New year, new* me.

blog, Uncategorized

*To clarify, by “new” I actually mean probably-exactly-the-same-but-maybe-a-bit-healthier and well read… We’ll see.

Happy new year everybody!

I’ve never really been a person to have New Year’s Resolutions, purely because whenever I have, I’ve never quite managed to stick to them. I seem to recall my resolutions for 2016 included vlogging regularly (which I have not done at all), and exercising more. The number on the scale has done nothing but increase over the past year, so I’ll let you assume how that one went…

However, this year I’m feeling quietly confident that I’ll be able to stick to the resolutions I’ve set myself, mainly because I’ve made sure they’re all relatively achievable. So, without further ado, here are my resolutions for 2017:

1) Read more

Reading recreationally has proved to be something of a foreign concept for me over the past few years. The demands of an English degree meant everything I read had been decided for me (and I’d be lying if I said I’d have ever read T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land on my own accord). I have shelves upon shelves of books just waiting to be read, so this year I’ve set myself the challenge of reading a book every fortnight.

First on the list is Lauren Graham’s autobiography Talking As Fast As I Can, which I’m super excited to sink my teeth into after the Gilmore Girls revival a few months back. After that I’ve got books lined up like Reasons To Stay Alive by Matt Haig, The Cyber Effect by Dr Mary Aiken, and I’ve even promised myself to re-read some old favourites, like Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. 2017 will be a good year for reading!

2) Wake up earlier

There are few things in this world I love more than a bright, crisp winter’s morning. However, I couldn’t tell you the last time I woke up in time to experience one.

On weekdays when I have work, I roll out of bed with just enough time to get ready and rush to the tube station down the road. On weekends, the temptation to not set an alarm more often than not proves far greater than the appeal of an unnecessary early start. Ultimately, this means that unless I have plans, I’ll wake up somewhere around 10 a.m. having completely wasted my morning being lazy in bed.

Therefore: 2017 will be the year of rising early. 7 a.m. on weekdays, and 8 a.m. on weekends. I’m tired of sleeping my life away (and yes, I appreciate the irony there.)

3) Be more organised

For the last few years I have fluctuated through phases of marking my every move in my Filofax, to barely knowing the day of the week. This year, however, I’ve purchased a super cute diary and I’m determined to make use of it. Asides from that, I also want to organise other aspects of my life, such as making sure I take lunch to work every day (as much as I love an excuse to pop over to Itsu or Leon, by bank balance really doesn’t appreciate it), not leaving things until the last minute, etc. – I always find I’m so much happier when I’m organised, and considering how little effort it actually takes, I have no excuse to be as unorganised as I currently am…

4) Bye-bye gluten!

This resolution is a bit of a cheat, seeing as I actually started it a few months ago. After a doctor suggested that cutting gluten from my diet might give me more energy, I decided to give it a go.

My god – I’ve never felt better in my life. I think it’s crazy how one ingredient can make someone so tired, achey, and even insecure and depressed. Since giving up gluten I’m happier than I’ve been in years, and I am 100 per cent determined to make sure I keep it out of my body entirely for as long as I possibly can. All the pasta and bread in the world isn’t worth the state my mind and body were in (although I do crave pizza on a near-daily basis).

5) Be happy

All in all, I’m just hoping 2017 will be as happy as it can be. 2016 was a big year for me – I learnt that I can survive on my own and be more independent than I ever thought I could be. However, I’ve realised I was still falling into the habit of putting the responsibility of my happiness with other people, and let’s be honest, that never works out.

This year, I want to be as happy as I can be, and I want to have myself to thank for it. I’m going to take time to do things I enjoy, be it swimming, reading, or even lazing about in front of Netflix if I feel like I need to. I want to push myself to do the things I’m scared of, and make time see the people I love. I have my health, my family and my friends, and as long as I end 2017 as happy as I can be, I’ll consider this year a success.

 

Image: The 2017 Christmas lights in Brighton, UK.

