Gabriella  DiSanza
2013-14 Outbound to Denmark

Hometown: Inveness, Florida
Sponsor: District 6950, Florida
Host: The Rotary Club of Tørring - Uldum

Gabriella's Bio

Hi, my name is Gabriella and I am from a small town called Inverness. I have been living here my whole life and I am so thrilled to explore a bigger place next year. I learned about this program through a girl named Jessica who was an inbound last year. She expressed the greatness of the experience and really convinced me to go for it. After tons of thought, I mentioned it to my parents and they were filled with excitement and support. I, myself, have never thought of turning down this opportunity. I think it is an amazing thing that people my age get to do. To explore a new culture, learn a new language, and be able to say you did all of this, is a major accomplishment. Denmark was my first choice and I am more than grateful for being able to go to this country. Although I am very nervous, I know this is going to be one of the greatest years of my life. I am giving up my senior year of high school for this and I know I will not regret it. Being an exchange student has become the top priority in my life and I cannot wait to start my year in Denmark. I thank my parents and friends for being so supportive and Matilda, and inbound from Denmark, for helping me through this.

Gabriella's Journals

October 3, 2013

The last two months in Denmark have been absolutely amazing. After all the excitement calmed down, I started feeling like I was living here; I knew this wasn't a vacation anymore. This was actually my life. I started school two days after I arrived and I have been loving it. Making friends was extremely easy and people really loved getting to meet the American girl. School is very different compared to in America but I enjoy it. Even though I don't understand what is always going on. Classes in Danish are tough but it definitely helps with learning words that you will actually use in every day language. I started Danish lessons after a couple weeks in school with the other exchange student, Julia from Brazil. Its nice to have another exchange student in your school who you can work with. After two weeks of being in Denmark, I went to intro camp. All the exchange students in Denmark met up in one place to get to know each other and get the basics in Danish. In a group of about 150 students, 80 of them were Brazilian. Which really helps to keep the party going. During intro camp, the Queen on Denmark came to visit. The city, Bjerringbro was having its 150th anniversary. There was a parade for the Queen and everything. I was 10 feet away from her! I couldn't really believe that she was just walking in the streets out in the open. If Obama were to be in public, you wouldn't be allowed anywhere near him. In the beginning I wasn't very excited to go to intro camp. I was really starting to settle in with my family and friends, I didn't want to have to leave that. Once intro camp was over I was extremely happy that I went. Being with exchange students is like being with your own kind, and that really makes you feel better when you need it. The following weeks after intro camp were just really getting into the routine of school and becoming apart of the family. On the weekends, I would hang out with the students in my class and try to get to know some of them better. I would also spend time with my family like going grocery shopping and playing board games. Just trying to do little things that families would normally do. My Rotary club has been very welcoming and helpful with all the firsts. At the second meeting a pharmacist in my club gave a power point presentation about his business partially in English to help me understand better and would translate after he said things in Danish. In the beginning of September my district had a get together for all the inbounds, which is about 25 students. During the weekend we went to a place called Sky Mountain and took canoes across the lake to get to there. Sky Mountain is the tallest point in Denmark, which is about as flat as Florida is. The Mountain was just a minor hill but still such an interesting thing to see. The hike up the hill was very tiring but the view from the top made the hike worth the while. Denmark is such an amazing place and all the n ew things Ive experienced have been astonishing. Learning a new culture is thrilling and knowing this is only the beginning makes me so excited to see what the year has to offer. I love being an exchange student and I love doing new things. Just the beginning of this experience has taught me a lot about myself and other people. and I love every part of it.

