Just an Update
In a few days, I’ll be reaching my 6th month of being here. Yes, half of a year. I can’t even comprehend how fast time has gone – it feels like I just got here, and yet I can’t imagine myself living anywhere else.
I apologize for being so bad at updating blogs…there’s so much to do here that I always have something planned! In this post, I’ll just mention what I’ve been up to in this amazing country.
Last weekend I went up to Frederecia to stay at my friend’s Norah’s house to see some of my exchange student friends. I was finally reunited with Becca Constant from Detroit, Alex Hildebrant from Canada, and Norah Galea from Canada. You can only imagine the shenanigans we had during our little exchange student sleepover. (And by shenanigans, I mean singing along to “Barbie Girl” and watching Aristocrats.)
I’ve now been in my new class for a month now, and I really love the people I’m with. For those of you who don’t know, in Denmark we have all of our classes with the same 30 people, so when I switched in January, I was with a whole new group of people. I’m now in the music class, which is surprisingly harder work than I’d thought! We’re currently studying triads and intervals indepth and I’m learning stuff in Danish that I didn’t even know in English! There’s so many amazing people in my class, and I hope that I can get to know even more of them. On Wednesday, about 9 from my class hung out at McDonalds where we ate the food of my home country and played in the playplace.
I’m really excited for the next week, because Friday is the last day before “Winter Break” where I’ll get a little 9 day vacation. My host family is going to take me to their summer home in the city of Skagen, which is located at the Northernmost part of Denmark, and they’re also going to take me to Silkeborg for a day. I’ve heard that both cities are absolutely beautiful, and I’m so excited to see them and spend time with my amazing host family!
A few weeks ago, I also got to go on a little trip to Langeskov and Kerteminde (Two cities on Fyn) with my host sister, host mom, and host grandparents! In Langeskov, they took me to a site where there used to be a Viking ship! (How fricken cool is that??) The ship itself wasn’t there, but we could see what was left of the ship and the bones of the horses left on the ship. There was a museum there where I got to learn more about the Vikings, and I fell into the tourist trap by buying lots of viking-related souvenirs.
Thanks to my amazing Rotary club, I have a bus card that allows me to travel my island for free on busses and trains, and for half price on all public transportation in Denmark outside of Fyn. I’ve been abusing this card by traveling whenever I possibly can.
Aside from going to Odense everyday, I’ve been to Copenhagen 3 times in the past month, and I spent a total of 7 days there. When I was there, I got to see the infamous Little Mermaid statue, Nyhavn, Amalienborg, Round Tower, Tivoli, and the queen of Denmark. (Yes, I really did see her) Whenever I’m in Copenhagen, I also get to see Brooklyn (Canada) and Sami (Wisconsin), who are two of my best exchange friends, and we’ve had lots of memorable times there.
As the year goes on, more of my exchange friends are starting to leave the country. Two weeks ago, my friend Amber from Australia had to return to her country since she was only on a 6 month exchange, and I went to Copenhagen to say goodbye to her at the airport. My friend Elle from Minnesota is also leaving tomorrow, and I’ll hopefully see her tonight before she goes. I’ve gone to language school with the two of them every tuesday since I arrived 6 months ago, and it’s not going to feel right when they’re not in the country with me. My Danish friend Josie returned to Chicago at the beginning of the year, and many of the Australian exchange students have also left. It’s really sad to see these people go, because I don’t know when I’ll see them next or if I ever will. I’ve made so many amazing friends here in Denmark, and I can’t even imagine how sad it will be for me to leave at the end of my exchange.
I’ve been thinking a lot of the future, lately – there’s so much to look forward to and so much to dread. Soon I have to choose which classes I’ll be taking next year, and I’m really not looking forward to it. It’s made me realize that while I’m in Denmark, I’m not really living in reality – right now I’m living the carefree life of an exchange student, but there’s a life awaiting me that has actual obligations, responsibilities, etc. While I’m here, I try to make the most of every day, and I try to take advantage of any freetime I have to do something memorable. It’s really bittersweet to think of how fast the end of my exchange is coming – I have my friends, family, and school waiting for me back in Wisconsin, but I have all of those in Denmark, too, and I can’t imagine leaving them.
A few days ago I just put in my final payment and I’ll be going with my choir class to Riga, which is the Capital of Latvia! Even though I’ll just be there for a few days, I’ll most likely have a host family there, which is super cool. I’ve also been receiving more information about the upcoming Eurotour lately, and I’m really looking forward to it! Starting May 14, I’ll tour Europe for 18 days with about 50 of the Rotary Exchange students. Throughout the trip, it looks like we’ll be going to the following cities:
Prague (Czech Republic)
Lido di Jesolo (Italy)
San Remo (Italy)
Clearly this is going to be an amazing trip, and I’m so glad that I’ll be sharing it with so many amazing people!
