Paola Camacho

Denmark

Hometown: St. Johns, Florida
School: Creekside
Sponsor District : District 6970
Sponsor Club: Rotary Club of Bartram Trail, Florida
Host District: 1470
Host Club: Copenhagen Rotary Club



My Bio


Hej! My name is Paola Camacho, I am 17 years old, and I'm so excited to be a part of the Rotary Exchange program! I have a deep love for theatre, the cinematic arts and writing. In my free time, I participate in the theatre department at my school, watch a lot of movies, write my own scripts, and film my own movies. I also love to dance. I mostly do Ballroom dance- such as the salsa, tango, waltz, etc.- , but I love many other styles as well. In my family, I have a mother, father, and three older brothers- all of whom I love very much! They are my rock, and without their love and support, I wouldn't have been able to accomplish all that I have in my life. My family is from Colombia and I am fluent in Spanish. I love my Colombian culture and everything it entails- the dancing, the music, the food, etc. It is apart of who I am. However, I have lived in America all my life and I am very proud to be a citizen of such an amazing country. I have been blessed with two cultures- Colombian and American. Now, I am ready to add another culture and language into my life! I have so much love and curiosity about the world and its different cultures; I am eternally grateful to have this opportunity that will launch me into a lifetime of global learning and understanding! I will be an outbound student to Denmark and I am so excited for the experience that awaits! To all my future friends and family, thank you so much for helping my in my journey and I can't wait to create long lasting memories with each and every one of you!

Nyhavn- The biggest tourist spot in Copenhagen, super beautiful!

Nyhavn- The biggest tourist spot in Copenhagen, super beautiful!

Journals: Paola-Denmark Blog 2019-20

  • Paola, Outbound to Denmark

    Hej!

    I am just about half way through my exchange and with each day, I see how much I have changed.

    I'm not going to sugarcoat it- these past few weeks have been a little rough. This holiday season was a very special one for my family in Florida, so to not be there was very hard. Paired with the grey, rainy and cold Copenhagen weather, it was even harder. Although this month was difficult for my personally, I am so grateful to the friends I've made here and the culture itself for helping me through it. Despite the difficult times, this past December was beautiful and memorable. Danish Christmas is an entire being on its own, full of new and exciting traditions and foods. One tradition that really differs from mine back home is that the tree (a real one) was decorated the day before Christmas (here it is on the 24th) with simple and homemade decorations. Christmas night, we danced and sang around the Christmas tree before opening presents. Not only that, my host mother is Norwegian so my christmas was also partially Norwegian! (very different)

    I went to a couple Julefrokoster (Christmas Lunches) this month, where friends and family get together and eat traditional foods, play games, and more. I am a big fan of the christmas foods here- Risengrød, Gløgg & æbleskriver, etc. I also basked Danish Christmas cookies with my family- literally some of the same store-bought Danish Chrsitmas Cookies my parents back home buy every year. Needless to say, I am learning how to make these foods and will make them every year from here on out.

    I turned 18!! It was great to celebrate on my last day with my first host family. I also had theater rehearsal where they made me stand on a chair while everyone sang to me one of the many Danish birthday songs and yelled “hurah” 18 times. The day before, I got together with my exchange friends for dinner and to watch a movie. Not much has changed since being 18, but I definitely feel different- like I have a lot more responsibility.

    Here, the Christmas Elf is a big holiday symbol and decorating with Danish Flag for celebrations is a custom. Loving it all, I bought sooooo many christmas decorations for my mom back home (my mom loves Christmas and so do the Danish- perfect match) I also decided to treat myself as well to little souvenirs and gifts of my own :)

    It's important to remember that exchange is for YOU. To discover yourself, to challenge yourself, and to find what makes you happy. So when you're not feeling happy, the best thing to do is to do something.

    As I feel myself slowly transition out of this funk, I am looking forward with a positive mindset and looking for more activities I can do while I'm in such an incredible city.

    In fact, I will be going to yoga today ;)

    If my legs aren't dead. I just got out of PE and I have theatre rehearsal after school. Either way, it's the thought that counts.

    Happy new year!

    stay groovy

    Paola Camacho

    Click HERE to read more about Paola and all her blogs

  • Paola, Outbound to Denmark

    Hej!

    It has been an incredible 3 and half months in Denmark. So much has happened in such a shot amount of time, and yet I feel like time is going by so quickly.

    I am starting to really learn Danish- things are clicking and I'm remembering so much more now. I'm able to hold up conversations and I understand most everything people say to me! I found that there is no shame in asking for help or for someone to clarify something- in doing this, I've improved so much.

    Since the beginning, I have felt a very close connection with my fellow exchange students, especially a small group of girls (3 from Brazil, 1 from Mexico, and 1 from Canada) who I see as my best friends. This group of friends has made me so happy because these girls know who I am, they understand me in a way no one else can. We help each other through the more difficult times of exchange and are always there for each to celebrate the great days as well.

