Monthly Archives: August 2013
In the past week I’ve been adjusting to my new school and new life in Denmark. Even though my bike is a bit tall for me (we’re getting a new one soon) I’m actually not that bad at biking anymore! Sure, I may have caught a bug in my mouth and a poor unfortunate slug might now be two poor unfortunate slugs, but otherwise I’m doing great!
What I’m excited to tell you about is the celebration that we had last night. Our whole grade had a sleepover in tents outside our school…..yes, that’s right, my entire grade had a sleepover. How could I not love my school?
Anyways, as part of the celebration, every class had to dress up differently, and my class’s theme was Cavemen! Other classes dressed like Nuns, Hippies, Astronauts, Jesus’s followers, etc. The funny thing is that almost the whole grade dressed up to fully support their class, which I found really cool considering most people don’t wear costumes at my American school when we have dress-up days.
Now you may be wondering, “What did your costume consist of?” I couldn’t dress up too much considering I had a language camp at a different school in the morning, and apparently I must not have had enough room in my suitcase from America to bring anything caveman-like. So how did I solve this? A brown towel around my shirt, leaves in my hair, and lots of dirt on my face. Literally, my face was covered in dirt. Most people went all out, and we all were covered in dirt and leaves. Some people had leopard print, some had sheets draped around them, and others were wearing garbage bags. Combined with our dirty appearances, our costumes actually made us look quite homeless instead of like cavemen, but I think our class still gets a gold star for effort.
The celebration started right after school was done, and we had group activities to do. For one of them, we had to link hands with a partner. These partners would form a line, the hands making a bridge, and someone would literally walk on the linked hands to get to the other side. (I apologize if this doesn’t make any sense, it’s hard to explain.) It was slightly painful to hold up the person with only your hands, but my class encouraged me to do the walking. This was worse, because I felt like I was crushing people’s hands, and I had to use their heads/necks/shoulders as railings to steady me. Actually, it was kind of fun, even though I felt like I was going to fall and or injure someone.
Next we had to put up our tent. It was big enough for all of us to sleep in, so needless to say, it was quite big. More like a party tent or something. Anyways, everyone had to decorate their tent in their theme, which meant animal skins, sticks, cave drawings, and a green tarp on the ceiling to make it look like a cave inhabited by cavemen.
After the tent was put up, we started grilling our meat! I proudly put my chicken wings on the grill (that’s a story for another time) and watched the chickens burn. It all looked delicious and I couldn’t help but think how cool it was that our class was having a grill-out and potluck. We feasted on our meal of chicken, potato salad(s), pasta salad(s), bread, and more. Clearly our class was lacking in the planning department because nobody brought cups, plates, forks, or spoons, but luckily some of my friends bought some last minute so we could actually eat.
My friend on exchange from Mexico, Luis, and my friend Kamilla introduced me to their friends and they were really awesome! (Shoutout to Maggie and Emma!) Even though I didn’t get the opportunity to talk to them much, they seem really awesome, and I hope I’m able to hang out with them in the future. I found it really interesting how they were saying that they thought Denmark was boring and they were wondering why I would pick it. I guess it’s all a matter of perception, because they wanted to go to America, and I’ve felt that my city is boring sometimes. I think it’s interesting that even across the world, we share the fact that we want to visit a place with a different lifestyle than the one we were born into.
The coolest part of the night was when we had our class performances. Each class gave a performance that had to do with our theme. The hippies did a hippie song, the Nuns did the song “Single Ladies,” etc. My group chanted a rhyme about our class to the song “I love Rock and Roll” and went all caveman at the end as we were in awe of Mathilde’s fire. Apparently our performance was pretty good, because when it was ranked by the other classes, we got the highest score! The top 3 had to do it a second time, and we got second place overall! We were beat by the Jesus followers, but their performance was fantastic and they totally deserved to win!