This part is totally not exchange related at all, but this blog is about my life, so it’s relevant to post anything that I feel is important to me. My favorite band Paramore released their music video for my favorite song “Ain’t it Fun,” and I’ve waited for it for 8 months, so this was a huge deal to me! I have also finished watching all of the episodes in the modern series of Doctor Who, which I have been addicted to since one of my Danish friends showed it to me in November. The horrible game of “Flappy Bird” has also flapped into my life, and I play it even though I can’t stand it. (And my high score is only 23, feel free to laugh at me)
I think that perfectly sums up my past month! I hope you guys enjoyed this entry, and I’ll try to post more like this in the future.
Hans Christian Andersen Video
I’ve been in my new class for about a week now, and I’m loving it so much already! We just had a “class day” where we tried to get to know each other. As a part of it, we were put into groups and we had to make a video about a famous Dane. I was with Luna and Leon, and we decided to make our video about Hans Christian Anderson. For those of you don’t know, Hans Christian Anderson was a writer from Odense that wrote stories such as The Little Mermaid and the Ugly Duckling.
Our video was very sarcastic, but actually full of real information! If you want to learn about him more and see the video that we made, just use the link below!
Hope you guys back home are all doing well, hope to talk to you all soon!
Day trip to Sweden
I had been staying at my friend Sami’s house in Copenhagen, and after waking up at 11:00, we decided to take a spur of the moment trip to Sweden. (Yes, people just do that in Europe.) From Copenhagen, the tickets only cost about 60 kr. (12 dollars) to get to Malmö, a nearby city in Sweden. The first big difference that we noticed were how nice the underground train stations were. I mean, really, they were super beautiful for being underground.
Sweden itself is not really that different than Denmark, but it’s a whole new country, which brings subtle differences that make it very interesting to explore. To start with, Sweden is Sweden, which means we have to relentlessly make fun of it because that’s what the Danes do. The language, Swedish, is different, though not too hard to read with our knowledge of Danish. We withdrew some Swedish kroner from the bank, though we really had no idea how much it was worth. Oh well, I guess that’s part of the adventure.
We really didn’t have any plans, other than exploring and buying souvenirs, so that’s exactly what we did. In the tourist stores, we spoke only Danish so that we could show our Danish superiority and make ourselves seem really Danish. (And it was good practice too!) I ended up buying a patch for my Rotary jacket and a magnet with trolls that looked really Swedish. When walking around, we went to a downtown square, and then out in the middle of fricken nowhere is a huge bedside lamp the size of a house. No, I’m not kidding, I took pictures. Why, Sweden, why?
We decided we were super hungry, so we went to get a quick burger from a Swedish burger restaurant called MAX. Menu in Swedish? No problem, we got this. We ordered two “originalmål”s because they looked good, but unfortunately “mål” in Swedish means “meal,” so we ended up with huge burgers, complete with fries and medium sodas. I do have to say, though, it may have been one of the best burgers I’ve tasted, so I’d recommend anyone to go there and order what I (accidentally) did.
But of course, if one is in another country, they must try pastries of that country, which led us to a local cafe, where we bought some delicious cake. (Not as good as Denmark’s, but still delicious)
We walked the streets and came upon an old beautiful church. It was gorgeous – well, the pictures should speak for themselves.
After walking around the streets and walking into interesting stores, (Such as “The English Store,” which sold pop-tarts, skittles, and the works,) we said goodbye to Sweden (literally, and in a french accent) and went back to the train station.
Despite my sarcasm, I really enjoyed spending the day in Sweden, and I hope that I’ll be able to come there again.
Fall Break in Denmark
I started out fall break not having any plans and without a bus card, but I managed to make enough plans for myself and it ended up being an amazing break!
On my first day of break, my friend Josie and I decided to go to Odense to hang out. Josie’s from Chicago, but her mother’s danish, so she’ll be living here for a semester to get the feeling of Danish high school. She’s just plain awesome, and I’m so glad that I’ve been getting to know her! We went on the train and went straight to a fancy restaurant where we ate Danish nachos. Most fancy restaurants have these super delicious nachos that are so good that I can’t even explain them. (But I’m going to explain them anyways) You get a huge portion of the actual chips, which are seasoned, and you usually get sour cream dip, guacamole, and salsa…even the picture can’t do it justice! After we left, we walked around the shopping streets of Odense. In Denmark, all the stores close before 4:00 on the weekends, and 6:00 on weekdays, so we only ended up going to about 15 stores. One of the stores was called Monki, a girls clothing store that has so many mirrors on the walls that you just get disoriented and confused, thinking to yourself, “is this real life?” Afterwards, we went to the train station, where we bought Elderblomst smoothies, which is a fruit that is used all the time in Scandinavia, but usually not anywhere else.
