In the beginning…..this will be an epic tale if you didn’t realize……In the beginning there was a flight. A flight that did not feel like departing from Orlando, no matter how much the pilot wanted it to. So, in the late future after the beginning, there was another flight on the next day. This flight took me from Washington DC, to Copenhagen. I arrived in Denmark. Stayed with a random family for 2 days, and then went with my host family at their summer. It was awkward. I didn’t talk to them unless they asked me something. I tried to stay out of the way, but still be as helpful as I could.
You will adjust to your family, but it will take time. I didn’t say in my room, I was with my family, but I just didn’t talk. After about a week with them I was pretty comfy. I am really lucky because my host family is not that different from my actual family. I love my host siblings. They are the best, and we just sit in my host brother’s room and listen to music most nights.
Heads up, everyone smokes in Denmark. Even the people you wouldn’t expect to smoke. My school has, no joke, a smoking pavilion. It seems whenever there is the slightest opportunity to smoke, Danish teens will take it. Even through the rain. Danish kids drink too. Although the law says 16 is the drinking age, most Danish teens have been drinking since 14. On the first day of school, no joke, the entire school, that’s around 700 kids made a procession to a store, and bought out the beer isle. By this time it’s around 1pm. Then we headed to the beach to drink, and party. I left after about 5 minutes. It was just too much for the first day.
The next week was better. School was really boring. The only classes I honestly paid attention in were English, French, and Math. Danish class is like pulling teeth. Every couple of minutes I ask one of my friends what’s going on, they answer, and I go back to reading my book.
The majority of teens in Denmark won’t go out of their way to meet you. In America we flock around foreigners, and try our best to make them feel awesome. It’s not that they won’t talk to you, but as an exchange student, you have to put a lot of effort to get to know people. That includes going up to random people and introducing yourself as the exchange student that doesn’t speak Danish. Very awkward. When I tell kids I’m an exchange student, the 3rd question they ask me is why I chose Denmark. The kids here know it’s a small country, and many of them want to move to America because it’s so big. Yes, they do think that all Americans eat hamburgers and fries every day that all Americans are fat, and everyone has a gun. No amount of debate will put those stereotypes to rest.
Oh, the most popular shows here are Friends, (yes that show from the 90’s), and the old Beverly Hills 90210. In Denmark they listen to American music, but they are about a month behind. That includes music, movies, and any type of American media. That’s my first moth. Haj Haj!
So, hi to all you exchange students reading this:
Danes, epically the youth, love to party. And party hard. They drink and smoke a lot. It’s part of their Viking blood. So bring comfortable shoes, and make sure there warm. Parties happen often, and you’ll go out with the exchange students also.
Be careful when you go shopping in Denmark. Things are extremely expensive. 100 kroner is the equivalent of 20 dollars. 100kr is a sale in Denmark. That’s about as cheap as clothes get. So don’t buy a hat for 300kr. That’s way overly priced, no matter how pretty the hat is.
In school, your classes won’t really have any order. Let me give you my school for example. I go to Gammel Hellerup Gymnasum in Hellerup. It’s a big old school that has been around since the beginning of the last century. The first graduating class was in 1904. My classes vary all the time. Today, I have 2 classes. I was going to have 3 but one of them was canceled. Classes are canceled on a weekly basis. And when there canceled you just don’t go. Like right now I’m in the underground lounge in my school waiting for my last class, I’ve already had one class. Tomorrow I don’t have school until 10, and it ends at 1:30. That’s 2 classes. But sometimes school starts at 8 and ends at 3:30. Those long days make me long for my bed.
When you start school, make sure you have an English class. Make your life easier, and just make sure you have one. This is important. When you get to school focus on English for the first 2 months. Slack off or whatever in your other class but makes sure you pay attention in English. Do all the English homework, and participate in class. As your Danish gets better, add one more class. Like if you have another foreign language that you understand well, French for me, focus on that, and English. Don’t try to take it all on at once. That’s a bad idea. You’ll be overwhelmed and end up doing nothing. As the months go by and more classes. Then by the end you’ll be doing work in most of your classes.
I also can’t guarantee that your teachers will be helpful. In most schools teachers don’t have their own class rooms. They move around like students do. I still don’t know where to find my teachers outside of class.
If you have the chance to be in the Second year, GO TO SECOND YEAR!!!! First year isn’t bad, but second year is much better, and easier. Trust me. I was given the choice and I was talked into going into first year, and I regret it a lot. I love my class, but still.
As far as school supplies goes, don’t bring paper, or folders. There paper is different, and so the folders are different. Bring a few pens and pencils if you want.
What have I been doing lately?
I switched families last week. I’m farther away from the station, so it takes me longer to get to school, which is a pain. I have a 3 year old host brother. My host dad travels a lot for his work, but he’s home every few days. We have a “nanny” to take care of Johannes, my host brother, her name is Jessa. She’s fun to be around.
