It is an old Scandinavian tradition to make woven paper or felt hearts to fill with candies or nuts and put on the Christmas tree. … Some Danes say it is the symbol of the heart of Christmas (love and respect) and was invented by Hans Christian Andersen in the late 19th Century.
I just received the cutest Christmas shirt in the mail from Modern Rascals that makes me think of my ‘little sister’ (exchange student) from Denmark. In honor of this beautiful shirt and heart ornament, I’m going to write about our relationship!
When I was a senior in high school, we hosted an exchange student from Denmark. I learned a lot about her culture and about myself during the months she stayed with us. Turns out, I am not so good at sharing! I love my ‘Danish girl’ to pieces and consider her a sister to this day! We definitely acted like sisters while she was living with us! We shared a room and I picked her up from school. She tagged along with me and my friends a lot of times and we got on each others nerves almost daily.
Over Christmas we asked her about some traditions from back home and one of the ones that I remember is this little felt heart ornament. Her family sent us one for Christmas and I don’t always fill it with candy but it still goes on my tree every year! Whenever I pull it out I remember our time with her and it makes me smile.
We have actually had many adventures together, so I know we will be sisters forever! About two years after she left the US, I went to live in Germany. That fall, we went to Oktoberfest together and she stayed with me for a few days.
In the spring before I came home, I took a trip to see her in Copenhagen. I stayed with her in her hometown of Odense for a night (we went to Ikea)! The next day we took the train to Copenhagen where we spent a couple of nights! We had a blast exploring that beautiful city and dancing the night away at clubs. (Oh, the good ole days)
Another two years passed and I was able to go back to Europe for a couple of months over the summer. We had always planned to visit Glasgow to find James McAvoy’s house and stalk him a little (too bad I don’t think he lives there at the moment). I started my trip by flying into Edinburgh, Scotland where I met up with my girl.
We had a couple wild nights (and one extremely hung over mountain climbing experience) there.
She put up with me geeking out over all things Harry Potter! We visited the Elephant House, two cemeteries with people whose names inspired J.K. Rowling, the entrance to the chamber of secrets, and more! Despite being embarrassed of my touristy tendency to ask her to take my photos, she did it anyway.
By the way, if you ever get a chance to go, I HIGHLY recommend Edinburgh.
It’s like visiting a fairy tale. Most definitely one of my favorite cities in the world! From there, we went to Glasgow. I wasn’t as impressed with that city, sadly. Our hostel was very old and the wifi cost money so it was hard to talk with my family (not only that, it would only work in the lobby and we were on the top floor). There were no elevators (again, top floor) and I think we counted over 70 stairs. Our hostel was on the outside of town so there wasn’t a ton of stuff to do nearby. We went to a local park a few times and visited a couple of museums but we were pretty ready to leave when it was time.
My favorite thing about Glasgow was the highland tour we went on. It was SO pretty to ride through the hills and mountains of Scotland listening to James Bond and Braveheart as we twisted and turned up the winding roads.
After Glasgow we stopped in York for a one night stay, but we fell in love with the quaint old city and knew we had to stay longer. I think we wound up staying two or even three more nights.
Then it was off to London! We stayed with an amazing host we found on Couchsurfing.com and she gave us the inside scoop. I’d been to London on my own before but it was nice getting a locals perspective on things! She lived in Greenwich so we weren’t right in the city but there was so much to explore there too that it was a great mix of bustling city and less bustling suburb.
She even went along with me to check out the Harry Potter studio tour! That was definitely one of my favorite experiences ever…
We said goodbye in London as I moved on to Germany and the Czech Republic!
I saw her again last year when she was visiting her boyfriend in America! She came down and spent Thanksgiving with us and was able to meet Leopold for the first time.
I’m not sure when I’ll see my Danish exchange student sister again. Since it seems like we stick to an every two to three years pattern, I don’t think it will be very long!
Having an exchange student really opened my heart to other cultures! I’ve always loved travel and meeting people from other places. I am obviously into accents too, since I married a man with one! I hope I can raise Leopold to accept people from all walks of life, and to love travel the way I do! It’s not easy but I would love to host an exchange student one day so that Leopold can learn from it the way that I did!
For my birthday this year, we went to a tree lighting ceremony with my in-laws. I’m so excited that this shirt from Modern Rascals came in time for Leopold to wear it to the ceremony! It’s the perfect Christmas shirt and just as soft as all of our other clothes from Modern Rascals and Duns Sweden!