Jeg har kun ti dage tilbage her i Danmark. Jeg har det travlt over min sidste ti dage i Danmark så måske vil denne være min sidste blogindlæg før jeg rejser hjemme. Dette år har været mere end jeg kunne have ønsket. Min dansk er ikke perfekt men efter ti måneder kan jeg endelig sige at nu er jeg “dansker”. Danmark er blevet mit andet hjem <3. Jeg har familie og venner her, der jeg elsker meget. Jeg vil komme til at savne alle jeg har mødt. Jeg er så taknemmelig for mine værtsfamilier og mine klasskammerater i 2.b. Jeg har været så heldig at bo i det smukkeste land med de mest dejlige mennesker. Det vil være svært at forlade mit nyt hjem men det skal jeg gøre snart. Titlen på denne blogindlæg siger at det er næsten tid at sige “farvel” men det vil ikke være en farvel. Jeg skal se dig igen Danmark. Så, vil jeg bare sige “vi ses”.
For those of you who don’t speak Danish, I will save you the struggle of using google translate and go ahead and translate it to English below:
I have just ten days left here in Denmark. I am going to be very busy during the last ten days of my exchange so perhaps this will be my last blog post before I return home. This year has been more than I could have asked for. My Danish is not perfect but after 10 months I can finally say that I am a “Dane”. Denmark has become my second home <3. I have family and friends here whom I love and I am going to miss everyone I have met. I am so thankful for the host families I have had and for my classmates in 2.b. I have been so lucky to live in the most beautiful country with the loveliest people. It is going to be hard to leave my new home but I will have to soon. Although the title of this post says that it is almost time to say “goodbye” it will not be a goodbye. I will see you again Denmark. So I will just say “see you later”.
So today I realized that I haven’t posted anything on my blog in a really long time. I figured, since I am now on the final stretch of my exchange, that it might be a good time to update everyone on what I have been doing lately.
In the past four months since my last post I have celebrated Christmas with my second host family, rang in the new year with my class, said goodbye to my “oldies”, welcomed in the “newbies” to our district, visited London, celebrated my 19th birthday, moved in with my final host family, taken a study trip to Malta with my class, and celebrated Easter, as well as many other things.
I have been fortunate enough to have been able to experience all of the above surrounded by wonderful people. If you told me a year or two ago that I would be doing all of these things as well as truly making a home in Denmark, I wouldn’t have believed you. Having less than three months left now, each day that passes is bittersweet. I won’t get too deep here, but with all the excitement and adventure of exchange also comes complex emotions and situations you never thought you’d have to deal with. I am excited to go home and see all the people I love who I had to say goodbye to almost 8 months ago but in order to do that I have to say goodbye to all the amazing people here who have made an impact on not only my exchange but also my life.
Now, lets bring this post back to the present. Here in Denmark we have just turned our clocks to summer time and I cannot tell you how wonderful it felt to walk home from the train station at 6:00 tonight and have it still be bright out. Like really though, it didn’t get dark for a couple more hours. I’ve even switched to my spring/fall jacket and put my winter boots away. In any case, spring is finally here, although I still say that with some reluctance, (you never really know what could happen with the Danish weather) and I am looking forward to taking advantage of the rest of my time in this amazing country.
So as I mentioned in my last post, I was preparing to give a performance at my Rotary district’s event this month. Well, that was last night. I figured I’d post the link to the video that my Rotary counselor was so kind to record for me. This was the largest audience I have performed solo (or almost solo) in front of. It was an extremely nerve-wracking experience but I am glad that I did it. I also want to give a shoutout to my amazing duet partner and fellow exchange student Declan for helping me out and still going through with the performance even if he was ready to cough up a lung…
Well, it has officially been 100 days since I landed in Denmark! I am already about a third of the way through my exchange year and have moved on to my second host family. This is actually pretty hard to believe… The time has gone by so fast, and yet I also feel like I have been here forever. I have a lot to look forward to in the coming months and as much as I want those things to come faster, I also want time to slow down. Recently, I have been thinking about how things were when I first arrived and comparing them to where I’m at now. Complete strangers have become good friends, and unfamiliar places have now become part of the everyday scenery (the Danish language also doesn’t sound like complete gibberish anymore). I really do feel that I have started to build another life for myself here. I feel myself growing more confident and I have slowly been coming out of my shell. And by coming out of my shell, I mean I’ve decided to perform a duet with a fellow exchange student in front of about 450 people at a Rotary event next week. My parents have rarely been lucky enough to even hear me sing or play guitar, so it’s a pretty big deal… Once you step outside of your comfort zone, it really is incredible how much you start to grow. I am looking forward to what the next seven months have in store for me and could not be happier about my decision to come to Denmark.
So I have come to realize that yet again I have forgotten to post an update for quite some time now. So to start, let me acknowledge the fact that I have been in Denmark for over two months now (10 weeks and a day to be exact;) ) which is so crazy to think about.
Anyway, moving on. This past week I had school off for fall break (or “efterårsferie” for those of you who don’t speak Danish and are somewhat confused by the title of this post). I spent my fall vacation in Jylland with my host family. We stayed at their summer house (or cabin) about 20 minutes outside of Århus. We visited some museums, Moesgaard Museum and ARos, walked around Den Gamle By (which can be translated to “the old town”), and ate lots of delicious food. We spent most of our time at the house, reading books, drinking tea and coffee, eating food, watching movies on TV, and taking walks alongside the sea (and no, there wasn’t any wifi). Basically the whole week was very hyggeligt (roughly translated to “cozy” but no word in the English language can do it justice). And now, this is where I transition into talking about the second half of the title. For those of you who don’t know, here in Denmark there is a concept called “hygge.” The best way to describe it would be: sitting around with friends and families, drinking and eating, while wrapped up in a cozy blanket, with candles lit and possibly a fire burning in the fireplace. It is an overall feeling of coziness that can only be understood through experience, and my fall vacation was full of it. Now, as the temperature outside continues to get colder and the days get shorter, there could have been no better way to spend my vacation.
