as two games of chess. He beat me in our first game because he used the 3-move-checkmate I had totally forgotten about since my childhood chess-playing days. However, the next game lasted over an hour, and we were both very concentrated. I won that one. 🙂 We decided we are going to try and play more because we both enjoyed playing the game as kids. Josh also loved the environment of Bastard Cafe, and we had fun drinks there too.

Tuesday was our last full day together, and after getting a quick breakfast, we headed to Hillerød for the day, which is about a 40-minute train ride outside of central Copenhagen. The main attraction there is the Frederiksborg Castle, which was truly an exquisite site. It didn’t look real. We had lunch at the restaurant inside the castle gardens, where we both had super fresh fish open-faced sandwiches. Then, we spent a few hours walking around the gardens, looking at the pretty ponds, trees, and buildings. We planned to go inside the museum itself, but by the time we got there at 2:45, it was too late to explore, as they closed at 3 (the website said 4…). We left the castle property and walked through the town of Hillerød, which was nice, and it was not nearly as crowded as is the center of the city. We walked around until it was almost sunset, and on the train ride home, we got to look at a beautiful pink, orange, and purple sky. We had dinner that night near my apartment at Mæxico, a Mexican restaurant I hadn’t eaten at yet. It was very good. We talked about all our “favorites” from the weekend, and I found it hard to pick just one meal, activity, or day that was better than all the rest. Josh said that he hadn’t had even one “great” meal…each one was better than great!

We ended the day with another game night at Bastard Cafe, and Goldie and Adina came to play with us, too.

It was sad to say goodbye, but I am so happy to have had this weekend together, and I know it is one that I will not forget.

a week of planning and working (and some fun, too)

This post will not be too long, as I have dedicated a lot of my free time the past few days to getting ahead on work for the next entire week. And, since next week is the week before our first longer break, I have several assignments due. This is all very worth it, as Josh is coming to visit me tomorrow, and I do not want to do any work when he’s here. I planned an itinerary for all of our days together, and I am so excited, both to show him around at my favorite spots and explore new places in Copenhagen together.

Here’s a quick recap on my week:


  • I had a workshop in lieu of my Travel Writing class where I received feedback from a group of my peers and teacher on my first story of the semester. I hadn’t thought that it was my best piece of writing when I submitted it, but it got really good reviews. I mentioned in my Blog about Prague that I randomly met a woman in the airport who inspired my story, and my classmates were very curious to learn more about my interaction with her, and how I decided very quickly to ask her for an interview. I worked on revising my draft this week, and I plan to email the woman when I have the final draft complete.
  • Saving all my homework for Sunday night is not something I typically do at school; in fact, I’m not sure that I have ever done that. However, I have realized that on weekends I travel from Thursday to Sunday, I really have no choice. This concept stresses me out a bit, but luckily, I am abroad, and my classes are easier and less work. Still, I couldn’t help but feel a bit overwhelmed on Monday, needing to catch up on everything as well as wanting to get ahead. On Monday afternoon, Adina and I decided to go for a run before getting to work. I love running with her because she goes at a not-too-fast pace, and we are able to chat the whole time—so it really feels like a break in addition to a workout. We also ran by the water with a beautiful sunset to watch, and it was so nice. We plan to do this more often as the weather starts to get warmer.


  • I used my bike to run all my errands, which I love. It was another beautiful day, so I was happy to be outside.
  • I also checked out a new cafe to do my homework in. I spent a lot of the afternoon memorizing a Danish script that I had written with a partner in my class, as we had an assignment this week to record a 3-minute video—without looking at our notes! This was quite challenging, as I still haven’t been able to figure out many patterns or rules in terms of learning the language. So many of the words “just are” the way they are, and there are so many random things to remember. Another difficult concept is that the word order in Danish is different depending on if you are stating something or asking a question
  • In the evening, I went with my friend Hannah from my core course to Tivoli, which is an amusement park in Copenhagen, the second-oldest operating park in the world. There is a winter theme happening for all of February, so I wanted to check it out. After talking to some friends and a woman in the box office, I decided to buy a season pass, which is worth the money if I planned to go more than two times over the course of the semester. I definitely do, as I will be bringing all of my visitors here, including Josh this weekend. It was so much fun even just walking around, as it was a little cold to do the rides. There is an ice-skating rink, a lot of food, a pond, a theatre, and winter-themed decorations. At the beginning of April, Tivoli will re-open with a Springtime theme. Hannah and I got dinner, explored the whole property, and then we both went home.
  • I had planned to go out with Adina and Goldie that night, but when we got caught up in booking flights, it ended up being too late to do something afterward. I am very excited, as I was able to book two trips: Vienna and London. I only have one more weekend that is up in the air in terms of where I’m going, and that’s not until the end of April. Planning all these trips is certainly exciting, but it is also tiring and time-consuming.


