2004-05 Outbound to Denmark
Hometown: Jacksonville, Florida
School: Bartram Trail High School
Sponsor: Bartram Trail Rotary Club
Host: Brønderslev Rotary Club, District 1440, Denmark
August 10 Journal
I arrived here safe and sound and ready to explore as much as possible ( watch out HERE I come!!) It feels like I have been here a lot longer than a week and a half. I feel soo accustomed to living and life here it's hard to explain all my feelings. I have found out that I can pretend I am Dane, if I am a mute (blonde hair and blue eyes.. I fit in well)!! It's difficult to sum up what I have been doing in just this week and half alone.. ( I can't imagine in my journals to come) Well let's start with the plane ride..
I was terrified of flying let alone flying by myself with no parents but that is one fear I overcame, since I had four connecting flights... I am now a pro at flying!!!! The plane rides were uneventful but it was nice meeting up with other exchange students in Detroit and Amsterdam!!! Once I got to my final destination (Aalborg) I went to get my luggage.. they lost my big bag but everything else was great...
My family is wonderful!! They have included me into everyday life and my host sister and brother are awesome. My sister and I do lots of different things together and she has introduced me to many people already! My host mom and dad are very nice and really easy to talk to which is nice. My host brother reminds me of my own two brothers which is comforting (in a way) haha.
The day I arrived in Brønderslev, Denmark I came home, then I left like an hour later to go to Aalborg where there was the Tall Boat Festival. I have done soo much since I got here it's hard to put it into words. Sunday I met all my host families over coffee and cake at my counselor's house then we played a soccer game!!!(the kids won of course) I saw the ships from the festival sail out of the harbor from my host dad's work and then my family and I traveled to Løkket (a city next to the water). There I swam in the NORTH SEA.... talk about cold water! My counselor took me into town on Aug. 2, to make me a citizen of Brønderslev!!
I started school that same week and it's very different from school in the states. I thought we had a lot of classes in the states but I am taking 10 different courses. I don't understand what the teachers lecture about but I have made some friends. Today (Aug. 9) I learned how the Danish folkdance in sports...(reminds me of square dancing a little bit). The Danish are very welcoming, nice people (which is good) and are all helpful.
Around the town... I have checked out all the stores (shopping purposes of course) and have figured out what a great style is here!! I'm going to become fashionable( haha I'll try..) The language barrier is difficult to accept but I'm learning Danish slowly.. I have picked up key phrases which I am impressed with. I have already learned that I need to be patient with myself because I can't pick up Danish in a week (however I am trying too).
That is what I have been up to for the past week and half and there is soo much going on around me it's just a wonderful feeling. I don't think it has hit me yet that I AM IN DENMARK but maybe some day it will.. Right now I am enjoying life and meeting tons of people!!!! until my next post... vi ses
September 6 Journal
WOW!!! A whole month as gone by and the phrase `time flies when you are having fun` are the perfect words to describe my life right now!!! I can't believe it has been a month it feels soo natural to be in Danmark now... it's home!!!! Well my family is wonderful!!! I feel a part of the family now!!! My sister has taught me a lot, since I have been here!!! I have done soo many things here that it would take days to explain everything... I think my honeymoon is over and I am starting a routine of school and other activities but it was nice.. it still hasn't hit me that I am in Danmark and in a completely different culture and atmosphere...
School is soo different here but its great.. I have met really nice people here and I have gotten a good group of friends to hang out with.. I have learned to use my Danish as much as possible and the Danes always laugh when I speak because I don't say it perfect (not yet) but some of my friends say they think it's flattering that I try to speak Danish.. I have met a lot of people on the trains and different places because most people will ask me a simple question in Danish... I'll understand what they are asking but I will have no clue how to response.. So I just use the 'famous' Rotary smile and say the best phrase I know "Jeg tale ikke godt Dansk!" (I can't speak good Danish). That is how I have met some really good friends here!!! It's wonderful.. I have learned to be very open about everything and have gotten over my shyness in order to make friends and have a good time here! However class is somewhat hard.... I am soo lost in class and I never have a clue what the teacher is saying but that is what friends are for... they just translate when it's really important!!! I do like to answer questions in class... in chemistry I rose my hand one day and answered this problem in Danish... everyone in the class was soo amazed!!! School in Danmark is very different... classes stay together all day long.. but it's nice because my whole class is really close and we do lots of things together.. I went to a class party the second week of school.. it was soo much fun and that is where I got to know a lot of my classmates better!
