2005-06 Outbound to Denmark
Hometown: Alachua, Florida
School: Eastside High School
Sponsor: Gainesville Sunrise Rotary Club
Host: Aalborg Stigsborg Rotary Club, District 1440, Denmark
August 9 Journal
Hej! It is I, Sierra, here to tell you of the spectacular journey to Denmark! That is right, 8 days ago, I arrived here in Denmark and boy was it quite a journey...
Hallie and I left the Jacksonville airport on a flight to Detroit where we met up with 8 other exchange students, all going to Denmark. It was nice to see the familiar Rotary blazers once we arrived in the Detroit airport. So we all made small talk and awaited our plane that would carry us to Amsterdam, then Copenhagen, then Aalborg, DK.
Finally we were able to board the plane and we were all getting very excited, looking forward to the 8 hour flight to Amsterdam (hah!). Then an announcement was heard... it turns out there was a delay because a luggage carrier had hit the side of the plane and the damage was being assessed. So we waited some more... and it turned out we would actually have to change planes. Mind you, this is after being on the plane for over an hour, at least. So all of the passengers got off of the plane and on to another, and we finally left the Detroit airport, ready for the 8 hour flight.
Unfortunately, because of the 2 hour delay, all of the exchange students going to Denmark missed the connecting flight from Amsterdam to Copenhagen... and the next one wasn't until 7:30 PM. Luckily, there was a way to get to Copenhagen earlier. Instead of waiting 10 hours for the next available flight to Copenhagen, the nice people at the airport decided to reroute us through Southern Germany instead. So we flew from Amsterdam to Southern Germany to Copenhagen. By doing this, we arrived to Copenhagen at 7:30 PM rather than around 9 PM... and we were able to spend a good couple of hours in a random German airport. By the time we arrived in Copenhagen, all of the exchange students that had domestic flights out of Copenhagen to other regions of Denmark, had missed them. Soo, we stayed the night in a hotel in Copenhagen, and FINALLY left for our final destinations the next morning. I was anxious when I arrived to Aalborg, but my host family and my counselor were there to greet me and it was a wonderful experience.
And that was the journey. Oh, what a journey it was. I was lucky though. I didn't lose ANY of my luggage on the way. I think I was one of 3 people that actually got both of their bags.
But I love it here in Denmark. I have been doing so much! I have been meeting people and seeing movies and exploring the city! My 15 year old host brother leaves tonight for Chicago (Rotary Youth Exchanger as well) and I start school tomorrow.
Aalborg, DK is a beautiful city. The weather is perfect (Although most Danes think I am crazy for thinking so. Their idea of perfect is FL weather. How ironic.) and the people couldn't be nicer. Oh and did I mention, I love DANISH. I can't wait to learn it. I am working really hard, but at the same time it is difficult to talk in Danish when everyone talks to you in English!
The cuisine here is interesting... So far, I have tried many foreign foods. My family welcomed me the first afternoon with a lunch of bread with pickled herring on top. Pickled herring was quite interesting... raw fish with a slightly sweet taste. I can't say I enjoyed it completely, but at the same time, it wasn't unbearable. I have also tried liver paste and duck. Both of which were not that great. But hey, I'm trying! I was very proud of myself for trying such interesting foods, especially because I was a vegetarian before coming here to Denmark.
I can already feel myself growing up a little bit.
Well, that is about it for now. I hope all of the outbounds that haven't left yet are as nervous as I was. It's worth it. I think the pre-departure anxiety makes everything seem so easy once you finally get to your country.
So for now, I bid you adieu.
September 21 Journal
Denmark is amazing. I have been here for almost two months and I am having a spectacular time.
I went to a language camp last month and it was very helpful. I have begun speaking Danish with my host family as much as possible and it's great. I feel like I have accomplished so much by being able to marginally understand this language. I think the best way to describe how Danish sounds is to imagine a person speaking German while eating mashed potatoes. Yeah that about sums up the Danish language. But it's truly beautiful.
Danish people also say thank you for EVERYTHING. There isn't a one-word equivalent to the English word 'please' so instead, they say thank you. I love the overabundance of thanks everywhere. Thanks for food, thanks for the ride, would you pass the water thanks. It's adorable.
