Sharon Steel
2004-05 Outbound to Denmark

Hometown: Gainesville, Florida
School: Gainesville High School
Sponsor: Gainesville Rotary Club
Host: Aarhus Vest Rotary Club, District 1450, Denmark

August 18 Journal

It’s amazing how much can happen in just over two weeks. I arrived on Saturday, July 31st after 24 hours of traveling (land and air time) and no sleep for a little more than 30 hours. I was way too excited to get any sleep on the plane, no matter how hard I tried. I spent the time watching movies, writing in my journal, listening to music, and hanging out with all the other Rotary exchange students that were traveling the same flight. My family picked me up at the Århus airport and there was the expected nervousness and awkward silences. I dozed off for most of the ride back to the house, but I couldn’t help notice the beautiful and different landscape.

Many Danes have asked me why I didn’t go to Norway or Sweden where there are beautiful hills and mountains. They think that Denmark isn’t really very pretty, but that it has other good features. However, when compared to the flat Florida landscape, the Danish rolling hills of Århus are welcome. There are certain places that you can stand where you can see the whole city.

My first host family is very nice. It consists of my host parents, Keld and Rikke, my host sister, Julie, and host brother, Frederik. They also have a girl my age, Sofie, who will be spending the year in Canada. In her absence, I will be taking her room. I met Sofie a few days before she had to leave. She showed me some areas downtown and taught me some of the bus system. She was a lot more depressed than I was about leaving. I did not cry when I said goodbye, nor did I have any urge to so for quite some time. It wasn’t until the end of my first week here that I shed any tears. My eyes would water cry at random things that should not have triggered tears. This lasted for about
3 days, and during that time I felt stabs of homesickness. I wasn’t homesick for Florida, I was homesick for family. That passed quickly though, and I am now a very happy person.

I am making many friends here. The people in my class are very nice and accepting. They try and help me out as much as possible and I spend a lot of time with them. One of my first days of school, two friends of mine took me downtown and bought me some ice cream (mango, passion fruit, and hindbær flavors). We had a great time getting to know each other. I remember that at one of the orientations we were told something a former student said, “I wish they could know me in English.” I don’t feel the same way. In Denmark, people CAN know you in English. Instead, I think, “I wish they can know me in Danish.” I want to be able to speak Danish. To be able to join in a conversation and understand everything that is going on. I don’t feel comfortable with people translating for me and saying things twice (first in Danish to the other people, then in English to me.) This is my main motivation in learning the language. Today I will start my weekly Danish course, and next week I will be at a language camp in Copenhagen. Hopefully, I will be able to start picking out words when the teacher speaks to us soon.

I’ll have a lot more to talk about next month.

Hej hej!


September 28 Journal

Hej everyone!

Well, my quest to learn Danish is progressing very fast. I can hold a conversation with my friends and generally understand the dinner table talk. The key is to not be timid. I make plenty of mistakes, and I practically have a flashing sign over my head screaming “FOREIGNER” when I open my mouth, but I don’t care. I say what’s on my mind and my sentences become more comprehensible as time goes by.

And time is flying. It has already been more that two months! I try and keep busy, but in Denmark that is a little hard to do. I have to be very forward and get my friends’ schedules at least a week before hand, so we can plan something to do on the weekend. Nothing spontaneous here. If I wait too long to see what they are doing, then the slot will already be filled and they will be too busy to hang out. Everyone carries around their student calendar/ appointment book, and they seem to be really organized. I’m looking into joining the clubs here. If not sports, then maybe a photography class or something similar.

I am going to change host families on November 1st. That seems far away, but I am sort of looking forward to it. My current family is a perfectly nice and normal family, but there is nothing holding me back from moving to the next one. My host siblings ignore me, and I get pretty lonely in the house. Maybe the next family will be better.

As far as school goes, I have settled into a general routine. There are certain classes where the teacher ignores me and as long as I turn in the rare assignments we are fine. In some classes I have special assignments that help me learn Danish. For instance, in my Danish class yesterday I wrote a poem describing the character of Gainesville, Florida. The rest of the students are analyzing an intense poem written by the Danish equivalent of Shakespeare, so it is understood that I have no clue what is going on. The special assignments are helpful in these cases.