Rotary here is awesome.. they have had many activities set up for the exchange students! Three weeks after I arrived, Rotary had a get together in Nibe. All the exchange students in Northern Jutland went and it was soo much fun. We all sat around and talked and traded pins (my Rotary jacket is soo pretty)!!! I now know many exchange students that live close to me so sometimes we get together!! The last week of August, I went to Roskilde on the island Zealand for a language/culture camp. I took a train and crossed the WHOLE country in 6½ hours. (It was crazy to see how small the country really is.. you couldn't even make it to the southern part of Florida in that amount of time!) I met up with 97 exchange from all over the world that were having exchanges in Danmark. I have made soo many good friends. That week was a blast! We had excursions out to see different sites. We went to an old reenactment of a Viking village.. we got to see how they lived and what they wore and even how they made bread! Another day we went to downtown Roskilde and saw the famous church where all the Danish Kings are buried (very impressive). On Wednesday of that week we went to Copenhagen.. Saw the Frederiksborg Castle, the changing of the guards, the little mermaid and we went to Tivoli at night. Thursday night we had a Rotary BBQ and it was so nice because we were the entertainment that night.. we sang all of our national anthems then ended with the Danish national anthem! That week had many unforgettable moments!!
I have gotten to know my town pretty well and I know how to get around without being completely lost. My host sister and I go on bike rides now and see the countryside and ride to nearby towns. The first time I rode my bike, my legs and butt were soo sore the next day because I never used to ride a bike back home. It's very nice that everything is close by! I have gotten used to taking trains and have come to like taking them actually.. I have always met someone on the train and have talked to many of them since the train ride.. it's weird because my brother and sister are like, "you talk to people on the train?"... I guess Danes don't talk a lot with each other if they don't know each other but I just talk with people and it's quite interesting to meet different kinds of Danish people and hear about their background and stuff.. I am getting used to riding a bike places also but it is weird to go from driving a car to ride a bike! I have started to find after school activities.. I tried a soccer team in Aalborg but the age group was from 18-26 and there is a closer soccer club to me that I am going to go play for.. I am also looking into playing badminton and handball (Danes won gold medal!!) I am learning the language slowly! It's difficult with the three extra letters in the language å,ø,æ (and they sound soo funny)!! I went to the library the other day and got baby books with my friend.. it was funny because the books are so simple and when I look at them they are incredibly hard!!! My friend was like 'Oh I got this book when I was little' and we just laughed because we really couldn't believe we were in the little kids section of the library!!! This past Sunday, all of my host families got together at my third host family's house and we all sat around and talked and ate cake.. My third family's home has a basement room that was used in WWII..... it's soo amazing, it was used for taking down English (o no) planes...... I just think of how incredible it is to have such old historical artifacts surrounding you...
Life here is great... I haven't really been homesick.. I have had a few cases but then I just realize I'm here for only a year and I better not waste my time being homesick!! Just want to say thank you to Rotary and my parents for making this once in a life time opportunity come true!! I am saying goodbye for now... but I will write more..... soon!!!
October 3 Journal
It’s been about 2 months now sense I have arrived and I’m loving every moment!!
I have discovered the best food in the world... Yes there is many different tastes of Danmark but it’s all “good cookin” as I would say... They put the best dressing on sandwiches, pizzas and everything you can think of... yes I will be bringing home a suitcase of this dressing!!! Not only that but you have nutella in the morning (chocolate in the morning.. I know what a great country!) and the dinners I have eaten since I have arrived have been outstanding!!! The rumors are true though, you do eat tons of potatoes..... but I have learned they go with any meal!!!
There is so much to talk about besides food... School.. Well, school is completely different from back home.. You stay with the same class all day long and you change classrooms, as well as the teachers. This is really nice actually because the class becomes very close and that is where I have met some of my really good friends. It depends on the day but some days I get out of school at 1:30... and then you have the rest of the day to do whatever you like.. its really nice! O yeah, I think it's crazy that teachers just say when a class is cancelled... you don’t have substitute teacher or busy work... YOU ARE FREE!!! School operates completely opposite back home... but that is what makes this exchange soo great! I still don’t understand much of my classes, I guess because the teachers speak REALLY fast Danish.. But I do pick up on some words! In school, students always get up in front of the class and explain paragraphs in the book.. ( I guess to show the teacher they understand.. who knows) but I think its really fun because I will go up and my friend will write sometime on a piece of paper and I will stand tall and proud in front of the class and say my Danish sentence!!! Afterwards, one of my classmates will translate MY Danish into Danish so the rest of the class will understand!!!
I just came back from a weekend trip with my class.. We rented a house in the woods for a whole weekend of fun and “bonding time,” this is done with every first year class. The class stays together for 3 years until they graduate, so friendships have to form and what a better way of doing that by renting a house!! I have noticed a specific trait all Danes carry and I’m proud to say I have witnessed it. Danes watch out for each other, always there in good and bad times. My class watches out for each other, like they are family and it is such a great feeling to know that people care about you and you witness it by your friends' actions!! ( I know how sappy but it's truly a great feeling!!) I know I will walk away from this exchange with some amazing, unforgettable friends!!
I have started a sprog (language) school in Aalborg with a group of other students, some are exchange students and others are just international students... I love going there because the city is soo pretty and all the students are a blast to hang out with. Usually after a long, stressful, hard, brain-raking 2 hours of Danish class, we go to relax and enjoy true Danish culture at the local McDonald's!!! Haha... There is only one in the city so it is a true hot spot!! I wish I was picking up on the language faster than I am.. Many of my friends say I know a lot of Danish but I just get frustrated because I wish I could just speak fluently... I guess this is where I learn to be patient!!!(that will be a tough one to learn : / ....)