Once the performances were over and we were done taking caveman selfies, we headed down to our tents to mingle and get ready for bed. Kamilla, Sara and I spent like 30 minutes looking for Luis, but it turned out that he’d been sleeping the whole time. Sadly I had to go to bed after about 12 because I had language camp the next morning, and I had to wake up at 6:30 so I could get to the train station in time.
Overall, the school sleepover just reinforced how much I love my school, and it was a fantastic experience to get to know the people in my class better, such as Cecilie, who I hadn’t ever really talked to before then. Everyone in my class has been so friendly to me, and I’m so glad that I got to share this tradition with them. (I apologize for how cheesy that sounded, but what can I say? I’m from Wisconsin.)
Sidenote: I’ve been in Denmark for almost 2 weeks now, (whaaaat?!?) and I’m going to do a Question and Answer post next time when I come back from the Rotary Intro camp, so post any questions you have in the comments below or on facebook/email.
Oh, and a reminder that you can get notifications whenever I post a new entry by using the Email Updates thing on the sidebar!
Thanks for reading! And the Danish translation of that is asldkfajsldkfjalsdkfjalksdjfalksdgahwrejkbkjasdf
P.S. Still working on that whole Danish thing
Oh, and I just found out that my choir in Denmark might be traveling to Riga, the capital of Latvia, to sing. No big deal. Just Latvia.
As of today, I attend the MidtFyns Gymnasium in Ringe! It’s such a great school, and I can actually say that I like going there!
I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m really lazy and listing my observations in bullet points instead of paragraphs would be more interesting and less time consuming for all of us.
- Instead of raising your hand with all of your fingers up, only your pointer finger is up, pointing at the ceiling.
- You call your teacher by their first name.
- You have one class of about 30 and you have all the same classes with all of them.
- You bring your own computer and you use it in almost every class at least once.
- Everything is far more laid back. There are couches in every blok (Wing/hallway of the school) and two foosball tables in the front hangout area.
- 3 or 4 classes each day with 5 minutes to hang out/take breaks in between.
- Classes get cancelled frequently, meaning you can sleep in. You just check online the night before and you don’t have to be there for that class. It’s usually not actually cancelled, just postponed, but it’s still nice! My physics class is cancelled tomorrow, so I don’t have to be at school until 10:05
- School lunch is too expensive, so everybody just brings their own lunch.
- I put pesto on my sandwich this morning and I’ve learned that I don’t like Pesto
- Going to a boarding school for a year is common
- You are able to choose 1 out of 3 creative subjects: Art, Music, or Drama. (Why can’t I have them all?)
- Teachers let their classes out early sometimes. My last one let out 10 minutes early today.
- Danish Grades are numbers, not letters. For instance, you fail if you get a -3 or a 00, but it’s an A+ if you get a 12.
- If you want to go on Facebook or Youtube in the middle of class/worktime on your laptop, you do it.
- I am one of the only people in my class who does not have an iPhone 4S or 5.
- Our school has 600 people, which is considered pretty big.
I rode to school today on a bike, and I think it was about 4 miles. Luckily, it wasn’t that bad, actually! My bike is a bit big on me, so it’s hard to start and stop, but otherwise it’s not very bad. I only fell once, and I was mostly able to catch myself. (I’m quite proud of myself) Unfortunately, I fell right in front of an Elementary school, so the children were actually quite confused, considering everybody’s good at biking in Denmark. The babies probably ride their bikes home from the hospital once they’re born. I just told the boy that it was my first time riding, which confused him further. Oh well. I have a helmet, so hopefully I won’t be having any head injuries soon.
Anyway, I arrived at the school after my bike ride with Jonas, Amalie, and Vibe, and I met Camilla, the contact that I’ll have for the school. They still haven’t figured out the internet password for me, but oh well. Afterwards, Jonas gave me a great tour of the whole school, which was extremely interesting and helped me so much later in the day because I knew where most stuff was.
