The time has come where I must do what every student dreads: packing for the holidays. This involves making the tough decision of carefully choosing everything I might possibly need or wear, even though deep down I know I'll spend half the holiday in my pyjamas on the sofa and will promise myself at the end of the holiday that next time that I'll be packing more lightly. In my third year at uni I should be a pro at this, but this year I face the new challenge of a 23kg weight limit as I'm studying for a year in Copenhagen. I'll be flying home for Christmas, bringing plenty of Danish souvenirs with me as lazy Christmas presents for my family.
For some reason I am feeling particularly Christmassy this year, maybe because here in Copenhagen there is a much less tacky version of Christmas around. This is a classy, homemade kind of Christmas, complete with paper decorations, candles on Christmas trees (which seems a huge fire hazard to me) and plenty of 'glögg', a richer and spicier mulled wine. The big shops and department stores are on just one street, even if it is the longest shopping street in Europe, which means that you can enjoy the festivities without being reminded of the stress of Christmas shopping. The best element of the Christmas experience in Copenhagen is Tivoli Gardens, the theme park that the city planners put slap bang in the centre of Copenhagen. Here you can find rows of Christmas markets and even more 'glögg.' The only down side is that there's no Christmas jumpers around, the Danes are famous for dressing only in black and I'm worried that my eyes are going to have a shock when I get home.
Unfortunately I haven't yet enjoyed the Christmas experience to its full potential, as I am still studying for exams. When I heard that my exams would be before Christmas rather than in January, I relished the fact it would be my first Christmas in potentially 4 or 5 years that I hadn't had the though of at least 2 essays and 3 exams looking over me. It seems however that I can find a negative to the timing of any exam. Whilst my Facebook newsfeed is full of going home for Christmas statuses and student cooked Christmas dinners, I am still revising. What's worse is that it seems that I am the only one, as the Danes have a pretty relaxed approach to the whole thing. Instead of the packed, stuffy 24 hour libraries that we have at home, this exam period I have experienced empty study halls that can spontaneously close at 4pm and Christmas parties the night before big exams. The Danish students have a great system in that the exams are 15 minute oral exams in which you get your grade straight afterwards, or if you decide today is not your day, you can simply skip the exam and take it another time. I am still frantically revising though (along with all the other Brits,) as being used to the torture of 3 hour exams it's like we can't quite believe it could be that easy.
I have had time to do some celebrating though, and have enjoyed 3 Danish Christmas dinners already. The Danish Christmas dinner consists of every type of meat and potato you can imagine but cleverly leaves out the boiled sprouts, something I think we could learn from at home. There's also a great game to play around the dinner table that can only be described as pass the parcel's evil twin, where you get to steal each other's presents.
I've now passed the test and lived abroad, learning new things all the time and also realising how much I don't know. I've spent the semester feigning knowledge of countries I embarrassingly know little about, while they talk to me about Monty Python, QI and Sherlock. I am looking forward to the constant, 'Is Copenhagen in Germany?/Do you need to learn Dutch?' kind of questions when I go back, and just to clarify, Copenhagen is the capital of Denmark, that country famous for Hans Christian Anderson and the Little Mermaid, or maybe more obviously, that female Prime Minister who's in the selfie with Obama and Cameron. It's a great country and I am looking forward to seeing what next semester brings.