I have become involved in sports as well.. I am playing fodbold (soccer) for my local club and we rock... Right now we are the best ranked team and we will win our division!!!( I think it may be because they have an American playing for them!!! Let's keep that between you and me though) haha I am also playing for the school team.. however the school team is set up differently than back home.. they only practice once a week and you only play one tournament and that is it!!! (Pretty easy) We had our tournament last week and my school did pretty well. We came in 2nd out of 4 teams (I know not very many but I'm still proud). The fodbold matches were fun but it was soo much fun getting to know all the girls better! I am also running but that is for fun (I know running for fun ESPECIALLY while I’m on an exchange) but it's great bonding time with my host father and sister... It’s great fun to complain and whine about how “I can’t run this far”, “ Wait up you are going to fast” and “How much farther” haha... just kidding but we usually run about 7.1 km!!! O yeah I am trying to keep in shape so the “Rotary 15” doesn’t catch up AS fast!!!!
My town had the Brønderslev market the first weekend of September. This is a huge event you MUST go during the day to look at all the booths and at night for all the rides! (It's like the Jacksonville Fair but a little smaller) I had a Rotary weekend with my district in Hirtshals on September 10! It was such a great time because we went to the see old World War Two bunkers, the lighthouse, and this REALLY big fishing boat!!! We also had to make a presentation at the District conference and we had to show what exchange students are all about! I have also had a few school parties and Friday Cafes!! My school here does a lot of social functions for the students which is really nice because they are always so much fun and I always end up meeting new people!
My host mother’s mom past away on September 16.. it was a very sad week! I did meet all the family and bonded a lot with the two little cousins! Mette’s (host mom) sister came from China for a week with her husband and two girls.... The girls are soo sweet!! They are very smart as well; they can speak English, Danish and Chinese and they are only 7 and 10!!! I know incredible.. they taught me some Danish though!!! I have really experience all sides of an exchange... sad events as well as happy ones!! My host brother’s birthday was on September 22... He turned 15 so we had a big family party on Friday night!!! They are VERY patriotic for a birthday.. the whole house is decorated in the Danish flag and you eat SOOO much cake (must have gained 2 kilos that night). The birthday cake is of a man and when the person with the birthday cuts the cake, they cut off their head!!! Everyone screams, then cheers with laughter! Then once everyone has eaten the birthday cake another cake comes out, as well as rolls with chocolate in them and then another cake after that!!! While eating cake you drink hot chocolate then coffee and tea after all the cake is eaten!!! This takes about a good 3 hours then you have the hour or so for talking!!! Let’s just say I got to know some of the family really well!!! ; )
My family and I are getting along really well!! I was afraid before I arrived that my family and I wouldn’t be on the greatest terms and it would be a weird situation but that is TOTALLY opposite!! I feel apart of the family and they treat me as such. My host mom, dad and I will sit and talk for hours about different things and it's soo nice to have such a great relationship with them!! I think it's going to be VERY difficult to change families but I won’t think about that right now!!! My host brother and I talk a lot as well. I can just go in his room and sit we will talk about school, friends and everything!! It feels as if he is my real brother!!! My host sister and I are soo close!! I have started to refer to my host siblings as just brother and sister!!!
I am always busy, doing different things and sometimes I make days just to relax!!! I am having such a great time here!! I am genuinely happy and I LOVE DANMARK!!!! That is all for now I have a very busy month coming up as well... I have holiday for a week and I think my family and I are travelling to Amsterdam.. I have Rotary weekend during Halloween, as well as school parties for Halloween and I am going on another holiday weekend with my second host family!!! I will definitely fill you in on my travels!!!
November 2 journal
Wow I just need to take a deep breath.... I can’t believe it's been 3 months already and it only seems as if I arrived a couple of weeks ago... I have done SO much since I have gotten here that it amazes me... I find myself always thinking this is a dream and soon someone will pinch me and I will wake up! Ever since I stepped foot on Danish soil I have been at a loss for words.. It’s very difficult for me to describe how I feel or what I even think sometimes.. but I have gotten used to it and have accepted it!!! This past month has be packed, full of events and places to go!
Recap of October!
Oct. 1-3 I had a class weekend.. We rented a house and spent the whole weekend talking, hanging out and having fun!! We prepared our own meals and our class bonded... I think it’s GREAT that classes here bond and we all become good friends!