I am also very glad to discover that my Rotary Club is wonderful here. They provided me with a bike to ride to and from school and they have been very prompt about giving me my allowance every month. They have also been very good about having Rotary weekends for all of the exchange students to hang out and relax together. PLUS! Every time I go to a Rotary meeting, people only speak to me in Danish, as if testing me, and when I reply back in Danish, they congratulate me on my fast learning and invite me over for tea. Also, my Rotary Club took me bowling a few weeks ago. My counselor said I was good at bowling and he attributed this skill to the fact that I am American. I found that to be funny, seeing as I hardly ever bowled in the states.
Unfortunately, learning Danish causes my English to die. The other day it took me about 5 minutes to remember the word 'citizen' and before that I had forgotten the word 'potential'. I feel like I need to tightly wrap my head in bandages so that English doesn't slip out. Although I am forgetting my mother tongue, I am still learning this exotic language.
When it comes to school here in Denmark... it's amazing. It's much easier than school in the states. We never have homework other than reading, and in the 6 weeks of school, I have had only one test. I usually am able to leave school around noon every day and there is a 10 minute break to hang out with friends between every class. I tell people about how we had the same six classes every day in the states and how in nearly every class, we were given homework every day and people just gawk. They don't understand how a social life would be possible with that much school. Before coming to Denmark, school didn't seem that hard, but compared to the laid back pace of schooling here, I don't understand how students in the states don't fall over from exhaustion.
Being laid back seems to be very important here, not just in school, but in all aspects of life. There has to be as much "hygge" as possible.
Dinner is a particularly interesting event for me. In the states, I never ate dinner with my family. Instead, my mom and I ate dinner whenever we were hungry and we usually ate different things. But here in Denmark, dinner every night is an event, a time to sit together with the family and discuss what you have been up to lately. It's a time to reflect and enjoy being alive.
So far, while being in Denmark I have learned the following:
- How to eat every meal with a fork and a knife (even pizza and burritos!)
- How to say thank you for everything.
- How to pretend to understand by smiling and nodding.
and most importantly...
- How to just sit back, relax, and enjoy living.
So thank you once again to Rotary for providing me with the chance of a lifetime.
Oh and pictures coming soon... I promise.
Med venlig hilsen, Sierra Greaves
November 5 Journal
Three months down. I know everyone says it, but it feels like I just arrived yesterday. Time flies when you're in another country.
So here is the low-down as to what I have been up to since I last wrote...
Well, I wasn't having such a great time at my school and my counselor and family believed it to be a good idea to try changing to another school. So now I am at my new school, Aalborghus Gymnasium, and I love it. The people are so nice and the teachers are great. I think the best part about starting over at a new school is that no one talks to me in English anymore. It's a huge help to learning the Danish language. Everyone at my old school always spoke to me in English if even just out of habit. But not anymore!
Speaking of starting over, I will be changing to my new host family around December 1st. While I am a bit sad about leaving my host family, this will start a new chapter of my exchange. I know how to do it this time. I think the first host family is the most important family though. What they do impacts your entire exchange. Luckily, my host family is extremely helpful with Danish. We try to talk only in Danish (surprisingly I CAN!) and when I don't understand, they just rephrase what they're saying in Danish instead of switching to English to clarify. They also correct my Danish as I speak so I can recognize mistakes and not make them again. So to sum that up, I couldn't have had a better first host family. I will miss them a lot.
A few weeks ago was efterårferie (autumn break) here in Denmark. My family took me to a cute little beach town about 30 minutes away called Blokhus. It rained the entire time we were there, but I still enjoyed it. There are so many differences between Danish beaches and Florida beaches. Florida beaches are sunny, crowded places with boardwalks to the beach because we can't walk on the dunes for fear they will disappear. Danish beaches are deserted treasured beauties. They're cold (those poor Vikings who had to bathe in the sea) and there are massive dunes lining the beach. Dunes you can climb ON! I felt like such an explorer as I tried to maneuver my way through the awkward overgrown paths. Also while at the beach, we went bowling multiple times. For some reason everyone takes me bowling here. "Oh you're American?! We should go bowling sometime." But back to the beaches... they take your breath away. A run on the beach in the morning is the best way to start the day.