The first class of the day was Math. I was put next to two people that I didn’t know and the Math teacher didn’t really know what to do with me, considering we couldn’t get my internet to work on the right wifi. After a few minutes of awkward, I was able to talk to the two people I was seated next to. Both of them were very nice, and I was able to talk to more people as the class went forward. We took a break to take our class pictures. (I thought I missed them, but it turns out that I didn’t!) In math class, it looks like they’re focusing on stuff that we learned in Algebra II, so she said that I can try to do something else or help other people.
Somewhere in there I was able to meet Frederikke who is really nice and loves to talk in English. She said that at times she’d rather speak in English than Danish, and she wants to go to England. Anyways, she was one of my first friends and she even invited me to sit at her lunch table! I felt included! Of course, I had to spill my water on the table, but we cleaned up some of it and left the rest to evaporate…..clearly that’s the best thing to do on your first day. I was able to get to know two of Frederikke’s friends, one who I’ve nicknamed dog (because someone said she was a dog and I just continued that one) and Movie (because she loves horror movies.) Frederikke said that I could call her Nina because it was her middle name, and it was a lot easier to pronounce! We spent the rest of the break time after lunch by talking about stuff, and I always made sure that my lack of knowing Danish was turned into a joke that we could all laugh at. I was able to learn a lot of Danish words as they helped me learn! Turns out that swearing in Danish is the same as in English! (Yay!)
The next class was Physics. From what I understand, the upcoming plans for the class are that we’re going to make solar panels and making beer. I’m not sure how that is physics, but okay. I was sitting next to Dog, Movie, and Nina, and the four of us formed a group to build the solar panel thingy. It’s a competition, so I appreciate that they took me even though I didn’t know anything! We pretty much made jokes the whole time and didn’t get much done on the design of our solar panels, but it was definitely fun! It looks like I’ll also have a combination of chemistry and biology later in the year for science.
Last class of the day was something that we don’t have in America: an overall language class. It’s about the overall concept of language and fuses Danish, Latin, Spanish, German, and English into one subject. So pretty much it’s extremely confusing to me because I’m completely lost in Danish. The teacher started off the class with Danish and said, “And we have a student who has no idea what I’m saying!” (Referring to me since she knew I didn’t know Danish) I do have to say, though, it was the funniest thing ever when we watched a video on body language in English. Nobody else thought it was very funny, but by the time “Conjugating the head” came on, I was literally crying on my desk of laughter, and everyone probably thought I was weird. If you want to see the video, it’s below: (Please do, it’s hilarious)
Not only did the students do all they could to include me even though I didn’t speak their language, all three of my teachers made gestures to help make things easier for me as well. In math, she said that I was able to pretty much study what I wanted to study in math, since I had already completed Algebra II. My physics teacher put our worksheet into google translate and projected it on the board so that I could read along and understand. My language teacher came up to me after class and asked how I was doing in school and said that I could always talk to her if I needed anything. Even though I don’t currently speak Danish, it’s really cool to know that everyone around me trying to help make it enjoyable for me.
On the ride back home there is a huge hill that I’ve decided I will walk from now on. I’m getting used to biking, though, and I don’t think I even fell off the bike on the way back! #proud. Anyways, I don’t have school until 10 tomorrow so I get to sleep in, and I think I may have a music class tomorrow (Yay!) Soon I’ll be able to be in the school choir as well, and Nina will be doing it too, so I won’t be too alone!
I’m bringing candy tomorrow so I can make more friends.
It’s my third day in Denmark, and I’m at school right now. I wrote the following entry the first night I got here, but I haven’t had the time to upload it until now. Enjoy. It’s way too long, by the way. Apologies.
