Cora, Outbound to Denmark

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It’s unbelievable for me to think that I have been in Denmark for two months already. It feels like I just stepped off the plane yesterday to start my new life in another country. I have already met so many amazing people and experienced thing I never thought I would be able to.

One thing that has made my first two months so enjoyable is my host family. I can not even express how important it is to try to make an effort to be apart of your host family. When you show them that you care and that you want to be there, they will start to open up and treat you like a real member of the family. The little things I do with my host family are definitely the things I enjoy the most. Usually every night I help make dinner with my host mom and as we cook she teaches me new things to say in Danish and in the evenings I make hot chocolate with my host sister and we watch tv together. For efterårsferie, a school break in October where everyone gets a week off of school, I stayed in a summer house on Sjælland with my host family and they showed me around København and Hornbæk. I got to see so many incredible things like castles, beaches, The Little Mermaid statue, and Christiania.

Another thing that has also made my exchange so enjoyable are the friends that I have made. Not everyone has the same experience making friends at school, some people find it very easy to fit into the class and some people find it extremely difficult. It definitely has not been the easiest thing for me to try to make friends in my class. If you want to be close with your classmates you really have to put in the effort and try to talk with them, but in the end it is definitely worth it. I am particularly close with two girls in my class and they help me out with my Danish, we exchange candies and food from the U.S and Denmark, and one girl is going to teach me how make traditional Danish Christmas food. I also get along really well with the exchange students that I go to school and language classes with. I really enjoy going to the language classes with the other exchange students because we all understand what it is like trying to learn a new language and how difficult it is, so there isn’t any pressure when we try to speak in front of the class or ask a question when we do not understand something. After school some of us will meet in Odense, the third largest city in Denmark, and either get dinner or just hangout and relax in the park.

There are also many cultural differences that I have observed so far. One big difference is the amount of freedom teenagers get here compared to the United States. I was shocked when my host family said that I could go on a bus or a train and go where ever I wanted to hang out with friends, as long as I let them know what time I’ll be home. Parents and the schools in Denmark value their relationship with teenagers, so they trust them a lot. My school holds an event where the students spend the night at the school, but there are absolutely no teachers or staff in the entire building. I thought things like that only existed on tv, but because the school trusts the students they have this event. Another culture difference that I have noticed is that the school environment is the complete opposite of what it is in the U.S. The school I attend in Denmark, Vestfyns Gymnasium, has a very relaxed atmosphere and is kind of like college. My classes can get canceled or I can get more classes added on and some days I don’t even start school until 12 in the afternoon. I thought an environment so free would make it easier for students to mess around and skip class, but when the environment is not stressful, unlike how my school in the United States is, it makes going to school so much more enjoyable and you actually want to be there.

So far, my first two months have been so much better than I could have ever expected. I am getting to experience so many things so I can not even imagine what I’ll see throughout the rest of the year.