This week has been a very exciting one as it was the week of our 90km hike on Denmark’s oldest road. Sunday we spent the majority of the day preparing for the trip by washing clothes and packing my bag with all the necessary things. Luckily one of my friends was able to collect my winter clothes from Copenhagen which is about 3 hours away since she was there for the weekend. If my clothes hadn’t been collected I would definitely have gotten pneumonia as it was extremely cold on the hike as winter is coming.
Monday morning we had to get up quite early to pack the last things as well as lunch and have some breakfast. After getting everything sorted out quite hastily, I then headed out to the bus and onto a lift as it is one of the double decker buses where the bottom level is for baggage. Once everyone was strapped in and seated on the bus we then headed off to the starting location of our hike. It was a very quiet and chilled bus trip where everyone was, either listening to music, reading or sleeping. Once we reached the starting location we were then taken out off the bus and then we prepared the Joggers for all of the wheelchair users and were then transferred into them ready for the first 21km part. It was raining quite a bit and the path was very muddy. Søren started off pushing me and boy did we go fast. We ended up overtaking everyone except for the jogger up the front which was going a bit too fast for us and had also had a bit of a head-start. There were a few parts that were extremely tough to push through and had it been completely dry we would have gotten through no problem. There were a lot of steep hills on the first day too which also made it a bit difficult for everyone. When we got a bit closer to the town which our accommodation was in, there was a bit of an asphalted slope with a tunnel at the bottom and then a slope up on the other end. Søren and Christoffer were pushing Jonas and me in joggers and they decided to give us a push, let go, run after us and catch us again. We were going quite fast in the tunnel and Christoffer had given Jonas a push but with more power than anticipated and the jogger was veering ever so slightly closer and closer towards the wall. Suddenly Christoffer shouts “Catch Jonas! I can’t make it!” to which Søren replies “I can’t! I’m going to fast with Philip!”. Out of the corner of my eye I see Jonas all the way over towards the wall before he disappears from my sight. Søren looks back and apparently Jonas had fallen out of the chair and since there was no sound from the crash and the fact that he sounded very calm you would never have known. Luckily he was fine and he hadn’t sustained any injuries from the fall which was very lucky.
The following day, we had a quick breakfast before heading back out on the road again ready for another long day of walking. We started the day off by going to the church where we were shown around and got to look at all of the amazing artworks throughout. After a bit of a wander around, we were then seated again where we were taught a pilgrim song about safe travels which ended up being sung way too much on the trip and almost everyone was sick of it by the end of the week. After a few times of singing the song, we then had a bit of time to wander around the town to have some lunch before continuing our hike. We stopped at a lovely café for something to drink, a candy shop to get some supplies and then a kebab shop for some lunch. Once we were all satisfied, we headed back to the church to meet up with the rest of the group to continue our walk. Today’s walk was definitely a different challenge but definitely not less challenging. It was great having a chance to just chat with people and to get to know them better. We arrived at the accommodation first together with Magnus, Peter and Johannes which was quite an achievement. It was a very nice place and was similar to an old style cottage. The teachers presented the skirt of shame which had to be given to someone who had either done or said something silly. There were a lot of people who nominated others and told stories about the silly things they had done. I decided to tell the story from the previous day with Jonas and everyone cracked up laughing. As a result, Christoffer ended up having to wear the dress all of the next day.
Wednesday was another long day where almost everyone faced a challenge of their own that had to be overcome. The first challenge started pretty early on the walk where there was quite a lot of mud. Kenny decided to try and find an alternate route where there was less mud and ended up falling into the mud leaving his shoes completely filled with mud. As a result the rest of the day was done bare-foot for him. We went on through some very picturesque locations and through a grassy paddock on a hill where there were a few friendly horses that came over to greet us. It was a very icy breeze and icy cold droplets of rain which made it very cold on my face as that was the only part of me that wasn’t completely covered up. After walking a few kilometres there was a grocery store which also had a café which we had some lunch at. This shop is located along the ancient road so they get a lot of visits from different people from all around the world who come to walk along the road. After a well-deserved break, we then continued on our way towards the next accommodation we would be staying at. We continued and suddenly I started speeding along and turns out that the driver had been swapped out which explained the sudden increase in speed. It was good to have a bit of a change in company as it allowed me to get to know some more people. The road started to get a lot more difficult and there was a point in the path where there were some big rocks I had to get lifted over and then there were some steps I had to get lifted up to get to a very narrow ledge. It was so narrow and quite a difficult path and we ended up having to have one person pulling from the front and then one pushing to make sure I didn’t tip. There were 2 close calls but luckily nothing happened which was good. Later on, Team Jesper lost a wheel on their jogger and ended up having to tilt the chair so that it was only resting on the back 2 wheels. We managed to make it despite these few challenges. The accommodation was a massive Airbnb house which was able to accommodate all of us which was very impressive.