  • No field study today! I used most of the day to get ahead on work, and I also know that next Wednesday will be quite busy with two field studies and a group project meeting at night.
  • The highlights of my day included another beautiful run on the water with Adina, followed by a delicious brunch with her and Goldie at Cafe Paludan. That’s the place right down the street from my apartment; I hadn’t yet been there for brunch, but it’s now one of my favorites.
  • As I spend more time in various cafes, it’s interesting to observe little differences in Danish and American culture that are more subtle, perhaps ones I had overlooked when everything was so new. Adina pointed out that when you order a coffee here or any food that requires you to move down a line and get it from somewhere else, the workers will often say something along the lines of “My colleague will get that from you.” There are a few differences here to American culture: first, I have never heard the word “colleague” used in this context. Additionally, the more likely interaction would be for the person behind the counter to say “You’ll get your drink over there,” which is a lot less personal than the Danish version.
  • I filmed my Danish video with the girl from my class in the afternoon, and it took us a while, but we got it done.


  • My day of classes seemed a lot shorter than usual, as I had two guest speakers, plus a field trip with my Danish class, and the fact that my last class was another group’s workshop, so I did not need to attend. We listened to a lecture on the Christiansborg Palace tapestries in Danish, so we met at an alternative location close to DIS. In Positive Psychology, we had a guest lecture from a man in the Denmark police force, who spoke about his use of positive psychology when dealing with criminals. It was very interesting. In Sociology of the Family, we talked with an author of three children’s books about the concept of atypical families, specifically families where a mother must explain to a child the concept of a sperm donor. We had been learning in class about these difficult conversations people may need to have with their children, so it was nice to be able to talk to someone with so much experience. In addition to writing books on the subject, the speaker is a single mother herself, and she explained that when she realized she was 40 without a relationship, the idea of not having kids was not an option, so she had to do something.
  • I facetimed with Rachel after my classes, and after catching up, we did a workout video together—just like we do at school. It was nice to spend virtual time with her, and I’m so excited about our week together in April, which is now officially booked.
  • I finished up my work for the rest of the evening, and because I have been so diligent throughout the week about getting it done, I now feel so ahead. I am even more excited for this weekend, and it’s great that now I don’t have any more big assignments due before our next break. Adina and I even went down the street to get ice cream.


  • This morning, I went on a bike adventure to the neighborhood of Nørrebro, which I haven’t really had the chance to explore yet. I was thinking about doing a day trip to a museum or something, but with the busy weekend I have coming up, I decided that today I wanted to act as a local instead of a tourist. I sat in a cute cafe called Grød, which is famously known for its porridge and chia bowls. The weather was also beautiful for a bike ride. Then, I met up with Adina and Goldie for their lunch break, before going on the last of my errands before Josh arrives early tomorrow morning. I also explored my own neighborhood a bit, and there are so many cafes and restaurants I still want to try that are basically in my backyard. Tonight I plan on going to sleep early (I’m waking up at 6:30) and catching up with some friends from school, as many here are traveling.


When in Rome…

…you know what they say: Do as the Romans do. I am happy to report that Emma and I had a phenomenal weekend, trying to soak up as much of the Roman culture as possible. Rome was definitely my favorite city I have visited so far. We were able to pack a ton of sights into our trip, and if I’m able to go back one day, there is also so much more to do. Plus, we got incredibly lucky with the weather. People kept telling us that it was so cold (February is apparently the coldest month in Italy), yet to a person coming from a winter in Copenhagen, 60 degrees and sunny felt glorious. I thought the weather was absolutely perfect.

We arrived at our airbnb late on Thursday night at 1 a.m. I was a little nervous about staying in an airbnb, as this was my first time doing so. However, Emma has stayed in several different ones, and she was the one who found this place. It was such a pleasant experience. Our host greeted us even though we got there late, and she explained how to use the keys. There were also chocolates and cold water bottles waiting for us, which was a nice surprise; I was pretty thirsty. Even though Emma and I were so excited to see each other after a long time and we were busy catching up, we went to sleep as soon as we could so that we could get up early on Friday.