As for my life back here in Aalborg, I must say, it's nice to have good friends again. The first few months are incredibly hard. You leave your closest friends and family behind and are forced to start over completely with people you hadn't met before arriving at the airport. It's a bit like being thrown into a pool without knowing how to swim. First you go crazy and flail your arms fearing you will fail and drown... then you realize the pool has steps so you hang out on the steps for a while (steps being English language... just to clarify). Then one day (because you are obviously in the pool for multiple days) you gain the courage to try to swim. At first it's a bit shaky, but that quickly subsides when you discover the system. I started trying to meet people by speaking English, but that didn't completely work... so I tried in Danish... and people responded in English. I was utterly confused as to how I was supposed to meet people! But as the language came faster, the friends did as well. I have made some of my best friends here and it's going to be so hard to leave them behind. Harder than it was to leave my friends in FL. The difference is that I don't know if I will ever see the people here again. That is a horrible feeling. But that is why one must simply live in the now. Okay, I must change the subject, this one is depressing me.
Sooo for activities here in Aalborg, I have been trying to do EVERYTHING. I tried playing basketball, rowing, playing in a jazz band, playing with an orchestra. Unfortunately, I have realized I can't do everything, it's impossible. It's so much better to concentrate on what you really enjoy. I love music and I plan on excelling at music during this year. There is no point in clouding that goal with activities that I just do to do. Time is just so precious here.
Ohh I nearly forgot! LAST WEEKEND I TOOK MY FIRST TRAIN RIDE EVER! Unfortunately, it was nearly 6 hours long, so the novelty wore off quickly. But it was a fun weekend. We had a get-together weekend in a town called Holbæk (kind of near Copenhagen) and it was a blast. We danced and talked all weekend long. Exchange students share a special bond with each other. While Danish friends are important to have, no one can understand you quite like another exchange student can. We share host family horror stories, talk about our fears, and just vent. It makes one stay sane in this crazy exchange student world.
So yeah, I am having the time of my life. And to all of you that are considering being an exchange student, stop considering. Just do it. You will never regret doing it but you may regret not doing it.
I have learned so much about myself and the world while I have been here. It feels like I belong. Who knew learning how to swim could feel so... natural.
Jeg savner jer.
Kys og knus,
Sierra Renee Greaves
December 9 Journal
Sooo. Starting out the fifth month here in Denmark. And I am really beginning to feel at home here. It's mildly depressing considering I am leaving in about 6 and a half months.
I wasn't quite sure how to start this journal, so I decided to make a serious of drawing to show how my transition has been so far here in Denmark.
The first drawing represents the first month I was here. The month most often known as the honeymoon period (wasn't that it??). Yeah anyway. This period of time was filled with complete euphoria. I was in a new country and I was completely loving it! I never wanted the exchange to end!!!! (thus why I am tightly gripping the rope in the drawing)
The second drawing represents the second, third, and fourth months I was here. These were the hard months for me. I was constantly homesick and missing the comfort of being around tons of people that I love. My host family was really understanding, but during that time I did nothing but wish I was home... therefore I sort of let my exchange year rush by me... and I did nothing to stop it (notice how I let go of the rope in the lovely drawing).
The fifth month (current month) has been great. I just moved host families and I am loving my new family. I am starting to make some realllly close friends, and I am always doing something! Unfortunately, I waited to long to grasp that rope again, and now my exchange year is slipping away. It's nearly halfway through.
I not only made these drawings for a visual image. I made these drawings for those thinking about the exchange program. If you do, indeed, go on exchange, pllleassee don't make the mistake I did of letting go of that rope. Time is precious. Especially when you are on exchange.
As for new happenings with me... Like I said, I just moved host families and they're great. We speak only Danish and I have even acquired a lovely 8-year-old sister, which is really great (I have always wanted a sibling. I used to ask for siblings for Hanukkah... my mom always just laughed at me). She only talks Danish to me and if I speak English, she yells at me. haha She is a cutie. But I feel much more comfortable at my new family. My first family was great, don't get me wrong, but I just feel like I fit better here. I never feel like I am in the way like I did with my last host family. So I think the move was a really great thing for me.
Other than moving, nothing much has really been going on here. I have been going to school and living a normal life. Haha school is very different here though. They never get homework and they only have one test per year (exams at the end) and even at the exams, they only test in 3 of their subjects. I have no idea how I am going to get used to schooling in the states again... homework every night, quizzes every day. I smell a possibly burn out. Hahaha. I'll manage. But I must say, it has been really nice taking a year off of stressful schooling. I feel much more relaxed and at peace with myself.
