Tuesday, 13 December 2011
Sunday, 10 July 2011
“We can never turn back the pages of time, though we may wish to relive a happy moment, or say goodbye just one last time, we never can, because the sands of time continue to fall, and we can’t turn the hourglass over.” — Unknown
So I’m home now, right back in the exact same place where I was last summer, and the summer before that, and all the summers before that. It’s weird, being home. Leaving Denmark was just the hardest thing. My first host mom, my counsellor, four of my friends, and of course my last host mom and Emma were there.
From the second we walked into the airport, everything was CHAOS. There were so many people, the lines were insane and there was no room to navigate all of my stuff. I had done self check in the night before, so I could go right into the baggage drop line, but Emma couldn’t. My host mom went off with Emma, and I went by myself. Things had been a bit tense at home that morning, so I was already a huge ball of stress, not to mention I was a mere hour away from saying goodbye to my Danish life.
I had my awesome friends there though to help me figure things out, which made it a bit better. My counsellor saved the day when she showed up too. She was super calm and took over everything. The line to drop my baggage was so long, and then I finally get to the front, and the SAS Bitch was like, you have too many suitcases. So sue me, I had three suitcases. Did she not realize I wasn’t just going on a two week holiday?? I had my whole life in those suitcases! Obviously she didn’t care though, because she sent us away and told us to get it town to two bags and my backpack. Again, thank God for my counsellor, because I was freaking out all over again. I opened my smallest suitcase and threw all of the contents into my two bigger ones, and then Susanne packed it nicely so it all fit. I did have to part with some of my food and a few shirts, but in the moment I didn’t care at all, I just wanted it to be over.
So then I had two 32 kilo suitcases, when I am only allowed one 23 kilo suitcase. I had come into the day expecting to pay 300kr in extra bags, so when she was all like, ‘That’ll be 750kr,’ I was not prepared. Susanne was awesome and covered it, and then I payed her back with all of the cash I did have on me. I definitely hadn’t wanted to spend that much on bags, but I didn’t want to waste my last few minutes with everyone arguing with the airline lady. I just wanted to be with the people I loved for one last time.
We all met up at the Starbucks, and that was when it started to sink in. It was over. The best year of my life, over. I had said a lot of hard goodbyes already. Saying goodbye to Simone the night before had been so hard. She is one of my best friends, and even more, she’s the sister I had always wished I’d had. And I didn’t want to leave. Her, or anybody for that matter. I didn’t want to leave my amazing life.
But standing there in the airport, it hit me, that was what I was doing. I wasn’t at the airport to see off a friend like I had numerous times in the past few weeks, I was there because it was my turn.
We didn’t have a lot of time, so the hugs started right away. Both Susanne’s gave me letters to read on the plane. The first person I hugged was counsellor Susanne. She has been in my life the longest, and she has been the one who has been there the entire year. Whenever I was sad or needed help or anything, she was the one I went to. I feel like in my first family I had a really good relationship with my host mom, if I was sad or just needed to talk or whatever, I felt totally comfortable going to her, but even though I loved my other three host moms too, I didn’t feel the same way, so once I left my first family, my counsellor was the one I went to. So hugging her, everything just flashed through my mind. My first day, driving with her home from the airport, in September talking about school, all of the times we talked throughout November when I needed to move families early because of the cats, when I went over around Christmas, and tried Risengrøl for the first time, and I was so surprised when she told me that’s what they left for Santa. And there is so much more that unless I write a novel, won’t fit into this post. I couldn’t find the words to thank her enough.
And then next was my first host mom Susanne. She is a second mom to me, but saying goodbye to her was a million times harder than it had been to say goodbye to my mom last summer, because I don’t know when I’ll be back in Denmark, and even when I am, I will never truly get to be back. I remember when I first got to Denmark, and was homesick, she would give the best hugs. And even after I moved families, whenever I saw her, I’d get a legitimate mom hug, and ask any exchange student, there’s not a lot of things better than that. And then in the airport I just couldn’t admit that this was the last time I would hug her for I don’t know how long. It was just, I don’t even know, so heartbreaking.
I said goodbye to Charlotte next, and I don’t even think either of us knew what to say. It just didn’t feel real that this was the end. I had talked to Julie for months before I came to Denmark and she left to Australia, and it was just to crazy that now it was goodbye.
And then I had to go back to counsellor Susanne one more time. She gave me some final words of advice, and then I had to go. My friends ignored the passengers only line, and went right up to security with me, but for my host moms and Susanne, that was it. We went up the escalators and I looked back and they were all waving and I just wanted to turn around and run back to them and beg them to keep me, but I just had to give one last wave, and then look forward, and just keep walking.