 

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The Ducklings

Denmark, Disposable

During my time in Denmark, I experienced so many new and exciting things – things so big I had only dreamed of them before. But despite this, a recollection of one of nature’s little wonders will always stand out as one of the best parts of my trip:

The Ducklings

I was on a little siesta in Milan when I received the news we’d all been waiting for – eleven little ducklings had hatched and were now following their mother religiously around our courtyard. Of course, my travelling companion (Ellie, a fellow exchange student living in my halls) and myself were beyond ourselves at the prospect of nurturing little ducklings every day, and we were more than happy to receive updates on their progress until we returned back to Aarhus. We even spoke of a plan to ‘adopt’ one and protect it from Mother Nature’s considerably harsh natural-duckling-selection process – a plan we did not, ultimately, follow through.

The ducklings were adorably tiny, and soon learned to run up to us whenever we entered the courtyard (this feign of affection would make even the coldest of people return inside to find oats or bread to give to them, believe me). I’ll always remember the time my boyfriend and I had lunch outside, only to be ambushed by a swarm of hungry ducklings (and I don’t use the word ‘ambush’ lightly here – they ran out of the bushes in unison and surrounded us at our feet).

Much to our delight (and quite honestly, our sheer amazement) all eleven ducklings survived into adolescence! Even now, nearly a month after my departure, I still get sent photos and videos of them being spoilt with food. It was their sweet sounds and natural curiosity that won me over, and has convinced me that when I’m older and have my own house with a garden, I will have ducklings of my own.

In this photo: My lovely, hilarious Dutch friend Inez. Thank you for all the laughter, sparkletini, and enchiladas. Next time you find yourself in the UK, give me a call and we can attempt to cook together again (only perhaps this time with fewer exploding dishes).

Henriette and Mikkel

Denmark, Disposable

You know the saying, “two’s company, three’s a crowd”? This was most definitely NOT the case with Mikkel, Henriette and I.

These are two of my favourite people.

We spent countless nights down in the party hall watching movies or Game of Thrones on the big screen, stuffing our faces with popcorn or a cake that one of them had made. We went to the cinema together, out for dinner together, and a couple of times a week we’d venture out as a ‘family’ to do grocery shopping. All little things, yes, but their combined friendship is undoubtedly the biggest part missing from my life back in England.

Henriette had only moved into our accommodation a couple of months before me, so when I first arrived I figured this would make her one of the easiest people to talk to (or at the very least, it would give us something in common). This assumption was correct, but what I didn’t realise back then is that this girl would become such a big part of my study abroad experience. She became a friend who I’d miss and love long after my exchange ended, and someone who I’m counting down the days until we’re reunited. For someone who was once a complete stranger to become such an appreciated and respected friend is a process that’ll never cease to amaze me – within a matter of weeks it was as though we’d known each other our whole lives.

It makes me so happy to know that these two wonderful people will continue to have each other’s company. Even though I’m no longer there to enjoy it with them, I’m glad they have each other to continue making amazing memories.

In this photo: My boyfriend, Mikkel, and the best friend an exchange student in Denmark could wish for – Henriette. Thank you for being so welcoming, for teaching me so many Danish words, for dancing like a lunatic around the kitchen with me, and for keeping Mikkel company now that I’m gone. Jeg elsker, dig min venne, og tak for altid.

Allow me to introduce myself.

Denmark

As I begin writing this, it is 02:04 a.m. I am currently sat by the 7/11 in Copenhagen Airport’s Terminal 2 following the purchase of what will be my last Nestea Peach Iced Tea for a few days.

The realisation of this short but undoubtedly challenging separation from my new found addiction is so upsetting that I’ve resorted to eating away my feelings via a generous sharing packet of M&Ms. There are a couple of middle-aged Italian women staring at me in disgust as I pour them into my mouth handfuls at a time. I’m trying to convince myself it’s actually because they’re jealous, and failing. Thus, the shame-eating cycle continues.

