Sunday, 28 November 2010

November in a Nutshell


Another month has come and gone, and I am a mere three days away from having been here four months. I’m writing this blog from the comfort of my warm bedroom, as I look out the window at the most snow Denmark has had in however many years. I was visiting my first family last Tuesday, and as I stood in their living room, looking out the snow covered yard, I got the weirdest feeling. I had a flashback almost, to my first day here, looking out the same window at a green yard alive with flowers and all those summery things. I had arrived in Denmark right in the middle of summer, and now we are only three days away from the first day of winter. It’s a reminder of how fast time is going.

My street!

November has been a really busy month. My first weekend with this family we went to Stockholm for my host sister’s Karate competition. Sadly I didn’t actually get to see any of the city because we spent the whole weekend at the community center, but I hope that I can go back sometime, because the little I did see driving around, looked really nice.

And a week after I moved in to my second family, Emma came and visited. She arrived on the evening of the 10th, and stayed until the 14th. Thursday we were going to go into Roskilde and shop and look around, and we left the house bright and early, only to miss the bus. Now, missing the bus might not seem like such a bad thing. An inconvenience yes, but you simply just wait for the next one, and that’s it. Well, when the busses run once an hour, waiting for the next bus can seem like the end of the world. And I live far enough from the bus stop that it wasn’t worth it to walk back home, so at the bus stop we sat.

Finally on the bus!

Finally we made it into Roskilde and we did some shopping and had lunch, and then in the afternoon we headed to my first host family’s house. Emma, Simone and I went to see Saw 7 (I think it’s the 7th one, I can’t keep count anymore.) And then we spend the night. I’m glad that Emma got to meet them, cause I always talked about Emma, so now they actually know who she is.

Friday we went into Copenhagen. We started off at Christiana, and then headed to the shopping street. I had made this fantastic plan for us to go the Nyhavn (the colorful harbor) and to the castle where the Queen lived, but I couldn’t find the castle and by the time we got the harbor, all we wanted to do was eat. We admired it for all of 45 seconds, and then started looking at the menus. Now, I’m a pretty picky eater, but when you live in someone else’s house and they are so kind as to feed you, you can have to smile and eat whatever they give you, and then say how much you loved it. So when I am with other exchange students, I really don’t hold back on the pickiness factor. So I pretty much vetoed everything along Nyhavn because for some weird reason, these five star restaurants along one of the world’s most famous harbors don’t serve chicken fingers or macaroni. So we returned to the shopping street and settled on this very cozy cafe that appeared to serve very reasonably priced hamburgers. Well, we get in there and are seated, and then take a look at the menu, and to our shock the drinks cost about the same as the meal. Yes, a small pop costed almost ten dollars. The waitress comes to take our drink order’s and we are sitting there like, ‘Uh...um...well...can you give us a second?’ And we couldn’t be cheap and order water, because even that was almost eight dollars. So finally we just sucked it up and ordered our ridiculous expensive drinks. And then while we were eating we heard this couple next to us speaking english, and our tourist senses started to tingle, and being the fearless, albeit socially awkward, people we are, Emma and I interrupted their private conversation to ask where they from. I wish I could say that something magical or coincidental happened, but it didn’t. They mumbled some city in the US that I can't remember, and then returned to their meals, leaving us sitting there like total idiots.

And then Saturday we visited Roskilde Cathedral, where all of Denmark’s kings and queens are buried, and the Viking Ship museum. It was pretty cool. Sunday Emma headed home, and then I went bowling with all of the other inbounds, outbounds and rotex, which was really fun. I love spending time with other exchange students.

Me in front of Roskilde Cathedral

The tombs (I think that's what they're called...) were all so amazing!

And on the 16th, my host mom picked me up from school and we drove to her parents farm, where their three horses live. It sounds pretty fairy tale, riding in the sunset, right? Hah no. I’ve ridden before, but always on school horses. This horse was something totally different. I get on and he starts going crazy, and pretty much the horse is running in circles and I’m begging my host mom to make it stop, and I’m slowly slipping off the side of horse, and I can totally see myself falling off, and the horse stepping on me, and then me dying. So I was holding on as if my life depended on it, until finally the horse stopped. As scary as it was, it was one of those things that really make me appreciate where I am. This is something that would never happen at home, and it’s cool to have a host family that is so different than what I’m used to.

November 23rd was the District 1470 Thanksgiving dinner. All of the inbounds and outbound, plus a bunch of rotarians all gathered and had a really nice night eating Turkey and catching up with friends, and then the night ended off with the inbounds performing the entertainment we had put together. We had been given six week to get ready, but my group left it until three hours before we had to be at the dinner. So here is what we came up with in our short amount of time:

video
Me, Sarah (Canada), Chelsea and Erica (USA) presenting out entertainment!