Some interesting thing I have done lately include:
- Going to a Danish football (soccer) match. Very spirited and loud.
- Rotary camps where I met all the “oldies” from Australia and New Zealand.
- Going to many birthday parties and school festivals. It seems like everyone has their birthday in September!
- Learning the city like the back of my hand.
- Preparing for the Århus Kulturnat. (My city’s Culture Night)
- And I am currently starting a search for a Coffee House. They are practically non-existent here, but I have heard of some.

Well, that’s it for now.

Vi ses næst måned


October 27 Journal

Hej! So another month has gone by. My definition of time is definitely changing. The length of one week no longer has the meaning.

I’ve been pretty busy the past couple of weeks. I have already moved to my second host family. This family seems pretty nice. They are very different from my last one in several ways. I no longer have younger siblings. Instead, there is a girl my age, Kathrine, and an older guy named Andreas. We have a dog too! This family is really loud, outgoing, and active, whereas my last family was calm, quiet, and collected. I enjoy both so it all works out for me. Adjustment to a new surrounding is coming on pretty easy. I decorated my new room with pictures I have drawn and I’ve fallen in love with the outcome. I should really consider interior design… it’s a lot of fun. My host mom is really into art, so we have a lot in common. She suggested that we can paint together and stuff. She also said I can use her painting room whenever I want. It looks like it will be a lot of fun.

I never thought I would say this, but I actually miss homework. They don’t really assign homework to the students here, and when they do it is something way over my head. One of my teachers still has me doing little assignments, but the rest don’t really ask for any. I’m starting to wonder how the grading system works… no assignments, no tests… what is there to grade? I guess I’ll find out soon enough.

I’ll write more about what is going on here really soon, since I can’t think of anything to write right now. I do, however, have some news for you guys to think about….

MY FAMILY IS MOVING BACK TO FLORIDA! Not back to the same city, but I will still be able to visit and everything. I can come to the welcome home dinner and see all of you guys again. It looks like they will be going to New Port Richey in Pasco County (near Tampa for those of you who don’t know where that is.) I was sort of looking forward to England… but it makes so much more sense to be back in the states on so many levels.

As I said, I’ll tell you all more later, when I actually have something to write. And I'll throw in some pictures too...

Hilsen, Sharon

November 29 Journal

So much has happened, so much to say…. where do I start? Hmmm…let's do this chronologically then.

First off… I would like to thank everyone who told me I should keep a journal. You were so right.  I have been actively writing in a journal (for the first time in my life) and I'm very glad to have it. Actually, I’m currently on volume 2 since the first book filled up so quick. It also makes recaps like this so much easier.

I failed to mention some of the more exciting parts of October in my last entry. Such as the demonstrations that Megan told you guys about. I’ll just quote what I wrote about it at the time… It’s a lot more lively that way.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004 - “This is pretty exciting. My school is in the middle of a demonstration against education cuts. The students are barricading the doors and blocking the teachers from getting into their rooms. Actually, all the students managed to get all the teachers out of the class rooms and heard them into the teacher’s lounge with a series of human walls. It was really quite easy for them to accomplish because the teachers all agree with the students on the issue that they were protesting (they just weren’t allowed to voice their opinions or they would risk losing their jobs.) Half of the school just left to protest down at the town hall while the others stay and hold up the fort here. I'm learning a lot about what the different political opinions of the youth are. I wonder how many schools doing this. I know it is happening all over the country.”

