Experiencing Time and Home Abroad

A photo looking out the window in my flat in rainy, beautiful, Aarhus.

The experience of students abroad is a peculiar one. As young adults, I think we have the desire, or I do anyway, to set up our lives permanently, but of course, everything has a half-life when you're away like this (and in general). For much of the beginning of this year, I thought about what I was learning to better myself for when I return, for things to take away with me and to apply to my life back in Niagara. But in those last few months, I passed that point and proceeded to become increasingly worried about the fleeting nature of my life there. I wrote in late March, 

It will be over soon, and I will be back home with my friends and loved ones whom I’ve spent most of my life with. And many of the new friends I met here I won’t see again for a long time. Years probably, if ever again. And I love them dearly, but still, much of all of this is temporary. There will be a handful of long-lasting relationships I’m sure, and I will cross paths with some others probably if they diverge here.

Soon after, I found one of several applicable adages: all things come to an end, good and bad, my year was a good thing, and it has ended.

Photo from Sankt Hans Aften, celebrated at Aarhus K, Institut for (X), Godsbanen.

My last few weeks were busy ones: finishing exams, moving out, having farewell hurrahs, and once again falling behind on my self-imposed blogging schedule. I finished the March Travels Part 2 blog on Rome, and I have one for my Belgium trip coming up, but in the meantime, while I was still in Aarhus, I needed to put my thoughts to the page. 

There is no time to write like the present … he said, a week or so ago… months. 

Now (late June), I am on a bus to pick DJ up from the airport in Copenhagen and have a mear three fleeting days in Aarhus, with likely little time for writing between them. I am failing, I think, to actually process the end of this year. I’ve talked to friends here about it, and they all seem to say the same. Some are already home and letting their new(/old) lives really sink in, minute by minute, it sounds like a slow process. Most of these friends are Europeans or close to here and are not doing the month of travelling before return that I am. I wonder thus, how my experience of settling will compare.

Aarhus is a city full of beauty. In street art, in gay benches, in bicycles. I miss it severely.

It was difficult – I say ‘was’ now because I have left and am writing this from Germany (though it is going to be published in Canada) – to understand what it meant to be leaving a place I learned to call home while I lived there, and it has been hard still. DJ and I’s jaunt through Denmark, and now Germany, has felt like a sweet little holiday and not much like moving, and I fear that none of this will feel remotly as final as it is until I am in Niagara again. Going away for longish, shortish periods like this means that every note you play has a certain finality to it. While I didn’t get done all I had hoped to, those sour-seeming feelings are not so (maybe yet) instead, they fill me with a desire to return and when I think of the many friends I have made, I am merely glad to have made them, and eager to see them again. I struggle to determine whether this is my disposition, naïveté, or something else. For weeks I was looking longingly, mournfully perhaps, warmly, out my window and those of public transit, knowing that my time there was precious. Here is where a more sentimental person might talk about their experience as a microcosm of the rest of their life, but I won’t. This whole writing my life down thing is a lot of narrativizing potentially random events already, and I see no need to pretend I know how this ends, let alone to have the foresight to foreshadow. We shall see, I suppose. I have gained much from this experience, my exchange year, and I imagine I’ll be reflecting and reading into what I have learned for months, likely years to come. And one day, when I self-righteously compile some kind of full working story of a life mostly lived, I may imbue it with utmost significance. But for now,  I shall reflect briefly on some of the things I feel and felt.

Broken mirrors are never not poetic. Found and taken in Aarhus.

When I was younger, I think, I had a tough time coping with temporary things, with loss, especially with regards to friends. And I have always been one for a few good long-term relationships rather than many short ones. So the limited timeframe of this exchange gave me much to consider when making friends and meeting new people. And brought about a big question: does one cling on to withering relationships, or does one let them grow, and blossom, and then leave them be to see if they return some other Spring? I believe that this is one of the rare social questions that actually has a mostly right answer. The latter. If you love something etc.. And so now, I have left. And some friends I hear from frequently, some less, some on occasion, and some dear, dear friends I have been unable to reach for whatever reason. This is the way things go, and I am making peace with that.

