As a child, like many little children, I dreamed of becoming a princess. A costume dress and matching crown was my outfit of choice paired with plastic heels far too big and impractical to run and play in. If I was lucky, too, my mom would let me wear her makeup and jewelry to complete my look; after all, nothing says royalty like blue eyeshadow and bling. Looking the part of the princess was only half of the play, as I attempted to act regal in every sense of the world – or at least my 7-year-old self’s sense of the word.
Like Giselle in Enchanted, I’d sing, “aha aha ah” through my kitchen window hoping the woodland animals would come help me pick up my toys. I was always excited when a bird would coincidentally fly by following my anthem. Like Mia in Princess Diaries, I practiced my etiquette, drinking tea (which was just apple juice) with my pinkies up. And, like Ariel, I swam only with my tail, or the tail I made through closing my legs together and flopping around in my kiddie pool. Needless to say, I was a princess – or at least I was in my head – but I missed what is essential for every princess to have: a castle.
Studying abroad has been a dream within itself, as everyday offers new adventures, from exploring a Danish grocery store to swinging 65 meters above Copenhagen at Tivoli; this experience, too, has granted me the opportunity to live out some of my childhood dreams, including going to a real-life castle.
Now, when I tell you my inner child was freaking out, I’m not kidding. I could see the castle from the boat docks, proudly lifted above the vast basin of blue on a hill of tall grass and bloomed poppies. I felt as if I was walking into a fairytale book. Reading Hamlet in high school English class, I had imagined what this castle had looked like through the hints of Shakespeare, but this place was far grander than anything I could have thought up.
Commencing our arrival at Kronborg, a tour guide welcomed myself and my friends. She gave a brief history of the castle and its former residents as medieval music played in the background and children ran to wooden rocking horses in the far end of the courtyard. Every staircase led me to a new place to explore from the kitchens to the king and queen’s quarters to the ballroom as long as the castle was high and even to the underground tunnels which were once the bedrooms of Danish soldiers.
Along our twists and turns throughout the castle, some of the rooms held great surprises. Entering the ballroom, we walked around marveling at its vastness and grandeur. An employee of the castle noticed my friend and I swaying to mimic a projection of the former king and queen dancing and approached my group of friends. “Would you like to learn a formal ballroom dance?” they asked. With a resounding yes, we began to practice. As she repeated “1-2-3-4” we replicated her movements. Hold hands. Move up. Kick. Move back. Kick. Step together. Step apart. Release hands and spin around. By the end of our practicing, we performed the dance to the rest of the castle visitors. There were a few claps and cheers following our recital, and then, we ventured onward.
We entered a room with many tables and buckets full of feathers, sequins, markers, and other craft supplies for decorating coloring pages. Soon realizing we were the only adults in the room that didn’t have a child, we quickly noticed this room was only intended for children. In the spirit of nurturing my inner child, though, I decided to stay and color myself. There was no sign saying I couldn’t, and once I saw the monster coloring page, I just got too excited. Adding the finishing sparkles and embellishments to my monster, my day at the castle had come to an end.
Reflecting on this royal day, I feel warm knowing that I fulfilled a dream. My younger self would have been overjoyed to know that she got to live a day as the princess she always knew she was. In true fairytale fashion, I got my happily ever after after all, all thanks to this study abroad.