Some of the other inbounds. We were pumped that it was snowing!

Those have been the highlights of my month, but obviously there has been so much more. I’ve started going to the gym with my host sister, which is really fun. And school is going really well. Making really good friends is hard, but this class is a lot friendlier, and I am very happy with them. And christmas season is in full swing, which is exciting. I remember when I first got here and suddenly was hit with how long a year really is, I told my self to just think about getting to christmas, which at the time was nearly five months away, and now I’m just just short of a month away, and I can’t believe that it’s already this time of year.

Thinking about where I was last New Year’s, and what I was like and who I was, and then comparing it to who I am now, it’s kind of crazy. Sometimes I think that I’m exactly the same person, and then something will happen and I’ll realize that I’m not. Being alone in a foreign country, where you don’t have your parents to guide you, you really learn a lot about yourself.

People always ask me if Denmark is like I imagined it would be. And although parts of it are, a lot of it is not. Now, this isn't a bad thing. Maybe it's not exactly what I thought, but it's still amazing. You can't know what a country will be like until you are there, and maybe the things you expect to be important aren't, and you discover a whole new set of things that make the country so amazing. I expected everyone at school to want to be my friend, because y’know, I’m that awesome foreign girl. I expected a lot of things, and when Rotary says not to have expectations, I see now that they are right. But there are also things that I didn't expect to happen that did. I never expected that I would be so close with the other exchange students. I never thought that I would learn so much about being 'green,' I never thought that living here would feel so...normal. The things that make Denmark,
Denmark things like riding your bike in the rain, or drinking coffee in a cafe, stuff like that. In some areas my expectations have been beyond exceeded, but in others I have been a little disappointed. But thats life, right? Sometimes you think you know exactly how something is going to happen, and then it ends up going to totally opposite way. But by learning this, and figuring out how to deal with this, at 16, I think I’m going to be okay in the future. I thought exchange was all about the places you see and the people you meet and the parties you go to, and yeah, those things are what make the amazing memories, but for me over the past four months I have learnt so much about my self. “It seems that when you are in a place where no one knows you, you become most yourself.”

I hope some of this makes sense. There's a lot going on in my head, and I don't totally know how to put it all into words.

Have a great week everyone!

Andrea

Friday, 5 November 2010

Three Months in Denmark!

Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one. ~Jane Howard

97 days, 00 hours, 13 minutes and 48 seconds.

That’s how long I’ve been in Denmark.

Three months and five days.

I feel like I just passed a huge checkpoint in my exchange. Like you know in video games there are all the checkpoints on the way to the finish line? Well exchange is like that too. The first month. The first holiday away from home. And then the 1/4 mark.

This blog post will mostly be like a reflection on the past three months, because I feel like there’s so much I want to say about them, and I don’t know who to say it to.

I think it’s safe to say that I had no clue what I was getting my self into when I got on that plane. Yeah, I went to all of the orientations and talked to other students, both inbound and rebound. Yeah, I read the handouts and did my research, but looking back, I didn’t really know anything. I didn’t know what it was like to be away from your family. I didn’t know what it was like to see your friends going on with their lives without you. I didn’t know what it was like to feel alone. I didn’t know what it was like to sit there and not understand a single thing.

But I also didn’t know that you could become apart of another family in only three months. I didn’t know how amazing something as simple as understanding a simple sentence can feel. I didn’t know know how you could become best friends with someone in a mere few hours. I didn’t know how independent I could be.

I feel like in three months I’ve grown up so much. I feel like I’m a lot more mature, and when problems arise I don’t freak out like I would have at home. I know how to work things out. I know that things will not always go my way, but sometimes you just need to go with the flow. I know how to make responsible decisions, and I know what’s best for me. And even things like getting around on my own. I know how to read maps, and I know how to ask for help and directions, and I know that if I make a mistake and get on the wrong bus or whatever, that’s it’s not the end of the world.

I remember last spring I would literally refresh my email every like five minutes, until finally, finally I got an email from my counsellor. I remember freaking out and telling my friends like, ‘I got my host family! I’m gonna have two sisters!’ And then they asked about the family and what their names were, and I was just like, I don’t know! And they didn’t really get how I was so excited over people I didn’t even know. And then I got the first email from my host dad and I was sooo excited, and kept thinking, only three months till I’m in Denmark.

And then those three months past, and then the next three months past and then all of a sudden it was my last night with them. And even as I write this, I’m almost crying, because I just like loved them so much.

The past three months have been hard. (But still amazing!) Thats undeniable. Not understanding anything, school wasn’t really working out very well, and I missed home a lot. But my host family made it a lot better. They made Denmark feel like home and I’m so grateful and lucky for that, because I really don’t know what I would have done without them.