The Same For Everyone* by Nathan Coley outside Aarhus City Hall. Denmark gets this so right.

One of the recurring themes of my exchange involves the concept of 'home': what is home, what's so important about it, and what happens when it changes. Midway through the year,  I wrote a short poem about this and read it at a couple of events. I’ve posted it here to accompany this piece. While abroad, I often thought about this TEDTalk on the community of now mostly elderly women who stayed in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, in their homes, even when they were told they really had better leave, and it makes me question the practicality of home. I feel that I have two homes now or one split, Niagara and Aarhus but I have a house and more history in one than the other. There are perks of both, some practical, some emotional: free schooling, better social systems, more accessible travel, higher standards of living, more community-oriented life, etc.* in Aarhus, Denmark; and established family, family history, greater diversity and multiculturalism, ‘wilderness,’ wine, and more D.I.Y. punk, in Niagara, Canada. I have the privilege now of choosing where to make my home if moving it is really possible, and it’s a hard decision. I also have the privilege of not having to permanently settle anywhere or make that decision for some time. The choice becomes harder when one is making it for others, but thankfully I don’t have to do that right now. In this way, I am free, and I am free to make my home what, where and who I want. This is one of the lessons I’ve learned. And this is where I will leave you for now.

  This photo and the thumbnail photo were both taken on one of my favourite little adventures in Aarhus. A group of us had a fire on the beach and slept there and woke up to this.

This photo and the thumbnail photo were both taken on one of my favourite little adventures in Aarhus. A group of us had a fire on the beach and slept there and woke up to this.

More thoughts coming soon, hopefully, less chronologically fucked up. Memory doesn’t always work the way I want it to and writing fragments of thoughts and ideas over months doesn’t always translate into a coherent bit or writing to post on one’s blog.

Anyhow, lots of love from Canada,

Kostyn

 

Edited with love by my partner, DJ Maki, and my good friend Luke Webster.

March Travels Part 2: Rome

Welcome, to the second and final late piece on my stint of March travelling with my parents. If you haven’t read the first check it out here, and then come back to this one. Or, if you are just so rebellious, carry on and let your hardened rebel soul influence me and my complacent peers. 

Fab selfie taken by my dad of him, my mom, and I. I think this is great even though I am the only one of us actually looking into the camera. We're eating gelato in the Piazza Navona.

When I end up in places with extraordinary historical significance to the narrative I’ve been given, destinations like Rome and London – Eurocentric, I know – I often can’t help but think about the history of Grand Tours, and those who have gone on them and what they may or may not have learned. For the unaware, a Grand Tour was the 17th - 18th-century practice by which young members of European nobility would travel their continent’s most influential and historic sites as a right of passage. The trip often took many months or even a couple years to complete and usually focused heavily on the classical world (my source for all of this is my own accumulated knowledge from school and the Wikipedia article). Just as those young people and those who supported them did, I believe that travel is important, especially for learning and development, and this is a popular opinion though, not, I think, an unproblematic one. In the romantic age of Grand Tours, as today, travel is expensive and as such, undemocratic. I have the means to travel like this, as young men of the European nobility and gentry did, because of circumstance, where I happened to have been born and who my parents happened to be. And though more affordable travel can now be had, and is now being had by many, myself and my peers included, travel is still inaccessible to many – probably most. Who has the time for even modest outings? I try to keep all of this conflict in mind.

