Thursday, 19 May 2011

Goodbye School...HELLO SUMMER!

“If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.” – Orson Welles

Hi again!

I don’t know where the week and a half have gone since the last time I wrote, but here I find myself at the end of one of my less favourite parts of my

I remember sitting in my classroom back in September and looking at my day planner and counting how many school weeks I had left. Seven weeks until fall break, I told myself, and then only ten until Christmas, you can make it until Christmas! And now here I am… I did what at times I thought I wouldn’t be able to… I survived a year at a Danish gymnasium. Okay, maybe survived is a little dramatic, but it was a lot harder than I had thought. And maybe I didn’t make any lifelong best friends, but sitting here looking back on the past ten months and everything that has happened, I realize that I did meet a lot of really nice people, and I got to walk a mile in their shoes and see what it is like to be a teenager in Denmark.

It’s really easy to sit here and feel sorry for myself and think, ‘Oh poor me, it was so hard, no one wanted to be my friend, it was such a waste of time!’ But what would that accomplish? As much as I love to whine, I know it would only make me feel bad.

So I am making the decision to look back and think about the GOOD things that have happened school wise this year.

All of the school parties of course:

Introfest and Gala were my favourite parties. Introfest was my first glimpse of how crazy Danish teenagers are. I warmed up with some girls in my class, and her mom drove us to the school and were sitting in the back seat drinking, and her mom didn’t care at all. And then of course how the school sold alcohol. It was so crazy, and totally not a night I’ll soon forget. And Gala was a great chance to bond with my class, we all ate dinner together and did class awards and it was a really nice chance to get to know everyone. The other parties were all great too, but those two really stood out.

Field trips: I didn’t go on a lot of field trips, but the ones I did go on were so great. In Canada to go on a field trip you need your parents to sign like nine hundred forms, but in Denmark, you need nothing. Teenagers here are completely treated like adults, and pretty much the teachers just told us where to meet and when, and that was it. I love having independence, and having the teachers trust us that much.

Independence: It took me a while to get used to it, but I have learnt to love the amount of independence we are given in the Danish school system. If you aren’t in class, no one calls home. It’s your job to be in school, not your teachers or parents’ job to make sure you get there. And there aren’t morning announcements or anything; it’s up to you to know what is going on and to be on top of things. In the Danish gymnasium you are basically treated as an adult, and I love that.

STUDY TOUR! In the 2nd year of gymnasium you get to go on a trip with your class to somewhere in Europe, Asia or North America. My class went to Istanbul, and like I’ve said before, it was amazing! I love how Danes are so close to the rest of the Europe, and how easily they can travel. I don’t think they know how lucky they are, but I’m so glad that I was able to participate on the trip and see a different part of Europe.

Overall though, looking back on everything, even though it didn’t go perfect, I’m really content, and I feel like that’s a good place to be. No regrets, no resentments, no whines. I learnt a lot about Denmark, Danes and of course myself. I got to see a lot of amazing things and meet a lot of really cool people, and at the end of the day I’ve had an amazing experience, and I really can’t complain.

My last day of school went really well. I baked Nestle chocolate chip cookies for my class, and brought them a whole bunch of Canada goodies and got them to all sign my flag, and I feel like it was a really nice ending to the year.

(Some of the kids in my class writing on my flag)

(Me and some of the girls in my class)

(My class! 1.w!)

And now that chapter of my exchange is over, and I’m moving onto the part of the year that I have been looking forward to the most: EUROTOUR!!! We leave tomorrow and our first stop is Berlin, and then Prague and then I think Venice. After that I’m not totally sure where we head onto next, but I know it will be amazing!!

I hope everyone is doing well, and I will update with a big post when I get home!

Lots of Love,


(In case anyone cares what my room looks like. I was packing for eurotour, and figured I would start getting stuff ready for home. This is barely half of my stuff. Packing for home is going to be impossible.)