I wish I could tell you all of how I have climbed a mountain or fought a bear, but Denmark doesn't have mountains or bears (according to them) so I can't say anything as exciting.
Just know that I am having the time of my life and loving every second.
Thanks to Rotary... and everyone else that allowed me to do this.
Jeg savner jer alle! Vi ses om 6 en halv måned.
January 30 Journal
I have a horrible confession to make. Take a deep breath... are you ready? Okay here goes, I have been a typical exchange student and let two months time elapse since I wrote my last journal. I now give you permission to kick, scream, and what-not. Alright, the next thing I have to do is apologize for my strong lack of any English ability. My English has nearly completely gone away. My American accent has morphed into a weird British Danish American accent. Basically, I am having a cultural identity crisis. WHERE DO I BELONG???
Partially this process was brought on by tasting instant macaroni and cheese for the first time since I have been here. My uncle sent it to me in a care package. And I was soooo excited. I used to eat it ALL THE TIME. Well my family doesn't have a microwave, so I had to cook the pasta over the stove. And as I stirred the cheesey powder into the pasta, my heart did a flip... I couldn't wait to taste macaroni and cheesey goodness. So here came the moment. The fork entered my mouth. And what I expected to be paradise... turned out to taste like pasta and cheesey chemicals. Is it possible for taste buds to change? I don't know. But I have no idea what I am going to eat when I go home to Florida. Lots of... vegetables I suppose.
Anyway, I supposed I should also cover what happened over Christmas and whatnot. Instead of attempting to recall, I will simply send an excerpt from my journal to you all. Here goes:
December 26, 2005 - "So the 24th, I woke up early to help dress the tree. That is another difference here in Denmark. They don't put the tree up until a few days before, or in our case, the day of Christmas. But it was fun. The tree is a lot smaller than those I have seen in the states. And part of the ornamentation involved real candles. The first thing that popped into my mind was "uhh fire hazard!". But my first Christmas tree was adorable. So we hung out most of the day preparing for night time festivities. We headed to church around 3 pm... Christmas being one of the few days Danes go to church. And we listened to a short Christmas sermon that involved much singing and much standing up, sitting down. It was interesting. And the priest had one of those cupcake neck things on... I wonder if they aren't a bit uncomfortable. Anywho, after church, we walked back home to find the table set and ready for Christmas dinner. But we still relaxed for a while and talked in the family room as we drank a French drink that tastes of licorice (my host mom's mom is FRENCH and she has a cute little French accent when she speaks Danish). So when the time came, we sat down to dinner. So out came the first dish. I looked at the plate. A light brown substance resembling cat food stared back up at me as the two pieces of bread looked hopeful. So me being the adventurous one, I tried the light brown substance. At first it tasted of garbanzo beans... so I thought, hey I am safe. Then it started to taste a bit like cat food smells. So I was wary.
Then my host dad made the mistake of telling me what it was. Ground up duck liver. Mmmmm. Great. So out came the next course. Goose, potatoes, sauce, something purple and shred up. I tried the goose, but after eating the duck liver, I was a bit queasy minded. So I gobbled up many potatoes and patiently waited for dessert. Dessert on Christmas is fun. Danes eat rice pudding stuffed with cream and almonds in it along with a berryful dressing on top. There is a game to go along with the dessert as well. In the pudding is placed one whole almond. The person that finds the almond and doesn't chew it up, wins a prize. I didn't win, but I thought it was also a clever way to make everyone eat as much dessert as possible so there are no leftovers. So after dinner, we went into the sitting room and danced around the tree while singing Christmas songs. I couldn't stop laughing. We had to change directions every once in a while when people became too dizzy. After dancing around the tree, we ran around the house in a train formation singing a song that was like "Nu er det jul igen... balh blah" I couldn't catch all of it.
But that was fun. We went alllll around the house, up the stairs, down the stairs, and when we reached the sitting room again, we were able to sit down, relax, and open allll of our presents. I was lucky enough to receive all of the Anya and Viktor movies (typical Danish teenage movie), a necklace, a belt, some crazy leopard print rain boots, two lovely candle holders, and some movie gift certificates. So that was a lovely evening. A lovely first Danish Christmas, I must say."