All year it had been me, Claude, Emily and Chelsea. We had always gone out together, had sleepovers together, shopped together, pretty much everything. So saying goodbye to Emily was especially sad. And my newbie Bec, who even though I’ve only known her 6 weeks, I love so much. And Laura, my first Australian friend, and Brittany who I had some seriously awesome times with on Eurotour, and the weeks after. Saying goodbye to my friends was so hard. They were the people who made year so much fun. They were the ones who I had the craziest times with, and who I could tell anything to, because they all just got it. They were the ones who I’d have sleepovers with and we’d lay awake in the dark just talking about all of the amazing things we want to do with our lives.
I’d been in that spot near the security area so many times, but I’d always been the one waving off the person who actually walked down the hall. The end of that hall had always been some elusive unknown that back in January when I said goodbye to Hannah, I couldn’t wait to experience, but then in June seeing off Nova and Chelsea, I had no desire to go down that hall. But that day, it was my turn, and as much I didn’t want to, I had to give my final hugs and then keep walking forward.
Luckily I had Emma with me, which softened the blow of leaving Denmark. We sat on the plane together, watching our home, and our exchange year, disappear beneath the clouds.
In Frankfurt I walked Emma as far as I could to her gate. We hit a road block though, at passport control. I wasn’t leaving from the same area as her, so I couldn’t enter into her section. So in front of passport control was where our journey together ended. I suppose it’s fitting, our time together ended just as awkwardly as it had begun. We sat down, not talking, refusing to admit what was about to happen. It wasn’t until they made an announcement that her plane was boarding that we looked at each other, and then stood up and hugged. I can’t explain how hard it was to say goodbye to Emma. I have never had a friend as amazing as her. Someone who is so much like me, and I can just be totally myself around. There is no way my year would have been as amazing without my monthly visits to or from Emma. So saying goodbye, and knowing that this stage of our friendship was forever over, was horrible. Now it’s down to visiting her maybe once or twice a year, maybe less as life goes on. And of course we will skype and email and call each other. I know we will be best friends forever. There’s no way that I can let a friend that amazing slip away. Watching her walk through passport control, and me standing there crying, just sucked so much. I don’t understand how a year can be over. It was just last week we were starving at introcamp, sitting in her room not talking to anyone, and now we were saying goodbye. This part of exchange makes all of the other hard times seem like nothing.
When I was in Denmark, I thought there wasn’t a worse feeling than homesickness. I thought being away from Canada was the hardest thing. But now that I’m back in Canada, I realized the homesickness I felt in Denmark was nothing compared to the homesickness I have now for Denmark.
It also wasn’t until I was back in Canada, and found myself referring to Denmark as home, (as in, “Wow, only three dollars for this coffee? At home I would have payed ten!”) that I realized how much Denmark feels like home. The life I had there, the people in it, the things I did and the places I went, it just all felt so right. I love the way Danes are, I love the way they think. I love what it was like to live there. The only thing keeping me from quitting school and going back there right now, is knowing that the life I lived was not a true Danish one. I lived the amazing carefree life of an exchange student. I know that truly living in Denmark is nothing like the life I lived there, but that doesn’t make me miss it any less.
Being back in Canada is nice though. To be back in my house, in my room, in a kitchen full of my favorite foods. My first night home, one my best friends came over, and we sat in my room and she filled me in on everything. And hearing her talk about everyone was like pulling a familiar wool blanket around myself. It didn’t feel totally right, but at the same time it gave me this warm and secure, and kind of comforting, feeling. I hadn’t left Denmark to come back to nothing. I had left Denmark to come back to a lot. I didn’t leave my friends to come home and be friendless; I have amazing friends here. Saturday night two of my best friends, Maddie and Emily, threw me an amazing welcome home party. We all hung out and had dinner at Emily’s house, and then we drove to another friends house and chilled in his hot tub and I had a slurpee and Timmies and it felt so normal. Like I had never been away.
Being home, with my family and friends, and being back in school, and just being back in my life, I just can’t believe a year can go by that fast. There were weeks that dragged on, but sitting here now, it truly feels like the blink of an eye.
The first few days at home were so hard. I was busy with friends, which was so nice to be back with them. But it was hard to be away from Denmark. I couldn’t think about it without tearing up. And then I started school two days after I got home. I wasn’t over the jet lag and I was so tried, and so sad about being home, and everything just felt wrong. But somehow, every day it gets better. And I can see that maybe it’s good how busy I am. My Canadian life is in full swing. I went out Friday with my friends, and last night I babysat for the family I’ve babysat for since I was 12. Everything is back to normal. And that makes it a lot easier to be back. I still miss Denmark like I don’t think anyone understands, and it still takes massive willpower not to pick up the phone every day and call my host family and counsellor and friends.