Oct. 8–17 was HOLIDAY!!! It was the best week ever! The first weekend I went to my friends house and learned how to ride a horse! It was incredible and so much fun! I think I have found a new hobby and I was always scared of horses (I guess because they are about 5 times bigger than me) but they are the sweetest animals! Her family was so nice as well!!! Then I hung out with some exchange friends in the town above mine and we had a good time... Eating Canadian Thanksgiving (I know I asked myself the same question.. what is Canadian Thanksgiving..) Well, it’s the same as ours!!!! Then my family and I drove to Amsterdam and we stayed there for 4 days!! We drove and stopped in Hamburg, Germany on the way.. Amsterdam is an amazing city and it has many different faces.. It has gorgeous views (I wish I took more pictures now thinking back on it!) and MANY things to go see and do!! It is definitely a tourist city!!! I went to the Van Gogh museum! It was soo interesting but at the same time a little creepy because they had his paintings in chronological order of his life and you could see his moods! I saw Anne Frank’s house, we went on a canal tour, saw a torture museum (sooo cool!!), red light district (that is a story of its own!) and we walked around the town seeing different sights!! O yeah I ate the best food there as well.. I ate African food with my hands, Argentinean food, Indonesian food and I had German food as well.. I can truly say I HAVE EATEN AROUND THE WORLD!!! (it is starting to show too : / ) haha That trip was amazing and I don't think I have words to describe everything about the city but I could write about it FOREVER!!!
Oct. 23-24 I had a school party that Friday night.. and it was a THEME party so everyone dressed up in different costumes... Saturday night I went to another party.. it was a joint birthday party! Three people had it together and we had to dress up as well!! It was so much fun and I knew mostly everyone so that made the night even better!
Oct. 29-31 HOLBÆK WEEKEND!!! It was a Rotary weekend where all 170 exchange students got together and had a blast! Yes it was the last time the oldies and the newbees would be together because the oldies leave in January (it was sad at times) but it was a blast! We danced the nights away and celebrated HALLOWEEN on Saturday night... I was a nerd!! Some people had some interesting costumes might I add! O yeah I just have to say that we are like the only country who celebrates Halloween (well Canada too) but not many other countries do.. so it was a first for many exchange students!! I know.... they have missed out on truly a great holiday! Haha
Besides all of that I have been enjoying school where I still don’t understand much but I seem to meet someone new everyday!!! So I can’t complain! I am still going to language school every week and it's so much fun I love going.. but I’m not really sure how my language is coming along!!?? Oh, I almost forgot.... Danmark had a protest!!! All the students went to the major cities and walked the streets, protesting because each year more money is taken away from schools and their education!! It was very interesting to see and one of my friends told me it happens every year ... (soo its a tradition now!!) haha I have made some really close Danish friends which makes school and stuff soo much BETTER! and of course I’m enjoying life (like usual!!) I love it here but I have to say it is getting DARKER here... It gets dark now around 4:30.. Its REALLY hard to get use to but maybe someday I will!! (hopefully) My life here over the pond is WONDERFUL!!! I LOVE IT!
Just wanted to say HI... to all my family and friends back home!! I hope all is well and everyone is enjoying life! Love you!
Hej hej Farvel
December 17 Journal
Sorry it has taken me so long to write! I have just been SO BUSY!!! I have started to become very busy always doing things and running from this place to another but I’m not complaining….. it’s wonderful! Well I have done a lot in the past month and half now so I will just recap really fast
I went to Skallerup Klit Holiday Center with my second host family. That was really fun. We went horseback riding, swimming, met the family, walked along the beach and it was hyggeligt!!!(My favorite Danish word... it can’t really be translated to English closest term would be cozy!) I had family all together which they considered their “Thanksgiving” and we had WONDERFUL food! We ate a lot, and played banko…. It was really fun because it was just one big laugh! Had a Rotary weekend in Hobro where we went to a “gas” museum and saw glass blowing! I know a gas museum you are probably thinking it was a little weird but it was a lot of fun!!! And I also had Thanksgiving! Two other exchange students (my closest exchange friends) Josh and Tegan (yes she is Canadian but who really cares!) cooked food for our families and had a nice dinner... We went around the table saying what we were thankful for (in Danish of course) and ate wonderful food... and I cooked the BEST apple-pie ever tasted!!! I also have started going to spinning classes with my friend Mette… It’s really good exercise and I’m always tired in the end… so hopefully it’s doing some good! Haha I am also going to GLASS CLASS!!! It’s awesome and so much fun! The kids there are all younger but I still enjoy it… I have made candle holders, bowls, picture frames… you can make a lot of different things!!!! I have been out to many parties with friends and just having a good time in Denmark. I have traveled a little bit, going to neighboring towns and just walking around taking in as much Danish as possible! Haha
The hardest part of my exchange yet came at the end of November… I had to move host families! It was hard enough leaving my family who was WONDERFUL!!! I couldn’t have asked for a better host family… they are kind, welcoming, sweet, loving, friendly family and they let me had a first wonderful 4 months here!!! Besides leaving them, I moved out into the country side (yes the country, most of you can’t even imagine it!) onto a pig farm… I think it was a wake up call for me and it took me a good week and half to get happy again. That week and half was definitely the worst part of my exchange yet until I talked to my mom… She gave me some words of advice and I took them to heart and now I am enjoying life and come to think of it, I actually don’t mind living on the farm… I like it here now! Yes it’s a long way from town and I wake up at 6 every morning to get a bus 7 to get to school at 8 but it’s all apart of life now… I have become very good at taking busses (at one point I hated busses because I got lost on one once and was late to my first day of language school by 1½ hours … not very fun!!) Haha I have realized that every family is different in their own ways and that is what makes them special… I am glad I have been placed with two great host families!!