Wednesday, October 06, 2004 - “Day two of demonstrations. Yesterday I headed down to the town hall at around 2 o'clock after "holding down the fort" at the school. There were hundreds of students down there. Very exciting. Then, last night, there had been a planned film festival that was still on. I went there and many students slept at the school so that when teachers and students arrive today everything will be blockaded. More than ever do I wish I had my camera here to photograph this. They have a series of chairs and stools in front of the door in the shape of Sata's sled. They even have animals and decorations all over it. There is an old fashioned alarm clock with wires attached that looks like a fake bomb around the chairs. That would SO get someone arrested in the states. They also have this inflatable alligator on top of the chair pile to "ward off" all who dare enter. Its a lot of fun. I don’t know how long it will go on though. A lot of people do not agree with it. I'm not taking any political sides in this, I’m just observing and learning. To me, it sounds like the demonstrating group would be the extreme liberals in the states. Even though the two political systems are incomparable. After this demonstration I am to give a speech about the USA to a class of 8th graders. (that means slow speaking and hopefully they will pick up some of my English) I just got the information on what I am to talk about last night. It should be easy.”

Thursday, October 07, 2004 - “Day THREE of demonstrating!  It ends today though. They were demonstrating in the morning, and then everyone voted and we ended up heading to class instead. Classes just resumed as if nothing had happened and the demonstrations weren’t even mentioned.”

I spent Halloween with all the other exchange students in Denmark. It was nice to meet all the “oldies” (the exchange students who arrived in the winter) but it was also sad because it was the last time we would see any of them. It was actually a weekend put on by rebound exchange students from Denmark who went to America and fell in love with the tradition.  Here are a few pics from that weekend:

Moving onto November…

This month has been SO busy. Filled with ups and downs.  The downs being the discovery of exactly how much weight I have gained since I have been here. My clothes still fit so I’m not worried there, but I have become more physically active. Now every Sunday I rollerblade around the lake (10 kilometers). It also makes for some quality bonding time with my host sister, Kathrine, who joins me.   

I’ve also noticed the weather a lot lately. The absolute beauty of autumn was stunning. And when that disappeared I was captivated by the way the frost glittered all over the city. Then we had snow! It only lasted one day and then it rained and turned into slushy mush… but it was snow all the same! It’s gotten a lot warmer since then.

How about I quote a few more of my journal entries…

Wednesday, November 24, 2004 – I went to this movie that was all in French with Danish subtitles with my French class. I was amazed at how much I understood. It is so much easier to read Danish than to listen to it. I know I am not happy with the amount of Danish I speak. I spend way too much time speaking English because it is so easy to just fall back on. But after watching this movie I thought back to when I first came and how much Danish I knew then and I realize that maybe I have learned a thing or two. I now understand what people are saying... I just need to work on speaking it myself.”

I truly believe that it is harder to learn the language here than in some of the other countries because of how much English everyone knows. My friends flip from Danish to English and than back to Danish without even realising it, and they do that with themselves too, not just with me. TV and movies are in English, the radio is dominated by American singers,  and often the billboard advertisements are even in English. I’ve come to realise that this is part of the culture. American culture and Danish culture are so intertwined that I can no longer pick out the differences between the two. It's hard for me to remember if the meal I am eating is something we have back in the states as well, and stuff like that. When speaking English people here either have a Danish accent or an American accent, and they use American slang all the time.  

Thursday, November 25, 2004 “THANKSGIVING! It completely and totally rocked!  I made all the classics…turkey, stuffing, yams, green beans, biscuits, corn bread, deviled eggs, potatoes and gravy. I had tons of help from my host mom with getting the ingredients, but I ended up cooking most of it myself. I had a blast though. I truly enjoy being busy and stressed. After everything was cooked I kept pacing the kitchen trying to find something to do until my friend Julie looked ate me and was like… “Sharon, slappe af!” which means calm down in Danish. Two of my friends came; Julie and Camilla, and my host family consisted of 6; my host parents, sister, brother, grandma, aunt, uncle, and cousin, and then 3 family friends came as well. So in total, 13 people showed up for the dinner and I am happy to say that it was successful. Everything tasted the way it should and people seemed to love all the food. They were sceptical at first with the thought of marshmallows on top of sweet potatoes that are an orange color, but they loved the taste. And stuffing is the hardest thing to describe in Danish.”