Thanksgiving weekend was kind of hard, just cause like, it’s Thanksgiving. And there was one night where I was really homesick, and Simone came into my room and it made me feel a lot better just to like have someone there, and we ate pop tarts and then that night we went to see a movie and I just like felt so at home. And it would have been really easy for her to just like stay in her room and not have done anything, but she didn’t, and it’s nights like those that mean so much to me, and that I’ll remember.

And my host mom was amazing too. She was always like there to talk to, and really helped me feel so at home with them, and I’m pretty sure that every exchange student will agree that sometimes you just need mom hugs, and she was really good for that, and I just like loved her a lot. And my host dad was really awesome too, and was a really cool person to talk to, and I'm gonna miss him a lot too. Pretty much just like the whole family was awesome. : )

I feel like I’ve learnt a lot from this family too, and I think they had a big impact on what I’m going to be like when I go back home. They’ve traveled like, everywhere, and it’s so cool. They’ve been to places that I’d never even thought would be someone you’d go a trip, but now I’ve totally caught the travel bug from them, and there’s so many places in the world I want to see. Like they’ve been to almost every continent in the world. I mean most people don’t get to see as much in their whole lives that Simone and Therese have gotten to see, and they’re still only teenagers.

And seeing Simone and Therese together has made me think a lot about me and Jackson, and how much we didn’t get along before I left. Simone and Therese are really close, and it’s kind of like “inspired” (how cheesy is that? But I can’t think of a better word...) to be nicer to Jackson once I get home. Obviously it’s different between brothers and sister than it is with sisters, but maybe it wouldn’t kill me to be bit nicer to him, and we could actually do stuff together instead of pretending that the other doesn’t exist. I do love having sisters though. Making kraft dinner and going for runs (even though I didn’t do it that many times) with Simone and watching movies with them. And even though I don’t live there anymore, I still hope I can just like come and hang out with them.

I’m gonna really miss being apart of their family. And like all the little things like watching TV with my host parents and having dinner together and talking and just like everything. And saying goodbye was really...I don’t even know the word. When I said goodbye to my parents in Canada it was a legit goodbye. As in a “see you in 11 months” goodbye. Saying goodbye to my host family was weird, cause it was like, “See you next week, but I’ll never get to be apart of your family again.” And my host mom dropped me off at my new family, so it was a little bit awkward, because I was excited to be with my second family, but I was really sad to say goodbye, because even though I was only with them for three months, she felt like my mom, so it was really sad. And I was kind of like weirdly standing there almost crying and it was just like really awkward. And I’m sure that in three months it will be this family I’ll be crying for, and then three months after that my third family. I guess that’s a good thing about having more than one host family, is that by the end of the this year I’ll have five families who I’ll love, and I’ll get to see how different Danish families live.

But now I’m all settled with my second family, and everything seems really good. I have one sister, Maria, who is 18 and was in Canada last year, which is really fun. And my host parents are really nice. It’ll just take some time to adjust to a new family, but it was the same way when I got here three months ago. And I'm gonna visit and keep in touch with my first family a lot, so I won't let them forget about me ; )

And also, I started with my new class this week, and it’s going really great. I think it’s going to be a really good fit. They are so friendly and open and interested in talking to me, and I also feels like I’m starting to understand a lot more. I did my entire math assignment all by my self, and only needed help with a few words. (Homework takes double as long here, cause first I have to translate the questions, and then I can do the homework). But it felt sooo good to understand it. I still can’t really talk much, but I know it’ll come.

Tomorrow I leave for Stockholm, Sweden because I think Maria has a karate competition there, and then on Wednesday Emma is coming to stay with me for the weekend. So I’m really excited :)

So yeah, this has been the busiest week, changing classes and families, and it’ll take a little bit of getting used to, but everything seems like it’s gonna work out really well. And winter is starting to reach Denmark, which doesn’t mean snow, but it does mean dark and cold. It’s dark here by like 4:30, 5ish, but it makes the evenings really cozy. And apperantly December is a really beautiful month with like christmas and everything, so I’m excited.

So yeah, I’ll update again after Sweden hopefully, or another day next week.

Kærlighed fra Danmark

Andrea

Friday, 29 October 2010

Fall Break

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

-Robert Frost


I will not become a lazy blogger. I will not become a lazy blogger. I will not become a lazy blogger. Maybe if I say it enough times it will become true. Either way, I’ll try harder not to put off posting.


Last week was Efterårsferie, or more easily said as Fall Break. A concept that I hope to bring back to Canada with me.