I went to a party on Friday. It was a Christmas party at my school. It was crazy. But I have found a new hate for techno music. Danes don’t really dance, they jump. I don’t have the stamina for that, and I just don’t like techno.
It’s been snowing for the past 3 weeks. I need to buy new boots. When you get here, and you’re living in Copenhagen, the shopping street is next to Nørreport Station. The capital city station doesn’t have a lot of shopping areas around it.
I feel like I’m becoming more Danish by the day. I’m able to have full conversations in Danish. I can handle myself when I’m forced to speak Danish.
The last few months have been the greatest of my life.
January was when all of the oldies left us. It was so sad to watch them go. It made the idea of leaving more real, and more present… not the best few days of my life. Half of my year is almost up…and I’m wondering if I have done enough in that time. I moved to Farum in December. This is the farthest I have lived from school, but I don’t mind. I really like my host family. My host mom is so amazing. A little eccentric, but that’s what makes her great. It was also my friend, Juan’s birthday. All of the South American exchange students came and we partied. Emily and I were the only Americans there which were really funny. We stuck out, but blended in at the same time. In the middle of the month Emily (American), Jimmy (Italian), Gabriella (Brazilian), Alex (Brazilian), and I were invited to Williams (Brazilian) Galla. It was a lot of fun. Lots of people were there. We mostly danced and talked, and danced. I met a lot of people from Wills school.
On the 29th, Else (host mom) and I moved from an apartment to a house. That was a huge operation. She has so much stuff. The boxes never stopped flowing from out of the apartment. We didn’t move far. It took forever for the movers to transport all the boxes. By the end, it looked more like an over sized storage room rather than a house.
I’m finally going to start swimming, with Emily. Found a hemp shop with Juan and Emily on a parallel street. It was hidden pretty well, but out of the corner of my eye I saw a bog…it was really funny. The guys in there were really nice. I bought a jacket. We made jokes about that place for the rest of the day.
My Rotary meeting was in a chocolate factory one day. That was cool. One of the Rotary members owns it…so we ate chocolate for the entire meeting. In the afternoon after school, I saw Wicked in Danish. I had never seen it before. It was amazing.
February was just a lot of hanging out. Going to cafes, parks. Just places to meet up and walking and talking. Nothing major.
One day the trains in Holte weren’t working. That’s how I get to school. I take the bus from Farum to Hotle and the train from Holte to Hellerup. There are no buses that go to Hellerup from Holte…so I decided to take the bus back to Farum. I get on the bus that says 334 and sit. I’m there for a while when I look out the window and I have no idea where I am. I look back at the bus number and it says 845. So I text Frederic (a friend in my class) in a panic for help. I can’t get off the bus at any random stop. So I wait. He tells me to get off in Allerød. A station WAY out there. So were texting back and forth, and he tells me to get on the train and ride it down to Hellerup. But the train only goes as far as Biklerød, about 3 stops from Hellerup. So he tells me to ride it down to Biklerød anyway. So I do. There are a bunch of people there getting on these huge tourist busses. I ask a hand full of people were the bus is taking them. They all say Norreport. I get on the bus, end up in Norreport and ride the train to Hellerup. I am 4 hours late to school. I got so much crap from my friends. Now every time I am late for school they ask if I ended up in Allerød again.
More of the general hanging out with exchange students and Danish friends. I went to a rave/ glow stick party that my school was hosting. We had the warm up party at Jonas’s house. Were I was covered in glow sticks. And the actual party was kind of annoying…I can’t get into the techno music Danes like so much.
My friend that lived in Syd Jutland, Thomas came to København for the weekend. I showed him around. He met my friends and we all went to the harbor. It was a great weekend.
I also found out that one of my best friends…William was going home. That really ripped my heart out of my chest.
We have our last get together. Times were all of the exchange students meet for a weekend. And it was saddening. It was fun, but so so so SO depressing. We had a Galla. But in the middle of it we watched a bunch of videos of pictures of this year, and that’s when all of the oldies broke. The newbie’s had no idea what was going on, and I feel like they should have been there. Not because I didn’t want them there but because it was so awkward for them, and they didn’t get it.
Being here has been so great. The oldies have made a little joke. Now that the newbie’s are here, it is like were the red headed step child that no one really cares about, because they are replacing us with new fresh meat. We don’t mean it, but it’s a good analogy. In every oldie there is an underlying hate for the newbie’s. Not because we don’t like them, but because they are going to replace us in a few months.
I remember when I used to say that I had a whole year for my exchange, but now I can only say I have 4. 3. Months left. It’s not a feeling I like. Knowing that the people I see today won’t be the people I see next year. My class always talks about me leaving. Like next year we have a class trip and they come over to be and start talking about it and how much fun it will be to be together. Then I tell them for the 100th time that I have to go back to the states. It kind of kills the fun.
Being here with such great awesome friends makes me realize that the “friends” I have back home, may not be as great as I thought they were.
I can’t wait for Euro Trip. A bus full of exchange students driving around Europe. It can only end well.