Sunday, November 28, 2004  – “First Christmas tradition of the year! I woke up and noticed I had a Santa hat tied to the doorknob outside my bedroom. Inside the hat was a little gift! I opened it and there were the most beautiful earrings inside. My host mom rocks! So I learned that this is the start of Advent and every Sunday until Christmas we will be getting a present on our door when we wake up. So cool.”

The Christmas season is now upon us. The city is decorated in lights and everyone is getting into the spirit. I think I’m going to have a lot of fun celebrating Christmas. Not only will it be my first Christmas in Denmark, but it will be my first Christmas ever! The traditions are so different here, but I’ll wait to tell you guys all about that in my next entry.



January 25 Journal

Hej alle! It’s about time I wrote another journal entry…sorry for the delay…

So I’m stuck at home with the flu... yes...home. Because that is what this place is to me now.


I never thought it was possible to have more than one home. If you think about it there isn’t any reason for there not to be. “Home is where the heart is,” and seeing as there are people with my heart all over the world, then I guess that means I truly have more than one home. Home is not a place, at least for me. I used to think about “home” and I would picture my mom, dad, and sisters. Now I when I think about “home” I see this little screen with arrows pointing in two separate directions. I follow one and I see the previously mentioned faces of my family. Then, if I follow the other arrow I see all the faces that I have encountered here, most prominent are my host family and friends.

So the people are my home, not the place of residence. This is important to know, seeing as I will be changing my place of residence at the end of this month. I’m not sure how I feel about that. I love my current host family. I fit in perfectly and I’m comfortable here. Staying with them has been an awesome experience and I’m not sure if I want that to end. I’m at the point where I look forward to telling my host mom what I did that day and casual banter with my host siblings comes naturally to me. My current host family organized a little get together with my next host family a few days ago. Nothing big, just a casual cup of coffee to talk over. I’m pretty sure this host family was just as curious as I was to see what my next one would be like. We discovered that they seem incredibly nice and they have a witty sense of humor. Sarcasm is something that the Danes have perfected. I wouldn’t be surprised if they invented it. Anyway, we talked about where I would live and what their life is like. There is promise of travel. The most recent being a trip to Paris on February 12th, the beginning of our winter break. It will last for 3 or 4 days and I am incredibly excited! Overall, I think I will love it at my next family as well. Which will hopefully add even more faces to my picture of “home.”

But I can write more about them later. I have been so incredibly busy that I haven’t been able to write about what has been going on since my last post. So lets recap on the last two months:

December began with the duty of deciding what our return date would be. I know, right? Only December, and we are already thinking about which date we should return on? Well I finally decided on June 3rd. So now that that is out of the way, at least I don’t have to worry about it. It did come up in a recent conversation, however. In my language class we were discussing the fact that a new batch of exchange students arrived on the 23rd. Officially changing our status of “newbies” to the more respectable status of “oldies.” It made us think about how time is moving so incredibly fast. I have been here for almost 6 whole months, meaning I only have 4 more months left in Denmark. Then someone said that 4 months is actually around 17 weeks. 17 Weeks! Barely anything on the scale of our lives. This is an open door of opportunity, but the door will only stay open for so long. I really need to make these remaining 17 weeks worthwhile.

Then on December 7th, the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah came. I took the opportunity to share with my host family aspects of my life. I told them the story of how the holiday came to be and we participated in some of the traditions together. They were with me when I lit the menorah for the first few times and on the last night some of my friends came over and we played dreidel. I only felt a slight twinge of the “holiday blues” that many exchangers get. It passed after talking with my family and listening to them celebrate the holiday over the phone. Here is a pic of the menorah that my family and I lit.