Friday after school we drove two hours to Fyn to stay with my host moms sister and her family. We arrived Friday evening and had dinner, and then Friday night we decided to go to a movie. Fun, right? Not exactly. We got there and the movie started, and I’m sitting there thinking that they’re speaking really weird English. Turns out it was not english. The movie was German, with Danish subtitles. I followed along as best as I could with the subtitles for about ten minutes, but I was getting really confused, so I put my hood up and took a nap. I’m pretty much always tired here, so sleeping on demand is no problem.


Saturday we drove to Odense, and went to the Hans Christian Anderson museum. They had lots of old things from the 1800’s, including an old wooden bike that I can’t imagine having to ride, and his teeth. Yeah, you read right. They had H.C. Anderson’s teeth there. Or his dentures, rather. But still, gross. And then we got to see his actual house. It was so cool to see how small houses were back then. The doorways were barely taller than me, and the rooms were closet sized. I’ll never complain that my room is too small again.


Simone and I outside H.C.Anderson's house


Saturday night we drove back home, and then bring and early Sunday morning Chelsea came over and we started preparing thanksgiving dinner. Thanksgiving is a really big deal to my family in Canada, and I wanted to share it with my family here. So Chelsea and I spent all day cooking all of the traditional thanksgiving food. The only thing different was that we had to substitute turkey for chicken. And we made pretty much everything from scratch. The stuffing was easy, but the pumpkin pie was not. We started with a legit whole pumpkin, and then had to cut it apart and bake it, then we had to microwave it so it was soft. Then we had to scoop the pumpkin off the skin, then puree it, then add all of the flavors. Overall it took more than two hours. But now I can say that I know how to make pumpkin pie from scratch! It was totally worth it though cause besides my counsellor, no one else had really tried pumpkin pie before.



What it looked like in the beginning

After! It was a great success!

My counsellors family came too, so it was my family, Susanne’s family, and Chelsea. It was really, really nice, and I’m so glad that I got to share the holiday with them.


Me, Chelsea and my host mom.

My amazing counsellor and the thanksgiving chicken.

Monday to Wednesday I stayed with my friend Erica, who lives about an hour away. I love hanging out with exchange students because it’s so natural. We dyed our hair, and watched movies, and went to dinner and shopped and it felt so normal. Monday night we were having dinner in Copenhagen, me, Erica and another exchange student, Hillary, and we were just looking out the window and it was like woah, how crazy is this, we’re having dinner in Copenhagen. We’re surrounded by amazing buildings and castles, and this is our life for the next eight months. It’s really crazy to think about.


Ready for girls night out.


Wednesday night I came home, emptied my suitcase and then immediately repacked it, because Thursday was the day I had been waiting weeks for -- I left to go visit Emma! I hadn’t seen her since intro camp back in August, so it was so great to be back with her. We shopped and went to see Paranormal Activity 2, and ate lots of fast food, and on Saturday we went to an aquarium, which was so much fun. They had all sorts of crazy fish and we were like little kids, ‘oo’ing and ‘aww’ing at all of the colourful fish. And I bought a stuffed stingray which is pretty much the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen, but I love it so much because it’s a reminder of my amaazing weekend. This weekend was the first time since intro camp that I was 100% myself. We were loud and crazy and annoying and it felt just like I was at home with my friends. It was really great, even thought I think we scared her host family.


Me and Emma with the awesomely ugly stingray.


This week I was back in school, and this afternoon I leave for Holbæk, where all 200 of us in Denmark will meet for a halloween get together weekend. I’m super excited, especially since they don’t really do halloween here, so I’m happy that Rotary is doing something for us so that we can still celebrate with our friends. And then Sunday night I think that me, Simone and her friend will try trick or treating, even though I don’t actually think that people will have candy to give us, but it’s worth a try.


Also, on Monday I will be starting with a new class at school. I’m going to be with a first year class, which is 16-17 year olds, instead of the 17-18 year olds that my current class is, so I hope it will work out to be with kids my own age. So I’m really looking forward to fresh start, and hopefully things with school will pick up from here. :)


Hope everyone has a great weekend!


Kærlighed fra Danmark


Andrea

Thursday, 7 October 2010

The Truth about Homesickness




If life was easy, where would the adventure be?


This post is going to be a little bit different from my other posts, because it’s not really gonna be about what I’ve done so much as how I feel. Because with the two month mark (which was this past Friday) comes the end of the honeymoon phase. And to be brutally honest, it kind of sucks.


I don’t know how to describe how I’m feeling, so I’m to quote it directly off the Rotary website:


"Stage 1: "The Honeymoon" of Initial Euphoria/Excitement


-Excitement with new sounds, sights, smells

-Superficial involvement in the host culture (like a tourist)

-Intrigue with both similarities and differences between the new culture and your home culture

-Lots of interest in learning, very motivated & cooperative

-You feel like you will be able to handle anything--"I am not going to have any problems adjusting!" . .


