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.

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