Later in the month, I took part in an awesome Danish Christmas. The week before Christmas I made tons and tons of cookies with my host sister, Kathrine and then on the 24th I went to the church with my host family. After that we all went to my host Uncle’s house and we spent ‘Juleaften’ or Christmas night there. We had a really traditional dinner and I had a good time getting to know everybody. Then Mads (host cousin), Kathrine, and I went to get all the gifts from the car and put them under the tree. Now there were millions of gifts. I’m amazed we fit them all under the tree. Once we were done we had to leave the room for my host Aunt and host Uncle to light the candles on the tree (they use real candles instead of Christmas lights to decorate the tree). When they finished they let everyone come back into the room and we all stood around the tree. Each person got to choose which Christmas song we wanted to sing, starting with the youngest child and working our way up. We held hands and danced, sung, and laughed around that tree. Then Mads, Kathrine and I took turns pulling out gifts and handing them out to everyone. I had so much fun and got so many cool things. Definitely a great first Christmas! But it doesn’t end there… In Denmark, not only do you have Christmas night on the 24th, you also have Christmas Day on the 25th, and Second Christmas Day on the 26th. I spent the 25th at Mathilde’s house for a ‘Jule frokost’ meaning Christmas lunch. Basically, it is just an excuse to eat lots of Christmas foods. And then everyone came to our house for the 26th to eat even more food. So much fun.

Then the beginning of January commenced with an awesome New Year’s. It started with a large get together at a family friend’s house where we ate more food and listened to the Queen’s traditional New Year’s speech. Afterwards, I went to a party at my friend Jakobe’s house. We saw the fireworks at the school (cause she lives right next to it and it has the best view) and they were really pretty. Instead of there being one huge professional show for you to watch there are fireworks all around you. Every other house in the city was setting off the expensive stuff. No matter which direction you turned you saw fireworks. It sounded like a battle zone (or is that battle field?) One tradition that stuck out in my head was that everyone stood on the chairs for the countdown and jumped down when the clock struck midnight. I’ve been told that this is not necessarily a Danish tradition but that it is still very popular among many Danes.

We also had a hurricane in the month of January. It was actually the first storm I experienced in Denmark. You get all sorts of weather here. In one week you can have rain, snow, hail, frost, wind, and clear skies. But we never seem to get actual storms here. I remember looking out the window and seeing the trees sway and bend. It reminded me of Florida. The sound of wind blowing the trees against the windows and branches falling on the roof. The only thing is... in Florida you also have the sound of pounding rain during a storm. That was missing here. It seemed to be all wind and only a slight drizzle of rain. Anyway, it was a HUGE deal to have a storm/tropical storm in Denmark. The whole country freaked out about that one.

And on the language front. Speaking Danish has been getting easier and easier. I think less about what I am saying and words seem to flow out of my mouth now. I consider myself rather fluent in the language, even if I have troubles with certain words in certain situations. Danish comes naturally to me now and I often think solely in Danish without realizing it.

The last thing I wanted to mention is that I have been in a REALLY great mood lately. For no apparent reason the past month has been just awesome. Everyone says that this is where the exchange gets good, and I have a feeling that they are very right.



March 20 Journal

Wow, I’m amazed at how much has happened since I wrote last. The beginning of my exchange year had periods where I had absolutely nothing to do and therefore nothing to write about. Since then, my plate has had more and more piled onto it. To the point where I do not have enough time to fully digest what is going on in my life anymore. That’s where writing in a diary comes in handy. I can sit down and just let words flow through my hand. The speed at which they come is increasingly fast and in no time I have a record of what is going on in my head. I seriously recommend to all exchangers to write in a journal often during your year abroad.

Journal keeping can sort of be related to cleaning a teenage bedroom. Clothing strewn all over the floor, bed, and desk. Homework papers covering all the remaining counter space. There is no time to go in a pick up the mess, so instead it just gets worse and worse, until you just can't take it anymore. The decision is finally made to crack down and clean up. It takes a few attempts to find enough discipline to get started, but after awhile a routine starts to form. Before you know it, the room is clean and you feel so much better about yourself. The same goes for keeping a journal. Your mind is the room and your thoughts are the sock on the chair and the stack of papers by the door. As the words flow from the pen they organize themselves to form a nice and tidy mind. Anyway, I’m getting off topic here. I guess the point I’m trying to make is that the more often you write the less often you have to clean it up. I’ve been slacking on my writing duties so its about time I clean out the old attic.

