David Ocampo
2009-10 Outbound to Denmark

Hometown: Fort Lauderdale, Florida
School: Pompano Beach HS
Sponsor: Coral Springs - Parkland Rotary Club, District 6990, Florida
Host: Faxe Rotary Club, District 1480, Denmark

David's Bio

Ever since I was born, I possessed an insatiable curiosity, like most babies and young children, in just about everything. Whenever I felt that I did not understand some concept, or anything for that matter, I would search through any means to comprehend it. Sixteen years have passed and that interest is still as strong as ever, although aimed in different areas. As I grew older, me and my parents became increasingly worried that I had absolutely no decisions on a career. After taking a French course in my Freshman year at Pompano Beach High School, I realized that every language is a door to discovering a new world to explore. With my previous knowledge of the Spanish language, which is part of the Latin language family like French, I became able to sustain conversations in French after a semester of the class. Experiencing English, Spanish, and a taste of the French worlds, my curiosity for languages and cultures grew exponentially. Deciding to attempt a career in international business, I signed up for the Rotary Exchange Program to find a new language, culture, and world.

I believe that people should have a good understanding of something before constructing an opinion of it. This idea I try to follow has led me to enjoying many activities and certain times however my hobbies, more specifically the avocation I take part in most often, are the arts. I am currently in the Florida Youth Orchestra and have played in every concert they had available, including Williamsburg, Virginia's (the United States' oldest city) 400th Anniversary. I am also playing, and singing (another hobby of mine) in my church every Sunday. I have been dancing for most of my life in the Hispanic parties my parents hold, and although I have only been ballroom dancing for one and a half years, I have won in all 6 Newcomer events and am currently competing in 9 Bronze level dances. In my spare time between dance, singing, and violin practices, homework, and family affairs, I make games to play with my brothers (9 and 11 years old) and write.

I am amazed that I am being given this opportunity to explores Denmark's world, learn the Danish Language, live the Danish culture. I can't wait!

David's Journals

August 21 Journal

OK so I missed 2 weeks because of visa problems, but this was sooo worth the anxiety! I feel "caught-up" already! I feel so connected to people here now. Where before I had to ask questions for the simplest of things, like using a toilet (the button is on top and there are 2 different flushes!), now I can do as if I lived here my entire life. Walking downtown is still a little wobbly because although there are fewer cars then what I'm used to, these cars will NOT stop for you (I learned that the hard way :P ).

When I arrived I didn't know what to look for. I looked so awkward. While everyone seemed to look like they knew where they were going to, walking in straight lines. The lightheadedness and the confused circular walking made me look more like a seasick passenger on a rocking boat! I knew what they looked like, more or less, but I was just so confused for some reason. Their sign helped so much! A "David" sign and a Danish flag led me down to them just fine.

I didn't know whether to speak English or try at mumbling Danish. They spoke English after I gave them a blank stare when they tried Danish. The drive home was a bit awkward so we just drowned it in laugh after laugh. They showed me everything that came to mind or that I asked. Some of the questions confused them and then I had to go and explain how going to things would normally run in Florida. It felt cool! I'm starting to see differences more strongly now that the travel excitement is wearing off but I'm also starting to see my state and country differently (or should I say more closely). Now that many things are different, you're almost forced to see every in detail, for better or worse.

My friends here speak English to me, but I'm starting to speak Danish with my host family a lot more. I need to try and speak with my friends but it seems so much easier to understand adults speaking. Some people can't speak English so well, so speaking can get tricky. With just about everyone, whether they speak English or not, some words that would be completely normal in South Florida make people give me puzzled stares here. I feel my way of speaking changing along with my vocabulary.

School's great! Students smoke right outside the school which was a bit shocking to me at first, but everyone is very nice. If you can't (or don't want to) stand smoke they'll be fine with it and not hold it against you. School is so much more relaxed here. Sometimes I get hurried because I'm late to a class and people just walk like nothing's happened; half the time the classroom is not even open! People are allowed to drink in class and most teachers don't seem to mind that you don't listen. People take out their cell phones and laptops and do whatever but most still listen.