On my way back to my train home, a confused pregnant woman ran by me in the train station while carrying a decent sized tree……and on the train back, an old woman was talking to herself and practicing her British and squirrel accents. Denmark never fails to amuse me.
To give you an idea how expensive hanging out with friends is in Denmark, here’s the money I spent: 26 kr for a ticket there, (It’s usually 52kr, but I pretended to be a child to get half off) 105 kr for the nachos, and 15 kr for water (Yes, they charge for water at restaurants here) 40 kr for the smoothie, and 26 kr for the ticket back. The total is 212 kr, which amounts to 38.50 American dollars. So yes, when I hung out with friends this week, I pretty much used up all of my Rotary money for the month, and I didn’t even buy any clothes!
But on the flipside, I could get 20$ tickets to Italy, Poland, Norway, or London.
For the majority of the next two days, Sunday and Monday, I spent my time relaxing, and watching Doctor Who, because my Danish friends got me obsessed with it. Shame on them. (And thank you!)
I did, however, have big plans for Monday night: Going to a party boat in Odense! After lots of planning, I went with my friend from my class, Cecilie, and a friend from another class, Luna.
The only issue with getting there was that there was an hour and a half gap between when my bus arrived at the station and when the train would come. My phone was about to die, and it was freezing outside, so since I’m an odd person, I spent the whole time singing to myself inside the empty dark train station. It had a very nice echo. And yes, you have full rights to judge me.
Once we arrived in Odense, we just followed people who “looked like they were going to a party” and somehow ended up at the harbor where the boat was. We waited in line for about 30 minutes outside and got into the club, which was pretty crazy inside. Around a thousand people were there, spread out between the main floor and the deck on the top floor. Of course, the two main differences between a Danish party and an American party is the alcohol (though you had to be 18 to get it) and that the music is actually good! I ended up having an amazing time hanging out with and getting to know my two friends, and the party was really awesome! I can honestly say that it was the most fun I’ve ever had on a Monday night!
Since the party ended at 2:00, we had to get a home, and trains stop running at 10:00, so we had to get a taxi. The annoying part about taxis is that it costs a krone (20 cents) per second, so a 15 mile car ride can be extremely expensive. We had to pay 600 kr (Over 100 dollars) but we lucky could split it 3 ways, which made it slightly more affordable.
On Wednesday, I had no plans, so I just decided to bike into town and figure out what to do. Henrik had mentioned a really nice road to bike on, and I thought I’d find it and try it out for a few minutes. It turns out that I really enjoyed biking on the route….my short bike ride ended being a 44 kilometer (27.5) bike ride. That’s probably more than I’ve ever biked in America put together. Clearly the biking Danes have converted me.
The Danish Language
Today marks the day of 3 months of me being in Denmark, and I have to say that I can’t imagine my life any better than it is right now. It’s been about a month since my last blog post, and here I am with another overly sarcastic post letting you all know that I’m still alive and well in the land of Vikings and addictive cake. The most common question I’ve gotten is, “How’s the Danish coming?” and instead of just simply answering, I’ll give you an overly long response:
To start off with, Danish is one of the hardest languages in the world (Or at least that’s what the Danes tell me, and I choose to believe them.) If you haven’t heard the Danish language before, just imagine a perfect mix of French and Chinese, and then you’ll get the picture.
In theory, the language seems like it would be really easy, but it turns out that it’s almost impossible. The hardest part is the pronunciation of written words. I think that almost every letter could be silent depending on the word. The letters that are most commonly silent are these: r, j, g, h, d, v, and t. As a person my host sister knew once said, “Danes write 10 letters and only pronounce 4. Is this language even real?” To make it harder, Danes squish multiple words into one word when they pronounce it. For instance, the sentence “Jeg tager toget” (I take the train) is pronounced “Yi-ta-to.”
As an extra challenge, letters like r are pronounced at the back of the throat, which is almost impossible to duplicate. Swedes say that the Danes sound like they talk with a potato in their mouth, which is quite true. Filling my mouth with food is the only way I can properly pronounce the name Frederikke. The Danish alphabet also has 3 extra letters: å, æ, and ø. Did I mention that the letter “e” is pronounced like “a” and the letter “a” is pronounced like “e”?