Where I last left off, we were enjoying our stay in the surprisingly pleasant Stockholm Skavsta Airport hotel. On the following morning, we caught a flight down to the Rome Ciampino Airport, marking my parents’ first ‘affordable’ European flight. When we got out into the warm air, a smile crept its way across my face as where we were failed to set in. Hailing a taxi, we were driven into the city, stunned at glimpses of entrances to catacombs, pieces of aqueducts, and an urban geography we were entirely unfamiliar with. The hotel we stayed in, which I won’t name for myriad reasons but if you so desire it would not be hard to find, was utterly spectacular. It was a short walk from the restaurant and art strewn area, Trastevere, and was a restored and renovated 17th-Century convent. My parents and I spent a good bit of the first evening, and some of the ensuing ones, sneaking around and discovering the confusing layout of the historic building. Including, the passageway down to a foreboding basement which was gated off and looked like steps into Hell, as well as elevators which lead perplexingly to select floors, making others accessible only by stair or perhaps, not at all. 

The photos in this one are a little disorganized, sorry. This is from the (spoiler) Non-Catholic Cemetery.

We spent that first afternoon and evening familiarizing ourselves with our little corner of Rome and seeing some of the sites. After pizza, we moved further into the city making our way first, to the Piazza Navona where we stumbled upon an awe commanding school choir performance in one of the old churches. In the plaza, under the pretext of getting some gelato, actually, in search of a washroom, we ended up enjoying our first delicious gelato. Amazingly, I had given little thought, due to my preoccupations, to Bernini’s Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi which I was more able to appreciate with much-relieved blatter. That being said, I have little grounds on which to really appreciate such works, the grand fountains and statues of Rome, but thankfully, they speak for themselves.

I am exceptionally pleased with this picture I got of the Pantheon. No such quality photos exist of the aforementioned plaza and fountain.

Next, as the late afternoon sun was beginning to fade and the cool evening taking its place, we decided we were going to see the Pantheon. Intellectually, we were well prepared for this, an ancient structure, a centrepiece of Ancient Rome, one which I had seen modelled and photographed many, many times. But as we learned, those narrow streets, opening on to unexpected cavernous squares and plazas and the remnants of thousands of years of human history, Rome can surprise you with things you think you already know. We entered, stage left, and approached mouth agape. The sheer scale, and imposing nature of what I would consider an anachronism in my own life but which fits perfectly in the strange out-of-time world of Rome, rendered us speechless and then conjured only expletives. By a stroke of pure luck, likely due to the time we arrived at, the Pantheon wasn’t terribly busy, and we were able to get in quickly and easily. Walking past the massive columns and into the primary structure where we are nearly transported back in time. We read many of the information placards and observed each stunning section, cranking our necks up again and again to get glimpse after glimpse of the stunning ceiling and hole in the sky. So many must have done the same. From the Pantheon we swiftly acquired a table at one of the surrounding establishments and had a beautiful glass of wine, speaking little, still staring at the ancient Roman centrepiece.

The following morning we got tickets to take one of those hop-on-hop-off bus tour thingys which I was tremendously skeptical of (similar to the Stockholm boat tour). Again, however, I was pleasantly surprised and entertained by both the ride/sightseeing and the audio guide which fed us information we may well never have received. It also gave us an excellent first-morning introduction to the city and helped us orient further exploration. One of the most useful bits included in this tour was giving names to and explaining the somewhat random smattering of ruins and sites throughout the city. 

Taken from one of the views in the Forum. I had a really hard time getting photos with my phone.

The big event of the day, however, was to visit the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. Around midday, we got a tour taking us through the Colosseum. Here again, my neck was cranked, and head was swivelling shoulder to shoulder to take in as much of this towering, cultural artifact as I could. Much of Rome, but I think the Colosseum and Forum are the most prominent examples, is a sort of mental fill-in-the-blanks. Meandering around the massive ancient amphitheatre, you’re encouraged to imagine walls built high, thousands of people cheering, ancient nobility and everyone else from that society, gathered, usually to see blood. Imagining vicious battles of life and death. Sand stained red. Cheering crowds. And all of that, no more strange than taking in a hockey game or concert. Still, the Colosseum looks awful strange to me. The familiarity I have with it, through various textbooks and narratives I’ve read didn’t prepare me for this hulking stone husk. I imagine I am a fish, visiting bleached coral. We are the same as those who built this and participated in its activities, but yet, so far removed. 

