Scandinavia: Denmark & Sweden
I titled this the “Start of Summer” because technically it is and the weather definitely makes it feel like it, but I still have over a month left of school. I’ve never been in school at this time of the year (besides an online accounting class I did 2 summers ago…don’t ever do that) and it feels pretty bizarre. I’ve tried to find more motivation in school recently but it’s still so hard when all you want to do is explore and it’s 75 and beautiful outside. The reality of schoolwork has also started to set in. I have two 10-page papers due in a week and a half, both accompanied by a presentation, a written exam, 3 oral exams, and 2 projects before I go home on August 5th. That all scares me, but it shouldn’t really, since Ryerson has prepared me well by usually making me do that in a week. Or take 7 exams in 8 days. I do like my classes, especially ones like User Interface Design and Mobile Content, but the structure of school is vastly different here. Attendance isn’t taken, it doesn’t matter if you come late or leave early (prof might make a comment but usually doesn’t), projects don’t really exist, homework doesn’t exist and if it does, it’s not graded. The classes aren’t really “hands-on” either, meaning the teacher just talks and talks forever and doesn’t really let you apply what you’ve learned. Like in my Mobile Application Development class, he teaches us how to code, but rarely gives us an opportunity to practice what he’s teaching. The classes aren’t very big so the prof probably recognizes all our faces by now but he probably doesn’t have a clue what our name is. Before we got here, it seemed like no one could really give us a straightforward answer as to whether our classes would be taught in English. They are, but sometimes I feel like a burden being there. My Mobile App. teacher always asks if the 2 English speaking students are present before starting and we shamefully raise our hands. The slides are all in English, but then if a German student asks a question, he or she will ask it in German and then I have no idea what’s going on. Also the German students don’t really talk to us internationals unfortunately. So yeah, I’m really happy to be given the opportunity to study in a foreign country and take classes on different subjects that I wouldn’t be able to take at Ryerson, but it definitely has its negatives and positives.
Besides the boring school stuff that I just rambled for too long about, everything is still wonderful here and even more so with Stuttgart’s perfect summer weather. It’s been hovering around 75 every day, no humidity, and it cools down at night for very comfortable sleeping. There was a heatwave a week ago but I missed it when I was in Scandinavia. First I went to Copenhagen, where I met up with Lindsay (hej hej check her out here). I wasn’t there for too long, but definitely feel like we saw a lot of the city, and even got to meet up with a few other Canadians and the Dane who studied at Ryerson last semester! She took us out to an amazing burger place for dinner and showed us around Tivoli, the oldest amusement park in the world! It was so cute and magical (and outrageously expensive) and beautiful, cause the sun didn’t start setting until around 10:00. I’m really glad that I had the opportunity to go to Copenhagen, considering I was originally supposed to study there. I really like the city, but it would have been quite to the struggle to afford living there. It was interesting to see what these 5 months could have been, but I’m definitely very happy with the way everything worked out.
I was an idiot as per usual and didn’t book my train to Sweden in time so I had to buy the train that left Copenhagen at 4:30am, but of course Sweden was having train strikes, so that made for more of an adventure. I met a guy at the hostel we stayed at who was also trying to get to Sweden so we embarked on our adventure together and ended up waiting at an outdoor train station for a few hours together. As exhausted as I was, meeting new people on my travels is always one of my favorite parts about the whole experience and being with someone always helps to pass the time. And the sun started rising at 2:30, so that helped too. I finally got to Linköping around 10:00am after sleeping through the stop and ending up in Norrköping, didn’t sleep and went back to Norrköping with Lindsay to check out her school. After she took her last exam, she showed me around the town and it was quite beautiful and a perfect day out to walk around. It’s definitely much smaller and quieter than Stuttgart, but the school itself was really nice too. Then we went back to her place in Linköping and made dinner all together. Then the next morning we woke up early to go to Stockholm! It was only about a 2 hour bus ride and Stockholm was also beautiful. I’ve said beautiful quite a few times but I’m really terrible at describing things (that’s why I like photos more than words). We walked around the whole city, got an amazing lunch at an all you can eat Mediterranean restaurant (FINALLY GOT ME SOME HUMMUS NERMMM), walked around the island for forever, and met up with Johanna, a Swede who studies at Lindsay’s school but will be studying at Ryerson next semester! We got dinner with her and she drove us around the city, being our tour guide for an hour. The next day I flew back to Deutschland but flew into Frankfurt, where I walked around for a few hours. I got dinner at a really good vegan restaurant and walked along the Rhine. Frankfurt is the largest financial center in Europe and the skyscrapers made me feel like I was back in Toronto or New York, and made me realize how much I really don’t miss that and constantly being surrounded by concrete and people.
There isn’t really much that I miss from home, besides people. This is now the longest I’ve ever been away from home so the missing people thing has really started to tug at my heart a bit. And my dog, OH how I would kill to cuddle with Cooper right now. But besides that, I love Germany, like I’ve said from the beginning and I never want to leave. Germans always seem surprised when I say that. I hope August 5th never comes. Every day I discover new reasons why I love it here so here’s an updated list:
- This is a huge generalization but people, in general, are nicer here. I think I could say that for all of the countries I’ve been to in Europe compared to the US. Especially Denmark and Sweden, everyone was so nice (and beautiful)
- The food has really grown on me. Who doesn’t love carbs?
- The public transport is amazing and (alm0st) always on time. Worlds better than Toronto or New York
- The weather is incredible (again, sorry for my lack of varying adjectives)
- Germany is pretty inexpensive compared to the rest of Europe and Toronto. My rent is half of what I pay in Toronto
- You can drink in public
- Beer is cheaper than water
- And cheap beer is still good beer
- The bottle deposit is like 0.25 usually (remember the small things in life people small things)
- Everything shuts down on Sundays, which was a bit irritating when I first got here, but I really like it now. It’s really nice to know that people actually take a day to rest and remember the importance of relaxation
- The workday actually ends and people aren’t always working
- People don’t live to work here
- Also a big generalization but I’d say in general, people seem happier
- Stuttgart is the cleanest city I’ve ever been to
- And we recently discovered a pool that costs 2.50 euros to stay the whole day, and it has A WATER SLIDE, and it’s a 25 minute walk from campus. Can’t beat that ~ !
I’m always thinking of reasons and I really should write them down but those are all the ones that I can remember right now. I just checked and I only have 45 days left. Holy shit. Definitely going to do all that I can to make every day count. Still have a 5-day trip planned to Budapest and a 4-day trip planned to Split, Croatia for July that I am really, really looking forward to. Also hoping to make it to Berlin at some point…it would be really sad if I was studying in Germany and never made it there. Hopefully somewhere in Switzerland too, plus Lake Konstanz, and Neuschwanstein Castle (the one that the Disney World castle was modeled after!).
“There was nowhere to go but everywhere” – Jack Kerouac