Places I Called ‘Home’ in 2013

Places I Called Home in 2013

2013 was a great year for travel. When I look at my nerdy country count, I am surprised to see that I only visited five new countries this year (Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Australia and Singapore). But, I went back to a couple of old favourites and found myself packing and unpacking my life five times.

Truth be told: I am a little burnt out from moving around so much this year, but I wouldn’t trade my blessed 2013 for anyone else’s. (Except maybe Jennifer Lawrence’s. But how much I want her life is another story for another blogpost.)

Highlights of 2013 included snorkelling in the southern Great Barrier Reef, wearing at Dirndl at Karneval in Koln, having a picnic on top of a glacier in the French Alps, almost capsizing a boat in the canals of Amsterdam (with all my friends in it!), seeing a koala, living in the most amazing apartment on Coogee Beach in Sydney, and managing to completely fill up passport (took me less than three years).

Passports

The concept of ‘home’ changed throughout the year as I lived in five amazing cities in 2013. ‘Tis the time for the annual year-end recap of places where I received a postcard or two in the past year.  Continue reading

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The Ultimate Aarhus Guide

AarhusOne of my friends recently moved to Aarhus to start the Mundus Journalism program, so I thought I’d pen down some tips for her. That list has now expanded into this blog post because I have too much to say. And after all, sharing (travel tips) is caring.

I am going to preface this post by saying this: I didn’t realize how much I liked Aarhus until I left Aarhus. It’s easy to find yourself complaining about the expensive prices, cold weather, steep hills that break your back while biking, the fact that everything closes at 5pm and nothing is open on the weekends, lack of daylight… you get the point! But, it’s been over six months since I left Denmark and what I remember the most isn’t any of the above; it’s the hygge, the coffee culture, the live music scene, awe-inspiring art, breathtaking scenery and the clean air.

So, if you find yourself in Aarhus, and aren’t sure how to navigate this little big city, then check out my tips: Continue reading

The Last Danish Chapter

GuidebooksGoodbyes are never easy, especially when you are leaving behind an exciting country where you have countless memories with a lot of interesting people. (However, the pain can be eased with the knowledge that I am trading the cold Danish climate for a beachside apartment in Sydney.)

While I have been somewhat diligent in blogging about my travels within Europe, I haven’t written much about my day-to-day life here in Aarhus, Denmark. However, I have been reporting From the Field for Verge: Travel with Purpose magazine as a guest blogger. Over the last six months, I have written about how I adapted to a small city, my struggles with the language, getting used to a new (and weird) grading system, and more recently my biking adventures. If you haven’t checked them out already, here are my favourite articles that are worth a click:

Falling in love with Aarhus

I ditched the big city exchange experience and ended up in Denmark biggest village. One can bike across this city in less than 20  minutes. In December I wrote, “Naturally, I had my inhibitions when moving to Aarhus. Most people are nervous about moving to a bigger city, but I was really worried about moving to a smaller city. There is something about rush hour traffic, packed TTC subways and perpetually angry nine-to-fivers that makes me feel at home.”

How did I learn to love Aarhus? Find out! Continue reading

God Jul: Christmas spirit in Scandinavia

Living in Canada, this is what I used to associate Christmas with: vacation pay, boxing day, Home Alone marathons, and postcards from friends. If you haven’t been raised celebrating Christmas, it’s pretty easy to escape the holiday fever in Toronto (except when I worked in retail and Christmas carols were even playing in my nightmares).

God JulBut, not in Scandinavia. You can try to be the Grinch, but the Christmas spirit will make its way into your home and heart.

Denmark kicks off the God Jul celebrations with J-day on the first weekend of November by launching the annual Christmas beer. It’s a strong brew that’s modelled on a luxury beer. I am not surprised to see that the launch of a beer is a national event in Denmark – bars are brimming, trucks are distributing free beer and swag on the busy streets, and everyone is having a jolly good time to get the mood for God Jul.

Soon after the that, the Christmas lights start popping up and just last weekend, Aarhus’s official Christmas tree made its debut outside of City Hall.

Here’s how my friends and I have been getting in the festive spirit over the last month: Continue reading

Befriending our bikes

One of the first things I did when I moved to Aarhus, Denmark was get myself a bike. For the first few days of school, I’d bike alone (read: I’d walk my bike uphill and pedal some of the way) and then eventually my housemates got themselves adorable bicycles too. Thus, started a quest to find bike lights, baskets, fix tires, find seat covers and familiarize ourselves with the best routes. It took some time, but we slowly became really good friends with our bikes (and each other).

Here is a glimpse of one of our mornings as we set off to enjoy Aarhus (or go to school, more likely).

Featuring my pro biker babes: Fanny (France), Sonja (Serbia) and Nina (Canada? Germany? Malawi? I don’t even know!)

København in 24 hours

Copenhagen København is everything I imagined a Scandinavian city to be like: stunning architecture, cozy cafes and a relaxed vibe that North Americans, like myself, find hard to embrace at first. But then the hygge grows on you and you casually start strolling around the harbour, ignoring what time it is. If the clouds sneak up on you with surprising sun-showers, you can find shelter under one of the many umbrellas on the patio street. If you are sitting with a Dane, you won’t realize that hours have passed while you have been casually talking about everything under the sky while sipping on your coffee (or beer, as per your preference).

But, if you don’t have time on your side and need to catch your train to Stockholm (or better yet, your bus to Aarhus to visit me), here is what you must see and do while you are in Copenhagen.

Disclaimer: I didn’t make it to Vesterbro or Norrebro while I was in Copenhagen. 

Start your day by walking through Stroget and the Latin Quarter. Stroll carelessly on this longest pedestrian friendly, shopping street in Copenhagen. Stop to buy an overpriced souvenir or the most expensive coffee of your life before making your way to Nyhavn (pronounced as “New Hawn” as I was sternly corrected by a local).

Continue reading

Hej fra Danmark

Directly translated, that means “Hello from Denmark”

If you are my Facebook friend and/or have been following me on Twitter, you will know that I have left my beloved Toronto behind and moved to Aarhus, Denmark, to start my Masters degree. I am getting my MA in Journalism, Media & Globalization with a specialization in Business & Finance Journalism. This course is one of the Erasmus Mundus programs and is taught over two years. I’ll be spending the first year in Aarhus, Denmark and moving to one of my favourite cities, London, for my specialism year. Some of my other classmates will be specializing in different fields of interest: war and conflict (Swansea), EU politics (Amsterdam) and reporting on cultures (Hamburg).

My program

At last count, there are 45 nationalities that make up this program. You are probably wondering, “That sounds just like a Toronto classroom.” Well… that’s sort of correct. I loved living and studying in Toronto because of the diverse backgrounds students came from.

But, my masters is going to be a very diverse Toronto classroom on steroids.

At least everyone in Toronto was Canadian. While, they represented a plethora of cultures and values, the Canadian identity resonated throughout the class.

Now, I have the important job of representing Canadian ideas and values in group discussions at the masters level. I share this responsibility with three other Canadian ladies (one of them from Ryerson!) who are also in the program.

My first official lecture is tomorrow, but from the two days of introductions and orientations we have been having, I can safely say this: my program is going to be challenging, demanding, but also really interesting.  Continue reading