Stage 2: "Culture Shock!"- Irritation/Hostility


-The novelty of the new culture has worn off, and you now focus primarily on the differences between the new culture and your home culture

-Small differences feel like major catastrophes!

-You become overly concerned with/stressed out by small personal problems and feel helpless and frustrated (you can’t make sense of the bus schedule, you don't have hot water in the mornings, you cannot access email from your home, the hours of school are weird, etc...)

-Stereotypes and prejudices surface: you feel like the host nationals are cold, unhelpful, snobbish, etc.

-You search out exchange student friends

-You are homesick (culture shock is a form of homesickness)!

-You miss your friends and family in Canada and to make matters worse, you hear that your high school football team is doing fantastic and the weather at home is glorious etc."



I love Denmark so much, but I miss Canada a lot too. It’s little things like the mountains, and the colorful leaves, and the whole October/Thanksgiving/Halloween feel, that I really miss. And of course my family and friends. I know that this is part of the experience, and I know that I’m not alone. And I’m so incredibly lucky to have the most amazing host family ever. I love them so much. And I’ve met my second and third families and they too are so awesome. So that makes it a lot easier.


I love being around other exchange students because we can all totally relate to each other, and it’s so nice to talk to someone who knows exactly how I feel. I’m so lucky because I live really close to another exchange student, Chelsea, and we hang out a lot. A few weeks ago we went into Copenhagen together, and I had so much fun. When I’m with my classmates I always feel so left out cause I have no idea what they’re saying, but with the other exchange students I feel so much more like, at home, if that makes sense.


And this past Saturday I had 8 girls from my district over for a movie night sleepover thing, and it was really fun. Some of the girls I hadn’t really met before, but after like five minutes it’s like I’d known them forever. Simone and Therese were gone for the weekend, so we had all of upstairs to ourselves, and it was so fun. I used to do things like this with my friends at home a lot, so it was nice to do something familiar.


And then there’s school...school is so much harder than I ever thought. I’m still finding it really hard to make friends, and it’s starting to get really discouraging. I’m friendly with the girls in my class, but I’m not particularly close with anyone, and we don’t really hang out outside of class.


My friend sent me a link to a website where an American living in Denmark talks about Danish culture, and one of the paragraphs explain really well what it’s like here.


“Before I came to Denmark, I knew a group of Danes back home. One day I was visiting them, and they mentioned that someone called Henrik was arriving from Denmark. We went to pick him up at the airport. Everyone was speaking Danish to each other, so I wasn’t quite informed about the whole situation, but it took me a few days to figure out that Henrik was not part of the group. He was a complete stranger to everyone, and yet I got the distinct impression that everyone not only knew him, but that he was somehow related to one of the others. He simply integrated with the rest of the Danes, like a drop of water merging into a puddle.


I remember how I envied being able to relate to others so easily, and I imagined what a big, happy family Denmark must be. I was attracted by the idea of egalitarianism and the implications it held for relationships among people in a greater society, how it can facilitate collective expressions of ordinary people’s wishes in a true democracy, how it can allow the individual to grow with others to attain his full potential, without fear and intimidation.


I foresaw endless scenarios of people realizing and expressing the full extents of their imagination. But in Denmark I found a paradoxical place, where such an environment exists, yet its imagination is held in check by an invisible power. The country’s character and essence is determined and defined simultaneously by a collective, consensus-driven will and an extreme individualism. People have a solid and intimate implicit understanding of each other, yet they choose to live in ways that isolate themselves from each other.


If you are not used to it, the aloofness and isolation that springs from this kind of individualism will seem unfortunate, and it will wrack your brain. But if you are going to live in Denmark, it will, for better or for worse, inevitably become part of your reality.”


My class went out for dinner last night, and I feel like that helped to get to know them outside of the classroom. They all seem really nice, and I really want to be good friends with them. Hopefully we can do more out of school outings together, because it’s so much easier to talk and get to know people.


And while I’m talking about school, I have to tell you what happened Tuesday. The government is trying to take away funding from the school, and to show how they don’t agree, a bunch of classes decided to strike, mine included. So pretty much what that means was that we got to school and barricaded our classroom door shut, and we all sat out in the hall blocking the door, and when our teacher came we didn’t let her in, and the girls in my class were saying something to her (I don’t know what) and then she just left. So pretty much we didn’t have class all morning, and we just sat in the hall. And then at 1 the entire school striked, and all of the students went home.


It was really cool because I don’t think something like this would happen in Canada. Striking is for adults, not for kids. But here once you are in Gymnasium you are pretty much an adult, and there for you have the same rights as adults, and can fight for them. It was a really cool thing to experience. I like how here I’m an adult, even though I’m just 16. I think it will be weird going back to Canadian school where you are treated like a kid right up until you graduate.