And that was my first Christmas.
As for new years, I had dinner and watched the Queen give her yearly speech on the television with my host family. Then I walked over to my good friends house and we brought in the New Year in a typical Floridian way. WE ATE SNOW. LOTS OF SNOW. Well, I guess it's only typical for Floridians living in another country... but it tasted so good. So we added it to every drink. And when the clock struck 12 (no ball dropping, just a huge clock on the television), we all jumped and screamed and cheered and cried and did things people do on New Years. What really got me, though, was that everywhere, seemingly all across Denmark, was shooting fireworks off at the same exact time. It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. Of course, with this countrywide use of fireworks comes injuries. There was one Danish man sort of near Aalborg who was drunk and stuck a firework in his mouth and his jaw was blown completely off. Moral of story... don't drink and set bombs off in YOUR MOUTH.
After Christmas and new years, I haven't really been doing much. I have gone to school, hung out with friends, I got a membership at the gym. Oh speaking of the gym, I am proud to say, I have not gained any weight since I have been here. I have definitely lost a lot though. Kind of weird considering I eat more meals here than I did at home... but I am definitely not complaining. Back to what I have been doing though... my life has hit a real normal point since I have been here. I sit sometimes and picture what life is going to be like back in Florida. And I honestly can't. I belong here now. I don't gaze awkwardly at bus time tables, I know where to get a good cup of coffee. I don't wander around in circles when trying to find my way around. And it's nice to be comfortable in my surroundings after 6 months of awkwardness. But the next months have much in store for me.
February... the 7th is my birthday. That's right guys, the big 1-7. I plan on hanging out with friends the weekend before and after my birthday. It'll be a huge weeklong birthday. Then the 17th of February is the beginning of my week long winter break. On February 19th, I am visiting my host mom's sister in Århus for a few days and then toward the end of the break, my family is talking of taking a trip to Germany... That covers February really.
March... the first weekend, I am going to a huge Rotary get-together in Copenhagen which I am stoked about. I have only been to Copenhagen once since I have lived here... and that was only the airport and a nearby hotel. The second weekend in March, I am changing host families... to my third and final host family (wow, that sounds so weird). Then the week after the moving weekend, my class is taking a trip to Rome. I'm not going with them due to monetary issues, but I plan on getting settled in at my third host family's house and I will probably go to school with friends from other schools. Toward the end of March, I am getting some visitors from Florida. That's March.
April... April 7, I am going skiing in France with my third host family for a week. And those are the only big plans in April so far.
May... not too much happening until May 18, when I am going on EUROTOUR. That's right, 60kids on a bus traveling around Europe. God, I can't wait. It's going to be so much fun. We come back on June 4, so it's a looong trip.
June... after coming home from Eurotour, I plan on traveling as much as possible around Denmark. My departure date has been decided for the 22nd of June. So I dread this month... it's going to be full of many many many many goodbyes. Goodbyes I know I am not ready for.
And what scares me... is out of the 5 months I have left here, I have only 6 free weekends left. SIX. That's absolutely nothing. This has been a slow month, but the next months are really going to fly with all the stuff that is going to be happening.
Oh and I have another thing to say. I HATE SNOW. Hahaha. The first time I saw it here in Denmark, I was like "awww it's so pretty. I want to touch it and jump in and be happy". Now I just want to walk around with a human sized salt shaker, battling the horrible monster known as snow. The monster that causes me much embarrassment when I slip and fall on my bum (every day, at least once). And the snow that quietly covers you without your knowledge... until you come home and realize you are soaking wet. I am definitely not a snow person... but I must say, when I am inside, I don't mind it too much. It's rather pretty and it keeps everything clean.
But yeah, there is my really confusing journal after two months of not writing anything.
If you upcoming outbounds have any questions, any at all, feel free to get in touch. That's what we're here for.
I love you all. And hope everything is going well... see you in a few months (STILL SO WEIRD TO SAY)
March 31 Journal
WOO another two months since I wrote my last journal. I suppose I have been avoiding it in a sense, due to the embarrassment of my English. That, and I've been on my death bed for the past three weeks.
