Ana Oliveira

 Denmark

Hometown: Weston, Florida
School: Cypress Bay
Sponsor District : District 6990
Sponsor Club: Weston, Florida
Host District: 1470
Host Club: The Rotary Club of Sønderbro


My Bio


Hej! Jeg hedder Ana Oliveira - Hi! My name is Ana Oliveira. I am currently attending Cypress Bay High School as a sophomore and am excited to say that during my junior year I will be living in Denmark as an exchange student! Part of me wants to jump into this amazing adventure feet first and the other is nervous about communication and assimilation. However, I feel that once I get there, the magic of living in a new place will certainly open my mind a bit more and will allow me to have a successful experience during my exchange. I have lived in three different countries so far and have had the privilege to travel to an array of foreign places in my lifetime. I am originally from Brazil, but lived in Canada for five years, and am now living in Weston, Florida. I actually enjoy cold weather and snow, so this is yet another reason why I am so glad I was chosen to go to Denmark. I am fluent in two languages and am learning Spanish at present. Whenever I am not studying, I enjoy practicing piano & guitar, singing, deciphering movies, exploring new genres of music, discovering new bands, and taking pictures (which I hope to do lots of in Denmark). I'm really looking forward to learning the Danish language and coming back being able to speak it fluently (hopefully). I am forever grateful to Rotary for presenting me with this incredible opportunity.

Arriving at Copenhagen airport and meeting everyone.

Arriving at Copenhagen airport and meeting everyone.

Biking and sightseeing in Copenhagen with my friend.

Biking and sightseeing in Copenhagen with my friend.

Visiting Tivoli for the first time.

Visiting Tivoli for the first time.

Making a traditional Danish meal (smørrebrød) with another exchange student from Brasil.

Making a traditional Danish meal (smørrebrød) with another exchange student from Brasil.

My third host sister posing behind a flower in the botanical gardens of Copenhagen.

My third host sister posing behind a flower in the botanical gardens of Copenhagen.

All the exchange students in the 1470 district, on our way to IntroCamp in Bjerringbrø

All the exchange students in the 1470 district, on our way to IntroCamp in Bjerringbrø

Visiting Nyhavn during my first week.

Visiting Nyhavn during my first week.

All the exchange students from the U.S. in district 1470 during a Rotary event for next year's exchange students.

All the exchange students from the U.S. in district 1470 during a Rotary event for next year's exchange students.

Julehygge with my language class

Julehygge with my language class

Christmas lights

Christmas lights

Nyhavn Christmas decorations

Nyhavn Christmas decorations

My host family and I at Tivoli.

My host family and I at Tivoli.

Traditional Danish Christmas food

Traditional Danish Christmas food

My counselor, his daughter, and I walking around central Copenhagen.

My counselor, his daughter, and I walking around central Copenhagen.

Journals: Ana-Denmark Blog 2017-18

  • Ana, Outbound to Denmark

    Almost 5 months since I've been in this amazing country and It already feels like a year's gone by. Thinking back to my first week is like thinking back to a whole other period in my life, and it wasn't even half a year ago.

    Here, the Danes start Christmas insanely early. I had already started seeing decorations being put up at the end of October. Christmas season really is the most 'hyggelig' and time of the year. And in Denmark, they take it really seriously. Almost the whole house is covered in Christmas decorations, like 'nisse' (elves), reindeer, stockings, mistletoe, tiny snowmen, and more. Not even the bathrooms are off limits.

    A tradition they have here is that on the first day of December we start counting down the days to Christmas using a 'julekalender' (Christmas calendar). Everyday you open a new tab and find a piece of chocolate. It sounds amazing but I'm also pretty sure I've gained at least 10 pounds just this month.

    The traditional Christmas food also hasn't helped as it basically consists of meat and three different types of potatoes. We have flæskesteg, which is roast pork with crispy skin, roasted duck, boiled potatoes with brown sauce, caramelized potatoes, potato chips, and red cabbage. For dessert we have ris à l’amande, a rice pudding with nuts, covered with cherry sauce. One single peeled almond is placed inside and the person who finds it in their dish gets a present. You can also have æbleskiver which translates to apple slices but really are just small pancakes in the shape of a sphere. You eat it with powdered sugar and jam.

    Another tradition here is that on Christmas (here we celebrate it on the night of the 24th), the whole family makes a circle around the tree and dances and sings. This year my family got kind of carried away and started a conga line throughout the whole house. After dinner, singing, and dancing, we sit around the table and play a game called pakkeleg. For this game every guest has to bring a small gift around 40-100 kroner ($7-$16). The gifts are all placed in the middle of the table and one person starts by rolling a dice. The rules differ from every family but usually if you roll a six, you take a gift. The dice is passed around the table with each person rolling once until all the gifts are taken. Then it gets really crazy. From that point one, a timer is set for an unknown amount of time, but usually 6-10 minutes, and everytime someone rolls a six, they're allowed to steal a gift from someone else. Once the timer goes off, you stop playing. Sometimes people can end up with no gifts, or even all of the gifts.