First let me apologize for the two week hiatus I took from my blog. I have found blogging to be a little more difficult than I had expected. I will do my best to recap the past two weeks in a somewhat thorough and organized manner.
Anyway, this past weekend marked the end of the fifth week of my exchange. It has been five weeks since I left Minnesota and moved into my current home in Denmark. Pretty crazy, huh? At least for me it is…
The past two weeks I have not been much different than the first three. I am continuing to create friendships at school and I am also continuing to build a stronger relationship with my host family. Last week I somehow managed to stand in front of my whole school of about 1,200 kids (that is a lot having graduated from a school with an enrollment of about 450 students or something like that) with the other five exchange students, and introduce myself…in Danish. I’m not sure my pronunciation was totally accurate, but I think they understood what I said. That night I also gave a presentation about myself to my Rotary club. Thankfully that was in English.
This weekend, I finally made it to Tivoli. I spent some time walking around the park with my host family. I have yet to try out the rides, but I’m looking forward to doing that sometime in the near future. This weekend I also made it to Mass for the first time since I left Minnesota. It was an interesting to experience a Mass entirely in a different language. I don’t know if it was the yearning for familiarity or just the fact that it had been so long since I’d attended Mass that made me so attentive. However, I’m pretty sure I paid more attention in church that day than I had for awhile. I tried my best to follow along, reciting the responses in my head or under my breath in English when I recognized where we were at in the service. I understood little, if nothing at all, of the readings and the homily (but I think it had something to do with hunger). Even though I spent most of the service completely lost, I continued to listen intently. In a way this resembles where I am at in my exchange. I am starting to understand more and more each day, but I still find myself lost amongst the class lectures and the surrounding conversations of my classmates. Yet, I continue to listen. There is a hunger for familiarity that is starting to creep in and although it sometimes brings with it a bit of homesickness, it is what keeps me going.
I am determined to become familiar with the new environment around me and establish a sense of belonging in my new home.
After a long week at Intro Camp, I am finally back home. I spent the past week with the 166 other Rotary Exchange inbounds at Nørgaards Højskole, getting to know one another and learning Danish. Monday through Wednesday, and Friday, we had 6 hours of Danish lessons per day. These lessons were not that intense but it was helpful to review some of what I already knew as well as learn new vocabulary and the grammar and sentence structure of the language. I can accurately say that somethings actually clicked while I was there. Even if I don’t understand all of the vocabulary,(I still have a VERY, VERY long way to go) I can look at some sentences and grasp a general idea of what is going on. As far as hearing and speaking the language goes…I’m still gonna need A LOT of practice…On Thursday, we got the day off from learning Danish and took an hour bus ride to Århus to see the ARos art museum and tour the second largest city in Denmark. We were able to experience some of Olafur Eliasson’s works of art such as Your Rainbow Panorama and his Atmospheric Colour Atlas. These are two works of art that you can only really appreciate once you yourself have stepped inside the artwork. In the Atmospheric Colour Atlas, he plays with our eyes to create a breathtaking experience that can only be navigated by using the colors in the room.
Overall, it was a great week spent with some even greater people. I met some awesome kids from all other the United States and the world. This was one of the only chances all the 167 exchange students in Denmark will have to come together and that in itself was its own amazing experience. Now after saying our goodbyes we are all back in our respective districts and will be heading back to school tomorrow, but it really is good to be home.
After seeing just about all there is to see in Copenhagen and some of the surrounding towns I have finally said goodbye to summer and hello to yet another year of high school. I am two days in at Virum Gymnasium, and I am officially settling into my new home. Although the classes are long and most are hard to follow, given my lack of knowledge of the Danish language, my classmates do their best to include me when they can. Going into my exchange, I was told that the Danish youth most likely won’t approach a newcomer but will wait to welcome you until you approach them. Everyone who told me that was completely wrong. From the moment I walked into the classroom, I was welcomed by my classmates. Either I just got lucky, or the prior is a common misconception. After only two days, I already feel like a part of the class and can sense friendships slowly, but surely, forming. I could not have asked to be placed with a better group of people and feel like I can really strive in my new environment. Now I just need to learn Danish…
Well, I am finally here! After spending one full day in Copenhagen I am sure that I made the right decision. I have been blessed with a wonderful first host family in one of the most beautiful countries. (Also, the bread here rocks).
My first day was spent successfully unpacking and organizing my new room (Mom, you would be proud;) ). I also enjoyed a delicious brunch with my host family outside on the patio in the garden (backyard, but garden sounds classier). The weather was amazing so my host mom and host sister took me to the beach as an attempt to keep me awake until dinner (the water was freezing…). After returning home, we ate dinner outside on the patio again and then sat around the TV watching the news and drinking SleepyTime Tea before bed. It was a casual, relaxing day well suited for a jet lagged teen.
Sure, yesterday was also overwhelming at times having to encounter new people, a new environment, a new home, and a new language all while exhausted from traveling and the time change, but it also was the first step in learning how to adapt to new situations. It was difficult finding the energy to sit and talk with my new host family or visit the beach when I’d been up for over 24 hours straight and had to resist the urge to nap (as to not mess up adjusting to the new time zone). However, I made it. I made it through the first day, and that says a lot.