“Floppen heimen hoopen freiter røfeté jerårå laghalsdjfkl asjlkaj” So let’s just start out by saying that as the plane landed, the instructions were given in Danish, which sounded like complete gibberish. Taylor and I looked at each other and laughed, as if to say, “what did we just get ourselves into?” As I entered the Danish airport in Billund, all of my bittersweet feelings were replaced with excitement. Everyone going on exchange waited for our luggage and went off to be greeted by who was picking us up. My counselor Arvid greeted me with a smile and the waving of small Danish and American flags. His wife (I’m not exactly sure how to spell her name yet) and I walked to their car and I asked her how her day was in Danish. I completely butchered the pronunciation the first time, but I was able to get it the second time!
Though I was in Denmark, I was still about 2 hours away from my city. I was very interested in the scenery passing me by. Here are my conclusions about the land and architecture from a first glance:
-Denmark is extremely flat. No mountains, and even the bluffs in Wisconsin are tall in comparison
-Windmills for airpower are everywhere. Everywhere. If only I got paid for every time I saw them
-The land is very similar to Wisconsin. Lots of fields, roads, etc. The usual stuff
-The architecture is completely different. Lots of older brick houses with that “old European charm”
-The ceilings are almost all wood. (So far) Not that this is a huge change, but something I noticed.
-Everything is close together. I passed by half of the length of Denmark just in that short drive. Before I knew it I was in Funen
-Houses are almost all stucco or brick. Not once did I see a cookie cutter house with vinyl siding. No vinyl siding to be found in Denmark.
I was able to find out a lot about Denmark and my upcoming stay while talking with Arvid. I found out that I start school on Tuesday. I also found out that I am going to a language school thing with the other 3 foreign exchange students at my high school. I heard something about having a party every Friday. (I could get used to that) I asked what the Danish word was for almost everything I saw, and I was able to say quite a few sentences in Danish. I pretty much used all of my vocabulary in one car ride. One thing is for sure: on my list of Danish words to learn, the pronunciation for cities is going at the bottom. I think it’s impossible.
I arrived at Arvid’s house (which was extremely warm and charming and Danish) and I got to meet almost ALL of the members in all three of my host family! I kind of stood there awkwardly for a bit, but soon I was able to talk to them! Everyone spoke PERFECT English. Instantly I began talking to Laura, who just got back from Argentina, and she understood all of my emotions and such since she already went on exchange. The meal consisted of potato salad, bread, ham, some unknown delicious meat and salad. (And it was all delicious!) We also had tea, and even though I’m not a much of a tea drinker, I was eager to get used to drinking it a lot. I didn’t even know that it was common to add milk at the end so it wasn’t as hot. I asked how to say a lot of Danish words, because I’m determined to learn the language. I can tell that my host families are really going to try to help me learn it. The Askegaard family gave me two pins for my Rotary Jacket with the Danish flag wrapped in a “Welcome to Denmark” envelope, which was a really nice gift! Arvid gave me the money from my Rotary club and I’ll get 750 kroner each month, (which is about 120 US dollars!) Already I can’t thank him enough for what he’s done for me!
I got my school schedule and found that I can take 1 music class until January, when I can go on a specific music track. That’s how the school system works there, I think, 1G, which is Gymnasium 1, (Gymnasium=college-prep high school) is the first year of high school, and you start out with basic courses. I’ll have English, social studies, math, and a foreign language (which I think I can just replace with Danish because everything is kind of foreign right now.) After the first semester, you pick your specialized track which you will follow for a full year. Anyways, it’ll be very interesting to see how that all works out for me.
Once the meal was over, I said goodbye everyone and rode home with my first host family, the Damm/Thomsen family. Just like the Brady Bunch, their marriage gave them a total of 9 host siblings. The ones that I got to know at the dinner were Laura, Anna, Kirse, and Vibe, with Amalia and Jonas waiting at home.
If you want to know what my house looks like, picture the most Danish looking house and you’ll probably be close. I’m serious. Inside and out, their home was completely Danish and beautiful; I couldn’t have asked for more! There’s even a piano, and though they say it’s a bit out of tune, it’s still a piano!! The house is the oldest in the town. Laura and I have a separate house-ish-thing where we have our bedrooms.