From the Colosseum, we walked down to another tour, this time of the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill. Throughout the trip, we struggled with normalization. We wondered if at some point, ornate churches would lose their appeal or if ancient ruins would become a bore. I don’t think I ever experienced this, but it did make me consider normal. And what normal must be for the people of Rome, or those who visit often and commute through these fantastic sites. I try to step into the space in my mind with the processing power to imagine the lives of those Ancient Romans too, and their perspectives. To see the colours which have long been bleached away, to speak a language I would not recognize, to think in that language. I fail, but the act of trying is the important bit.

Here is a panorama my dad got inside the Colosseum. His phone had a far better camera than mine, and his photo chops increased dramatically so many of these are his.

The next morning we got up early, had a quick breakfast and then, made our way out to Vatican City for a tour. It’s hard to know what to say about our time in that small city-state, a temporal anomaly, even in a city so out of time as Rome, antique and beautiful, yet infused with the strange sights of modernity, including massive monitors and airport-like teched-out security theatre. On top of the ornate rooms filled with depictions of ancient pagan gods, in the halls of the Catholic god, and wealth, so much wealth, stored at the epicentre of a religious denomination committed to the poor. In the Vatican, many, myself included, find themselves face-to-face with some of the world’s most impressive and perhaps, famous, if not altogether most beautiful and influential, works of art in Western history but is forced to awkwardly reconcile their often questionable acquisition and the veritable sea of hypocrisy on the bed of which they lay. Amazingly, however, this feeling ebbs and flows and so appreciators of beautiful things have moments of respite wherein they may enjoy the sheer awe imposed upon them by sculptures, paintings, architectural works, and tapestries. I feel very well in these moments, it’s not hard to imagine religious experiences coming from such places, and I think it would be fair to call my own, these moments of awe, religious, even if they are devoid of organization or belief in any kind of ‘higher power.’ Maybe this is an inappropriate use of the word since I am not religious. Maybe I ought to use 'spiritual.'  Maybe language is malleable, and I am fine to use it as I please. I’ve found that contradiction is at the heart of all worthy things and stories.

  Here's a photo of us in  St. Peter's Square  taken by a kind stranger.

Here's a photo of us in St. Peter's Square taken by a kind stranger.

Even after our time in the Vatican, seeing as we got up so early, we had a full day ahead of us. The next stop was the Spanish Steps, a staple of the Roman collection of historic sites. While the steps themselves, and the views they provide, as well as the Fontana della Barcaccia,  are all spectacular, the area offers an extra treat for English literature enthusiasts (*shouts "nerrrd!"*). As said demographic is likely to know, two extraordinary English Romantic poets lived for a time and died in Rome: John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley. Just adjacent to the foot of the Spanish Steps lies the small, discreet, entrance to the Keats–Shelley Memorial House containing “one of the world's most extensive collections of memorabilia, letters, manuscripts, and paintings relating to Keats and Shelley, as well as Byron, Wordsworth, Robert Browning, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Oscar Wilde, and others” (according to Wikipedia). I love the Romantic poets, partially because I really enjoy their works, and partly because they were all totally insane. As some of the Anglo world’s first modern celebrities, their antics are well documented right up, and until their various demises. The museum is the restored/replicated apartment which John Keats occupied until his death by tuberculosis in the care of his good friend and artist Joseph Severn. It includes some of the weird and wonderful artifacts that one would expect from such eccentric 19th Century poets including a lock or so of hair and many of the paintings which would show up in an Introduction to the Romantics powerpoint. We topped the day’s literary tourism off with a visit to Caffè Greco for some overly expensive coffee, in an excessively fancy but fascinating cafè frequented by those and many other European writers and notable artists since its establishment in 1720 (Wikipedia). To end our day we visited the extraordinarily busy Trevi Fountain where I embarrassingly missed coin toss number one and had to return later for a second go. When in Rome… do like all the other tourists?