January 15, 2014

The last few months have been very different from the first few months. I didnt think I could get any more settled in but I did. A lot can happen in a few months. Ive changed families, gotten more involved with my school and have made many more friends. Important events have changed my life and changed the way I see danish people; all in a good way. In October, my first host parents had their 12 1/2 year anniversary known as the silver wedding in Denmark. There are 3 anniversaries that are celebrated; copper (5 years), silver (12 1/2 years) and gold (25 years). My host parents invited about 60 guests so they had rented out a hall to throw their party. Now 60 guests is a lot, so in preperation they went to Germany to get food and drinks a lot cheeper then the whole week before we were cooking and spending most of our afternoons at the hall, setting up tables and what not. The party starts with a very big dinner and about 4 different courses; an appetizer, first meal, second meal, and dessert. The rest of the afternoon is spent on silly anniversary traditions like friends telling stories about the couples and singing embarassing songs that the parents make up. There was dancing and karaoke and so many fun things. We didnt go home until 5 in the morning, but I know that everyone had a great time. For Halloween, I went to a couples house who used to live in the State of Georgia. The husband, Chris, is American and his wife, Birgit, is Danish. They have a daughter who is also 17 and just moved back from her junior year in high school. Chris and Birgit made a haunter house for the whole town to come and see. It was only about 3 dollars to get in and you could walk through the house they made in their backyard and see a lot of gruesome things. They had me dress up as a bloody girl who had her leg taken off by zombies. A lot of people who came through the house really enjoyed all the weird things we had all set up. It was such a fun night to spend with some American people and celebrating an American tradition. In November, I changed host families. My first family had two younger kids, 9 and 11. My second host family has 3 children; twins who are grown and moved out and a girl who is 17. I didnt know what it would be like to live with somebody my age. Ive never had siblings before so this was a little nervewrecking. My first couple of weeks with my new host family were very different from my first weeks with my first host family. I think because I had understood danish people by now, so I sort of understood how things would work around the house and with my parents. We did a lot of things like shopping, meeting their friends and family, and just bonding. We get along really great and its not bad to have a sister who is my age. We have bonded over silly things and become like real sisters. I used to hate the thought of moving host families but it really isnt a bad thing. I still visit my old host family every 2 weeks. At the end of November my school had the annual Galla Fest. Its similar to prom but its not as big. My school is divided into 3 different grades and the grades mean the type of dress the girls are allowed to wear. First graders have to wear dresses below the knees but above the anckles, second graders wear dresses right above the knees, and third graders get to wear traditional floor length prom dresses. Everyone has to learn a french dance called Lancier. This dance is a lot more difficult than I thought it would be and even on the night of Galla, I still wasnt sure how to dance the whole entire thing. The night starts with Lancier and a very long dinner afterwards. Danish dinners almost always consist of a couple courses and this one had 3; an appetizer, the maincourse and dessert. Afterwards, the students are free to dance and have fun and do whatever they like. In December all the Christmas things started exactly on the first. My family and I spent the whole day decorating the house and getting into the Christmas spirit. Every weekend we were at Christmas dinners with friends and family and during the weekdays after school we were baking Christmas food and Christmas cookies. I'd say in my host family, the cookies were more important than the actual Christmas dinner itself. Throughout the month, Christmas shows played every single day. There is one show in Denmark that almost everyone follows and its called Julekalender (christmas calendar). It has a family and is just showing the nice things they do for eachother in the Christmas time. As it started getting closer to Christmas, my older siblings stayed in the house with us and my host mom's brother from Sweden came down to visit. On Christmas day, December 24th for Denmark, we waited until after dinner to open presents. We started the day with a big breakfast and the rest of the day we decorated the Christmas tree for all the guests to come over later that night. Around 3, the whole town met in the town's church for the Christmas service. With about 100 people, we sang many different Christmas songs and listened to what the priest had to say about Christmas and why we celebrate it. Once church was over, we all went home and the rest of my host family's extended family came over to help get dinner started. With 15 people around the table and more food than we knew how to eat, I would say we all had a fantastic time together. Dinner had ended and now it was time for the presents. Opening presents was so much more different than it is in America. Most of the gifts were thoughtful things, people stuffed wanted and cared about and they had a genuine smile on their face when they opened the gifts. The spirit filling the house was more magical than any Christmas miracle. After we open presents, it is a tradition to sing around the Christmas tree and sing in every room of the house. This looks about as silly as it sound ed; through the bathroom, and over the beds, and into the kitchen around the table. But so much fun nonetheless. The day wasnt over until around 2 a.m.. The spirit hadnt died down for a very long time. The next morning, on American Christmas, my host parents had saved one gift for me to open. I felt so special to be living in a family like this. We had had our danish Christmas and I thought that was it. When they had given me my last present, I couldnt have been more thankful and I truly felt the Christmas spirit. For New Years Eve, my host family and I had spent the afternoon at a friend's house who lived in the same neighborhood as us. Most of the couples and their kids had come and all together there were about 20 people. Of course we started with a large dinner. The rest of the night is spent with as many fireworks as you can buy and enjoying eachothers company. When the clock was changing to 12 am, my host sister and I jumped off of chairs and jumped into the New Y ear. It was a very weird tradition but a lot of the guests had joined us. New Years goes on for 12 hours, it started at 6 and ended at 6. So of course, the whole town was sleeping the first day of the year away. The last first two weeks of January have made me realize many things. The Australians who come in January were returning home and many of us who had come in August developed great friendships with them. It was so sad to see most of them go but even more sad to realize that I was halfway through my exchange. I feel the same way I did in the beginning; I never want to go home. This experience is something that changes a person. It makes you see things in a new light and teaches you how to have fun. All good things come to an end but I wish this never had to end.