    On the topic of friends, I have also grown very close to my class at gymnasium. At first, everyone was very kind and welcoming to me, but there was still a barrier between us- I was new, I didn't know Danish. Little by little, however, I started feeling like one of them. As I learn Danish and show up to school everyday, I feel my classmates seeing me as just that- a classmate, a friend (rather than the exchange student.)

    I'm so happy for this because my class is filled with some of the funniest and most caring people I've ever met.

    I switch to my second family in 3 weeks and it's a mix of emotions, to be honest. Of course, I am excited. My next family is super sweet, but I really bonded and grew close to my first host family. Just like as with my exchange friends, they managed to really understand my personality. They made me feel like I was a part of the family and just the same, I see them as family. Moving to the new family, I'm nervous having to start over again- introducing myself, getting used to my new family, learning the new routine and house rules. In a year where the norm is never knowing what's happening and always being confused until the end of the year when the language learning starts to show itself, it's very comforting to have a place where you know what to do. That's how I feel with my first family. But, I'm optimistic because obviously, it wasn't always this way with my first family. I had to observe and learn, and I'm excited to do that with my next family! Especially since its almost December, and let me tell you, the Danish really do Christmas well. I've heard so many stories about traditions and things to do in Copenhagen and I am soo excited! Colombian christmas is also full of tradition and family love, so I'm happy that I will have that this Christmas as well :):)

    Missing Florida a little more recently since getting darker and more rainy here in Copenhagen. Wish me some sun in these next few months!

    Click HERE to read more about Paola and all her blogs

  • Paola, Outbound to Denmark

    Hello!

    These last two months in Copenhagen have been unbelievable. It's hard to know where to begin, so I'll just write as things come to me.

    Copenhagen is a fairly small city so it's very easy to get around by either walking, taking the train/metro, or biking. They have a strong biking culture here, and it's reallllll transportation- nothing like those leisure bike rides on the beach. People get to where they need to go and they go fast. I've started biking everywhere since I've been here and it's super convenient. Overall, moving from one place to another keeps the Danes fairly active which is great, but in all honesty, it is more physical activity than I am used to so here's hoping I look like a goddess by the end of the year. Also, there is a strong culture of eating healthy home cooked meals and food made from scratch, such as baking their own bread! Danish food is incredible, I'm definitely learning how to cook while I am here.

    As I said, Copenhagen is a small city so all of the beautiful tourist sites are relatively very close to each other- you can see everything, such as the Little Mermaid statue, NyHavn, etc., in the span of one-two days! I actually go to school at Gefion Gymnasium which is very close to the city centre and all the touristy areas so I get to see it all with just a 15 min walk from where I am everyday. But don't let this fool you, there are always things going on in Copenhagen! There is a festival or event happening almost every week. It is never boring here. In fact, I am going to a Latin American festival with my exchange friends this weekend. Since I go to school here and live very close by, I like to walk the old European streets of Copenhagen and "get lost" because I see something new every time and add it to the ongoing map in my mind- more and more, I realise how everything in this city is connected! The city of Copenhagen is very artsy, with the Danish Royal Theatre, the Opera House, and more nearby. Being a theatre nerd who loves artsy things, you can imagine why this is a major plus.

    Danish people are so kind!!! I felt at home in this country by the second day I was here. My first host family, whom I am currently staying with, is incredible and I don't want to switch. I have two younger brothers- one is 5 and one is 13. If you are going on exchange, pray you get a younger sibling because they are the key to learning a new language. You see, everyone is Denmark speaks perfect English. You'll be able to make friends and bond with people this way initially, but it makes it difficult to learn Danish. However, children typically haven't learn English and they don't necessarily speak complicated or advanced Danish so its perfect to practice and learn! My brother taught me the numbers and colours on day one.

    I love my classmates and all the Danish friends I've made here. They genuinely want to know more about me and care about my experience here.

    The education system here is very different. The Danish equivalent to high school is called gymnasium. I won't get into it too much, but basically, student choose a "path" , such as science or language, at the beginning of their first year and for the rest of the 3 years, all of their classes are geared toward that path. They take all of their classes with the same group of people who choose the same path. I am in the Language-Spanish class and there is about 26 of us. It is great because everyone is so close; we are all friends because we see each other all the time!

    School here gives a lot of freedom and independence to the students. There is no dress code, students can leave the school for lunch, and every single day is different. Every week, a new schedule is published and it tells you what days you have what classes at what time. Classes are 1hr 30min and you never have more than 4 classes a day; often, you will have less. Also, classes can get cancelled so you can just go home or have a free period. As I have had it explained to me by my classmates, the student is responsible for his/her education; you are there because you want to be there so it is your responsibility to go and get work done. They use a lot of technology and computers in class- rarely is there anything on paper or hand-written.

    Denmark is amazing and more people should know about it!!! I am so happy to be here and already feel how hard it will be to leave.

    This was a basic intro to life in Denmark. Next time, I will be sure to include more specific stories, such as falling off my bike on my first day here.

    Have a great day, kind reader :)

    Click HERE to read more about Paola and all her blogs

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