Something in the Danish language that I still don’t fully understand is how to use modal verbs. You use these modal verbs (Examples: må, skal, vil, kan) to tell what you’re going to do.
The problem is that you can’t just simply say you are going to “go to the store.” Instead, you must choose the correct modal verb by assessing the situation and asking yourself these questions:
Do you truly want to go to the store?
Are you physically able to go to the store?
Do you have permission to go to the store?
Are you forced against your will to go to the store?
Once you have taken the time to carefully select your modal verb, chances are that the store you were going to go to is already closed, because everything closes before 6:00 (Or 4:00 on weekends).
I do have to say, though, the danish language does have some cool advantages. The Danish translation for “Your speed” on signs is “Din Fart,” which makes car rides slightly more entertaining if you are as childish as I am.
They also swear frequently in English, so if you’re not concentrating on what people are actually saying, you’ll just hear, “åøæåøæåøæøåøøåæF*CKINGåøæøæøåæøåF*CKåæøæåæåøåæøF*CK.”
Also, the Danish language has the word “hyggelig,” which is a word that doesn’t translate to any English word. It kind of means “cozy,” but it’s so much more than that. It’s like walking down a rainy street with hot chocolate, or watching movies with friends under a warm blanket. You know what I mean? It’s a word to describe a cozy feeling and I think it’s so cool to have that word only in the Danish language.
But somehow there’s no word for “please” in Danish.
Though the language is quite impossible, I’ve been doing quite well with it, if I do say so myself! If I really concentrate, I can usually understand what people are saying, and some days I only talk Danish with my host family! I’m planning to only speak Danish with my next host family, and I’m willing to take the challenge. I understand how the majority of language works, and even though it’s really hard, I expect that I will be pretty fluent by the end of the year.
(Oh, and just a reminder that you can sign up for email updates by using the link in the sidebar on the right, if you haven’t already. I also uploaded pictures on this website, so you can go to this page if you want to see some of the pictures of my life here!)
2 month Impressions
Second Month Impressions: What I’ve noticed in Denmark that’s different from the US
Hello, everyone! Yes, I’ve officially been here for almost two months now, and they’ve by far been the best months of my life. With this blog post, I’ll explain everything that I’ve neglected to say earlier, and I’ll give my two month impressions with everything that shocked me, and hopefully anything you’d want to know. I’ve decided to divide everything into categories, and it’ll all be in bulletpoint form so it isn’t too hard to read. Keep in mind that these are exaggerated for your enjoyment.
- Danish school is far more relaxed: You call your teachers by their first names.
- You are allowed to be on Facebook all day and not pay attention if you want to. (Well maybe they’re not allowed to, but they do it anyways)
- There are couches in every hallway, and even a Foosball table in the main room.
- There are crazy parties every month at the school.
- You bring you own laptop to school and use it in every class.
- Four classes everyday, but so many classes get cancelled that I’ve only had 3 or less in a day.
- Yes, that’s right, classes get cancelled all the time. —- Once I arrived in gym class and it was cancelled because the teacher was sick, and it was the happiest moment of my life. I got to leave school an hour and a half early, and I celebrated not having gym class by buying myself a delicious Danish pastry. (Probably not the healthiest choice, but definitely worth it)
- You generally stay in the same classroom, but the teachers move around.
- You stay with the same 30 kids for the whole school day, other than your creative class and language class.
- A school day is from 8:20-3:20, but more often than not, the day ends at 1:45.
- They shower together after gym class.
- You can brew beer in Science class. And take home 2 bottles.
- Danes always wait for traffic lights, even if there isn’t a car coming.
- Danish teens are generally shy at first until you get to know them, unless they’re drunk. You have to try to take the initiative and get to know them yourself.
- The country that has the highest population of drinking teenagers is Denmark.
- You can buy alcohol when you’re 16.
- Most Danes will start drinking at 13 or 14 years old.
- You can buy hard alcohol when you’re 18.
- You can’t drive until you’re 18.
- People use smiley faces in all of their texts to show their emotion. In America, when someone uses lots of smiley faces while texting, it means they probably want to go out with you….this explains why I thought every Dane was flirting with me at first… In reality, they were only letting me know that they weren’t angry at me.
- At a family gathering, you hug everyone you know and shake hands with everyone you don’t.
- Everyone has an iPhone. If you don’t have an iPhone 3, 4, 4S, 5, 5S, or 5C, you don’t have a phone.