This one is pretty self-explanatory. 

The following day was our last full day in Rome, and we covered a fair bit of ground. We spent the first segment climbing to the top of the Aventine Hill for a breathtaking view of the city which had treated us so well for the past few days. After we took in the view, we walked back down and over to the final bit of literary tourism for the trip: The Non-Catholic Cemetery of Rome. The Cemetery is truly a peaceful site, features the only Egyptian-style pyramid in Italy, as well as the final resting places of Keats, Shelley, Severn, Antonio Gramsci and a host of other "notable" graves. We spent an hour or so wandering the Cemetery, relaxing and finding said notable graves. We then bussed across the city to the Pinciano area, where we enjoyed a long walk through massive parks to the Villa Borghese and its gardens. Unfortunately, we didn’t actually go into the museum, which looked terrific, so that is on the list for our next visit. Then we explored the Campo Marzio district and some of the shopping streets. In the evening we settled into a late dinner and our last night. 

One of the most impressive graves in the Non-Catholic Cemetery.

On my parents final day in Europe, and my final day in Italy, we travelled out to Fiumicino, where we were to stay nearer to the airport we were to leave from. We spent a relaxing day walking around the beautiful little fishing town and enjoying the food. 

Another photo of the only Pyrimid in Rome.

I’ve written these last few paragraphs from Canada about five months later. My exchange is finished, and I am home. I am settling fine, searching for a job, and preparing for life back where I grew up, with more personal history, and less independence. More on that to come soon. Since I have returned, the pressure to write these too-long, itinerary-based travel blogs has been removed. With this in mind, my travel writing will continue. But the form will be drastically altered, as my purpose has. I shall be reflecting on my travels and my time abroad over this next year, as I explore my return. Thank you for being patient and reading along with me. I think these will get shorter now. 

Lots of love from Canada again,

Kostyn

Edited by my sharp and thorough mother.
 

March Travels Part 1: Stockholm

Selfie of the three of us!

I have been travelling again, and this is the best I could come up with for an opening sentence. I think I caught a cold or something on a plane and as such am a baby and am going to blame that sentence, and this one, on it. This is doubly-weird because I decided to post that piece on "The Emotional Toll of Climate Change" last month instead of this one and so am editing it months later and am once again struggling to recall what all happened. Protip fellow bloggers and wannabe bloggers: blog in the moment. Human memory is not great for specifics. Anyways, back to Kostyn of the past: I love travelling. Like really love it. But I also hate planes and airports, and strict scheduling. My parents came and visited me in Denmark, and I got to do a super fast single-day Copenhagen tour featuring The Little Mermaid, Nyhavn, and Christiania before we came to Aarhus. In Aarhus, I showed my parents the various libraries and cafés I spend my time in, along with bars and restaurants I could never go to were they not taking me out. As such, the trip was filled with many treats, of which I was filled. Similarly, I took them to see the wonders of ARoS and one night even subjected both them and some friends to a night out which I had to bail from leaving both parties socially stranded.

I am immensely disappointed with the turn out of the photos I took in Stockholm, partially because I don't have a proper camera and have thus been taking all of these with my phone, but also because I am not much of a photographer. This is my favourite photo from the trip however and is from Gamla stan.

After a couple of days exploring Aarhus, we got on a plane to Stockholm, the first city of our trip I had not visited prior. All three of us spent much of the rest of this trip in awe. Arriving in Stockholm, we quickly realized that we were totally not cool enough. Stockholm, as it turns out, is a definitively cool place full of definitively cool people. We realized this after taking the most impressive train I have ever been on when the lobby of our hotel was scored by club music and shockingly beautiful people in shockingly club-like dress. Still blinking, mouth agape, we opened the door to our room only to find gold finished fixtures, some poor creature’s pelt on the foot of one of the beds, and comedically trendy light fixtures. I have never felt so simultaneously impressed and underdressed. When we were ready to hit-the-town, as it were, we found our way to this killer izakaya place, Lokal Izakaya, which, near the end of our meal, was also transforming into a nightclub. At this point, we retreated back to the hotel excited to find what other seemingly ordinary not-clubs could turn into clubs for us tomorrow. 