A little about where and who I live with now… I live in Kraghede… a village between Aalborg and my town Brønderslev. I have 3 host siblings: Karl-16, Johan-14, Liselotte-11 and my host parents Hanna and Karl Erik. They are a really nice family, a little quiet but warm hearted humble people! We have many pets on the farm… 3000 pigs, 3 cattle, 2 horses, a cat, a dog and a rabbit! It truly makes it feel like a farm… kinda like a movie if you think about it… I look outside my house and see green farmlands; windmills from the kitchen window, stillness in the air outside and you can hear birds miles away because it is so quiet! I went horse back riding the other weekend and I saw 10 wild deer running, rabbits hopping about and the dog, Lonnie was following us and every once and awhile he would run off to chase a little animal!!! Oh, I almost forgot… SNOW SNOW SNOW!!!! It has snowed here… maybe not a lot but it was white on the ground, cold and wet!!! What else could it be but SNOW!!! The first snow fell on November 17 and it stayed until about Friday morning… I walked to the train station to see street sweepers clearing the sidewalks so people could walk… I saw an old lady shoveling the steps to her front door… It was WONDERFUL!!!! I also went ice skating in Aalborg with a group of exchange students after language school one day!!! I did really good… I DIDN’T FALL ONCE! I’m a pro now… I should say so myself!
I still go to glass class and spinning… Been to many Christmas parties at my gymnasium and with friends! I went one day to Århus to go shopping!! It’s an amazing city… Very big and lots of stores and people! I had a Rotary Christmas dinner as well… It was very nice… with traditional Christmas food and games! I went Christmas shopping with my host family in Aalborg then out to dinner! (It is one of their traditions during the holiday season!)
I can’t believe it’s about a week until Christmas… A few days until my birthday (Dec. 20) and it has hit me that I won’t be home for the holidays… I know it will be okay… I am really excited to experience a Danish Christmas since it is celebrated quiet different then mine back home… I will write about Christmas later!!! I hope everyone has a MERRY CHRISTMAS (God Jul) and a HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!
**I would just like to say… Thank you to my first host family FOR EVERYTHING!!! Also, Tegan I MISS YOU SO MUCH!!! LOVE YOU FAT TEG!!!**
January 2 Journal
Hello again!!! Well I know I just wrote but I must tell you about my holiday break!
My birthday was on Dec. 20th…. I had school so I baked cookies for my class and brought in some American candy to share!!! They all really liked it so that was nice! That night I had a nice dinner with some friends, my host family, Josh’s host family and host family to come! It was a really fun evening and lots of fun… I got to share with my friends where I lived and they understand a little more about my life now, since I live on the farm! (p.s. I have gotten use to the pig farm but still its hard to get from place to place but I have learned to work with that and now it's just a part of my life!)
We started holiday break on the 22nd of Dec. We had a Christmas party with my class and another on the 21st and then we had to go to school on the 22nd until lunch. Lets just say it was a rough day! Haha The 23rd was a relaxed day… We decorated the tree, put REAL candles on the tree along with hearts, candies and flags! My host sister and I made floral arrangements to make the house more “Christmas-y” and she even taught me DANISH Christmas songs!
Dec. 24th I woke up to what seemed like a normal morning…. After lunch we started baking many dishes! I put all my Christmas presents to the family underneath the tree and then got ready for church…. We headed to church… Every 15 min. we stood to sing a song! After what seemed like a lifetime listening to the preacher mumble in Danish we left to go back home! My host grandparents came over and then we sat down to eat dinner! We literally ate dinner for about 3 hours… we had bread, boiled potatoes (no surprise), potatoes with cinnamon and sugar (sooo good), red cabbage, duck, this pork with a crunchy top (the best in the world yum! My mouth waters just thinking about it) and potato chips! For dessert we had this rice pudding with almonds in it, with cherry or strawberry juice on top!! Dessert was a game, the one to find a WHOLE almond in their bowl got a present!!! Of course I found one!! YEAH!!!! (The food I just wrote about is very TRADITIONAL!!! Every year they eat this during the holidays only)
After dinner we all gathered around the Christmas tree… We lit the candles (I just thought... what a fire hazard… crazy Danes!) We danced around the Christmas tree and sang songs for about half an hour! Who would have thought I would dance around a tree! Hehe We also sang “Rudolph the Red Nose” to put a little American style into the evening! Then we started to open up presents… This took another 3 hours because we opened ONE present at a time and we all watched each other open their presents…. It was really weird to do this because I’m use to everyone opening presents and it’s all over within 1 hour! Well after this wonderful dinner and all the presents were opened we sat down for cake, coffee and tea!!! Finally, everything ended and we all went to sleep!