We got free tickets to a 10 a.m. walking tour on Friday, but we decided to leave our air bnb before 9 so we could pick up coffee or something to eat on the way. We wandered into a cafe down the street, and I was expecting to eat my bar, as there were several pastries in the window. However, as Emma was perusing the menu, I noticed that there was a room labeled “Sentri Gluten,” and I asked someone about their gluten-free products. It turns out they had several types of croissants to choose from, and Emma can attest to the fact that I was JUMPING for joy. I could not wait to try a croissant. I got a chocolate one because ~why not~, and it was delicious. Emma and I ate our croissants while walking to meet our tour, and we were able to walk at a reasonable pace while still getting there on time.

Our tour guide was an energetic woman with a thick Italian accent, and she clearly knew her Roman history. My only complaint was that the city was very loud, so it was hard to hear her if you weren’t standing relatively close. Emma and I tried to follow right behind her. We started at the Spanish Steps, and then we walked through a few of the heavily-tourist-populated streets. We stopped at the Victory Column of Aurelius, the Temple of Adrian, and then we arrived at the Pantheon. The building is way bigger than I imagined it from looking at pictures. Our tour guide allowed us to have 15 minutes of exploring the inside before we had to meet her in front. We learned that “Pantheon” translates into “All the Gods” because it is one of the only Roman structures that encompasses the history of all the ancient gods. Afterward, the guide led us to Piazza Navona, which was my favorite part of the tour. The piazza is an enormous square with interesting monuments, places to sit outside, dozens of restaurants and cafes, and a lot of open space with cobblestone. Because it was a sunny day, there were so many people. The tour ended there, and we tipped the guide.

We decided to get lunch before heading to the Coliseum, which we thought was much closer to the other sights than it actually was. Unfortunately, the timing worked out so that it really did make sense to eat at that point, but I was still stuffed from my chocolate croissant. We decided this was a good time to go to a place Emma had on her suggestion list, as I had not specifically noted it was gluten-free. Emma was super considerate the whole weekend about making sure I had plenty of options before we decided places to eat. This was my first time seeing a school friend since leaving for abroad, and the familiarity of knowing I was spending time with a close friend was so comforting. Emma navigated us to Dar Poetta, where I had a fresh mozzarella cheese and olive salad. I will definitely make note in this post of all the meals I had in Rome, but I do want to say that I am proud of my willingness to try whatever looked good on a menu; I never had the same food twice, yet I feel like I had so many different classic Italian foods.

Emma and I realized we had mistakenly thought a dome-shaped building we noticed earlier was the Colosseum, and when we put the Colosseum into Google Maps, we were shocked that it was a 45-minute walk away. Of course, that was not going to stop us. We chatted for a while, as we basically made our way to the other side of the main part of Rome. (We realized this part later after looking more closely at a map.) On the way, we stopped at the Circus Maximus. When we arrived at the REAL Colosseum—as we jokingly referred to it for the rest of the weekend—I literally felt my breath go away. It was so expansive. I realized that one of the reasons I have wanted to go to Rome for so long is because of the Colosseum, as I remember learning about it back when I took Latin throughout middle school. The Colosseum was on the cover of my textbook! As all the memories of Latin washed over me, I couldn’t believe I was standing in the very place where I had learned about centuries of history. It was very cool—definitely one of my favorite moments abroad so far. We waited for 40 minutes on the line to get into the building, which was totally worth it. The Colosseum is quite something when you’re standing on the outside, but it’s something else from the inside. With the blue sky as a backdrop, I couldn’t get enough exciting pictures of it. Emma and I walked around the whole thing, as well as walking up extremely steep stairs to see it from a higher viewpoint. After an hour, we were getting hungry for a snack, and we decided it was definitely time to try some Italian gelato. Of course, there were many places to choose from. Emma said her friend taught her a trick: if the gelato is piled super high, it’s not freshly made in Italy, so you have to look for the stores that have a normal amount of gelato in each flavor’s bin. We chose a place called Gelateria de Costanza. The flavors I tried were all delicious, and after a lot of contemplation, I chose a mixture of white chocolate and dark chocolate. As we ate our gelatos, we walked towards the Trevi Fountain, the next sight on our itinerary. This was, again, a 45-minute walk. On the way there, we saw a building that is nicknamed the “Wedding Cake,” as it does look like a white layered cake.