Stockholm is a city full of water. Lake Mälaren flows through the city into the Baltic Sea.

The hotel stay (again travelling with my parents comes with major perks), came with breakfasts in the form of a free-for-all buffet. Everything was delicious but the first day — and maybe this is because of Easter or something — was so busy and helter-skelter that my dad spent most of the morning trying to wrap his head around the insanity that took place over his eggs. We then moseyed on over to the Royal Palace. In my post about Copenhagen, I talked about how weird and wonderful it is to see things that I had basically only read about in fairy-tales (e.g. castles, palaces, kingdoms, etc.) but I had never been in a palace that was anything like the Royal Palace. It was intense. A massive building/complex full of paintings, sculptures, tapestries, clothes, chandeliers, bedrooms, writing rooms, offices, dining rooms, and quarters which I have in my mind associated with fantasy are real and can be seen and walked through without reaching the limits of movie sets or fiction. The Palace was beautiful and fascinating and where I think I got a pretty decent history lesson. I have found it especially fascinating to hear about events through the lens of modern monarchies. This seemed most notable in the descriptions of the French Revolution in the exhibit on Axel von Fersen and Marie Antoinette’s secret love affair detailed in coded letters called “I love you madly,” which was really interesting. The use of emoji, however, was mildly infuriating. Beyond history, years of slowly cooling anti-theism, and an obvious preference for more democratic systems, I have little to say on the subject of monarchy here, and even less to say about the Swedish one.

Forgive me internet for I have sinned. I know this is a vertical photo. I know...

Later in the day, we met my parents’ Swedish friends which they had not seen for 25 years, one of whom, Cecilia, is the woman my sister is named after. To some degree, this distant Swedish namesake was a mythic figure to me, for I knew nothing about her beyond her living in Sweden. It was utterly fantastic to meet these two lovely women and some of their families, and they were the best tour guides we could have asked for. Seeing my parents reconnect with friends from years past resonated with me as I gear up to leave some of the friends I have grown so close to in Aarhus. We began by exploring Gamla stan (the old town), the area of Stockholm with the most history, carved through by tiny walking streets, bars and cafés underground, and through inconspicuous and ancient passageways. Then, we crossed the bridge over to the Northern part of Södermalm and explored some of the lively café-laden streets, stopping for a beer, and then moving further on to Mariaberget, a spectacular look-out from which much of the iconic areas of Stockholm can be seen in all their glory. After taking in what we could, we continued to explore the city, eventually ending up in Stockholms very impressive art gallery of a metro. Many of the stations are beautifully carved stone, and some of those are decorated and painted. For some stupid reason I didn’t take any pictures, but you can just check it out here.  While we didn’t spend much time on the metro, on my next visit, I want to do a full tour. We spent the rest of the afternoon touring Norrmalm before getting a lovely dinner in Kungsholmen and parting ways for the night.