But I need to remember that I can’t keep looking over my shoulder. Just like in the airport, when I had to keep walking forward, it’s the same now.
Instead of looking back and wishing I could go back in time to be back with my host families, I need to find a way for them to fit in with my life now, and in the future. I know they will be in my life forever. I know that at my wedding, Simone and Emma will be two of my bridesmaids. I know I will never lose any of my Danish family or friends. I’ve been emailing with Susanne, and one of the things she wrote in one of the emails was, “...but I know we will keep in touch the rest of our lives and that sure is a good thing to remember.” And that’s true. Just because I’m back in Canada doesn’t mean I’ve lost anybody. I love them so much, and just because I won’t see them very often doesn’t mean I’ll ever love them any less.
My year in Denmark was amazing. It was nothing I expected it to be, and everything I needed it to be. I would go back and live it over in a heartbeat. I did so many amazing things, and met so many incredible people, and I learnt so much about myself. And just because I’m home doesn’t mean I’m done. I’m going to use everything about this year to help me to continue growing and changing as a person. Denmark will forever be a part of me. I still can’t believe it is over. I no longer can use the excuse, “But I’m an exchange student!” Being an exchange student is an amazing thing. If you’ve followed my blog throughout the year, you know it’s not always easy. But I can safely say, it’s a million percent worth it.
Now I’m moving on with my life post Denmark. I am busy with summer school and my friends and being a mother to my new baby, Chompy the hedgehog. For some reason, all throughout my year, I had a weird obsession with hedgehogs, so right when I came home, I went out and bought my very own pet hedgie. My life is building up around me, and everything is falling intro place. Everyday it gets a bit easier to be back, but that doesn’t mean that Denmark is ever far from my mind, or that I can’t wait to one day go back.
I’m planning to do one more post within the week, just doing a bit of a comparison on Denmark and Canada, because now that I’m back I can see everything with a bit more perspective.
This post was really hard to write, because it was kind of the first time I’ve really sat down and admitted that it’s over.
Thanks for reading though. I’ve loved keeping this blog, and it always makes me so happy to see my page hits go up.
It feels weird to not sign this, Love from Denmark, so instead I will sign it, Love to Denmark, the amazing country and all of the incredible people in it, particularly the ones who played a huge part in my year and who are forever in my heart.
Thursday, 30 June 2011
We laughed until we had to cry, we loved right down to our last goodbye, but over the years we'll smile and recall, for just one moment - we had it all.
So here I am, eleven months later, the night before departure. This time is so different than last time though.This time around, what waits on the other side of the flight is not unknown, it’s what I’ve always known, except I know it won’t be the same.
This past week has flown by. I’ve hung out with friends, packed up my room, said goodbyes, and started to get ready to part with this life.
Emma is with me, which is the way the end of my year should be. She’s my best friend, and I am so glad we are leaving this year together. We’ve been busy, shopping for Danish food, seeing
Tonight was the hardest goodbye so far, to my first family. We had dinner with them, and it was so normal. It felt like any other time I was with them. But then the evening came to a close, and that’s when I had to do what I had been dreading, say goodbye. I know it’s not goodbye, because I love them way too much to not have them stay a part of my life. But I don’t know when I will be back, and I don’t know what it will be like to visit. It won’t be the same, and that’s so scary.
This year has been everything and nothing like I imagined. I have grown up in so many ways, and I see things so differently now. I’m not the same person I was when I left
I’m really sorry I can’t write more clearly. I don’t want to go home. I can’t actually explain how much it hurts to have to leave the life I worked so hard to build for myself here. I don’t want it to end.
Tomorrow is going to break my heart. My counsellor and my first host mom and current host mom and a few friends will be there, and Emma who I’m flying out with. I leave the house in less than six hours.
Thank you so much to everyone who made this year possible for me. It doesn’t feel real that it’s over. I want to stay in my perfect little Danish bubble.
I don’t want to leave my Danish family. I don’t want another exchange student to come to my club here. I don’t want to leave.
But sometimes life sucks and we have to do what we don’t want to. Including leaving the best year of our lives behind. I know I have many more adventures ahead, but at the moment it breaks my heart to leave this one behind.
But now it’s time to say goodbye to my family to go back to my family and leave home to go home.
Tusind tak Danmark for en FANTASTISK år, og vi ses igen snart.
Talk to you from the otherside of the pond,
Saturday, 25 June 2011
There is another theory which states that this has already happened.
Wow so another busy week has FLOWN by and now I sit here with 5, yes, only 5 days left in
I’d heard from many people that the last few weeks your exchange are some of the best out of the whole year, and I hadn’t really gotten it until now, but it is really true!