    Christmas time here is really cozy and happy, but there's also some problems that come during this time of the year. For example, darkness. The sun starts rising at 8am and setting at 3pm. That only gives us a couple hours of sunlight and it definitely takes a while to get used to. Sometimes I get sick of the dark and start wishing I was in Florida where there's sun everyday, all of the time. But I know for sure that I wouldn't want my exchange to end right now, it's just a bit difficult dealing with the darkness. What really helps is spending time with your host family and friends, and going out instead of staying in watching Netflix. Also, with the holiday season, the homesickness really sets in. Seeing pictures of my family and friends together was really really hard. But I know that in a couple of months I'll be home again and seeing pictures of my Danish friends and Denmark. I'll be really nostalgic and sad, so it's better to just enjoy the time while I'm here.

    So far, I've been learning more Danish and I'm starting to understand a lot more of what people say. It's still quite hard to get all the words in a sentence but when people speak to me slowly I pretty much get the gist of it. it's so satisfying being able to listen in on conversations instead of just sitting there and not being able to contribute. Studying the language really really pays off.

    Even though I'm almost 6 months in, I still can't wait to see what I'll experience during 2018 and the second half of my exchange. Being here has been amazing so far and I'm so glad I chose to leave home and travel to a country I knew almost nothing about. I'm in love with Denmark and so happy to be here.

    Click HERE to read more about Ana and all her blogs

  • Ana, Outbound to Denmark

    So I've been putting off writing this journal as I really didn't know how to fit such a large count of experiences and emotions I've had into one entry, but now I'm forcing myself to write this as I know that the longer I wait, the more I'll have to write about, and the harder it'll be to get it all out on paper (or in this case, keyboard).

    I've been here for three months now and I can't tell if the time has flown or if it feels as though I've been here forever. I guess it's a mix of both.

    Arriving at the airport, I was much more nervous than I thought I would be. Leaving the baggage claim and walking out the exit, I spotted my second and third host family, as well as my counselor and his family. The smiles on their faces and the welcome sign immediately calmed my nerves, leaving me so, so, so excited and much more optimistic for what was about to begin.

    After hello's, we all drove to my counselors house for lunch, to drop my bags off and to talk. Not having slept for a straight 30 hours made that lunch difficult to stay awake for. Later that day, when everyone had left, we went out for a "quick bike ride" (this was a lie, it was 10 kilometers) to Kastrup Søbad, to visit the first item on my bucket list. I learned that day that Danish people bike A LOT.

    The first day of school was definitely one of the highlights of my exchange so far. After hearing for months that Danish people would be cold, reserved, and unkind when I first met them, I was, understandably, a little anxious to go. When I got there however, all I received were hugs, kindness, and warmth. This was an example of something I wish I would've thought more about before I came, to not believe all the stereotypes about the country you'll be exchanging in, because 9 times out of 10, they aren't true.

    Of course, I've still been a little shocked about the cultural differences I've experienced since I've been here. For example, the teenagers in Denmark have an immense amount of freedom. Instead of their parents driving them to wherever they need to go, they take public transportation instead, all by themselves. And the parents here don't really mind where their kid goes either, as long as they tell them what time they'll be back.

    Another cultural aspect that is really nice here is that the Danes tend to keep their opinions (about others) to themselves. No one here will tell you you look ugly or speak weirdly or dress badly. They talk to everyone the same way, and accept others the way they are, regardless of where they come from, or what they look like.

    Food culture in Denmark is also nothing like I've ever experienced before, and it definitely takes a lot of getting used to. The first traditional Danish thing that I tasted here was black liquorice. It was hands-down the worst thing I had ever tasted in my life. Funnily enough, the Danes are always surprised at the reaction of the foreigners, as most people here love the candy. Another food I tried was liverpostej, which is usually spread on rugbrød (rye bread). It didn't taste nearly as bad as liquorice, but the thought of eating baked pig liver was enough to not make me want to eat it again. However, Denmark does have some delicious things, like remoulade, which is (basically) a mixture of mayonnaise and relish. Also, Danish pastries are really, really good.

    So far, I've been having the time of my life. I've fallen completely in love with this country and I can't imagine having picked another. I've met some incredible people here, that I hope I'll keep in touch with for the rest of my life; they've become some of my best friends in the shortest amount of time. Truthfully speaking, exchange was one of the best decisions I've ever made. But I've come to realise that it's not always easy. Even though I know now that I made the right choice, in my first two months I seriously doubted my decision. I was, and am still, faced with a number of challenges. But the longer time goes on, the stronger I become and the more problems I am able to face head on. I feel myself growing as I person and I can't wait to see how I turn out at the end of exchange.

    Click HERE to read more about Ana and all her blogs

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