Love Learning (Indie 30 – Day 8)

Love Learning (Indie 30 – Day 8)

Bootsnall prompt: Travel and learning go hand in hand. Travel teaches us not only about the world and the people in it, but also more about ourselves and our own ideas and values. What has travel taught you this year?

When I saw the title of this prompt “Love Learning” I knew instantly what I wanted to write about. There is one trip in recent years that jumps out at me when I think about learning and how much I really do love learning. But then I read the end of the prompt “What has travel taught you this year?”

It wasn’t as pleasant and happy as the trip I’d initially thought would answer this prompt. While I learned some fun things while I traveled this year (like a new appreciation for Irish music), much of what I’ve learned is personal and serious, including lots of lessons about traveling while sick.  I don’t want to write about that. So I’m abandoning the prompt in part and writing about that first trip I thought of. Because if I’ve learned one thing in life (and in cooking), it’s that sometimes abandoning the specifics and going for the general idea yields better results.

Nearly two years ago, I spent a chilly December week in Copenhagen with my friend Tess. We were there during the COP-15 climate change conference. We weren’t delegates (though had we planned better we probably could have been) and we didn’t take part in any protests (again, had we planned better…) but we were there because of the COP. We’d recently finished college where I’d done my thesis on international climate policy and Tess and I had co-chaired Campus Greens, a group that had done enormous work regarding climate change as part of the Power Shift conference that year.

 

Since graduating from college that spring, we’d both fallen out of the climate movement a bit as we continued our formal education. Tess in museum studies and me in creative writing (we’ve since complete these degrees).

But December 2009 was a wonderful time to be learning in Copenhagen. There were exhibits about climate change throughout the city and we broadened our knowledge of that issue as we waited to find out the results of the critical climate talks and walked among the protesters outside Bella Center. We toured Hopenhagen, a series of exhibits on future cities and how we could live better. A globe in the center showed videos from the talks and from activism around the world. Just off-center near the town hall stood a tall Christmas tree decked out in LED lights that were powered by bicycles that ringed the tree like a child’s train set only life size.

 

Since we weren’t actively involved in the conference or protests we had plenty of time to explore Copenhagen history and traditions. Every morning, since I am always up extremely early on a short trip, I would drink coffee and write before meeting Tess. We soaked in Danish culture by taste with pastries, open-faced smorrebrod sandwiches, and incredible smoked fish sandwiches at a little cafe. We walked the streets studying the Christmas window displays, shopping, and comparing prices between Denmark, England (where Tess lived at the time), and the United States. In the evenings, we would go to the grocery store and pick up a variety of items we didn’t recognize but that looked interesting and a couple cans of beer or cider that we would eat in our hostel over long conversations that reaffirmed our knowledge that we are life-long friends.

 

One of my favorite mornings though, was the morning we went to the National Museum. As Tess was working on her Master’s in Museum Studies, she was planning to use our trip to the museum for a project she was working on. As we went through exhibits on ancient Denmark, Vikings, medieval weapons, Victorian era dollhouses, and twentieth century pop culture, Tess told me all about how the exhibits were put together and the different styles at work in the museum. She could easily see which exhibits had been most recently updated based on the style of the setup.

This is what I love about traveling with Tess. We are both sponges ready to be wrung out. We both love taking in information and sharing it with others. I hung on her every word as I tried to make sense of both museum layouts and Danish history. The two topics fit together well as we moved through the museum.

And then we bought hot dogs from a street cart. We got them with everything on them – pickles, fried onions, mustard…

We both love learning about almost anything. On our last night, we sipped mulled wine at Tivoli and then sat in the hostel munching on spicy puffed chips. We talked college parties and the results of the COP.

 

Even though the conference results were disappointing (though not unexpected), I consider Copenhagen in 2009 a success, if only on a personal level. What better trip can one have than one where indulging every curiosity and whim to learn can be indulged? We had no itinerary and very little money. What we had was each other, time, and the freedom to follow our passions.

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