Sometimes I wish we could adopt some of Denmark's policies or behaviors and some Danes say they wish some things could be more like Florida or the US in general. I now think it hasn't happened and might not work simply because of differences in culture. People are not used to those things and most will not be willing to change. Even though our cultures are so different, I see the people much alike. I already knew this before I came here but I guess I never really believed it. I've never seen something so different yet so alike before.

I'm going to like it here... :)

September 9 Journal

I have been so busy! All my time so far has been divided between school, Rotary, and the host family. But I think I get why, without it you sit with nothing to do. Now that vacation feeling is over and all that Rotary get together stuff is done, you really feel like everyone is knowing things you don't know, seeing things you don't see, and laughing at things that, at least when translated, don't seem funny at all.

Even here, where many people speak English and mostly well, people will speak to you for a second or two (probably because they feel sorry for you and/or awkward with you just standing there) and go back to speaking with everyone else. One of my friends here said that, for him, it's just too hard to speak with me as much as he would anyone else, but with another, who has lived in the US for 11 years, seems to veer off to other people, although she speaks to me a lot more than others. They seem like they want to be nice and they joke around in English all they can but it seems difficult or forced or something, but definitely NOT natural.

It's very helpful but still I can't but want some break, which luckily I more or less have because my host parents speak English very well. Even then, there seem to be new undiscovered differences in living that would have not been noticed if you just visited. Vacation life is becoming actual living, but so is the life of a Rotary exchange student. :)

November 10 Journal

I LOVE THE FACT THAT I CAN ACTUALLY SEE FALL!!!

My time with my last host family has been great. When I had to change families, it felt like I was leaving my real family behind all over again. This time, at least, I can still visit and am not thousands of miles away.

My new host family though is great. The live in a suburban area so I feel less lost here. They eat cereal and and have that whole suburb family feel to them. I really have no more hugely obvious culture shocks anymore but everyday comes with its little "Note-To-Self".

My Danish is going great! i can communicate almost 24/7 with only the occasional stumble or mispronounced word. I can even ask questions now in Danish about Danish (although many people still prefer to answer these questions in English). It's sometimes hard to speak Danish since everyone here speaks perfect English.

I'm going to be very sad when I have to go but I'm coming back every chance I get! Things are just so hyggeligt (That's Danish for...well actually it doesn't translate to English exactly but it's kinda like cozy and that "hanging out with your friends" kind of feeling).

Vi ses næste gange!

(See you next time!)

-David Ocampo

January 5 Journal

Wow, I finally have gotten to see snow! It was great... "was" is the key word. Now snow's just cold... But I still love it here.

I've been switching quite a bit this month. From my first host family to my supposed second and then back again because I was apparently horribly allergic to cats :(... I seemed to have developed that here. Oh well, if that's all I had to pay to get here (other than the $4000 :P) it was well worth it! I feel so attached to everyone here and I understand just about everything now! (Jokes are actually funny now! :D). I can hardly remember what Florida was actually like. I can still answer the occasional questions about it but it seems more now like I'm talking about some foreign kid I don't know from some strange country everyone knows (and wants to go to, by the way).

Christmas was really fun. We sang and danced around the Christmas tree (yes, I felt weird), ate an amazing dinner, and opened presents right after! No waiting until the 25th for us :D (Well, actually Hispanics usually don't do that either). New Years was just as fun. I got to show everyone my violin skills :P and played an old Danish champagne song called champagnegaloppen.

I tried to ready myself for the inevitable nostalgia I was going to feel, which I actually didn't feel on Christmas. It was just before and after that were the problems. Before because one thing I kinda forgot to ready for was a little thing called "Novena", which is like a long party nine days before Christmas, my family does. When they told me it started and I heard about all the fun, I just stared into the computer screen lost in thought. New Years had 2 seconds of nostalgia in it as well as my host family tried our family tradition of holding a dollar bill and chugging 12 grapes at 12:00 a.m. I swear I had a good time though!

I really want to show everyone at home how much I've changed and grown and learned, but I'm seeing more and more that things aren't going to be the same. I'm seeing less similarities between me and my old friends (not to mention most Americans) and I still have many things that separates me from the Danes... I'm not sure but I think I condemned myself to living between two countries when I signed up for this. Oops... :P