- Everyone speaks perfect English. Sometimes, I think they’re better at it than I am. And they have a slight British accent, which makes it 10x cooler when they say anything.
- Even though Danish strangers are less friendly than in America, they’re all warm, kind people once you get to know them, (And they’re all even more nice when they’re drunk.)
- Danes have never heard of Root Beer Floats, and if they have tried them, they hate them.
- “Snacks” such as chips and crackers aren’t common, and candy such as Reese’s and Butterfingers just don’t exist in Denmark.
- BREAD. I have bread at every meal, and most Danes do. Rye bread is popular when making smørrebrød (Open faced Sandwiches) for lunch.
- Danes eat a lot more homemade food. My family has apple and plum trees, and they make their own white bread (which is the best thing ever). From the homegrown fruit, they make delicious pies and jams.
- Danes always eat at home, because eating out is way too expensive. It’s almost 10 dollars to get coffee at a coffee shop.
- You have to pay for packets of ketchup, mustard, etc., at restaurants.
- The Danish version of Mc Donald’s has a McSwag Burger. Yes, I’m not kidding, they legitly have a McSwag burger.
- Lagkage and Kage: Layered cake and cake. I have cake almost every other day, and each one is more delicious than the last. Lagkage is my favorite food, and there’s always something different in the filling. Once I had one with Chocolate filling on one layer, lemon filling on another, and delicious icing.
- JamJamJam. Every household has millions of types of homemade fruit jams. Raspberry, Plum, Tomato, Apple, Orange, you name it. It tastes great on homemade bread, and fantastic in Danish yogurt.
- Yogurt comes in a carton and you pour it into your bowl.
- I haven’t found anything that I don’t like. Everything is just fantastic. Other than green pesto, which I can live without, but still tastes okay.
- Danish pastries, chocolates and cakes are the best in the world. I was really surprised at how amazing the desserts were, because Denmark isn’t known for them. How has Denmark been keeping this secret from the rest of the world!?
- The interior of schools and many homes look like they could be featured in IKEA magazines.
- Painted Brick and Wooden exteriors are very common, and it’s almost impossible to see a house with vinyl siding.
- Hardly any houses have shingles on their roofs. Therefore, if you have a house with siding and shingles, don’t plan on taking it with you to Denmark, because it shall not fit in.
- Danish Architecture is all about mixing the old with the new. Many of the houses in my city are very old, but many of them have ultra modern furniture on the inside.
- Many older homes have lots of history to them. My house was made in 1813!
- All windows open from the bottom instead of the side.
- You can name your house. I think I’ll name mine Emma Watson.
- Take 20 blonde models and 10 models with brown hair and you’ll see what my class looks like.
- All girls have huge knit scarves. In fact, half of the girls at my table are wearing one right now. And by huge, I mean HUGE. You could hide small elephants in them.
- I’ve heard that it’s best to look like you’re going to a “trendy funeral,” and I couldn’t agree more.
- Generally, they don’t wear name brands at all, just clothes that look cool —- Unless they’re exercising. Then it’s socially unacceptable to wear anything other than Nike, Adidas, or Hummel.
- If you ask a Dane what you should wear, they’ll all say, “Just wear what you like, it doesn’t matter what you wear!” Yet, they all look like they just got back from the runway. —-This is the opposite of how girls in America dress, because girls at my American school wear sweatpants and have a goal of looking like they rolled out of bed and literally rolled to school.
- All guys wear patterned socks that go above the ankle. No exceptions. Even when they’re wearing jeans. Secretly, Danes all have laser eyes so they can see through your jeans to check if you’re wearing your tall socks, so just wear them.
- The American flag on clothes is surprisingly really popular.
- All Danes wear English on their shirts, and it’s almost impossible to find a shirt with Danish writing.
- Vintage is really cool here, and sometimes some girls dress so much like the 90’s that they look like they could be a lost sister from Full House.
- Let’s just be honest here: 95% of all Danes could be clothing models and it’s not even fair.
- Danes love to bike almost as much as they love bread.
- There are really nice bike lanes everywhere, so you have the ability to bike pretty much anywhere without too much trouble.
- Most streets are somehow connected, so chances are, if you take a wrong turn, you’ll either end up at your destination or where you started.
- Don’t walk in a bike lane, or the metaphorical daggers that their eyes are shooting at you may materialize and stop you in your tracks.
- They see biking as a form of transportation, not exercise, which explains why they can eat cake everyday and not get fat.