The Trevi Fountain was super crowded with tourists, though it was very pretty. We managed to get a picture without too many people in the background. We had a 7:30 dinner reservation at Mama Eat, which was nearby. Until that time, we wandered around the streets we hadn’t yet explored, poking our heads into stores and trying to avoid all the motorcycles. (These are very common in Rome, kind of similar to bikes in Cope.) Here’s the story behind Mama Eat: before our trip, I was nervous about going to Italy and safely eating gluten-free foods, as Italy is known for foods that are typically not gluten-free. I had googled “gluten-free in Rome” and made a reservation at the top place on the list, after checking that Emma was okay with it. They have a regular menu also, but they have a separate gluten-free kitchen. I had no idea what I was in for. We sat down, exhausted, and we realized that, apart from our relatively quick lunch, we hadn’t rested since 9 a.m.! At that point, we had already walked 13 miles. I couldn’t believe how many amazing-looking things were on the menu. After watching Emma eat a pizza earlier that day, however, I couldn’t turn down a white pizza with mushrooms, potatoes, and artichoke. I imagined that the crust would be like every other gluten-free crust I’ve ever had: thin, a little too crunchy, and maybe a little burnt. However, I was still excited. When the waiter put my plate in front of me, my jaw dropped. The dough was thick, cooked perfectly, and, after touching it, I realized that pulling it apart would be like “normal pizza.” Once again, Emma can confirm that I was enjoying it as much as this blog post sounds like I was. It was certainly the best pizza I’ve ever eaten in my life, and it honestly could have been the best food I have ever had in my life. I am still salivating when I even think about it! I was so full by the time I had eaten 3/4 of the pizza, but there was no way I was letting any of it go to waste. I finished every bite, which felt a lot different than finishing a thin-crusted pizza. It was insane. I have already researched other places the restaurant exists, and I am REALLY hoping to make it to the Milan location when I go there in a few weeks. I wasn’t even thinking about dessert, but the waiter asked us if we wanted to try his favorite cake (also gluten-free). How could we resist? We split a piece of triple-chocolate cake, layered with mousse and fudge on the outside. It was SO good. I was truly in the best kind of food coma, and I was looking forward to the half hour walk we had ahead of us to get back to our air bnb. It’s safe to say that this dinner was a success. I’m not over it.

We collapsed on our bed around 9:30p.m. when we got home, gathering the strength to go out for a bit that evening. My legs were quite sore from all the walking and standing; it turns out it was 15 miles of walking in that one day alone. Emma had arranged for us to meet up with her friend from high school, who is studying abroad in Rome. We met him at a bar that was so cute, and we each got a delicious drink. It was really helpful to talk to him, as in addition to learning about his study abroad experience, he gave us some good recommendations for the rest of our weekend. Initially, Emma and I wanted to check out the nightlife in Rome, but after assessing our tiredness level, we decided to head back around 12:30. I fell asleep as soon as I got into bed at 1:30. I stretched my legs a bit, but they were still aching.

We woke up from a deep sleep on Saturday at 8:30, as we had to leave to make it to our 11:00 reservation at the Vatican, another classic Rome sight. We knew we’d have to start the day with an hour-long walk to get there, and while that sounded fine when we discussed it on Friday, it was a bit brutal after the day we had had. We arrived right at 11:00, and neither of us realized how big Vatican City was. There was room after room of breathtaking architecture, beautiful tapestries, and intricate interior designs. We had purchased our own audio-guides so that we could press the number of the corresponding sculpture or room into the guide and listen to its history. It was very helpful; we wouldn’t have known what we were looking at otherwise. Some of my favorite sights included the statues of Artemis and Tiberius, the Roman baths (because I remember learning all about those in Latin), and the Map Room, which was a hallway lined with different “plans” of Italy’s geography, all composed centuries ago. After almost 2 hours exploring the rooms and the beautiful Sistine Chapel (where we weren’t allowed to take any pictures!), all four of our legs were hurting. We overdid it just a little bit on the first day, and we still had more to see. Deciding this was a good time to sit for lunch, and considering that we were both starving, I used my find-me-gluten-free app to direct us to the closest option: Risotteria Melotti Roma. It was excellent food, though Emma and I were hitting a very tired point in our day, and we both admitted that we could have fallen asleep on the spot. In this restaurant, everything was made from rice, including the bread they served as the first course. After trying the bread, Emma and I each got bowls of risotto. Mine had pumpkin and red wine flavoring, which sounded very interesting. It was super good and very filling.