Thursday was also quite tough as the path was filled with mud and water a majority of the way. Despite the challenges, we managed to get through the day which was the main thing. It was tough and Søren and I managed to be the first to get to the backpackers lodge first. Since we wouldn’t be walking very far on the Friday we spent the afternoon celebrating and drinking a few beers. It was a lot of fun and we played various different drinking games.
Friday was a very short walk of less than 8km and when we got to the end we all cheered and sat down for a well-deserved victory lunch. We had an hour and a half before the bus arrived where we just chilled. When we got back to the school we started off by getting unpacked and then went out and had a chat with some of the others about their experiences on their trips. Later on in the afternoon there was a music quiz where I got pretty peeved off about as our team didn’t do too well which was unfortunate. Saturday was just chilled where my mum and sister came to visit where we just relaxed and played a few different board games.
Sunday was a very relaxed day where our table group had another day of planned activities. It was a very relaxed morning where I was able to sit outside to eat brunch as it was a beautiful warm day with the sun shining. After breakfast, it was time for our table group activity and it was actually the only activity we had. Since no one had put on pyjamas the previous day I decided not to wear pyjamas. Our activity was called “Kram Café” which translates to “Hug Café”. The activity started where we all sat in a circle where everyone faced clockwise to give each other a massage. After a very relaxing massage the rest of the activity consisted of going around and giving each other different kinds of hugs based upon what type we were told. The rest of the afternoon was spent mainly sitting down by the pier sunbaking and chatting.
On Monday, we started with toastmasters where we looked a bit more into the fundamentals of writing a speech and presenting it. Followed by toastmasters we had another meeting where we talked a bit more about our upcoming hike and who was using which Joggers (a 3 wheeled off-road wheelchair) and who was using an arm-powered bicycle. Once this was discussed, we then went out to fit me in the chair and to see if any alterations were needed. After lunch, I had adventure line where we had a chat about Tuesday’s kayak trip we would be heading on and also to find out how I could lie most comfortably in it.
Tuesday we went down to the pier where everyone got into a kayak and I lay very comfortably with a teacher’s aide (Christian) helping me out and rowing. When I first got onto the water I felt very hesitant as it was rocking slightly and was also nervous about whether it would flip when Christian hopped in. Once we were both in I felt very anxious as I was lying down and couldn’t get off onto dry land if I wanted too. After using my breath relaxation technique I felt very calm and was quite keen to continue on our kayak trip. We started with a few manoeuvre exercises so everyone could learn and get used to how to sail effectively. Then we were off! We had a short break where we sat in a lovely grassy location where we could have a snack to eat. After a quick bite to eat, we then headed off again for around an hour and a half before stopping at a beach for some lunch to eat. Since I didn’t have my wheelchair on the trip I sat on the ground instead which was still comfortable. On the way back I felt a bit more nervous and like my heart was about to jump out of my mouth as the water was quite rough with lots of waves rocking the kayak like crazy. I managed to keep my cool all the way back. Once we returned the teacher said that those who wanted to, could do an Eskimo roll in their kayak. Christian asked if I wanted to do one, to which I replied “No thanks.”
