A crazy long year that was 2016.

I used to measure my year by the number of countries I visited. Travelling has been such an integral part of my life – it is largely how I spent growing up into almost-adulthood since I was 20. The swift movement of packing, catching the planes and trains (or missing them) and exploring new sights while getting helplessly lost have in themselves been valuable lessons and shaped very much who I am today.

europelost1
I figure out life just like how I travel: looking perpetually lost.

This time round, however, counting the number of countries I visited seems to be somewhat… superficial.

I get a severe writer’s block every time I try summing up what last year has been for me. Often times, 2016 felt like a giant piece of blanket, made of patches of different cloths randomly sewn together, each piece as distinct as it is colourful. Way too often, the parts felt like it would give way any time, the thread holding them coming loose, but somehow it worked out, the fabric all stitched up somewhat nicely in the end.

(And you can tell that I am excellent at analogies. Not.)

Last year was my craziest so far, and by far. I lived in three different countries within a year, and did some extensive travelling in between. Most of my friends never quite knew where I was, and to be honest, sometimes I didn’t really know either.

I know that people say the older you get, the faster time flies. But I think I have found the recipe to slow down the time. You just need to have things keeping you constantly on your toes, so much so that it keeps you awake at night sometimes.

For me, trying to keep half-watch on what I own has been keeping me on my toes. I needed to make sure that by the end of every few months, I could still cram everything into my suitcases, ready to hurl them to the other side of the world. Being the hoarder and over-packing person that I am, it was a challenge in its own right.

img_20160226_110144_hdr
I have had 100% success rate so far packing all these into suitcases.

Not to mention that it was the first full year that I was jobless in a long time – the fact that I didn’t have a steady stream of income was hitting me hard. I had to think hard for a lot of purchases that I used to take for granted, although on hindsight, it did keep my possessions in check, hence helping me to be less of a hoarder.

Continue reading “A crazy long year that was 2016.”

Advertisements

How to survive the Deer Park in Aarhus.

I know, I know, the title of this post sounds rather absurd. You must be thinking, what is there to survive at the Deer Park (or Dyrehaven in Danish), when it is full of, you guessed it, deer?

I mean, how can creatures who can give such look be even remotely dangerous?

deerpark1

Okay, you are right. There is nothing dangerous about the Deer Park…

Unless you are an occasional moron like me.

When I was moving to Aarhus, Dyrehaven was one of the top items at my to-visit list. But because it was far and hilly to cycle there I was too busy studying, I put it off until my sister and her friend came to visit me in December. I had the perfect excuse to take the bus instead since it was way too cold and my sister and her friend were not accustomed to cycling on the road in the cold.

It took us quite a walk after dropping off from bus 100 from Banegårdspladsen. We passed by several beautiful winter sceneries like this.

deerpark5

When we first caught sight of the deer, it was pretty exhilarating.

deerpark4
HELLO CUTIES.

But soon we realised something was amiss. The deer came to us for a few seconds, and left, looking dejected. Then they came back again and sniffed at our backpack, and that was when it hit me: we forgot to bring food for them.

deerpark3
This little guy even tried to eat my sister’s camera.

These deer, cute as they were, were much more interested in being fed than being pet. What they wanted was not our love, but our food. I felt rather guilty for seemingly coming to trick them, luring them to me, making them think I had some food and then HA! nothing.

But it was a seriously honest, albeit stupid, mistake from our part. I could not even have given them anything even if I wanted to since I had nothing with me (apart from smoked salmon sandwiches on Danish rye bread, but the idea of a bunch of bambis gorging on salmon just seemed barbaric to me that I decided to save the sandwiches for our lunch). I tried hard to apologise in the most deer-like manner as I could. After a while, the leader of the pack seemed to sense that we were a bunch of liars, so he came and showed himself, angry.

deerpark6

After a few more attempts to make friends with the deer, we decided it was best for us to leave. Good thing a couple other visitors came and gave them some food. I felt slightly better that the deer wouldn’t go starving on that dreary winter day.

So my only tip for going to the Deer Park is: bring some carrots or apples with you if you want to leave with a clear conscience, and if you were to forget them, please, for the life of you, don’t dress up like a giant carrot.

deerpark2

They might end up trying to eat you instead.

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.

february1

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.

P1410455

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.

february2
This practically looks magical.

Continue reading “Appreciating Aarhus.”

Aarhus, first impressions.

Well, where do I begin?

It has been a whirlwind of a time since my last post: I have moved myself more than 14,000 km north from Singapore to this city called Aarhus, a city of just over 300,000 inhabitants, of which 10% are students of Aarhus University. Bringing just two (oversized) suitcases and a (gigantic) backpack (well maybe with a big handbag), I have now pretty much comfortably settled into my dorm room, put up some fairy lights (I am very proud of them), bought my bike, got drenched in the rain a few times, started classes and attended more social functions than my introvert self could handle.

aarhus3
My new home.

Oh and I have managed to lose my wallet too. In a bar. And I miraculously got it back.

So all in all, it has been extremely eventful first 10 days here in Aarhus, and tonight is the first night that I have had some time on my own to sit down and take in everything that I have experienced so far about this city and my new life here.

Here are some of the more coherent thoughts I came up with after sieving through my brain for a few hours and having taken a look at all the pictures that I have taken so far.

Danish (and non Danish) people are awesome.

From the moment I landed on this land, not a single person has treated me less than awesomely. The Danes may look reserved, but they are unbelievably friendly and helpful. I have had people offering to carry my luggage, walked me to my destination when I asked them for direction, and urm, return me my lost wallet with the content still intact. Not to mention Danish classmates and buddies who have been incredibly enthusiastic in helping us find our way around the city. Apart from that, I have been incredibly lucky to meet wonderful new friends who gave me moral support when I was in dire need of it and provided me with directions when I got lost. I still am amazed by how amazing people have been so far, and that’s one of the main reasons I have been coping well here.

Continue reading “Aarhus, first impressions.”