Appreciating Aarhus.

I still have a lot of things that I want to write about my trip in December. There is a story about my first encounter with the whales somewhere in the Norwegian Sea, there is something to say about my visit to the charming city of Bergen, or when I somehow found myself in Paris for the last day of 2015 and the first few days of 2016. And I haven’t even talked anything about my (almost) annual ritual of visiting Stockholm yet.

But something happened that completely snatched my attention away from all these things: the arrival of February.

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Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing bad about February. In fact, February is generally an excellent month: a lot of my close friends’ birthdays are in February, Chinese New Year often falls in February, and 2016 is a leap year, how exciting!

There is just one tiny little detail that is different about this year’s February compared to the previous years (apart from the fact that I am spending Chinese New Year away from my family for the first time in my life): I’m moving to a different continent at the end of the month.

It certainly does not feel or seem like it at all since I don’t have anything sorted out for the big move yet. I have no visa (hopefully it is on its way), no flight booked (although I already have a very rough idea which one I am going to take), no accommodation (okay, this is the real problem I think, although I have a few kind souls who are on the lookout for me).

But I’m not here to complain about my administrative problems. Instead, what I’m trying to say is that the realisation that I’m leaving this month brings in another sinking fact: my time in Aarhus from now on can be counted in days.

It felt just like yesterday when I wrote this post about my first impressions of Aarhus just after my arrival here. But when I read through the post again, it felt like ages ago since my first visit to ARoS, when I lost my wallet and found it back thanks to Danish people’s astounding honesty, when interactions with my class mates were mere awkward exchange of conversations with strangers.

But how times have changed. Back then I had no clue that I was going to leave the place so soon and that some of the people here would be very dear to me.

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And as for Aarhus, after almost 6 months, I have managed to take the place for granted – for a good few months up until before Christmas, I had formed a view that the place is a mere small ‘city’ where you could get nothing done and nothing much to do – accompanied by perpetually horrible weather which ‘sucked the energy out of you’ (to quote a friend), you would practically want to do nothing else but escape from the rain and get into the comfort of your room (although I have to admit I’m extremely fond and proud of my room – see above picture). For someone who had previously lived her whole life in the world’s capitals (Jakarta, Beijing, Singapore, Copenhagen), I found this change in energy level unexpectedly hard and unsettling.

It was not until my last day in Aarhus in 2015 before I left for Oslo for my trip that I realised I had not taken enough time to appreciate the city and its beauty. I had been so engrossed in my little bubble at the outskirt of the city (hereby known as ‘the countryside’) that I failed to notice some of the beauty it had to offer.

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This practically looks magical.

I realised even more how much Aarhus has grown on me when I was reaching the end of my eventful two-week trip in December to Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium and France. When my sister left after her visit here and my phone took a plunge to the toilet bowl, all I wanted was to get back to the peace of this relatively quiet place with population of slightly more than 300,000 (compare this to Singapore’s 5.3 million). True enough, I could feel all the tension that I felt throughout December easing up the moment this all-too-familiar sight came into view.

february3That is why I’m focusing my energy this month to appreciate Aarhus, a place that has been my home since September last year.

Even if it means stopping to appreciate this lamp-post on a snow-covered day.

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Or noticing the symmetrical beauty at the bicycle parking site by the Central Station.

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Or taking a walk in the woods really close to where I live, and I only discovered its existence about a week or so ago.

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Or going ice skating even though I am absolutely terrified of it.

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Or admiring the moon that is completely visible when the sky is clear.

Or simply taking advantage of a rare clear day to visit the beach (while wearing full winter wear of course).

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It is sad that you only appreciate these small but important details when you are about to leave a place.

But I guess with approximately three weeks to go, it is still not too late for me to explore the city, or perhaps to just stop and smell the cold and crisp (okay, more often wet) February winter air of Aarhus.

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