I have not hugged my oldest Mutant Ninja Daughter in 3 long months as she has been studying far away in Copenhagen (5500 miles). We have texted, talked, skyped and written, but none of this is a satisfactory substitute for a great hug, a shared cappuccino and a long game of real Scrabble. For her junior semester abroad, MN Daughter has been living in a student apartment in the center of Copenhagen with her best friend from high school, my adopted Mutant Ninja Daughter, and a slew of other students from all over the United States. 4 months was definitly too long for me to be separated from my daughter, so I ventured to Copenhagen for a long weekend visit back in September where I took her to restaurants she could not afford and we did a little cold winter clothing shopping. While she studied, I spent a good deal of time by myself drinking cappuccino (I could afford), walking the beautiful old cobble stone streets, admiring the beautiful Danish people and visiting incredible art and design museums. Copenhagen is a beautiful city and the Danish people are warm and friendly. I had a blast and must admit feeling a tinge of jealousy that I was not the one who was spending a semester abroad on an incredible journey!
And now in a few hours, my first born child will be back with me for the long awaited hug. I learned a great deal during the 4 months about letting go and allowing her to find herself in adventures very far away from me. I found myself many times starting to dial her number or wanting to SKYPE but I did not, and waited until she reached out to me.
She has gained a great deal from her experience living abroad -
- She learned to market in a foreign language where food prices were very high and she was on a tight budget.
-She learned that to live on a budget meant that if there was no money in her account, the Danish ATM machine would not continue to spew out cash.
-She learned to cook healthy and affordable dinners for herself, her best friend and her flat mates. She gained a great appreciation for rice dishes.
-She mastered the art of ordering drinks at a bar in a foreign country. (I am purely guessing her, but I think this is one of the areas she may have learned a lot in that I do not want too many details on!!!)
-She learned to ride a bicycle in the city amongst dense and rapid pedaling traffic.
-She studied Cold War Spies, human migration and terrorism from a European perspective and traveled to see the places and the people associated with this world that intrigues her.
-She learned that Halloween in Copenhagen is in the middle of October; her years of dressing in ‘bad’ costumes paid off as she won a prize for best costume in Denmark. MN Daughter was a belly dancer and the prize was a frozen chicken. (Yes, she did cook her prize for her friends.)
-She worked harder than she ever thought possible and loved every minute of it.
-She attended extra-curricular seminars just for the fun of it!
-She went to beautiful Tivoli Garden and flew high above the city on very fast rocket ships.
-She called me a few times to vent and when I did not respond how she had hoped, she told me that I made her feel worse than she had felt before she had called. And of course, she told me that I did not really understand.
-She learned to make her own coffee because cappuccinos cost about $8 in the city. She even resorted to nuking cold coffee when late for class.
-She lived in a city that was sunny and warm in the summer and dark and cold in the winter and never complained.
-She bought the same ticket for Malev Airlines twice in one month for her travel from Budapest to Copenhagen on her semester break.
-She had her ATM card swallowed by an ATM machine twice; she only retrieved it the first time. The second and latest card will remain in Copenhagen long after she is gone.
-She made incredible friends; she had wonderful, dynamic and inspiring teachers; and she fell in love with a city she only really became familiar with recently.
As parents, we try to give our children amazing opportunities; we want them to take advantage of what they receive and grow and prosper as individuals. I am thrilled that she had the experience of her life!
But now I am ready for the warm HUG!