To start with, I moved to a new host family. These people are amazing. I feel so at home and comfortable here. I have two host siblings, Mette and Søren, two host parents, Jens and Vibeke, and a dog named Malou. Mette is fourteen years old and the perfect shopping partner. She has become a close friend and is one of the easiest people to talk to. Søren is eighteen and has a great sense of humor. Though I don’t see him very often, since he lives at an English speaking school in another city during the weekdays, we have had enough time to get to learn quite a bit about each other. Vibeke and Jens welcomed me with open arms and attentive ears. Within the first week that I was here I felt “a part of the family” and the awkwardness that normally lingers at first, melted away at a shockingly surprising speed.

I have been developing lots of bonds lately with those around me. Obviously with my host family, but also with my friends. We’ve had a lot more time to hang out and acquaintances have become close friends and close friends have become best friends. Bonds have formed and I wish to keep them intact for as long as possible. I’m starting to get mixed feelings about returning to Florida. It will be a true test on these new strings that bind us together. Hopefully I will be able to braid those strings into strong ropes within the next two and a half months.

Mid-February saw a trip to Paris with my host family. We had an awesome time there and I have to say that Paris is the most beautiful city I have ever visited... despite the horrible weather we had. We managed to fit all the most important tourist sites into just one week jam packed with days that required good quality walking shoes and a relaxing bath that night. I was amazed at how much French I actually understood and how easy the Metro is to follow. The art in the Museé D’Orsay was stunning. I saw Degas pastels and Van Gogh’s portraits, along with many more artists that I have studied and favored.

The architecture of the Sacré Coeur is impressive and we were actually able to go inside and watch a real Sunday service. Everyone that steps foot in that building respects the holiness of the place and even though there were hundreds of people inside, only the sole voice of the priest resounded in the room. The Notre Dame is a contrast in so many ways to the Sacré Coeur, but it was beautiful in its own right. We went to so many places and ate out at so many restaurants. We had a great time.

After Paris, we spent the rest of the Winter Break at my host family’s summer house. And in a few days we will be returning to said summer house for påske ferien (Easter break). It is a peaceful and sweet house in a small town on the North-Western coast. It is very common for people in Denmark to own both a normal house and a summer house. The summer house is a perfect place to go and get away from it all. A great concept.

Then on February 24th I had my birthday! It was so perfect. I woke up early for a traditional birthday breakfast. Mette had spelled my name out in gummi-bears and all my presents were sitting out next to mini Danish flags. I got to open my presents and every present was perfect. My host family had gotten me awesome gifts, my previous host family sent some and had just received a package from Florida. It was absolutely perfect. My mom called later in the day while I was drinking the Barnie's coffee she had sent me and my grandparents called later in the day. That night we ate a special dinner and we had a traditional layer cake and I blew out the candles. The whole day had this really nice and very special feeling to it... one of the best birthdays I have ever had.

Most of March consisted of stressful homework and getting sick again, but soon I was off to Berlin. We did so much; tourist sites, school assignments, partying, and just hanging out. I learned a lot about my friends and a lot more about how they interact with each other when living together. There has been a sudden burst of improvement in my language skills and that is all due to the help of my friends. The simple act of correcting my grammar when I speak and write is a welcome way of learning. We talked about all sorts of topics, from what our favorite foods are to the casualness of sex in Danish teenage life. We had a blast. There is so much that we did that (knowing me) writing it all down would take pages and pages. I won’t bore you with all the details and instead I will leave you with one sentence. This trip has been just one of the many experiences that have made this year one to remember and cherish.

Sort knus,


May 28 Journal

My life has taken a very surreal turn lately. You see, I realized that I only have 5 days left before I hop on the plane back to Florida. It doesn’t seem real. I feel like I suddenly jumped off the carousel and now I’m looking for something to grab so I can jump back on. Only, the carousel is moving too fast and it is impossible to continue life as it was. I have to step back and move on and find a different ride at the fair. It's a strange feeling, but it is something I am ready to do. I’m going to see my family again. I am going to see my old friends. I’m going to re-visit my old life. I’m going to stop living this “dream” and wake up to reality.

