September 12 Journal
When I close my eyes at night to sleep, I start to think that when I wake up everything is going to be a dream and I will still be in Florida, still in Palm Coast, and not experiencing the year of a lifetime. But then I open my eyes…..and I am in Denmark. One of the most amazing places I have ever been in my life. From the first day I got here on August 2nd, I had a feeling that the minute I walked off the plane everything was going to change and never be the same for me. So far this has proven true with my first MONTH of my exchange already over (which makes me sad thinking how I have to leave this beautiful place sooner and sooner everyday!!!) and what an A-MA-ZA-ZING time it has proven to be!!!!!!!
My first day in Denmark proved to be very adventurous since I met with a counselor from Rønne (John Anderson, who was super nice!) who then took me to meet the other exchange student going to Bornholm (Bridgitte from Nevada) then off to Bornholm we went. We ended up having to take a drive over the bridge to Sweden, then onto a ferry, and then eventually I met my counselor (Henrik) and off to my new home for the next 6 months. I love my host family and can’t imagine being with another family (Gert, Vivi, and my 17 year old brother, Tobias)! After finally being able to sleep after more than 24 hours without it, I continued to explore Nexø for the rest of the week until I had to leave again for København for language school and then Jylland for intro-camp.
Meeting EVERY SINGLE exchange student in Denmark proved to be amazing and I am so excited to see them again in October. When I finally returned to Bornholm, I got to start school which has proven to be one of the best times even though it is school. It’s rather nice having everything being so chill and relaxed and of course being with such great people as classmates. It certainly was a situation to adapt to at first, just like day-to-day routines. But being an exchange student, I have learned to adapt and do it all. I now have a daily routine that has become surprisingly easy to adapt to but I love it! But anyhoo, you start to realize some things just like Morgan said while you are here in wonderful Denmark:
Almost everybody smokes
There is no air conditioning, not even in most stores; you just open the windows and doors
You see bikes EVERYWHERE (but it is amazing - biking everywhere is fun!)
Some of the houses are older than the United States
Bread is eaten every day with almost every meal
The bread is absolutely amazing
The road signs are very different (not many stop signs since people do it themselves)
Fish is loved very much by the Danes (including herring, one of the most interesting fish I’ve ever tasted)
Overall, Denmark is simply amazing
This whole experience is already underway but yet it still feels so surreal and just like a dream that it’s hard to think I am actually here experiencing everything. You literally have to rid yourself of all fear/anxiety and take a giant leap and hope that you can land on your feet. Even with that sounding difficult, it is the one thing that is completely and utterly worth it. There is never a dull moment and always something new to experience. You get to experience life and actually start to see what you are made of. Even for just being here over a month, I can already tell that this year is literally going to be the most amazing year.
And I can’t wait to see what the next couple of months have in store.
November 29 Journal
So it has been a mighty long time since my last journal and A LOT has been happening in the past couple months! I have now been here in Denmark for about 4 months and so far everyday has been a new adventure. Without Rotary, I would never have gotten to gain these new experiences and have the opportunity for it all and I thank them very much for it. As we say in Denmark, Mange Tak (Thank you very much)!!!
Since the last time I wrote, a lot of things have been happening here. Even for being on the small but incredible island of Bornholm, many things always seem to be happening and taking place every day. School so far has been an interesting but good experience. Almost everyday I get up to get on the bus and start school at about 8:30. It’s nice though to not have school start until around 10:15 on days when I have a free first period which always feels good when I get to sleep just a little bit longer in the morning. But so far, my class is amazing and they are some pretty cool kids and have made things a lot of fun! They always help me and teach me things in Danish to try and say (which is progressing). They love when I try so I’m attempting to speak more and more even though I sometimes think I’m saying things completely wrong! But I can understand more and more everyday which is a huge plus.