Yep that's right guys, I've been extremely ill. Luckily, healthcare is free in Denmark, otherwise my doctor's bills would be through the ROOF. But unfortunately, I've been to the doctor four times in the past three weeks only for them to tell me it's a virus so it'll go away alone (even before this sickness, they always told me that every time I came to the doctor -- SUPER). But the last time I went, it finally occurred to the doctor to test me for the dreaded mononucleosis (horribly spelled). Yes, the "kissing disease". I was in shock as they filled three HUGE vials with my blood and proceeded to bandage my arm up afterward. I thought, "MONO??!! THAT'S IMPOSSIBLE!" And they told me to wait two days until they could get the results back from the lab (the past two days actually... because I found out today). The main reason I was worried though, is because I am going to France a week from today... for skiing. And everyone knows that people with mono aren't really able to do anything.
But it turns out, I don't have mono! WHEW. Two days of worrying for nothing. But I honestly have never been so sick in my entire life as I have been in Denmark! It's insane. Even the Danes say that unusual amounts of people have been really sick this year, more than usual. They believe it's because the winter was incredibly long this year. It lasted from November until late March... complete with bundles of SNOW. haha. I will never ever say I hate Florida weather again. Now I know why so many people migrate to Florida. haha. Don't get me wrong, snow is absolutely gorgeous, but after a while, a person can grow tired of a need for snow boots and huge jackets and hats and scarves and long underwear and socks and 500 shirts.
But I'm having the time of my life regardless of this sickness, and spring is on the way! I just can't believe I'm going back to Florida so soon. I would say home, but it honestly doesn't feel like home to me right now. Denmark is my home at this moment. To think of having two homes, is just mind boggling. I doubt it'll hit me that I'm going home until I land in the airport in Florida and suffocate from the intense humidity in the air.
The weird thing is that every time I do think of going back to Florida, my Danish life is included in my Floridian life. I picture going out with all my friends from both countries and seeing my host families on a regular basis, at Rotary meetings and afternoon tea dates. But it won't be like that. I'll have to travel across an ocean to see this life I have created here. Hmph depressing.
Well, that's what I have been feeling lately, sick and sad about leaving. But I guess I should also give a bit of an update on what it is I've been doing since I last updated January 30.
Well with early February came my well awaited seventeenth birthday. I woke up in the morning to my host mom and little host sister singing me happy birthday... in English. It was so cute. I had some friends over for pizza and cake and I made peanut butter cookies! Then we headed to a cafe and watched a documentary they were showing about Against Me!, a band from Gainesville. It was kind of cool that they showed it on my birthday, I thought. It's not every day they show documentaries about Gainesville bands in Aalborg, Denmark. After that, Sebastian and I went to the student house to hang out and chat a bit, and we ran into two girls from my class, Pia and Camilla. We went to a bar called Hr. Neilsen and talked for a while before Sebastian and I nearly died of exhaustion so we headed home.
The following weekend, my friend Sebastian threw a birthday party for me and afterward we headed into the city to meet up with some other people and continue the celebration. So all-in-all my birthday was a lot of fun.
The next big event that happened, was winter break, where I went to Århus and Hamburg with my 2nd host family in late February. So here's what happened...
-taken from my livejournal because its more accurate than my memory-
Saturday - Went to an IB party wooo. Twas fun. Came home early to pack and stuff for Århus the next day.
Sunday - Left for Århus with my host family. My host mom and dad drove Signe and I down to Århus (2nd biggest city in Denmark). We went to an Art museum then to a Turkish Bazaar. The Bazaar was so cool. There were Turkish people every where. Selling random music and clothes and food. It was like the Waldo Flea Market kind of. But definitely way cooler.
Monday - My host aunt (the person Signe and I were staying with in Århus) and Signe and I left early in the morning to take the train into Århus from Hjortshøj, where she lives. We got to Århus and explored a few churches. Then Fie (the aunt) and Signe went home and said I could shop the rest of the day. So I contacted my two Århus buddies, Mike and Dora... and we hung out and went shopping, went to a cafe, and grabbed some ice cream (which is surprisingly okay despite the freezing temperatures outside). Then I took the train back to Hjortshøj alone and we ate dinner and watched movies. On
Tuesday - we had some lunch and Signe and I took the train to Aalborg. Twas fun. I met up with Sebastian in the city and we had a jolly good time. We hung out at the student house and 1000fryd, where we met some new Americans. We had gotten to 1000fryd right after a show with two American bands. All the people had left, so it was just the bands hanging out.. we hung out and talked to them for a bit. It was fun to pick their brains about the first impressions of Europe compared to the States, etc. It reminded me of when I first got here.