After the house tour, we drank tea (again) and talked. They went around the table helping me pronounce their Danish names. For instance, even though Laura and Anna are American names, the Danish pronunciation makes it different. Laura becomes more similar to Law-ah and Anna is more like Enneh. I had the hardest times with Jeanette’s name and Kirse’s. I remember Amalia’s name by breaking it up into Em-male-ee-ah, which was funny to everyone because I emphasized the “male.” Apparently she’d never thought of her name in that way.
I went off to bed and talked to Laura for a while, and then decided to go to the bathroom back in the house. We have to go outside to get back to the regular house, and after I used the bathroom, I couldn’t open the door to get out of the house! I have a history of having bad luck getting locked in rooms. Apparently that bad luck didn’t end when I left America. Anyways, I tried turning the door handle every way possible, and doing different combinations with turning the bottom door handle, which added to my confusion. I accidentally locked it a few times as well, and I just gave up and went upstairs to ask Anna how to do it. Apparently I wasn’t actually turning the door handle hard enough. I finally returned to my bedroom, where I began the blog! I’m going to bed now, and I can sleep in until 12:00 tomorrow since I have a meeting-thingy. Hej Hej!
Well here I am, finally on my journey to Denmark. However, this journey is now at a stop as I wait for my 6 and a half hour layover to be over. I’m in Minneapolis, awaiting my flight to Amsterdam and I thought that this would be a good time to reflect on how today has been so far.
This morning went exactly as planned until I actually reached the airport. Apparently, since I was an unaccompanied minor I couldn’t fly on the flight to Amsterdam because if there was a cancellation, I would be left alone in the airport. Since this was against Delta’s policy, they told me I would have to reschedule my flights or drive to Minneapolis. Luckily, we were able to straighten it out and I went on my way! Apparently, when they say “unaccompanied minor” they don’t mean a minor that is unaccompanied. They mean a child who is being escorted on their flights. Either way, I decided that the lady behind the desk had not only woke up on the wrong side of the bed, but had woken up on the wrong bed altogether, because her crankiness seemed like it was coming from more than just “a bad day.”
Up until this point, I’ve been extremely excited for my departure, not sad, and I’ve held the emotional range of a teaspoon. (Harry Potter reference) During my actual departure, I was close to tears as I said goodbye to my family, and I had the emotional range of at least a table spoon. Clearly I need to work on my emotions so that I’m not confused with Kristien Stewart.
Before I left, I had one last meal in America, which ironically was a Mexican Quesadilla. I said goodbye to my family and Grandma with hugs and I went through Security (which took over 10 minutes because I had so much stuff that needed to be checked) After waving to my parents through the glass, I turned to leave,but….You know that stand at the bottom of suitcases that allows it to stand up? Yeah. It just kind of fell off. No big deal. I can’t stand it upright anymore and it just has to lean on stuff, but oh well. I just left the suitcase-bottom-standy-thingy right where it fell and walked away.
Once I arrived on the plane, I was filled with sadness about saying goodbye to my family and the fear of plane crash. Though I’ve ridden planes many times, I was still worried and actually read the pamphlet about what to do if the plane had a sudden landing. The flight attendant actually walked all the way back to the plane to thank me for being the only one that listened to her when she gave instructions on what to do in an emergency situation, laughed, and walked back to the front.
The guy in front of me kind of looked like a gym teacher I had, and apparently he played for the Loggers.
Now I’m in the airport, doing the Powerpoint I procrastinated on, blogging, and playing cards against humanity. I’ve seen far too many cowboy boots and matching t-shirts and I’ve only been here for a few hours. I’m no longer sad, and now I’m just excited to finally go to Denmark and meet my host families! I bought the fast wifi and found a nice couch where I can charge my devices while being comfortable. I think I have one of the only chairs right next to an outlet! Score!
That’s all I have for now, so I guess I’ll update you guys later! Hej Hej!