Since making the move to Denmark two weeks ago, I have fallen in love with many of its welcoming attributes: The architecture; Hygge; The abundance of free Wi-Fi connections, and of course, Nestea Peach Iced Tea. Iced tea has always has a special place in my heart, with Lipton always holding a firm grasp on it’s title of King of Tepid Tea. I had thought this was a title that could never be rivalled, until a fellow exchange student asked me a few days after arriving if I’d tried “that ice tea with the blue label”. Little did I know when I decided to move to Scandinavia that my life could change so drastically in such a small amount of time. With that first tentative sip, I instantly felt my horizons widen, and realised how small a part of the world my home country of England really is. Everyone had told me before I left that travelling is the way people discover themselves, and the statistical chance of meeting the person you will marry on an Erasmus exchange is 25%. On my first full day in Aarhus, I did not meet the person I will marry. But I most certainly did find the new love of my life.

Nestea: I love you.

Having now been awake for 13 hours (of which the majority were spent walking around and exploring the sights of Copenhagen), I fear my articulation through the written word may be a tad compromised. Nevertheless, I feel I must push though the droopy eyelids and lack of concentration to complete this post. When I first found out I’d been accepted onto my university’s study abroad scheme in April 2015, I instantly decided that I needed to document my experience. Here we are eight months later, and still a single post has yet to be published to http://www.aprilwaterston.com. Had I the foresight to realise how busy I would be in the first few weeks of a new semester abroad, perhaps I would have written this post in advance. But, alas, as is the mantra of the English student: All things good are written after 2 a.m.* So here it is: The mandatory ‘Welcome to my Blog!’ I’m sure you’ve all been waiting on the edge of your seat for. Sit back, relax, and enjoy:

My name is April Waterston. I am nineteen years old, a second year university student, and currently I am on a semester abroad in Denmark studying International Communications. I don’t really like the cold, I miss the sun, and I haven’t had a decent cup of tea since my arrival, but despite this I have fallen completely and irrevocably in love with my new home of Aarhus.

Aarhus is Denmark’s second biggest city (with the first of course being the capital, Copenhagen). With a population of just over 300 000, it doesn’t feel so much like a big city as it does a thriving town. However, the inclusion of 50 000 students in this population means that the nightlife and general feel of the city rivals that of all university towns I’ve visited at home in England. It’s full of museums, restaurants, bars and cafés, all of which immerse the traveller in Danish culture. To sum it up, all Aarhus needs a Wagamama, and then I could see myself happily living here for longer than 6 months…Anyway! Enough about Aarhus, let’s get back to the blog:

This blog is where I’m going to document my journey. In my first two weeks, I have already had to deal with the not-so-ideal weather, the language barrier, and have found an unexpected difficulty in crossing the road (a trial on which an entire post will be devoted to explaining). I’m confident that over the course of the next few months, I’ll accumulate a lot of stories to tell and I feel this will be the best place to tell them.

Of course, if I were to tell you that this is my first blog post ever, I’d be lying. I think over the past few years i’ve started about four different blogs. One of them I kept anonymous and posted deep, creative writing on (what can I say – year eleven was a tough’n). One I posted twice on, and then forgot about its existence. And the others…well, they’re probably still lurking on the internet somewhere. I’d advise you don’t waste time trying to find them – you’ll inevitably be disappointed. This is, however, my first blog post on http://www.aprilwaterston.com, and I am keen to break my current personal best of two posts in a row (wish me luck with that one).

Right. The time is now 03:57 a.m., and I have to wait around three hours for my flight. 165g of M&Ms will work their way through my digestive system whilst I continue my battle against falling sleep, and due to how tired I am I think it’s probably for the best that I end this post here.

Maybe I’ll purchase a final iced tea to keep my spirits up.

Ciao!

*Admittedly, the majority of my essays written last minute during my time at university have been so much waffle they may as well have been handed in with a bottle of maple syrup, but let’s ignore this for now.