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