- For farther distances, you can take a train, but it’s a bit expensive. The cheapest thing to do is get a “Youth Card” where you pay 350 Kroner (64 Dollars) so that you can travel all over the island of Fyn for free.
- Fridays and Sundays are “expensive” days for trains/buses. Just avoid these days if possible.
- A ticket from one end of the island to the other (Svendborg → Odense) is about 75 Kr on a normal day (14 Dollars) It’s not too expensive, but you could get broke fast if you had to travel a lot.
- Cars are extremely expensive (180% tax on them when you buy one) and gas is expensive as well, so they don’t use cars very often —-Unless it rains. Then hundreds of cars will be everywhere as you’re getting poured on while biking to school.
- Don’t fall while on your bike, because that just doesn’t happen. Make it seem like you did it on purpose, or they’ll secretly judge you.
And one final fact: There no poisonous spiders or snakes in Denmark! I was pleasantly surprised when I heard that, and I’m sure it must make my Australian foreign exchange friend very happy.
There you go, all of my first impressions after being here for 2 months. If you have any questions or comments, comment them below!
Thank you for reading, and I’ll be posting more later!
Signal Fest: My first Danish Party
If you came here to read a blog entry on the culture of Danish teenagers, you’ve picked the right blog entry.
Let’s start out with some background knowledge: Danish teenagers party. Maybe it’s because they can legally buy beer when they’re 16 years old, and most start drinking it once they’re 13 or earlier. When I heard that my school was having a party, I was picturing something that was more like Central’s Homecoming with beer. If I hadn’t been warned ahead of time, there’s no way I would have been prepared for the culture shock I’d experience at the party.
Let’s start with the facts. The cost was 11 dollars for me to buy the online ticket for the party, and I was invited via a Facebook event. The party was from 8:00 until 1:00 in the morning, so clearly it was going to be a bit different than a normal school dance. The thing that majorly sets this party apart from any other party at my American high school: the name of the dance. The “Signal Fest,” (Fest is party in Danish) was all about the color you were wearing, as it would….well I can’t even put this delicately…indicate the status of your sexlife. Yes, that’s right, my high school set this party up. The colors are as follows:
Green – Single
Red – In a relationship
Blue – Cheap and slutty
Yellow – Busy but indifferent
Black – Hit by one or more STDs
White – Virgin
Pink – Gay
Before you go crazy, just know that the whole party is a joke, and almost nobody takes it seriously. Since it was a joke, I naturally wore blue, which is the color that 80% of the people there were wearing. Most people dress fancy in their designated color, (Girls wore dresses, boys wore button up shirts) but it was perfectly acceptable to wear a normal t-shirt.
Most classes have a party before the actual party. My class didn’t have a party, just individual get-togethers before the actual party. I got to go to my friend Fredderikke’s house with my other friend Caroline, where we prepared for the party and hung out. I had a great time, and after we were done eating, we were ready to go to the party!
The party itself was most as crazy as the meaning behind the colored clothing. Luckily I got there early, so I got to be gradually shocked instead of being thrown into it. But what’s the fun in reading what it was like before the party really started? I’ll write about what you would have seen at about 11:30.The room was packed with dancing drunk teens. The school had a professional DJ come, with really nice partying lights and a fog machine. Unlike the American homecoming, the music was actually good! Anyways, people were stumbling all over the place and dancing crazy. The floor was covered in spilled beer. (Beer could be bought at the school for about 2 american dollars, for about the same price as the water) The usually quiet and reserved Danes were loud and crazy (in a good way, actually!) Outside, each bench was taken by a couple making out. The people at the party were also really friendly, and I think I got a hug or two from every person in my class!
Even though it was slightly chaotic, it was kind of cool to see everyone having such a great time (even though some of them may not have remembered it the next day.) I ended up having an amazing time with my friends, and it was a great way to experience the culture. My first Danish party was a success, and I know I’ll be going to more in the future!
Rotary Intro Camp
Dear Reader: I vow to never write something this long again. If you read this whole post, you must really love me, and I’d recommend that you find somewhere comfortable to sit before you read it. 🙂
I had no idea that intro camp would be such a fun and memorable experience.
Everything started on the first sunday when I was dropped off at the train station. When I had to get off, I had no idea what I was supposed to do to get onto the next train. Luckily, a really nice Dane took me all of the way to my next train and told me everything I needed to know so that I could get to my destination. I was really surprised that she would go out of her way just to take me to my train without me even asking, and it was really cool to know that people like her are in Denmark.