Wednesday - More hanging out with people, etc. haha. Just relaxing.
Thursday - We got up around 7 am and got in the car for our trip to HAMBURG, GERMANY. I slept almost the entire way there and we got to Hamburg around 2 pm. It's so weird to be able to say we drove to Germany... haha. We spent a long time looking for our hotel, but we found it eventually... located in the heart of Hamburg's SEX DISTRICT. Too funny. There were like 15 sex shops in our vicinity of Hamburg, but it was nice because it was located in the middle of the city. Entirely accessible on foot (and we definitely didn't use the car at all during our time there. My poor knees and ankles). Well after we checked in to the hotel, we walked to a few old churches and explored the city. We had dinner at a nice place along the water. I had pasta :) and we all tasted some German beer (except Signe of course). It was nice to have a good beer with dinner. Afterward, we walked back to the hotel and slept off carlag. haha.
Friday - We woke up early and headed into the city for a museum trip. Our first stop was an old church that was bombed during WWII. There was an underground museum with pictures and information about WWII and the destruction of Hamburg by the allied powers. It was very very intense. And there were pictures of all the dead people and what not. It was definitely a downer. After that, we took a walk to a street called Deichstrasse. It was one of the few streets in Hamburg that wasn't bombed, so all of the old houses were intact. One of the houses foundations was so sunken in, the owners of the house had to have special windows made due to the leaning tendency of the house. Haha. Quite amusing. Afterward we walked to another history museum all about Hamburg. I concentrated on seeing the display about Jews in Hamburg, which was, like the first museum, quite hard to fathom. It was an interesting display though. They even had a model of a synagogue. A life-size model, complete with headphones so the Jewish prayers could be listened to. After the museum, we went to a cafe and then shopped for a while. I picked up a cool hat... kind of like an old German woman hat. It was cool to buy things with Euro instead of kroner. We ate dinner at a little vegetarian restaurant but it didn't taste that good. Then we went home and we slepppppppt. Apparently at 2 in the morning, some other Americans in their twenties checked into our hotel and were running around the hallways giggling and screaming. Ha. Americans.
Saturday, we went into town and we had time to do what we wanted. I walked around the city alone for a while and took some pictures as well as shopping a bit (of courseee). We then drove home to Aalborg and I met up with Sebastian in the city. Unfortunately, I took a cold with me back from Germany... and I still cant manage to get rid of it.
Sunday - relaxation and preparation for starting school again the next day.
So yeah.. Germany was cool. Much happened. Many weird things were seen.
First day - a random German guy came up to me in the street and started rapping in German... none of which I understood. Hahaha. But it was mildly amusing. Then he realized I couldn't speak German and he started rapping in English. He rapped about how rapping is his job. And he raps in the streets every day to get money. buahaha.
Second day - I saw a man dressed as a clown (badly dressed, I might add. His makeup was just sad looking). And he started doing forward rolls on the sidewalk and ninja kicking the air. It was so bizarre.
Third Day - I saw a band that looked like they jumped out of the 70s playing a Fleetwood Mac song in the middle of the street. I might add, they were quite good. They had a stand up bassist, a guitarist, and a drummer with a bass drum made out of a box, a snare drum, and a cymbal. Too cool.
And there were tons of people just standing on the streets playing music for money.
I would actually consider moving to Germany, Hamburg specifically. IT was much more real seeming than Denmark. Less fakeness... a little more harsh. I like towns like that. They remind me of the US.
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You still with me, kind readers? Because this is becoming one of history's longest journal entries... and there's still more to come, just hang in there.
