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December 2008

We were told the Danes were crazy about Christmas, and it’s true! They are!

There were a series of events connected to Christmas jammed into the few weeks before we left Denmark. The first was a parade, where the entire city of Aarhus watched kids from various marching bands trundle through the streets of the city, with Santa throwing chocolates leading the march. There were Oompa-loompa style Danish Santa bands all around the city. The big event of the night was watching the Christmas lights which had been strewn across the pedestrian street light up.

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Well, the time has come for me to leave Ottawa. In three days, I will have finished my last two exams, hastily packed my bags and be flying on to Washington DC to do some more travel.
I have had the most amazing time in Ottawa, and I can't believe just how quickly this semester has flown by!
If you've ever considered going on exchange, I'm sure you already have a pretty good idea of all the reasons why a semester abroad is pretty much one of the best things you can do while you're at uni. So, I've decided to dedicate this entry to why studying in Canada whilst on exchange is so awesome! Clearly, I can't speak for the other countries, which I imagine are all pretty cool too, but I am biased. So if you've ever thought about going to Canada, here's my list of why you should hop on that plane asap!

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So I was just in Norway and had one of the best days so far!!! My friend and I headed all the way up to the Arctic Circle to a town called Tromso. We got there to a very sorry tourist information lady who told us there wasn’t enough snow to go dog-sledding, ice fishing, snow shoeing, reindeer sledding or snowmobile racing...which was pretty much a list of everything we’d gone there to do!!!

But, us in our ‘determined-to-go-dog-sledding’ ways, sent an email to a company we had been in contact with to see if they were actually running tours, and...they were!!!!!

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Holiday time

11 Dec

If there’s one thing you learn while at uni, it’s that time flies. Semester and exams have flown by in a haze, and now it’s holiday time again. Much has happened since my final exam which was…*counts*…over 10 days ago! Which brings me to a second thing you learn as a uni student—you work hard, and you play harder. In the course of those 10 days, I’ve had 21sts, SUPA ball, working, volunteering, meetings, driving tests…basically anything that has been put on hold during semester time.

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I went to Sweden not long ago, and visited another Sydney Uni-er who is on exchange in Uppsala. It was great to be able to compare exchange experiences.

It’s funny both of us have become closest to English exchange students. I think, although this sounds quite obvious, that it’s because of the ease of language. Despite the Danes and Swedes having great levels of English here, among the exchange students, it can sometimes be difficult to hold a conversation. A lot of the time normal conversation is fine, but as soon as jokes come into play a lot of meanings are lost or confused. There's some great acting going on here!

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It may be Amsterdam that is renowned for a liberal spirit, but I think many travel books have overlooked Denmark. The biggest tourist attraction in Copenhagen, is not (as one would’ve thought) Hans Christian Andersen’s Little Mermaid, but is Christiania.

Christiania is a hippie colony that exists as a separate state from the EU, right in the heart of Denmark’s capital. It was set up in the 1970s by squatters who moved into ex-army buildings, and has remained ever since. The Christianians, although subject to Danish law, exist by the own laws, which are pretty much summed up in 3 rules: no violence, no guns, and no hard drugs. It’s all community run, where decisions of who to accept into the community, what behaviour is accepted and decisions about the everyday running of the place are decided by votes from the entire community who lives there.

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My tutor for my Internet course is one of THE guys of Internet, so he’s always running off to do conferences overseas. This means, for a month and half I only had 3 hours of a class a week on a Wednesday morning. So...time to explore Europe!

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For the second part of the mid-semester break, I met up with another “exchangee” and we headed to Poland. We visited Auschwitz which was amazing. It really seems the wrong word to use, but its power was intense. The girl who I visited the camps with (there are actually two), is Jewish, and her family were from Poland. Her grandparents had been taken away to a Serbian labour camp. Knowing that her family had experienced similar things to what were depicted in the camps, was really daunting.

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Yes, it’s hard to imagine just how fast mid semester break came here, but it was soon upon us! Although it was only a week, everyone had really exciting plans, which varied from visiting the French Riviera, to going to Norway and Sweden, the UK, and all over Eastern Europe.

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Last weekend we visited the Danish equivalent of Surfer’s Paradise. In a town called Aalborg, there is one street, famous throughout Denmark, that has 50 clubs on it! It’s amazing!

The clubs vary from head-banging rock-n-roll pubs, to hip-hop clubs, from chilled out bars to ranch themed pubs/restaurants – basically, there is a place designed for everyone! I recommend doing a crawl along the street, just to see what you can find! But again, don't expect things to start happening in the bars until about 1 or 2...but don't worry, you're still guaranteed a long night! 6am is early for the Danes!

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One of my majors for my degree is archaeology. Perhaps not the most obvious of choices for a Media and a Communications degree but anyway! While I was in Denmark, I thought I would take advantage of being right near objects and bodies thousands of years old, so I took a course in Viking Age Religion.

We had an excursion the other day to bog lands, and me, being the Aussie, of course had never experienced a bog! To me, it was essentially a really large mud pit! Right from the word ‘go’ of the excursion you could pick who was on exchange and who was a local, just from the way they responded to the bog. Of course, with a 20 kilo limit, I wasn’t likely to pack huge water-proof boots or wet weather pants! Yes, wet weather pants are common here, and like a raincoat, are a a water-proof layer you put on over your jeans. I think the fact you can’t find these anywhere in Aus, yet they’re a staple piece of clothing here, is a reflection on our two climates. And yes, it does rain all the time here!

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I pretty much knew nothing about Denmark when I decided to come here. After sending off my exchange application, I began to discover that a lot of things are Danish: the band Aqua, Tupperware, Georg Jensen jewellery, Bang & Olufsen technologies. And, as every Dane likes to remind me, the Sydney Opera House!! But, what is the invention the Danes are most proud of?? LEGO!

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