But my reality is not the same reality as the other exchange students. As I mentioned in previous journals, my family has moved around a bit since I have been on exchange. They moved to England and then back. They are currently (and now permanently) living in Tampa, Florida. They moved into their new house a few days ago. So I won't be returning to “the way things used to be.” I will have a new city, new house, new school, new friends, new job... the list could go on and on. I won't have to worry about people expecting me to be the same way I was before I left, because I will be starting fresh once again. I sort of feel exactly like I did before I left to come to Denmark, I am on the verge of a new adventure.

As for a recap on what I have been doing since March... well, I wouldn’t know where to begin. I celebrated my first Easter. It was lots of fun. My host siblings and I received a big cardboard egg filled with millions of chocolate, licorice, and marzipan mini-eggs. Easter was also my host grandpa’s 80th birthday. So we had a huge party with all of my extended host family attending.

I also have continued with my new fascination with mother nature. Here is an except from my diary in April:

søndag, 10. April 2005 I went out to go on a walk with the dog today and it truly felt like spring. The birds were all singing different songs, and the sun was warm on your skin despite the cool breeze. The trees are budding with spurts of leaves and baby pinecones. All the dogs were running around chasing and sniffing each other. People were having picnics and riding bikes. Truly and completely SPRING. I've never actually seen spring at its fullest before. In Florida they say that the seasons are described as; almost summer, summer, still summer, and Christmas. We never really feel the change from one season to the next. And that change is actually very deep. Everyone's face now bears a smile. People's moods are lifted and the overall happiness seems to be contagious. I didn't even realize that winter was making me slightly depressed until I saw how spring did the opposite. I think I sort of had the opposite of cabin fever. I always wanted to stay inside and sleep instead of the other way around. I had wanted to stay in the so called cabin and not leave but now it's different. It's a time of change.

I’ve been doing some traveling around Denmark as well. I visited Copenhagen, not too long ago, with my host sister. We had a blast. We went to all the tourist sites and did a whole bunch of shopping. Then I went to Ebeltoft with my host mom one weekend. There was a new Hans Christian Anderson exhibit at the glass museum and we were curious and interested. That was also lots of fun.

Oh yeah, on Thursday I gave my Rotary speech. I spent 40 minutes standing in front of my club talking about what I did this year in choppy, nervous Danish. They all seemed really impressed with it afterwards, but while I was talking I kept on looking into their really bored faces and thinking, “should I be making more jokes?” But it is done and over with now. They told me that all their previous exchange students only talked for five minutes and in English, so I went far beyond their expectations.

When I got home from the Rotary meeting I proceeded to bake 9 dozen cookies. I have become famous here for my “American Cookies” (you have to love the recipe on the back of the Tollhouse Chocolate Chips bag). I mentioned to my friend that I was making the cookies for my going away party and they all literally jumped for joy. It made me smile.

Then the next day was the going away party. I had a bunch of friends over. Eleven friends actually. We had a blast. We made dinner (with lots of potatoes) and drank wine while talking our mouths off. They got me this beautiful necklace with matching earrings as a goodbye present. I’m going to miss them so much. Really.

Then today all of my host families are coming over for a farewell lunch/dinner. I think there will be around 15 people here for that. I cant help but think that that will be a little weird. When I think of my life in Denmark I sort of think of 3 different mini-lives, and now they will all be in the same room at the same time. I hope it wont be too strange.

But then again, as I said before, strange and surreal have become flashing billboards in my life right now.

Besides that I have just been living regular old normal life. Gossiping with the girls about which guy we think is cute, stressing over school grades, making plans for Friday night. You know... normal life. It’s funny that when life becomes completely normal, I have to leave.

So this is my last journal. I want to thank everyone that read it. To all of you that are thinking about becoming exchange students in the future, go for it! To all the outboards that are succeeding us, good luck! And to all the exchangers that are finishing up our exchange year, congratulations, we made it!

Thank you Rotary. You changed my life.

Knus og kys,