March 3, I went to a Rotary weekend in Copenhagen. Sebastian, Rasmus and I drove to Copenhagen for my get together (they were staying in Copenhagen, so I caught a ride with them instead of taking the train). It was fun, we rode the Ferry from Jylland to Sjælland. It was beautiful and the sun shined the entire time. Then we finished driving to Copenhagen and they dropped me off at the school the Rotary get together would be at. I was one of the last to arrive, but it made for a really warm welcome. Tons of hugs and cheers. I missed my exchange friends. Then we hung out for a while and just relaxed the whole night, going to bed eventually around 3 and waking up at 7:30. I'm definitely not a morning person and we were forced to sleep in the hallway on a cement floor with just sleeping bags so I didn't sleep too well that first night. And I woke up to one of the people in charge pulling my sleeping bag out from under me saying "TIME TO GET UP". So I said back to him. "Seriously man, that was really mean. Don't do it again," and I went back to sleep for 10 minutes. Then I learned how to do the Lancier, which is like the coolest dance ever. It's like a Royal Danish square dance. Then we had time to get ready for the GALA fest which is like prom. So all the girls put on nice dresses and all the boys had on nice dress shirts and ties. And we paraded in with our dates and ate dinner... which elegantly turned out to be Mexican buffet... hahaha. It didn't fit the occasion at all. Then we watched some performances in the auditorium and listened to a big band played (while we swing danced along with them). Then after the performances, we all got up and danced the lancier and then were dismissed to the discotheque awaiting us out in the cafeteria. Complete with strobe light and DJ, we danced until 3:30 in the morning. It was such a fun weekend, but it's the last time I got to see a lot of my favorite exchange students, which made for a really depressing goodbye.
March 12, I moved to my third and final host family (strangle me now, it sounds so weird to say that). My host mom, Susanne, is hilarious and she talks so much and REALLLY FAST. And she's like super mom. There's always cake ready for afternoon tea and she's been really nice about taking me to the doctor multiple times per week. My host dad, Steen, is an engineer and recently got 30 million kroner (6 million dollars) for doing something with engineering (not entirely sure about what... I get confused when we talk science things in Danish. Then I have two host brothers, Sune (14 years old) and Lau (18 years old). I was kind of scared about coming into a family with two host brothers, but I am growing to love it. They tease me and push me around and are like real brothers to me. My little host brother and I even stayed up until 12 am one night just playing video games. I almost wish I had some brothers in FL... this family is going to be so hard to leave.
Well, since the move, I haven't really done anything except lie in bed because of sickness. But, a week from today, like I said, we're going skiing... so I'll just have to try to write a journal entry about it before two months elapses and Eurotour takes over the spotlight. EUROTOUR... MAY 18! Mark your calendars.
then I'll be back to see all of you June 22. Woo.
April 27 Journal
Well, not too much time has elapsed since my last journal, but much has happened.
During the påskeferie (Easter break) my host family and I went skiing in France. It was beautiful. We stayed in an apartment on the ski slopes in Val Thorens (a largely famous ski town). It was so much fun. I fell down so many times, but I had never seen mountains so tall. I even paid a visit to Europe's highest bar (located on top of a glacier that we skiied down). Unfortunately, I got bronchitis while on the ski vacation, so I wasn't able to ski as much as I would've liked, but I still made it out at least once a day, because I'm a trooper. We even made a few night trips into town.. we went to a Danish bar called Cafe Snesko (yeah a Danish bar, in France). It was a great way to bond with my older host brother, because there was always live music. The only downside was the long dark walk home in waist-deep snow. Other than that, it was just so amazing to try something new like skiing and by the end of a week, actually understand it. It was a major exchange student moment when I realized how much I had learned.
Sadly, I have to put another "unfortunately" because when we came back from France I was placed in the hospital because my bronchitis had turned into pneumonia. I had high fevers and a bacteria count of nearly 200 in my body (supposed to be under 10). I found out my lungs and blood were full of bacteria and I was pumped with antibiotics for a week. It was my first time ever being in the hospital but it was a good experience, despite the whole being sick part. My friends came and visited me every day along with my families and the nursing staff was very nice. OH AND IT WAS FREE. Because Denmark is cool and socialistic. HIGH TAXES FREE HEALTHCARE. I'm not complaining.
But one thing I must say is that hospitals are not for people that don't like being poked with needles (me). I had 4 different IVs, and blood tests every other day for a week. Ew.
But I'm all better now and getting revved up for EUROTOUR... which will be absolutely amazing. I'll be sure to write another entry afterward, so see you all in June!
Kys og Knus,