People sitting in the canteen with signs.

One of the barricaded classroom doors.

So yeah, pretty much that’s all for now. It feels like winter here. It’s cold and rainy and windy and dark. It’s always dark here, but I don’t mind because it’s very hyggelig. (A danish word with no direct translation, but is kind of like cozy.) So I’m gonna make some hot chocolate and go watch a movie.

This Sunday is another Rotex dinner, so I'm really excited for that, and fall break is coming up, and I'm so excited. My host family is taking me to Hans Christian Anderson's birth place, and on the 17th Chelsea and I are making Thanksgiving dinner for my family and my counsellors family, and then I'm going to stay with Emma for a few days!! So I'm really really excited! It should be a fun week, and nice break from school :)

I hope everyone is doing well!


Kærlighed fra Danmark (Love from Denmark)


Andrea


Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Bornholm

I plan on living forever. So far, so good. ~Author Unknown

Hej!


I meant to update last week, but I kind of kept pushing it off until all of a sudden, it was this week. It’s scary how quickly tomorrow becomes yesterday.


So last weekend, September 2-5, my host family took me to this small island south of Sweden called Bornholm for a music festival, called Wonderfestiwall. We left Thursday morning and drove from Denmark to Sweden (in this awesome underwater tunnel, might I add), and then from Sweden we took a ferry to Bornholm, and it was really windy and the boat was rocking, and I’m not one to get motion sick, but I was mighty glad to be getting off that boat once we docked.


We drove to the place where the festival was taking place, but we were really early so Simone, her friend and I waited in line for two long, cold hours. It wasn’t so bad though because the festival was right next to this field with all of these crazy lambs that were baaing, and it was really cute.


I remembered that last year another outbound had told me that you can pet the sheep in Denmark, so I was all ready to hop the fence and go give it a big hug, but Simone said that it might get angry, so I just admired it from afar. And also near the camp site was this big castle that was super old, and falling apart. I didn’t get to see it up close, but even just seeing it from where I was, was cool.



Finally we were allowed in, and we went to set up our tent, which took a little longer than it maybe should have, but we got it and it didn’t fall apart, so I’d consider that a success. Simone, her friend and I stayed in the tent, and my host parents stayed in a nearby hotel, which made me think of my mom, who I’m sure would have done the same thing.


The evenings/nights we were at the festival, and in the morning and early afternoon we drove around Bornholm, which I’m pretty sure is waay smaller than Calgary. Each “town” was smaller than an average

neighborhood back home. It’s really cute though, and the buildings are all so colourful, and there’s water everywhere, and not like nasty swampy water, but really pretty blue ocean water. Too bad I was too bundles up in a scarf and jacket and whatnot to even think about swimming haha. And also there are these “mountain” cliffy things everywhere, that by Canadian standards are nothing more than a big rock, but in Denmark, aka the flattest country ever, things like that are pretty rare, so I was really excited to see them. We also went to see the only round church in Denmark, and from the top we had a really great view of the town! It was really cool!


We also went to this place where we ate fresh smoked fish. Yes mom and dad, you read right, your daughter is willingly eating fish. Shocker, right? Well my food taste is maturing a lot here. Especially since there isn’t kraft dinner and chicken fingers to rely on. I’m eating like a grown up now! But that doesn’t mean that you can’t send me pop tarts and kraft dinner. (Y’know, for Simone of course.)


The festival part of the weekend, which was the majority of it, was very cool, especially since I’ve never been to a music festival before. I didn’t know any of the bands, but they must have been pretty big because Simone and her friend were really excited, and kept asking me to take pictures of them with people, and I couldn’t tell if these people were from bands, or if they just wanted pictures with random people, but I’m gonna guess the former.


Over all the weekend was really fun, and I got my first big dose of Danish culture, and just how crazy these people can be. The whole weekend was just like one big party, and by Sunday night I was so happy to crawl into bed and fall asleep to peace and quiet instead of music and talking.


This past sunday, the 12th, was a Rotary dinner for my district, and we all brought something from our home countries. My host mom and I made fluffy canadian pancakes, which was fun. I haven’t had real pancakes since I got here! It was a really fun day and I got to meet some of my oldies. (Aussies and Kiwis who arrived January 2010).


Other than that not too much is up. My Danish still sucks, but I start classes next week, so hopefully soon I’ll be pro ; P


Hope everyone is doing well!


Hej hej!


Andrea


My host dad, me, Simone, and my host mom : )

Oh, and ps. here's the links to my pictures. You don't have to be my friend to see them : )


September (so far) ((this is the album with pictures from Bornholm, if you want to see more): http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=73999&id=1003336365&l=f0f7592fb0

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Introcamp!