I woke up the next morning and walked downstairs to what was just a normal day! Dec. 25th was a day of relaxation, playing with gifts and enjoying the family time… Well I must say I missed my family A LOT that day… I talked to them on the phone but it wasn’t really the same! I have learned a lot about the holidays and learned to cherish friends and family because you don’t know how special they are until they aren’t there anymore!
Well the holidays are almost over for me… they went by so fast! During the holidays I have been out partying a lot! I went hunting as well… it was like I was in a movie with hunting dogs and shot guns and plans on how to get the birds up in the air… so much fun!!! I have also experienced the “holiday rush” after Christmas… I could have sworn all of Denmark’s cars were at the same shopping center as the one I was at!!! Haha New Years was a blast! The holidays in Denmark were full of surprises, lots of singing, many traditions and TONS of fun!
I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas! GOD JUL! I hope everyone has a HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! WELCOME TO 2005! (Time sure does fly!!)
(p.s. my digital camera broke.. that is why I have no pictures! But I will get that taken care of very soon! I just love technology UNTIL it breaks!)
January 24 Journal
Well I hope everyone is doing well and is enjoying life! Denmark is still amazing but it feels more like a home now.. I am used to everything and really comfortable where I am at now.. School is great and I have been gone a week because I was in a town called Hirtshals helping teach English to a class of 8th graders so I have started to miss it a lot.. well not the classes but def. all my friends! It has gotten really cold here.. We have snow on the ground now.. not a lot but its white pretty much everywhere so that is a big surprise to wake up to every morning!
As most of you know I am living on a pig farm now and I saw the pigs yesterday... My host mom gave me some clothes to put on.... We then drove to the other farm to see the smaller pigs... When you walk in the door you have to take off your shoes and step onto this wood platform.. then you wash your hands with disinfecting soap and usually you change your clothes as well but I didn't have to.. then you put on a different pair of boots that are on the other side of the platform and you dip the boots into disinfecting solution... then you walk into the long hallway... there was about 3 different doors on the right side.. each leading to a different room holding the pigs... we walked into the first one.. and there is one big aisle with about 11 little stalls on each side.. there held about 25 to 30 little pigs each... pigs are really scared... I was walking by and they all ran to the wall and looked at me as if I was a monster... they smelled like shit and made awful sounds... but it seemed they were always talking to each other because they would run to the wall and all the pigs in ALL the stalls would do the same.. kinda funny to watch.. Hanne (host mom) picked up a pig for me and she wanted me to hold it.. I couldn't do it because I found myself to be so scared of it.. I did touch it but when you get close to a pig you notice their skin is greasy.. it reminded me of a man with too much hairwax in his hair that it made his hair shine even when it was dark out... yeah you can just imagine now... but I also helped feed the pigs a special mix of oats/flour dust/medicine stuff.. they only feed the pigs this the first 11 to 14 days they are there... When you walked out of every room you had to wash your boots with a hose that was right outside the door... then when we left the first farm we came back to the wood platform.. took off the work boots, disinfected our hands and put on our other shoes and drove to the farm that I live at to see the BIG PIGS!!!!
We did the same thing with washing up and changing and stuff.. I have noticed even though pigs are really dirty that the whole operation is quite clean in a way.. always making sure your shoes are clean and changing clothes and just little things like that.. but this was an older farm... there were 6 different rooms with pigs and they ALL SMELLED worse then the other farm... the pigs were absolutely HUGE!!!!! these ones really scared me because I thought they were gunna break out of their stalls and just attack me.. hehe Hanne was laughing at me because my face had a look of scaredness and a look of how gross at the same time... I got to see the sick pigs.. they are in their own stall so they can be taken care of.. also if a pig is dying they usually drag it out by their ears into the center aisle and leave them there to die.. I saw it done.. kinda creeepy.. especially when you have to walk by several... for every pig that dies they have to pay 50kr. about ($10) to get them disposed because they have to go to a certain place... I couldn't walk up and down the aisles in all 6 rooms because the smell was unbearable.. I started to gag after the 2nd room.. you can't even imagine the smell and probably you are thinking "Megan grow up, it's just a smell, it cant be that bad.." Well all I have to say is... IT WAS!!!!!! you cant even imagine the smell... I asked Hanne how she can handle it and she says she is used to it but still I just thought this is a smell I could never get used to... well after our little adventure into pig land I got a nice long shower.. you see the smell is imbedded into your hair, skin, clothes and your nose.... after a 25 min. shower, half a bottle of shampoo and half a bar of soap later I had a nice little talk with my family and I think I finally understand a little more about farm life...
I imagined the pigs and everything to be really different.. I finally understand more about their work and life.. I felt better about seeing the pigs.. no I don't think I would jump up and see them again in a heartbeat but I came to understand about farm life and it was an enlightening feeling...
