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My Vacation, Part 2

October 29, 2015

Reflections

Guards at the palace

Guards at the palace

This is part 2 of my stories about my vacation to Barcelona and Denmark. Yesterday’s post provides information on Barcelona.

In 1975 I was an exchange student in Denmark as part of the DIS program. At that time it was called the Danish International Student program. The DIS has remained, but it is now known as the Danish Institute for Study Abroad. I spent an amazing semester studying in Copenhagen, taught by Danish professors in English with about 300 other Americans from all over the country. One of the highlights was living with a Danish family. I knew that I was fortunate at the time since my family was a perfect match for me. We lived about 30 minutes by train north of Copenhagen in a town called Holte. Jens, the dad, Helene, the mom and the daughters Vivian (15) and Nana (12) were a delight. It turned out we had a strong connection, my Helene was Greek and they spoke several languages. Each day I’d take the train to Copenhagen for my art courses. I can still hear the voice on the train announcing the stations: “next astacione Holte”. The Danes would be silent reading the morning paper on their way to work. I had a great semester, learned a great deal both in class and out and a lot about myself. I can trace threads of who I am today to my time in Denmark.

Nana

Nana

I returned to the United States with one more year of college and a new lens, thanks to my learning opportunity in Denmark. Fast forward many years and I reconnected with my Danish family through Facebook. I have wanted to travel to visit for a while so when I had the chance to travel to Barcelona with recently retired Bangor High School art teacher Kal Elmore I decided it was the right time.

On my first night there I had a delightful visit with my younger sister, Nana. The next morning I was excited to stop by the DIS office to let the staff know how much I appreciated the program from 40 years ago. Even thought there weren’t staff there from all those years ago, they were very appreciative that I stopped by and all very delightful to meet. It was well worth the visit. I learned that the program was in a bad place about 15 years ago and today it has 1200 students a semester and an office in Stockholm, Sweden is opening soon. Without reservation, I recommend the program for college students who you may know considering studying abroad. Program information is located at http://disabroad.org/.

Lego store on the Stroget

Lego store on the Stroget

The rest of the day I spent walking and traveling by bus and train around Copenhagen. The largest mode of transportation by the locals is bicycle and they came in a variety of styles and many went quite quickly. The car drivers are very respectful of bicyclists. The Stroget, the main walking street looked similar, flourishing with stores and restaurants, even a giant lego store under construction. In addition to the Stroget there are three other walking streets that were fun to explore. I visited Amalienborg Palace to watch the changing of the guards which happens once a day at noon. The palace is Danish Rococco architecture and constructed in the 1700’s. I visited the Danish Design Museum which houses an incredible collection of Danish designed chairs. I loved seeing them. And, of course I stopped by the Little Mermaid who sits in the harbor and the Round Tower which provided a 360 view of the city and a delight at days end.

viv and jesper

Jesper and Vivian

I met my older sister, Vivian, at the train station and we headed north by train one hour to her home in Vestergade. It was so wonderful to meet her husband Jesper and daughters Sophia and Isabel. I felt at home immediately and it was the first night of quiet sleeping for me since I left home.

My visit with Vivian was filled with a visit to the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. It is like no other I’ve seen. The museum was abuzz with people of all ages. People were very engaged. Each of the areas and gallery’s flow into each other seamlessly and makes for a delightful visit. The studio space for education is alive with color and motion. It opened in 1958 and was intended to house only Danish art but has turned into an international museum with a variety of modern pieces. It is built on the water and includes an outdoor sculpture park which is part of their permanent exhibit that meshes beautifully with the environment. One of the highlights of my visit was definitely the Ayoi Kusama exhibit. Born in 1929 Kusama is a ball of energy and the comprehensive show can sense her commitment and vitality. The pictures of hers throughout provide a sense of who Kusama really is. Please do go to the site and take a look at her varying work.

Louisiana Modern Art Museum, Kusama's artwork

Louisiana Modern Art Museum, Kusama’s artwork

What a special treat to visit with Helene and Jens at their apartment. Since I saw them last they spent many years living in France and Greece, returning to Denmark a year ago to be closer to family. We had a wonderful time celebrating Helene’s 84th birthday with Vivian’s family and Nana’s daughters.

After spending time with Vivian our worlds got a closer together and I am confident this time that we will not lose track of each other again. I am sooooo fortunate that I have the time and made my visit a priority. I urge you to not put something off that you’ve been thinking about or wanting to do. Life is precious!

Please email me at argy.nestor@maine.gov if perhaps you also were on an exchange that impacted your life. Perhaps even one with the DIS program! I’d love to hear from you.

 

 

Yayoi Kusama

Yayoi Kusama

 

Yayoi Kusama

Yayoi Kusama

 

Yayoi Kusama

Yayoi Kusama

 

Yayoi Kusama

Yayoi Kusama

 

Children's studio, Louisiana Modern Art Museum

Children’s studio, Louisiana Modern Art Museum

 

Yayoi Kusama

Yayoi Kusama

 

The Stroget

The Stroget, Copenhagen

 

From the Round Tower

From the Round Tower

 

Yayoi Kusama

Yayoi Kusama

 

My Danish mother with her granddaughters

My Danish mother with her granddaughters

 

Jens and Helene

Jens and Helene

 

The Little Mermaid, Copenhagen Harbor

The Little Mermaid, Copenhagen Harbor

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