At rejse er at leve;
   To travel is to live

First Night in Denmark

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!

3 Responses to First Night in Denmark

  • Cameron- Keep writing in your blog. I love reading it and wish you all the very best over this experience. Maggie is still at home…waiting to begin her adventure. It there any way you can set up a blog for me? I would love to write one from a parent’s perspective while all of you are away for the year. I wanted to tell you thank you for being such a good friend to Maggie. It’s nice to see both of you escape the immaturity of most American teens and take on something as huge as the exchange. Don’t ever change who you are in your heart. You are the perfect you. Congrats on starting your exchange. I can’t wait to hear more!

  • Cameron, so glad that you arrived safely. Mom asked me about every half hour if I thought you were there. She was nervous all day and didn’t sleep that night. She is all better now. Will be reading your blog. Love you and am so proud of you. John

  • Sounds like an excellent start! Can’t wait to see some pictures of things “completely Danish and beautiful”.

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globe senior pic squareMerhaba, I'm Cameron Neader.

I'm an 18 year old going on Rotary Youth Exchange to Turkey and I was an exchange student in Denmark in 2013-14.

Click here to read more.