Wednesday was another short day as I only had one class in the morning which was toast masters. Our task in an hour and a half was to write a speech about our hometown and whether it’s a fantastic or terrible place to live. I decided to write about how fantastic Sydney is. Once we had written our speech, we then headed out into the rain to present our speeches. On the way out, we were all repeating some sort of chant that our teacher had taught us which gave us all a lot of energy and put a smile on everyone’s face who we passed on the way out. It was very good practice having to present a speech in the rain and having to sit and listen to all the other speeches too. It also got me thinking that in Denmark, it rains a lot and so people are used to going to soccer practice or outside activities no matter what the weather is, as opposed to Australia. After a very interesting lesson, we then had a break before heading into our table group meeting where we spent the meeting discussing the upcoming two day marathon as well as plans for the rest of the semester. Due to one of the subjects I am doing, it is compulsory for me to attend as it is otherwise voluntary even though I would still have chosen to do it as it sounds like a lot of fun. After the meeting and some lunch, Jens and I were wandering around when we passed the computer lab and then decided to head in to play some counter strike. We ended up having a LAN party where a whole heap of students came into the computer lab to join in the action. It was a lot of fun but after a while I had to head off to get a haircut in the town. It was raining a bit so we had to put a poncho on before walking down into town. I ended up getting a pretty awesome haircut even though it didn’t feel like it at the time. On our return, everyone was complimenting my new haircut and so I decided that it was actually pretty awesome. I actually received compliments for the next few days which was quite hilarious. There were even a few people that thought that I looked a lot like my carers with my new haircut. After dinner, we had a group who had been students at Egmont a few years ago who came to do a presentation on their achievement of climbing the highest mountain in Norway. This wasn’t any ordinary feat, as it was 6 carers and one wheelchair user whom they had to lift up the mountain. It was very inspiring and it was also very difficult that they almost gave up when they were close to the peak. However they stuck by it and managed to make it to the peak. After the presentation, I had a bit of a chat with them and congratulated them on their amazing achievement.
Thursday I had psychology all day and we were moving on from mental illness and diagnosis to mindfulness. The majority of the day we spent looking at different meditation techniques as well as exploring what it means to be mindful and what needs to be trained in order to make meditation the meditation as effective as possible. We spoke a bit about whether our mind is us and the teacher seemed a bit close minded when I spoke a bit about spiritualism without being religious and just brushed it aside saying that she didn’t believe in spiritualism. Nevertheless it was still all very interesting and I definitely was inspired to get back into meditating daily again. We also learnt about doing a full body scan meditation. After class, I went into the gym to stretch out and try some of the different workout machines which was quite fun. There was a volleyball tournament after dinner which I decided to watch and it was quite a lot of fun and one of the teams which one of my carers was on ended up winning which was awesome. After a short celebration of the win, I decided to head to bed.
Friday I had psychology in the morning where we were looking at mindfulness and learning a bit about how everyone tends to overthink things and stress. We also got to try some different meditation techniques as well as another full body scan meditation. It was very relaxing and really got you thinking of how lots of people tend to do their daily routines on auto pilot which makes it difficult to alter your routine. After the lesson, I headed out for the break where I had to get ready for an excursion with på opdagelse i naturen in the pouring rain. We were all ready quite quickly and headed into Aarhus where we visited the deer park where we saw a lot of deer that got very close and too friendly for comfort. Followed by our close encounter with the third kind, we then drove further down to a park where we sat and had lunch undercover, due to pouring rain. After lunch we went for a short walk before heading back to the buses to drive back to the school. At the school I helped out a bit with the setting up of the hall for the party where the theme was Randers which is a town in Denmark and so we had to dress up as locals from there. There was a pre-party in one of the students dorm where we all had tattoos drawn on and also made our hair spikey. I had a tank top, jeans, spikey hair, tennis socks, joggers and a tattoo on my arm which apparently is a stereotypical Randers local and yet I still have no idea what a Randers looks like. After a few drinks we then headed into the party where everyone was having a wild time. It was a long night but lots of fun and I may or may not have had a bit to drink.