If you're alone, I'll be your shadow. If you want to cry, I'll be your shoulder. If you want a hug, I'll be your pillow. If you need to be happy, I'll be your smile. But anytime you need a friend, I'll just be me. ~Author Unknown

I got back from Introcamp Sunday, but it took until now to be able to sit down and write about it without crying. The above quote describes so perfectly the relationships I built with some of the other inbounds. One girl in particular, Emma, became like my best friend, and we pretty much stuck with each other throughout the week and by the end of the week I felt like I was saying goodbye to my family all over again. But like I can not even begin to accurately describe the amazingness of my week. I left home Sunday morning and rode the train from Copenhagen to Åhrus (a 4 hour trip) with roughly 40 other exchange students in the area, and more and more got on as we crossed the country. And right away I knew this was going to be an amazing week. The South Americans--namely the Brazilians--were crazy. And I mean that in the best way possible. They were singing and chanting and dancing and clapping and waving around their flags and it was like a random party on the train. It was one of the moments where you can’t help but feel totally happy.

And then we arrived at the camp and I went through a reverse culture shock type moment, where it was like, ‘Holy crap, I understand the conversations going on around me.’ And I met a bunch of the kids who I had been talking to on facebook for months. The camp was taking place at a boarding school, and so we got our room assignments, and then went to unpack. I was rooming with another Canadian, and as soon as we got to our room I dug out my my Canada t-shirt, and my big flag and then we plastered our faces with Canada tattoos. Of course we can’t compete with the South American spirit, but we thought we’d try!

And then if you read my last post, you’ll know all about the starvation, so instead of telling you about the rest of the day, I’ll just do a generic [insert starvation here] type thing. We just sat outside and talked to people and counted down the seconds until dinner.

Dinner was fun, but I mean how could it not be with 150 excited exchange students in one room? Pretty much there was a lot of “skål-ing” (danish word for cheers, but randomly throughout the meal someone lifts their glass and is like skåååål, and then the rest of the room like does the same, dragging the ‘å’ out as long as possible, so pretty much you just like yell skååååååååååååååååååååååål. It’s a lot of fun.)

On the last day, Emma and I reflected on the first dinner, and how it liked tricked us into thinking we would be well fed and everything. Dinner was great, and then we got dessert, and it was like ‘Welcome to introcamp, this is gonna be the best week of your life!’ but then that was it, we didn’t see dessert, let alone much food, for the rest of the week. It’s kind of funny looking back. But at the time we were all like texting our host families begging them to save us ;-P

And then after dinner we got sorted into our classes. Emma and I were in the same class, which was awesome, and we got the coolest teacher ever. Like she actually made 6 hours of Danish lessons enjoyable. And she was really young, so she really chill and taught us all of the stuff that Rotary probably didn’t want her to.

Monday and Tuesday morning were Danish lessons, and then Tuesday afternoon was a ‘Teenager in Denmark’ workshop, which was really cool. My teacher, Marie, brought blankets and pop and candies and stuff and made it a really comfortable, chill environment and we all sat in a big circle on the floor and talked about everything that comes along with being a teenager in Denmark. And she wasn’t involved with Rotary, so we could ask her all of the things that maybe we didn’t want to talk to our host parents or counsellors about. I’m so glad that we had this, because I got a lot of insight into Danish culture, and just how different it is from Canadian culture. And then we got to talk about our host families, and how everything is so far, and we talked about homesickness, and it’s so reassuring to know that I’m not the only one who is missing home, and other people are feeling the exact same way.

And then Tuesday night we watched this movie, and as soon as the movie starts were are all just sitting there, dumbfounded, like this is a Rotary camp, and this movie is definitely not something that Rotary back home would show us, but I guess it just shows how uptight Canada is about things like sex and drinking. The level of openness here is something that I’m not totally comfortable with, but I have to admit that they are on to something with the whole not freaking out over every little thing. And (I’m going off topic here for a sec, but bear with me) the girls in my class have a point. My first gym class was quite a shock, as in everyone just gets naked and showers together after class, something that would never ever happen at Westmount--or probably any Canadian schools for that matter. But for the girls here, they find is weird that it’s not common in Canada. It’s just not a big deal here, like at all, and they were asking me why it is such a big deal in Canada, and I didn’t know what to say. It just is, I guess. But it kind of got me thinking like why are we so uptight? Why to we call our teachers Mr and Mrs? Why can’t we drink at 16? Why can’t we buy alcohol at school dances? Why is TV censored? I mean are we really better off being so sheltered? Are we going to live longer, or be happier, or what? Because I have to say, for all the crazy stuff that happens here, the Danes seem to be doing okay.