Sorry I don't have any pictures yet.. I have to get them on a CD first because I borrowed my host family's... my digital one broke so I'm waiting for my new one to arrive.. I hope everyone is doing well... Denmark is WONDERFUL!!!! Love you! kys og knus hilsen
March 13 Journal
Hej Alle Sammen!!!
Well time just seems to slip away and I can't believe it has gone by so fast!!!
I have been really busy these past couple of months and have had a BLAST!!! We had winter holiday and my host family and I went to Spain...
SPAIN IS AMAZING!!! I decided I will buy a house there once I get older.. haha such pretty views and lovely weather! We saw the market... it is every Thursday and there are so many different things to buy there.. Also we traveled to Granada to see the La Alhambra (a very old village with gorgeous gardens and castles) yeah.. I'm not too into the old historical stuff but this was so amazing and breath taking!!! We relaxed in the sun, shopped, enjoyed the company of Hanne's (host mom's) cousins and parents, traveled up the mountains to this little Spanish town and had a picnic under the orange trees also we went to Gibraltar!!! Gibraltar is a English part of Spain and it was SO GREAT!!! It has the Northern rock and from it you can see Africa, Spain, The Strait.. all at once!!! We saw the St. Michael Caves, The Tunnels, and the MONKEYS at the top of the rock!!! SO COOL!!! I even got a monkey on my shoulder!!! It was such a great trip!!! I saw so much and I even got to practice my Spanish.. haha lets just I screwed up a couple of menu orders and no one asked me again to translate for them!!! haha It was so nice to spend time with my host family!!! O and the weather was wonderful.. It was a nice change since we still have SNOW in Danmark!!!
School and my life here has been wonderful!!! We just had Galla a couple of weekend ago.. Galla is kind of like prom but not so over done... But we all dressed up really nice and had a GREAT evening!! We had to learn how to dance LANCHIER!!! We had to dance it that night with our grade... It is a really long dance... 5 parts... let's just say it takes a good 7 minutes to dance it and I probably messed up about 1000 times... but it was so much fun!!! Also, I have started to get into shape a little bit too because the ROTARY 15 is gaining on me!!! So I have started to BOX!!! Me and about 4 other friends go 2 times a week and box.. so funny to watch!!! haha I have also started bowling.. I know it sounds funny but I also have a cool shirt!!! haha
Oh yeah I almost forgot.. I moved host families this past weekend!!! My new host family is wonderful.. They are sweet people who are so easy to talk too!! I am also the only child in the house.. they have 3 kids but they have all moved out or are at university! It is so weird to think this is my last host family then I move again to go home... It's really hard for me to comprehend actually because I feel like my life is in Danmark... I have wonderful friends now that I always have a good time with them!!! I just love Danmark.. it's home!!!! Life here is wonderful and I really truly couldn't ask for anything better!!! It feels like I have it all!!! Oh yeah... We just had another Rotary weekend in Vejle.. everyone from all of DANMARK!! It was so crazy and so much fun... it's amazing to see what happens when all exchange students get together... but it was really sad as well because this marked me as being an OLDIE... the newbies just arrived about 1 month ago and were still clueless about a lot of things so it was a wake up call.. we sang our traditional songs and we all cried because we knew that some of us would never see each other again!!! It was a great weekend though.. we had a great entertainment show that night and I met so many cool Aussies and Brazilians!!!
WEATHER IN DANMARK IS CRAZY!!!! Yes it is spring but we still have snow.. it just snowed today too!!! It's so weird.. but we do have flowers that have bloomed but now they are covered with a nice frost!!! haha I love Danish weather! I hope all is well!!! Hopefully everyone is doing great!!
Hilsen Kys og knus
P.S. I give my Rotary speech this week!! AHHHH... I hope it will be okay but who knows because It's all in Danish and let's just say I'm not that comfortable with my Danish yet!! (keep fingers crossed)
May 14 Journal
WOW!! Where to begin!?! It has been a while since I last wrote and so much has happened that I could literally talk about it for days and days... well I will just try to summarize the past couple of the months the best that I can!
March- I gave my Rotary speech IN DANISH!!! It was so hard.. but I must say I did surprisingly well... Yes I didn't pronounce everything right and yes I got REALLY red in the face but after I had everyone standing and clapping for me because they were so impressed.. what can I say I'm just a natural at Danish!! hahaha I wish! I also had "spring break.." which was really fun! I went to my host family's summer house and helped them repaint and just enjoy family time.. Also my spinning classes ended.. I tried to exercise but ever since it ended I'm not doing so great.. haha what can I say!!