I have been out almost every single day since Eurotour. Since the last time I updated I went to Simone’s going away/16th birthday party, which was really fun! I still think it’s so crazy how there can be fifty teenagers outside drinking and going crazy and my host parents are sitting just inside. I’m going to miss Danish parties so much! I slept over that night, and then the next day I just spent the day with my first family. We did normal things like grocery shopping and cleaning the house, but it was my last time properly spending the day with them, so I was just so happy to be there.
Then last Saturday my friend Sophie who just got back from her exchange year in the
On Monday I went over to Candice’s for a visit. This was one of the last times I’m going to get to see her, and it was so nice to just see her and visit. This whole year she has always been there and I’ve always loved being with her and her family. Sometimes I can’t believe that eleven months ago everyone who makes up my life here were only strangers. It feels like I’ve known them forever.
Tuesday I met with Susanne in the morning, and then spent the rest of the day and evening with my third family. In the afternoon it was just Carina and I, and we hung out and talked and just caught up. She leaves on her exchange to the
Wednesday a group of us hung out in
Wednesday night was mine and
Weather wise, I was dressed horrifically inappropriate. I was wearing tiny shorts and a t-shirt and little flats, and it was ten degrees and POURING rain. I didn’t have a jacket or anything, and we were supposed to walk home. (In my defence, when we left the house the weather was nice.) So we took the train to Taastrup station, but it was the worse rainfall I had ever seen. Within minutes the streets were flooded and I was so cold I couldn’t stop shaking.
And then Thursday I spent the day with my newbie, Laura. I went to her house and we hung out and watched movies. She is so sweet, and I love spending time with her. And then in the evening we went to this carnival for Saint Hans. Here is the wikipedia article explaining what it is exactly:
In Denmark, the solstitial celebration is called Sankt Hans aften ("St. John's Eve"). It was an official holiday until 1770, and in accordance with the Danish tradition of celebrating a holiday on the evening before the actual day, it takes place on the evening of 23 June. It is the day where the medieval wise men and women (the doctors of that time) would gather special herbs that they needed for the rest of the year to cure people.
It has been celebrated since the times of the Vikings by visiting healing water wells and making a large bonfire to ward away evil spirits. Today the water well tradition is gone. Bonfires on the beach, speeches, picnics and songs are traditional, although bonfires are built in many other places where beaches may not be close by (i.e. on the shores of lakes and other waterways, parks, etc.) In the 1920s a tradition of putting a witch made of straw and cloth (probably made by the elder women of the family the bonfire emerged as a remembrance of the church's witch burnings from 1540 to 1693. This burning sends the "witch" away to Bloksbjerg, the Brocken mountain in the Harz region of Germany where the great witch gathering was thought to be held on this day. Some Danes regard the symbolic witch burning as inappropriate.
In 1885 Holger Drachmann wrote a midsommervise (Midsummer hymn) called "Vi elsker vort land..." ("We Love Our Country") that is sung with a melody composed by P.E. Lange-Müller at every bonfire on this evening.
It was a really cool thing to experience. We didn’t go crazy and stay out all night partying, but it was cool just to see everything.
(The bonfire all lit up and the witch burning!)
Friday my first host sister had her graduation wagon ride. Danes love to party. Like, love love love it, so of course graduating gymnasium calls for a party, or perhaps twenty five? It is the coolest, most fun looking tradition; each 3rd year class from every gymnasium gets a wagon type thing attached to a truck and it’s decorated and then they drive around to each person’s house where the person’s family puts out food and drinks and stuff. It looks like so much fun, and I was so glad I got see it, even though of course I wish I could have experienced it on the wagon!
And then today was our going away day. It wasn’t Rotary official or anything, but a big group of us met in
I have started packing. Or rather, I decided I would start packing, then I dumped everything on my bedroom floor, and that was it. That was on Thursday. I have not touched anything since then. All of the things in my bedroom make up my life, and going through it all and trying to pack it away is so hard. Both because it’s sad, and because I have SO much stuff!
I have only five very busy days left though. And Tuesday morning Emma arrives, so really it’s only 2 days to get packed. And I know they are going to fly.
Everything is so perfect right now. I have had non stop plans for almost three weeks. I am so happy. But I’m not living a sustainable life right now. As much fun as it is to shop and eat and sit in parks and talk for hours on end and spend money left and right, I know it’s not something I can keep up forever. I wish I could, so badly. The past three weeks have been some of the best of my entire life, and it’s so hard to think that it’s over. Nova goes home Monday, and
And then I don’t know what.
Kærlig fra Danmark,