But back to introcamp... Wednesday I covered in my last blog post. I got food. Then I went shopping and got more food. So yeah, goooood day. And then Wednesday night was surprise entertainment, which was pretty much all of us gathered in the gym, learning some weird dance, and having a really fun time. And then the teachers were like let’s pretend we’re at a rock concert, so we’re all like okaaaay...and so it was like a random party, and then all of the teachers were like, hey, there’s a band in the lecture hall. And it was like a legit danish band, called the Striving Vines (or something like that). It was really weird, just like having a random concert in the middle of the school, but it was really fun.

Thursday was Danish lessons all day and then a bonfire in the evening. Everyone brough their flags and waved them around and sang songs from their county and we made bread stuff over the fire and it was really...hyggelig (a danish word with no direct translation, but it kind of means like cozy and comfortable and like warm).

And friday we went into Åhrus and we started at this museum called Aros, and it’s famous for having this huge statue of a very lifelike looking boy, which is called ‘Boy.’ And we got a tour of the exhibit which was called ‘I love you.’ Here is the the link to the exhibit. When we walked in to the exhibit, a lot of us had a huge culture shock moment, like hoooly crap, did Rotary really take us here? And it was kind of funny because like all of us are standing there being all immature, like ‘hee hee look, they’re doing it.’ and that type of thing, and then as we’re being all giggly and whatnot, a group of, I kid you not, grade 3 or 4 aged students walk in, and we’re like, is this for real? Kids are allowed in here? It was kind of insane.

Aaaaand then after the museum the teachers set us free in Åhrus and pretty much just said be back at the bus by 4pm. So Emma and I head off shopping and we find MCDONALS, and we literally like crapped our pants we were so excited, so we go in, and like, Emma is ordering and the lady is like Hvad kan jeg få dig? (What can I get for you) and Emma is either so insanely hungry, or like forgot that Danes speak english, but she’s like, “Can I have BURGER?!” And she’s like acting it out and it’s soo funny, but I’m pretty sure the lady though we were just like stupid Americans. But ohmygod that was the best meal of my life.

After eating we did some shopping, and I found this AMAZING shirt and that looked really good, and it was really cheap, and it was like 3:50, so I was like yeah yeah yeah we have time, the bus is just around the corner, so we wait in line. And wait. And wait. And then Emma is getting really nervous, so she makes me ABANDON the amazing shirt, and we leave. But it turns out the bus is not just around the corner, and like it’s 3:59 and we’re freaking out cause the teachers said that if we weren’t there at 4 they would leave and we could take a train back to the school. So we ask for directions and finally find the busses, but the problem is that we don’t know how to cross the street. Like cars will plow you down here. So we call our teacher, and we’re like, ‘Marieeeee, we don’t know how to cross these stupid streets! Please don’t leave us!’ In the end it all worked out, but it was quite the adventurous day.

Saturday was classes and goodbyes. And I was sooooo sad. Like I felt so at home around all of the other exchangers. They speak my language, they understand how I feel, I can talk to them about like anything, and I was not even close to ready to leave them. Well, mostly Emma, but I made some other friends too. (ish-- ;-P) And then Saturday night was a big party, and we found a cake in the hall that was meant to be for dessert, but us, being as hungry as we were, uhh... well just look at the picture!


Sunday morning was the final goodbyes, and not gonna lie I was totally crying. It's crazy how close to can get to someone in just a week. The train ride home on was no where near as joyful as the way there, but Emma and I already have plans to meet up at the end of the month. (She lived on the other side of the country, so we have to like plan weekend visits.)

And now I’m home and slowly getting back intro routine. Monday and Yesterday were very hard days, just because I was so introcamp sick, which in turn makes me homesick. But today was much much better, and I’m even starting to make some good friends at school.

And then tomorrow morning I leave with my host family to a music festival on this little island south of Sweden, called Bornholm, which I very very much looking forward to.

So I’ll update again next Sunday or monday about my weekend. And then maybe I’ll do a post of just pictures. We shall see.

But anyways, talk to you soon! And PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE email me! Like you have no idea how happy it makes me to see an email from someone back home. Family, teachers, friends, whoever. It’s just that when you’re all alone in a foreign country it’s really nice to know that you have a support system back home, and it totally makes my day. And I’ll write back! Orrr, if you really want to be my favorite person ever, send me a snail mail letter! I would sosososo love one of those! Email me for my address, and I’ll send you a letter back! (Once I find a post office to buy stamps.) My email for those of you who don’t know is princessdaisy@shaw.ca. Yeah. I know.

Hej hej!

--Andrea

And ps today is my one month mark! So crazy!!

Me and my bestie for life, Emma -- with boy creeping behind us ;)