The following morning we met back up with Cecilia and took one of those somewhat cheesy looking boat tour things, and it was great! I was very skeptical but happy to go along for anything. The view from the water and the quite informative audio guide blew away my expectations. I’d actually highly recommend one of these if you want some relaxing time while seeing pieces of the city that might be hard to access on your own with extra historical insight. We spent some of the early afternoon partaking in Fika (the Swedish cultural concept word for coffee and cake) and saw some more of the commercial Norrmalm area before parting ways with Cecilia and her family. We then ventured our way to the Vasa Museum. The homepage of the museum's website says better than I could have, “[t]he Vasa ship capsized and sank in Stockholm 1628. After 333 years on the sea bed the mighty warship was salvaged and the voyage could continue. Today Vasa is the world's only preserved 17th century ship and the most visited museum in Scandinavia." The story, while horrific at the time and in near history, has by now, become somewhat of a hilarious historical oddity but with significant implications about the period in which it was built, when it was salvaged, and today, while it is being taken care of and continually restored and preserved. The gist of the situation is that the King of Sweden at the time, Gustavus Adolphus wanted a massive and symbolic ship to demonstrate his and the country’s power and wealth while striking fear into military opponents. The King was insistent on hastily getting the ship on the water and dictated some dimensions himself though they made it incredibly unstable. As those who knew of the instability were unwilling to speak up and against the King, it was set off on its maiden voyage and sank after only 1300 metres in view of much of Stockholm (Museum's History Page; Wikipedia). The ship is massive and genuinely imposing to museum visitors who can view the ship from above and below. It is a breathless sight and the surrounding exhibits featuring various aspects of the ship and finds from the wreckage are unbelievable. Following this, we wandered more of the city and eventually ended up at a delicious Lebanese restaurant called Restaurang Underbar before going out to try some proper snaps at Rolfs Kök.

Tracks of some description. I really ought to write these sooner to remember this stuff.

On the following and final day in Stockholm, we checked out of the hotel and began wandering. My parents spent a fair bit of the trip discussing the merits of “Kostyn’s Two-Week Exercise and Diet Program” which included, according to them, eating little, at odd hours, and walking upwards of 20 kilometres most days. I think we could have gone harder but DJ is coming in a month and her and I will undoubtedly push the limits of this system. Anyways, we walked again through some of Norrmalm, eventually going to the Kulturhuset, a cultural centre wherein galleries are hosted, films can be viewed, along with theatre and much more. While there wasn’t too much going on when we visited, we did get to spend some time of the top floor viewing an exhibit of local photographers, which was beautiful, and visit their Swedish design store. Also, the view from the top floor from the tower is quite spectacular, so we got to take in more of the city. From there we walked through  Gamla stan into Katarina-Sofia the borough on the East side of Södermalm which was an area we had little explored prior. We didn’t have much time there however and continued on stopping in a few shops along the way and looking at some street art without taking really any photos. We then walked all the way back to Kungsholmen stopping briefly for fika at Vete-Katten and caught a bus to the Stockholm Skavsta Airport hotel and planned the ensuing days travelling through Rome while having drinks from the bar. My parents and I were fairly impressed with the airport hotel, so much to that we asked the person at the desk what was up. She basically said that since they were the only hotel people could go to for an early flight out of Skavsta, they had to be quite nice; a position which we found extraordinary refreshing comparing it to the too often North American mindset of “well, they have no other option so lets gut them for a terrible stay.” It will be no surprise to most readers that part of the reason I wanted to do my exchange in Denmark (/Scandinavia broadly. Through all of the Scandinavian cultures are distinct and should not be considered as same) was to get first-hand experience with their social systems and way-of-life which we in Canada are often told is either ‘a golden utopia,’ or ‘a crumbling impossibility.’ Our experience with the hotel is a taste of a small part of the attitude-difference. I will return to the Danish and more broadly Scandinavian ways of living on this blog very soon.

  Mom and dad (middle, mom has got a pink hat on) walking down one of the big shopping streets.

Mom and dad (middle, mom has got a pink hat on) walking down one of the big shopping streets.

As the “Part 1” bit of this entry’s title indicates, Part 2 will follow soon about Rome and seeing as I have just returned from Belgium, you can expect one on Belgium in short order. For now though, thank you so much for reading, and I’d love to hear from you! Do you like these travel blogs? Shall I continue pieces like this once I have returned to my home continent? When I do, do you prefer it when I name the restaurants and shops I go to, or is that like a weird/gross influencer thing? No idea, let me know! 

Warm regards from Aarhus,

Kostyn

 

Lovingly and well edited by my spectacular mother.

Part Two on Rome is up now and available here!


EDIT 1 — the following day — 12:35: rearranged the first two photos. And properly credited my mother as editor.