April- My Grandparents and my Aunt and Uncle came to visit me for the first weekend in April.. It was so nice to see them again.. we had a such a great time.. I loved showing them all my host families and a little bit of Danmark.. We went to Copenhagen with them for 2 days.. It was so nice.. I love Copenhagen.. Its a different "big" city... I met up with some exchange friends the day my family left to go back home.. We went all over Copenhagen just having a good time.. (There is a picture below of me and my friend Tanja on top of a really tall church on the outside.. there are about 400 stairs that go to the top of this church and half of the stairs are on the outside.. so pretty.. you can see the whole city!!) Also the 2nd week of school we got a week off to write this really important paper about a book... So I wrote a little paper, 1 page instead of 9 pages in Danish.. During that week I went to the zoo with my friend Josh.. So funny!!! they have a great playground there too!! haha I went to Århus with my host mom to visit my host brother and sister that live there... And shopping of course!! I don't remember if I have mentioned this but I started going to BOXING... great exercise and it's so fun to go with a group of friends... then after we go bowling at the local hall... I have also been to Randers to the "rainforest" with a bunch of friends.. it was a great trip!!
May- I went to Hobro with my host family to see gymnastics.. O yes my host family is very interested in gymnastics.. but its not what you are thinking its more rhythmic gymnastics.. really cool to see.. many Danes do gymnastics because its good exercise.. My host dad is the manager for the Danish National Gymnastics Team (which travels around the world and performs) and my host brother, Jacob made the team this year!!! It's really exciting! We had the DNGT over one night for coffee and cake.. yes about 35 people in my house.. it was crazy! I went to Lønstrup this past weekend as well.. It's a small town on the west coast of Danmark and it is falling into the ocean.. really big cliffs and a church is slowly falling into the water.. The weather is wonderful by the way.. It's SPRING!!! It's amazing how you learn to appreciate spring after a rough winter... its great.. so green.. flowers are blooming and yes bugs are out again!!! haha I love it!
As you know I lived on a pig farm for about 3 months - well I also had the pleasure of visiting a cow farm.. the coolest thing.. it was the only circle building cow farm in Danmark, that automatically feeds the cows to their nutritional needs... and it didn't smell as bad.. unlike the pig farm... Also I have seen a mink farm.. nothing but long houses of cages and cages of minks in them.. so many colors!!! I have seen all types of farms now.. this is a record!!!
Well I have Euro Tour next weekend... gone for 3 weeks around Europe... CAN'T WAIT!!!! Last day of school coming up on Friday.. I didn't think I would ever say this but I'm sad school is ending because I know everything else comes to a end soon after that... It makes my stomach turn thinking about returning home.. Danmark is home!!! I hope everyone is well!!! Until next time!
Hils Kys og Knus
June 15 Journal
Well this past month has been crazy and jammed packed!!! I finished school with a nice good bye and NO EXAMS!!! it was great but the day after "reading holiday" started, I was off on another adventure called EURO TOUR!
This was from May 21 til June 7... 18 days with 50 exchange students on one bus traveling around Europe and experiencing all different kinds of cultures, food and seeing SO many things!!! We went from Northern Jylland(Danmark) to Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Venice, Verona, Monaco, Paris and Brussels... It was such a good trip!!! I made so many good memories and have so many good stories that it would take days to tell you everything!! I took so many pictures (over 800) and I will post those soon (well not all of them)! Promise.... Our last day was probably the hardest because I had to say goodbye to so many exchange students that I knew I would never see again! I knew I made some life long friends and memories for life and I guess in the end that is all you can really ask for!!!
I have returned HOME and my host family and I have sat down and planned my final weeks in Danmark.. It's kind of hard to accept the fact that I am going back to Florida again but I guess eventually it will sink in... I have been really busy just doing important things with my friends and host family... It's amazing how fast your schedule fills up when you know you don't have a lot of time here!
This is the last journal I will write before I return to Florida!! This year has gone by so fast! A person who I look up to very much told me once "You have made it this far so returning home is just another piece of the puzzle!" It feels like I just arrived here.. clueless and looking for a translator and now I'm leaving what I have come to know as "my home!" My host families have been wonderful.. I couldn't have asked for better... They were always there for me and showed me so many great places! They have let me into their life and family and for that I can always call Danmark... home! My friends here are amazing! They have helped me really get into Danish culture and way of life! I know they are always there for me and I will always have a special place for them in my heart! This has been the best year.. more then I could have ever expected... I have learned so much, not only about Danmark, or different cultures or even language but about myself! I have learned that I can accomplish anything if I put my mind to it, how to be independent and how to lead! I have learned who I truly am, as a person! Exchange teaches you so much that I don't think we will ever know how much it has really affected our lives until a few years down the road and still we will crack up about the funny memories we had along the way!
I would like to say a BIG THANK YOU to Rotary because without you this would have not been possible! Thank you to my parents for all the support! Thank you to my host families and all my Danish friends!!! Thank you to Al for EVERYTHING!!! Tusind tusind tak!!! (a thousand thanks!)
Good luck to the new outbound group! Have the time of your life this year! Remember you only live once so enjoy the chance while you can! Congrats! to all the outbounds coming home.. We did it! A year went by and yet it only seems like a blink of an eye!
I am arriving home July 2...I will write again once more but until then...
Kys og knus