The rest of September honestly seems like a blur since the month went by so quickly. It was filled of just school and hanging out around the island and exploring the area as much as possible. One thing that can be noted for September to even continuing now is how COOOOOOOLLLLD it is getting!!!!! It has truly been a while since I’ve been in cold weather and it just continues to get colder but even while shivering, it’s ironic to think how it is still warm in Florida probably and then here it’s freezing. But it’s also a breath of fresh air feeling the cool weather day to day.
October was actually a very busy month with fall break and also the AMAZING Holbæk Halloween Get-Together that Rotary threw for us. It was so much fun getting to see all the other exchange students again and getting to have so much fun. Definitely some of the costumes just made me smile whenever I saw them. That weekend for sure has given me some memories that won’t be forgotten. It’s always sad saying goodbye to all the others but it also makes seeing them again that much better J My class also had a visiting class from Spain come stay with us for a week which was a lot of fun! It was interesting to see how they were also getting to experience what I was experiencing and they were some pretty cool kids. Can’t wait to see them again in April when we go and see them!
November = Cold, fun, and Thanksgiving in Denmark! For the first time in years I actually got to see snow!!!! It was amazing seeing the little snow flurries and getting to stand outside and see the snow falling. It’s been the only day that it has snowed but it was for sure a memorable experience. My mind was blown when I also looked at the thermometer and saw it was only 1 degree Celsius that entire day (about 32 degrees Fahrenheit)!!! We expect to see these types of temperatures throughout December which shall be interesting. Believe me when I say that it was a sad day when I had to retire the flip flops….so sad. I actually had to start wearing shoes which actually proved to be interesting. But I’ve expanded to boots which keep my feet comfy and warm on the coldest of days J (being from Florida, I do miss my flip flops and can’t wait for warm weather to wear them again!!!)
I even got to celebrate Thanksgiving with one of the other exchange students’ family. Kyle’s (North Carolina) host family had never experienced Thanksgiving and wanted to taste ALL the food. I was lucky enough to be invited and I got to help Kyle cook a Thanksgiving dinner for us and his family and their friends. It was such a great time and even gave me a little piece of home when helping making the dinner since that’s what I do with my mom every year. But it was a fun time and helping his family experience an American Holiday J We also had another get together, but only for my district (Copenhagen, Bornholm, etc) and Rotary threw us a Thanksgiving along with having many Rotarians and families to join all of us. The exchange students also had to provide entertainment for the night for everybody and of course there was singing and dancing of all sorts for the night.
But so far that’s been my exciting couple of months and unforgettable experiences. I’ve been given the opportunity of a lifetime and am so grateful for even being given the chance. My life here in Denmark is so different in so many ways. I’m given the chance to actually make decisions, do things myself, and also just to live life to the fullest. I’m changing even if I can’t quite see how but I know in some ways I am and also just having my mind just being expanded even more everyday with being here. I have been here almost 4 months and they simply have been the most amazing months of my life thus far. The rest of my year here in Denmark is just going to keep being amazing and I wish it would never end. Time sure is flying and I only wish it would slow down!!!!
Can’t wait for the upcoming months and more memories to come but I guess for now until next journal … Hej Hej!!!! (Bye!)
February 15 Journal
Wow. So finally past the half way mark.....and just wow. I can't even believe that the time has passed so quickly and my time is growing shorter and shorter here in Denmark. And thinking about that just breaks my heart. I have learned to completely immerse myself into a new place, with new faces and places, and adapt and actually feel at home. Everything has just been so amazing that it doesn't seem real. But then you wake up and realize that it is and that just puts the biggest smile on my face realizing that I'm experiencing this. Even getting the chance to experience this. Sooooo mange mange mange tak Rotary :)
But anyhoo, so far we have leaped into 2010 (whoa), I've moved host families, and have been experiencing non stop snow. Honestly, at first you love the snow.....but then slowly begin to loathe it especially after falling so many times :P. It's been sooooo cold, definitely not Florida weather I'm used to. Even with the cold I must admit that the snowball fights have been well worth it as well as just messing around with the snow!! It's just even fun to say snoooooow...or as the Danes say SNE!!! Even some of the days there have been snowstorms that have shut down the entire island of Bornholm!!! So I have watched many movies and drank much cocoa during those days. Spring time hopefully will be here soon and the sun will come back again! (after what seems a million year hiatus)
I also moved host families and my new one is amazing! its actually funny how they have the same humor as my own family so it will be fun watching how they are with my family when they come to visit. But other than that, it has been chill.