Thursday, 5 May 2011

The beginning of the end

When you’re drowning, you don’t say “I would be incredibly pleased if someone would have the foresight to notice me drowning and come and help me,” you just scream. -John Lennon

Again, sorry for the ridiculously late post, but I’ve been so busy…

The day after I got home from Istanbul I went to visit Emma for five days. We hadn’t seen each other since March, so it was so great to see her again. We did our usual, lying in bed and eating, and then taking a nap, and then waking up to eat. However, this time we also managed to venture out of the house. We went to a party with some of her friends from school (hooray we were SOCIAL!) and we went to this cool zoo where you drive around in your car and the animals come up to you! And we also went to Aarhus. Going to Aahrus was more an act of closure than anything else. Back in August at out introcamp we took a day trip to Aahrus, and while everyone else explored the city, Emma and I sat in McDonalds and contemplated running away from introcamp. Yes, we actually sat there planning our escape instead of taking in the city. Anywhoo, we went back to that same McDonalds, and sat at (possibly) the same table and basically just talked about how fast the year went. Last time I sat in that restaurant I had my whole year ahead of me, and now I was there to say goodbye.

(At the awesome zoo)

(At the McDonalds where it all started)

Leaving Emma’s time was also very different. This visit to Emma was my last for this year. Throughout the year Emma and I have consistently seen each other almost every month. So many times we were sitting on skype, planning our next visit, looking at train tickets, bitching about prices, and then booking the ticket. It was just a part of my year, visiting Emma, or her visiting me. But now an era has ended, and it’s actually really sad. I will never in my life book another ticket to Horsens to visit her. I will never get on a train only to find out it’s the wrong train and then have to call her to tell her I’m lost and late. I’ll never sit there and watch the city to turn into miles and miles of nothing. When I got on the train home, a chapter of my exchange was closed. And that’s when it first hit me that this is the beginning of the end. Doors are closing. Next time I see Emma will be a few days before we go home. We fly out of Copenhagen together, so as of now the plan is for her to come spend the last few days with me, and then we will go to the airport together. I can’t even comprehend that.

After I got back from Emma’s, I had a two day turn around before MY MOM GOT HERE!!

Last summer you couldn’t have a found a kid more excited to start her year. If you asked me if I thought I would be homesick, I’d have said no way. But for anyone who’s followed me all year, things did not go as I had thought. This year has been infinitely more difficult than I had ever imagined it would be. I missed home so badly that at some points it hurt. Looking back it wasn’t even so much that I was homesick for Canada, I was just to desperate to feel comfortable. To be able to be 100% me. There’s not a lot of people who will love you unconditionally, and when you’re away from those people, you really have to always be on your best behavior. You have to smile when you want to cry. You agree when you think the other person is ridiculously wrong. You have to go to museums when you want to lie in your room and shut out the world. So getting to escape all of that and to be with my mom again was so, so amazing.


We went for dinner our first night and gaah I just can’t even begin to explain how HAPPY I was to be sitting across from my mom, eating and talking and just being with her. And of course the best part was getting to hug her, finally.

The whole week was so go-go-go, but hopefully I can remember most of what we did. Saturday we got up and went to a cafĂ© for breakfast and then headed to the shopping street near my house. Pedestrian streets are so common here and it’s a great way to get to shop AND enjoy the sun. We just walked around and I showed her all of my stores and where me and my friends go, and we went up and saw Nyhavn and then we went back to the station to catch a train out to Roskilde to visit my second family.

Nina (my host mom) and Maria (my host sister) met us at the station, and then the four of us went to Roskilde Cathedral, a church where all of Denmark’s Kings and Queens are buried. I had been there before, but it never ceases to amaze me to be standing in a church full of coffins older than the country I come from.

After that, we went to the Viking Ship Museum, and walked around outside looking at the boats and stuff. I was so happy that my mom was finally getting to meet all of the people who’ve made up my year. It was kind of surreal for my two worlds to be coming together.

We went back to their house and had a really nice dinner, and just talked and my mom got to know them and it was a really nice evening. I didn’t get to spend a lot of time with that family because of their cats, but I wish I had because they are so nice, and so easy to be with.

Sunday was a very touristy day. We did the canal tours, and then we got a map and found our way to the Little Mermaid and then to the castle where the Queen and the crown Prince and Princess and their four kids live. Walking and finding our way around took a long time, so by the time we were done with that, it was already dinner time, so the rest of the stuff I wanted to show her would have to wait.