I entered my second train with a three hour ride ahead of me. I was directed to my seat and it turns out that the whole train car was filled with Rotary foreign exchange students! Among the ones already on the train were Britney and Brooklyn, two Canadians who I hadn’t met. Of course at that point I didn’t know that they would become some of my closest friends that I met at the intro camp, but I find it really cool that it’s the fact we met each other on the train that made us hang out later. It was kind of like Ron and Harry becoming friends on the Hogwarts train.
Personally, my favorite part of the long train ride was when we showed each other our pins on our Rotary Jackets. We almost died of laughter when the girl from Venezula mixed up the words “pins” and “penises” asked how many penises we had. Moments like those are priceless.
Once our train arrived at the station, I was reunited with my friend Taylor from Alaska and we went on the bus from Randers to Hjerringbro. When I arrived at the school where the intro camp was held, Nørgaards Højskole, I was greeted with hugs from lots of friends I had made previously at Rotary meetings. It was nice to see my fellow Wisconsinites, such as Julian, Sami, and Shelby!
It’s so cool to see so many foreign exchange students from around the world all in one area, and even though I only knew a few of them at the beginning, I knew that I would be close with a lot of them by the time I left the week long intro camp. There were about 20 Americans and 10 Canadians, but everyone spoke English since it was the only common language we knew. It didn’t take long to realize that there were a lot of Brazilians, but I had no idea how many of them there were. Overall, there were about 140 Rotary foreign exchange students staying in Denmark, and 85 were from Brazil. Yes, that’s right, over half of the people at the intro camp were from Brazil…..you can imagine how crazy the intro camp parties were.
Shortly after my arrival, I was able to get my key to my room and found out that Julian had the room next to mine, so we both thought it’d be possible to get one of our roommates to switch. Even though it was quite possible that Julian and I being roomies could result in the world being set on fire due to our combined awesomeness, we went for it anyways.
After a speech welcoming us into the intro camp, we were divided into the classes we’d be taught Danish with. Other than Shelby(shark), most of my friends were sorted into different classes, but it wasn’t a problem since all foreign exchange students are awesome. We started off with some simple Danish learning.
Dinner came afterwards, and it was definitely delicious. The cooks successfully mixed the Danish foods that I knew and loved with the American food I missed, making me more than full every meal. It was a great opportunity to meet new people at the meal times.
The next 6 days followed a similar schedule, so I’ll just put it below.
8.45-9.00: Morning assembly in the Lecture Hall
9.15-12.00: Danish lessons
12.00-13.30: Lunch and relaxation
13.30-16.30: Danish lessons
19.45-21.00: Evening activity
From what I’d heard from previous foreign exchange students, the intro camp hardly helped with Danish, which was definitely the case for most of the people this year. I was fortunate enough to get the best Danish teacher, Iben, and everything she taught us helped me immensely. The main thing we focused on was grammar: et, en, personal pronouns, etc. Even though vocabulary is essential when learning a language, Iben taught my class the basic foundation of Danish. My teacher was also able to make class fun while keeping order in the classroom. She deserves a medal for achieving both of those things, because 6 hours of Danish lessons each day could have easily gotten boring.
“Surprise in the Gym”
When a teacher says “We’ll have a surprise in the gym later, so get on your dancing shoes,” you automatically guess that the surprise is going to be something lame like square-dancing, or maybe Just dance on the wii.
This surprise started out just as lame as I had pictured it, where we’d copy what the teacher did with clapping rhythms and other things that were too lame to even mention. After about 15 minutes of lame, the teacher announced that our real surprise was ready…..we were getting a private concert from the band Mettro! This band won something that was “like the Danish X-Factor, but for people who can actually sing,” and is apparently on the brink of being internationally known, so it was really cool to hear, meet, and get signatures from what may be the next big Danish band.
Seeing the Queen
Because the city of Hjerringbro was having its 150th birthday, the Queen of Denmark came to walk through the streets, and we were able to go and see her up close! This is a pretty big deal, considering a lot of Danes haven’t even seen her, and we got to see her during our third week in the country! All 140 foreign exchange students lined up on the streets, waving our flags and patiently(hahaha) waiting for her to come. Ironically, in the distance we could hear the song “We are the Champions” by Queen playing in the background. Queen. Hahaha. It’s possible that I’m the only one who finds that funny. While we waited, we broke out into song, singing the American National anthem, and all the Danes across the street took pictures of our foreign-ness. One of my friends even got interviewed for the Danish news! Anyways, after many false alarms of, “Is that the queen?!?” she finally came with other members of the Royal family, and I was even able to get a decent picture!
