Ice Skating On The Sea

How many people can say that they’ve ice-skated on the ocean floor? Danielle in Fanø. Photo Credit: Danielle Brundage

When I was a kid, I wanted to do many things: become a dragon-riding princess (I’m coming for you Daenerys), walk on the bottom of the ocean, become a mailbox, etc. These are just the dreams of a child, ones I realized to be impossible as I aged (I have no idea why my four-year-old self wanted to be a mailbox of all things). Never in a million years did I think I would be able to check one of my impossible dreams off of my list; I did the impossible and  walked on the seafloor.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: How is this possible without proper equipment? My answer to that question is simply one word: Fanø.
I was lucky enough to study abroad this past spring semester in Copenhagen, Denmark, through the DIS-Study Abroad in Scandinavia program. The program is a little different than the other study abroad programs Goucher has to offer. For one thing, you choose one “Core Course”, a class specific to your discipline. I took a Core Course that focused on my major, English Literature. The coolest part about the Core Courses is the inclusion of a weeklong study tour to a European destination and “Core Course Week.” The week compromises of a two-day seminar and a three-day study tour.
For my three-day study tour, I had the privilege of travelling to a small Danish island called Fanø. The way of living on the island is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. Time seems nonexistent: hours feel like minutes, days feel like hours and everything is so relaxed. My class worked with a famous Danish poet, learned some of the area’s traditional dances and songs, ate rabbit and oysters at a native Fanø woman’s home, and (drum roll please) walked on the ocean floor.
The Wadden Sea, the body of water that surrounds Fanø, experiences an amazing phenomenon. When the time is right and everything lines up, the tide goes back for miles, leaving the ocean floor free to wander about. The one downside to my experience of this amazing phenomenon was that I was completely and utterly sick the whole study tour. There I was, witnessing one of nature’s most intriguing spectacles, all the while feeling like death. However, even with the way I felt, I walked for miles across the ocean floor in my mint green galoshes, picking up seashells here and there, listening to the stories our tour guide was telling us. The beach was filled with pieces of World War II-era bunkers built by the Nazis, as Fanø was part of the Atlantic Wall. As a Jewish woman, it was slightly scary to touch bunkers built to protect people that would want me dead. At the same time it was invigorating to know that I was touching an important part of history.
Denmark is a cold place, and it was winter when we went to Fanø. At times, there would be areas of thin ice on the ground, leading my classmates and I to “ice skate.” How many people can say that they’ve ice-skated on the ocean floor? Sure, I fell a bunch of times, almost re-sprained my ankle, and ended up even sicker than before, but I wouldn’t trade my experience for anything in the world. So thanks Fanø, for showing me a different type of lifestyle, and for letting my inner child experience something amazing.

Danielle Brundage is a senior with an English Literature major and creative writing minor. She has spent several months traveling around Scandinavia and is interested in the mythology and folklore or the world.

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