Saturday was quite chilled with lots of people with bad hangovers but luckily I wasn’t affected due to drinking lots of water. There was however a lot of cleaning to be done in the sports hall after a big night. In the sports hall, there is a platform that can be raised out of the floor and it turns out that inside the platform is a storage room where all the chairs and tables are stored which is very cool since it’s very well hidden. After cleaning up, I decided to chill out in my room since there weren’t too many activities going on and caught up on some Rick and Morty. After a few episodes I then headed out to play some backgammon before dinner in the dining hall. It was quite funny actually, because for desert there was rødgrød med fløde and is one of the difficult ones that we Danes always try to get you to say. After dinner I chilled out and played a bit of Xbox with Therkel which was a lot of fun. Later on I then headed into the dining hall where there were a few people hanging out and having a few beers. I decided to join in a game which involves having to ask a question to someone and they can’t answer it but have to ask a totally different question either to you or someone else. The point of the game is that if you can’t think of a new question or laugh while asking or being asked you have to drink. It was actually quite difficult for some of the people involved since you can’t ask the same question twice in a round. Since the game dragged on quite long I decided to head to bed.
Today, we had toastmasters in the morning where we started to look a bit more into what is used to capture the audience’s attention and to keep their interest. We looked at the victory speeches of both Obama and Trump to compare and contrast the two. It was very interesting to look at and you could definitely hear the difference in the audience and in which video they were more joyous and interested in the speaker. After toastmasters we then had a presentation of the study trip which we were going on. For my team and I, we were going to hear about one of the longest tracks in Denmark, however we weren’t going to travel down the whole track, but a good 90km of it. Over the 5 days we would be covering around 20km each day. I was indeed very excited. After lunch, we had adventure line where we looked at the different pieces of equipment and clothing you would take on a trip in the bush and how your backpack can be packed.
Tuesday was spent on adventure line where we were learning about how to make sand crab soup, how to make a campfire, how to carve wood and how to set up a tent. Since I am quite familiar with how to set up camp, I decided to help out with catching crabs for the soup. We only managed to catch around 7 crabs and two others from the group caught around 30 crabs which was unbelievable. Feeling a tad disheartened over the loss in the crab catching competition we baked some bread and cooked a sand crab soup. The soup was prepared slightly differently to when we made it with adventure in nature and it still changed the taste dramatically. I thoroughly liked the taste of this soup a lot more and it was also delicious together with the homemade bread which was baked over the fire.
Wednesday there was a slip n’ slide mat set up outside on the field, it was loads of fun with everyone in their swimmers to join in the fun. There was a group of people playing soccer on one of the mats and they kept falling over due to the soapy wet surface which was hilarious. I decided to get the hose and spray people down with the high pressure nozzle but then people came running after to steal the hose and spray me back which was a lot of fun.
Thursday we went on an excursion to the psychiatric hospital with psychology class where we were taken on a tour around the location. We were in a museum where we got to see some of the different artworks that were created by the inmates as a type of therapy. There was also a workshop where the inmates were allowed to craft different things out of wood and other materials. It was a very interesting experience and I definitely learnt a lot about the different treatments and therapy techniques. On our return to the school we did a bit of research regarding what we had learnt today at the hospital in preparation for a small presentation on the following day. In the afternoon, the class headed over to our teachers house - which was literally 5 meters from the school - for a group dinner together. We had a delicious dinner with burgers and very crispy bacon. It was a great afternoon filled with laughter and chatting. On our return to the school, there was Big Hero 6 being watched in the sports hall which I decided to watch together with everyone else.
On Friday, we watched a video in psychology on one of the inmates (Ovartaci) whom had done a few weird paintings and had also wanted to be a woman and taken some pretty drastic measures to turn him into one. We then had a class discussion where we talked about the day in the museum as well as what topic we were moving onto in the upcoming lessons. After psychology we had adventure in nature where the rest of the day was spent looking at and learning about leaves which was a bit boring. In the afternoon, there was a party again where I hung out with a group of students where I watched them getting more and more drunk which was hilarious. After a while of watching all of the drunken students partying, I reluctantly decided to head to bed as they didn’t seem to be heading to bed anytime soon.
Saturday was a very chilled out day, where our table group had organised some activities. It was a pyjama day where everyone was supposed to wear their pyjamas the whole day but no one actually did. We spent the day watching movies and also prepared some hot chocolate for everyone to enjoy. Jens and I had bought lots of chocolate powder for the event and we had more than enough and ended up not making it all. We also had some ice-cream set out so people could enjoy it together with the hot chocolate while watching some movies.