My fourth week started out weak (pun intended). I got a cold that Monday, which got worse when I got lost for a whole hour in the pouring rain on the way to my first day of class. Those of you who know me know that God may have gifted my with many talents, but a sense of direction was definitely not one of them. There was no wi-fi, my map was back in the dorms (because I really thought I knew where I was going), and there were hardly any people roaming around the streets that could have pointed me in the right direction.
After many twists and turns (and several anxiety attacks), I was able to find my way to the university; no GPS, no maps, and no one giving me directions. To my surprise, I somehow managed to figure it out all my by myself.
I know what you’re thinking… Why am I telling this story?
Well, as you all might know from my prior posts, I had mention that I felt lost regarding my future. I’d been stressing out so much before this trip on the when and where of what I want to do after college, but I think God let me get lost this past Monday so that I could realize that I will eventually figure it out all by myself. I don’t have every single detail of my life planned out right now, and THAT’S OKAY! Finding my own way is what will fill my life with spontaneous adventures and long-lasting memories. Life doesn’t come with a built-in GPS system that will tell you when to turn left or when to make that unexpected U-turn. Life is truly about enjoying the ride even if it means getting lost along the way, because in the end, you’ll end up right where you should.
Class has been very interesting for an economics major like myself. We’re now utilizing all the knowledge acquired during the two-week tour and applying it to case studies relevant to the economic transformation of the countries we visited. Some of the topics that we’ve been having in-depth discussions on include institutional economics, Germany’s reunification, and shock therapy in Eastern Europe.
Fast forward to Thursday when I left to Denmark. No, Denmark was never in the picture before the trip. I was originally supposed to go to England, but things fell through since I never found someone else to travel with. That Monday strolled around, and I still had no plans. I knew time was running out to book flights, and I had to make travel arrangements fast. At that point, I knew I’d travel alone, so I needed to find a place where I knew someone who could tour me around.
All at once, I remembered that I had a friend from Puerto Rico who now lives in Denmark. He had offered to be my tour guide as soon as he found out I’d be traveling around Europe. It took me 5 minutes between contacting him and booking my flight. I will admit that I was slightly nervous because of how sudden everything had been. “Just roll with it, Lorena… spontaneous decisions are always the best!”
I arrived to Copenhagen around 11:00pm that Thursday night. My friend, Ricardo, was waiting for me at the front row of the gate. I felt a sense of ease right when I saw him. Finally, a familiar face among thousands of people. His initial warm hug made me feel right at home even though I was miles and miles away from it.
I got a hotel in Copenhagen and immediately changed into my going-out clothes. Ricardo had the night all planned out. All I had to do was follow. It turns out that he works for one of the better clubs in Copenhagen, and he also knows a lot of important people. You can imagine how VIP I felt strutting into the club without having to make that huge line outside. All his co-workers were extremely friendly, and I even got to speak French with some of them who were originally from Paris.
The next day, we went to his town called Nykøbing Falster, which is around an hour away from Copenhagen. We had lunch there and then met with one of his friends who toured us around the town.
I was blessed to have his family welcome me with open arms. You’re probably thinking, “What is a Puerto Rican family doing in Denmark?” In a nutshell, Ricardo’s mom married a Danish man when Ricky was a kid, so they moved there shortly after. I didn’t realize this until later on, but this was the first time I was in an actual home since December. I missed the cozy feeling of being around a family.
This might sound weird, but I’ve also been lacking affection. Okay, let me explain. Latinos are known to be very affectionate. We hug and kiss family, friends, and even strangers because that’s just how our culture is. However, the United States and Europe don’t particularly have a culture where this is seen as “normal.” I usually get my fix with the Latinos at Penn State, but ever since classes ended, they’ve all been gone. During the trip, I’ve been having to restrain myself from randomly hugging people, because I know others might not be used to it and might even find it creepy. Seeing Ricardo and his mom and being able to kiss them on the cheek and give them apretones was so revitalizing. If I got anything from this trip, it was definitely being able to feel that human touch again.
We left early in the morning on Saturday and made our way back to Copenhagen. I want to add that the weather in Denmark this past weekend was terrible! It was cold, and windy, and rainy. I hadn’t checked the weather and assumed that it was going to be as hot as it has been in The Netherlands, so my clothes consisted of shorts, dresses, and sandals. You can imagine how close I was to freezing. Luckily, we were able to take a small detour to the mall, and I was able to get appropriate clothes. Note to self: ALWAYS CHECK THE WEATHER!
We walked around Copenhagen for the rest of the day and even took a canal tour. The weather might have not been the best, but Copenhagen was still extremely beautiful. I was very lucky to have my personal tour guide as well.
We had a fun night, which ended with Sunday’s sunrise. We slept for a little bit, and then went to explore the Tivoli Gardens. It’s pretty much like a Danish version of Disney World. I rode on the oldest roller coaster in the world. I hadn’t ridden on a roller coaster ride since I was probably 8, so I was giggling like a little girl the whole time.
On our way to the airport, we stopped at a small town right by the sea. It was so beautiful to gaze at the ocean and have my last minutes in Denmark close to friends.
I made it back to The Netherlands safely on Sunday night. I’m so grateful for having my friend host me this past weekend. I loved meeting his friends and being able to explore another country with someone from back home.
I was supposed to finish and publish this blog yesterday. However, we all decided to go out, and I didn’t have time to do so. I am so glad I didn’t cause now I’ll be able to tell you how I made my debut as a singer yesterday here in The Netherlands.
So we went to a Jazz club yesterday where a band was to play. As soon as I saw the stage, I knew I HAD to get up there. I mean, put a stage in front of me, and I’m bound to do something to it- everyone knows that. In the beginning, they were playing instrumental, but then they had people go up to sing. Hold up, could it actually be possible that I go up there and perform?
4 Liefmans later, and I suddenly had the microphone in my hands. I originally wanted to sing “L-O-V-E” by Nat King Cole since I’ve performed that song before, but they didn’t have the sheet music for it. I went on my Spotify really quick and picked out the first song I saw, which was “Sway.” I’d never performed this song at all, so this was more of improvising, communicating with the other musicians, and being hella spontaneous. Believe it or not, it turned out pretty awesome. (I’ll let you see for yourself in the video below).
Spontaneity definitely got me some pretty awesome places this week; it got me on the right way to the university, all the way to Denmark, and even up on a stage in Maastricht. We’re sometimes afraid of uncertainty, but we forget that it’s those unplanned moments that make the best of times. So BE MORE SPONTANEOUS! I promise you’ll end up with very cool stories in the end (or a neat video of you singing with a Jazz band, either or 😉 ).