On our third night, we had a bonfire. Britney, Lucas, Brooklyn, and I all decided to skip the first few minutes of it and jam out by the piano the main room. It was a great bonding experience for the four of us, and they’ve become some of my closest Rotary friends. The few minutes we skipped somehow turned into 40 (fantastic) minutes, and the Rotary mentors had to come fetch us. At the actual bonfire, we took a lot of pictures with our flags and roasted bread on sticks! It took forever to actually turn the bread dough into edible bread, so I gave up half way through and just ate the parts that looked good.
For those who don’t know, all foreign exchange students that go with Rotary have a blazer of a certain color (USA has navy, Canada has red, etc.) and you exchange pins with other Rotary students so that you can fill your jacket with a pin representing your country with one that represents their country. It’s a really cool idea, because each pin represents a friend that you’ve made on exchange, and you know that you’ve done well if your jacket is completely full.
It was interesting to see how many pins that people had gained before even arriving in Denmark. The Americans (And a few Canadians) who attended the Grand Rapids conference had a lot of pins, and even though I had missed most of the pin exchange, I had still managed to get a lot. Sami and Julian had huge amounts of pins on theirs, which shocked the Canadians and Alaskans who only had a few pins. My pin, the one with my face on it, was one of the most couvetted ones, and everyone tried to find me to get one! When I was handing them out at the first assembly, I practically started a riot as people asked me for my pins, and I started just throwing them into the crowd, hoping I wouldn’t take out an eye. A common phrase that I used when exchanging pins was, “Here’s my face on a pin. Enjoy!” While most people thought it was cool, it also creeped a few people out, which was even cooler! Keep in mind that most people at intro camp thought I looked exactly like Justin Bieber, so having my face on a pin was cool. Personally I think I look nothing like him, but apparently the rest of the world disagrees with me. Oh well.
Sightseeing in Aarhus
Even though it was over an hour away, I got to sightsee in Aarhus for the first time! On the bus ride there, I got to sit by Brooklyn, so needless to say it was a pretty crazy awesome bus ride. Once we got there, we split up into two groups and got our tickets to go into Aros, the Modern art museum. This is definitely the coolest art museum I’ve went into for many reasons. First of all, the museum itself is modeled after the piece of literature called “Dante’s Inferno,” which described the different levels of hell. The basement was dark with 9 sections (representing hell), the middle floors represented earth, and the top floor represented heaven with the circular rainbow. I’ve been waiting to visit the rainbow since I found pictures of it while researching the country on the first night I found out I was going to Denmark! It was just as beautiful in person, and I took far too many pictures of it. Even after we left, I came back into the museum to take more pictures.
We were also able to see the piece of art called “The Boy” which was a huge sculpture of….you guessed it….a girl! Just kidding, it was a boy. The sculpture itself was extremely realistic, and it was huge: the eyes were the size of footballs! It was fun to pose by it and try to mimic his position, which I’ve heard is very hard to duplicate.
In the basement, we saw a form of modern art that I actually found to be extremely interesting. It had a video projected on the wall that showed the cycle of a day, but the room you were in was part of the art as well. The furniture in the room was featured in the video, and the room you were in changed as the video’s time of day changed. It’s hard to explain, but I feel that everyone should get the opportunity to go to the art museum to see everything with their own eyes.
We also got to see an abstract sculpture filled with light that represented the soul. The cool thing about this sculpture was that it was somehow connected with a live video of space, and we were lucky enough to see a star die, which filled the whole sculpture with crazy light.
After a few other exhibits, we were able to have about 2 hours of freetime. When we split up further, I went with some of my fellow Americans that I had met at the camp: Hannah, Devin, and Ariana. Other people had big ambitions for their two hours, but we just wanted to explore the beautiful city of Aarhus and see where it took us. We ended up eating at a cheap restraunt with giant pizzas, and then going to an ice cream shop where we had the most delicious ice cream ever (I had terra mizu flavor!) We found ourselves at an H&M, Jack and Jones, a toy store, and lots of other stores that we found interesting.
Even though we had planned to see the old church, it was funny that we ended up there by accident. My camera died while we were there, but I was still able to get some good pictures! The four of us ended up releasing so much swag upon Aarhus.
Overall, my week at intro camp may have been one of the best weeks of my life. It was so sad to say goodbye to the people I’d become so close with during the short week. Even though I had missed my Danish home, it didn’t take me until after arriving home to realize how much I was going to miss the crazy foreigners I’d met. I met so many amazing people, and I hope that someday I can visit some of them in their home country.
My School is crazy and I love it
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.
First day of school in Denmark
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.