After lunch, we decided to go back to the Piazza from the day before, needing more time to sit before continuing on our adventure. Even sitting on a stoop in the sunlight felt amazing. Then, we had planned to explore the Jewish quarter, which, to our delight, was only a 15-minute walk away. One thing we realized throughout the weekend is that although we did a good job of creating an itinerary of all the key sights to see, we should have looked at a map a little more closely, especially as sights related in comparison to our airbnb home base. We could have saved a lot of walking time if we had seen some things in a different order. Oh, well. In the Jewish quarter, we walked around the museum, the synagogue, and the nearby streets, which we noticed had plenty of stores to buy Kosher food. It was a quiet area, and there were several guards. I think it’s really interesting that so many of these European cities have dedicated parts called Jewish Quarters, as historically, Jews have been hurt by going to these areas before. I’m glad I got to see it; the synagogue especially was really pretty. We walked around for a little while until we just couldn’t do it anymore. It was 4:30, and our “first dinner” was not until 6:00. Emma had been dying to go to a specific restaurant for a while, and she had emailed them earlier in the week to assess the gluten-free situation. She was told that a person eating gluten-free would not have many options there, so after checking with me, she made an 8:00 reservation at that place, suggesting that we go somewhere earlier for me to eat. We decided that we should spend the remainder of the afternoon sitting, but that didn’t stop us from experiencing Italian culture. There was only one more sight we had wanted to see this weekend, the Roman Forum, and that was on our itinerary for Sunday. We found a cute place to sit called Gran Cafe, where we could watch people walk by, enjoying cocktails simultaneously. It was a much-needed break. Afterward, we headed to Voglia di Pizza, which was another restaurant on my gluten-free list. It was not quite as good as the dinner on Friday night, but then again, I did have very high standards. I ended up getting a Croquette, which is a fried potato ball with cheese. I also ordered a cheese-bread, which was pretty much an open-faced sandwich. The best part was definitely the quality of the fresh mozzarella cheese. I was very full. Emma also ordered an appetizer. Then, we realized we had a lot of time before our next dinner at 8:00. At this point, our legs were feeling recharged, so we decided to walk around in all the shops. This was so much fun, and Emma and I both ended up getting these cute (and cheap) silver finger-rings. I was close to buying a leather jacket, which is one thing I do want to purchase at some point in Europe, but it was a bit too expensive. I also got more gelato, which was as good as the one from Friday. I was happy for Emma, as her dinner at Roma Sparita was her favorite food ever. It was pretty much pasta served in a bowl made of parmesan cheese. I have to say that it did look very good. Luckily, I was already happily full from having my own dinner. Once again, we decided we were too tired to check out the club scene. However, Emma’s friend had recommended a bar called Vendita Libri, where you can get drinks in shot glasses that are actually made of chocolate. We went here, and it was a fun experience. After an hour-long walk to get back to our airbnb, we were positively exhausted, and we went to sleep soon after that.

On Sunday, we only had one sight on our to-do list, and that ended up being a blessing because the line was so long to buy tickets. The Roman Forum was worth it, though. I still find all the ruins fascinating, especially given my background in Latin. Before heading over to that area, Emma and I went back to the local bakeshop (Panella) to have a quick sit-down breakfast, where, of course, I got another croissant. Luckily, we each had only brought backpacks with us this weekend, so we were able to take our bags with us for the day. We cabbed to the airport, and we parted ways. However, I’m seeing her in less than two weeks, so it wasn’t too sad to say goodbye.

I have a few general take-away points from this weekend. First of all, the location of where you stay is everything. Secondly, it is so important for future trips that I actually look at a map of all the sights before going there, so that I can plan out which activities to see on what days, and in what order it makes the most sense to see them. Third, doing research about gluten-free food beforehand is 100% worth it. And, if there’s a meal where I’m scrambling, I should use the find-me-gluten-free app to my advantage.

The fact that I was able to get on a quick plane ride and jet to Rome for the weekend with one of my best friends is an incredible concept. I feel so lucky, and I am already looking forward to my next visit to Italy. 🙂