School is school and seems to be getting better with the language barrier everyday as I understand more and more everyday which is great so I'm not sitting there confused every second. Still love my class and have for sure made some good friends to come back and visit in the next couple of years. It is interesting how the Danish Gymnasium system works and I think I actually like it. Other than taking the bus at 7:30 (yikes) it's all pretty great and an experience. But other than that, I have an upcoming trip to Spain in April with my class which will be amazing!!!! So I'm uber excited for that and getting the chance to celebrate my birthday with my class while there.
As time progresses, we live and we learn through experiences. And this exchange year has certainly been that so far. Advice to the new upcoming outbounds, be ready for your life to ultimately change and for yourself to grow in ways that you never would dream of. To grow in ways that will help you day to day and to experience every little thing while on exchange and to take it in stride. I can say so far, I will never forget this year and everything I've experienced since it has been some of the best times I have ever had.
All I can do is continuing to do is document my exchange and just say til next time Florida :)
May 16 Journal
So 9 months later and only 59 days left to go!!! Time has really flown by and I haven't even noticed it. I've experienced so much and seen so much in the past couple of months that I know I would have never even experienced if not for being here in Denmark. It's hard to swallow actually having to leave Bornholm and everything that is now becoming normal to my daily life. I know I'm not the same and that in reality, I've grown and changed in so many ways. Everyday is an adventure and a fun one at that and I love life day to day more than I have in years.
Who can say honestly that their family's travel plans were changed because of a VOLCANO in Iceland erupting? Not too many people.....other than Rotary exchange students :) But other than a volcano prolonging my family's visit to Denmark, they eventually arrived and I got to see them for the first time in 9 months!!! It was weird at first seeing them since the only time I would see them was via webcam on skype (thank you internet) but actually getting to hug them made me soooooo happy.
But I got to show my family around the small but amazing island of Bornholm for about 2 weeks and they seemed to really like it. I even got my mom to try Herring which is a specialty of Bornholm and I was mighty impressed she actually ate it since not many people like it. But they got to experience A LOT of Danish food thanks to my wonderful host families and also 2 weeks of the nicest weather that we've had since last summer!! It's funny because as soon as they left the weather just turned right back to cold and gross bringing back the use of the winter jacket. I even got to show them around Copenhagen and around other parts of Denmark and it was great getting to just talk to them face to face, especially my brother. When I had to drop them off at the airport it was really sad but I surprisingly didn't cry. I think because I know I'll be seeing them so soon it didn't really impact that I was saying goodbye again. But at least next time will be hello :)
OH!!! another a-ma-za-zing adventure was going to Spain with my class!!!!! Probably hands down one of the best trips I have ever taken. It even was during my birthday so that was pretty sweet. Kind of weird being in a totally different country for my birthday but my class made it really special so I was soooo happy that I have such great friends to make it a great birthday. I can definitely say I will go back to Spain sometime. It was such a beautiful country and experiencing it all with my class made it even that much more great .
But other than those recent adventures, we have Euro-Tour coming up in about a week annnnnnnnnd its going to be epic. Can't wait for it.
The only down side to having all these things happen, if there is any, is that it shows me just how much little time I have left in Denmark which is a very sad thing to think about. Even with the time winding down so quickly, all I can do is enjoy it day to day and live it all to the fullest which is of course a very possible thing :) So much to experience in such little time, oh jeg elsker dig Danmark. Rotary of course is to thank for every single experience I have had since being in Denmark. Without them none of it would of never been possible nor would I of even been able to dream to it being possible.
Tusind Tusind Tusind Tusind Tak Rotary :)