(The little Mermaid)

Monday we started the morning off by having breakfast with my favorite Rotarian, Candice. She has been a big part of my year, and I just love her and her husband and their new baby, so I was so glad that it worked out for my mom to meet them. After that we went to my third family’s house for lunch. I hadn’t seen them since I moved out, so it was nice to catch up and everything, and of course for my mom to meet them!

Monday evening I took my mom to Christiana, and we walked around there and then made our way home for dinner. Christiana is so unique and weird and I always love walking around in there.

Tuesday we spent the entire day with my first family, which was so great. It’s no secret I love spending time with them, and getting to be with them AND my mom was just totally ace. We had lunch at their house, and then me, my mom, Susanne and Simone went to the beach near their house. Last time I had been there was my very first night, and it was weird to be back 9 months later. I frolicked around in the water while everyone else stayed on the beach. I love how clear the water is and how sandy and perfect the floor is and I couldn’t help but splash around. Once dinner time rolled around, counselor Susanne and her family also joined us, so my mom got to meet Chelsea (who is being hosted by Susanne) too, which was awesome.

(My amazing first family)

Wednesday we went to Tivoli with my current host mom and siblings. There is this one ride that goes through a bunch of H. C. Anderson stories and I am just IN LOVE with it. We did it twice, but I could have just ridden it over and over and gotten lost in the fairy tales. But alas we could not do that, because we had Rotary. Susanne had given us a pass, but I still wanted to go and for my mom to meet everyone. Looking back I don’t exactly know WHY I wanted to go so badly, but at the time it felt like we should.

And then somehow, like with this whole year, we found ourselves at the end. Thursday was our last full day together, and we spent it in Sweden. We went for a really nice dinner together, which was so great. And then the next morning we got on a train and then way too soon, she was gone.

Being back with my mom made the past nine months seem like no time. It was as if everything sped by, and then all of a sudden it all came to a dead stop. It made this year seem so ridiculously short and at the same time it made it feel like a lifetime. Hearing my mom talk about home made me realize that just like my family wasn’t an immediate part of this year for me, I wasn’t a part of their year either. This just made me think about how once I return home I’m not going to be a part of my host families lives, which circles around to my (hopefully irrational) fear that once I leave they’re all just going to forget about me. I don’t think the people in my life here know how much I love them. And the thought of another student coming in and taking my place hurts more than anyone who’s not an exchange student can understand. I love my host families so much, and I know that I will never ever forget them, but I can’t say the same for them. Another student is going to come in, and then I’ll just become a memory. Someone they once hosted. Obviously I hope I’m more than that to them, but thinking about it scares me. Before I came to Denmark I was scared my friends would forget about me. But I knew I would be back. This time I don’t. And even if I visit, I will never be ‘back.’ I’m going to do everything I can though to stay in touch. Email, letters, pictures, whatnot. I want them to be a part of my life forever, no matter how far away I am.

Now my mom has been gone for a week, and it’s hard to find my place. Things are different now. Before my mom came I was in a perfect, indefinite, world. And now I am just reminded of how soon this whole crazy adventure is going to end. And the worst part? I’m actually excited to be back home. (Note: this does NOT NOT NOT mean I am excited to leave Denmark.) How horrible is that, I have only 8 weeks left, and I’m…excited? But it’s true. I am very ready to make the absolute most of the time I left here, and I intend to have the most kick ass last months ever, but what waits for me at the end of those two months is too great not be excited for. My life.

I’m excited to go home and take everything that has happened this year and use it to make myself a better person. I am excited to see my friends and go to school and apply to university and get my life started. If there’s anything I’ve learnt this year, it’s that there is so much out there. So many places, people, opportunities, adventures, and I’m so excited to go out and find it all. Leaving Denmark is going to break my heart, but I cant’t stay here no matter how much I want to. My life here has an expiry date, and I just have to hope that I’ve left my mark so that even once I’m gone, a part of me will stick around here.

Sorry for this novel, but there is so much going on in my head. Time is a’tickin and it’s scaring the shit outta me.

Lots of love,