Journals: Natalia - Denmark

What’s “normal” in the US, I’ve discovered, isn’t really “normal” here in Denmark.

I’ve been in Denmark for almost 11 weeks now and I can honestly say that these have been the most incredible weeks of my life. So much has happened within the time I have been here and I feel like I am not the same person that got off of the jet in Billund. So far I’ve visited Ribe, Esbjerg, Aarhus, Skagen, Aalborg, and Copenhagen as well as being in Leiden, Holland. I was so happy to be chosen to go to the BonaMUN conference with my school and I had an absolutely wonderful time there discussing international problems and finding solutions to these conflicts.

What’s “normal” in the US, I’ve discovered, isn’t really “normal” here in Denmark. But that’s not to say that the US is weird, because I do think Denmark is weird in its own way. Food wise, they eat so much potatoes and bread, but I’m not complaining. All of the meals here are homemade and I absolutely love it. I mean of course I miss eating out half of the time, but I feel like there is more of a healthier lifestyle promoted because of this. Instead of eating chips or processed sweets between class, it’s more normal to eat whole cucumbers or carrots which is pretty cool. But if you are reading this now thinking that if you lived in Denmark for a whole year you would lose weight, think again. Sure, most people bike everywhere, but with all of the candy, cakes, pastries and cookies, it’s pretty easy to gain a bit of weight. My host family as of now has made sure I’ve had my fill of danish licorice, sweets, is (ice-cream), kage (what danes refer to as almost all baked goods) and palaeg chokolade (thin chocolate put on bread and butter). I am forever grateful of everything that min værts familie (my host family) has done for me and I know that making the transition to my next host family won’t be easy.

Transportation is a very big difference for me because I’m so used to driving my own car to and from places. As said before, they use bikes a lot as well as the bus and car. It really depends on how far away you are from everything. I’m going to be honest, Europeans use bikes very differently compared to how we would back in the states, but I’m determined to bike like a true Dane by the end of the year.

Another difference for me is the class schedule varying from day to day. Some classes can get cancelled, others added in within a days notice and it is never the same combination of classes as well. At the most, there can be 4 classes per day and they last for about an hour and a half each. I really enjoy my classes for the most part, and I especially like my Social Science class because we discuss things like the USA’s health care system which is interesting to hear from a Dane’s perspective.

So, the big question is, haven’t I been freezing cold in this Scandinavian country so far? Well, not exactly. It has actually been quite warm for Danish weather in regards to the fact that it is in the middle of October as of now. Apparently this year the summer weather has lasted much longer than normal, but I’m perfectly fine with that! It has rained quite a bit though which I’m somewhat used to because I’m from the not so sunny “Sunshine State”. I think what I’m really not used to is the rain being cold instead of warm like in Florida.

About two weeks ago I gave a short presentation on my two months in Denmark and the majority of it was på dansk (in Danish). The great part about it was that I could actually be understood for the most part and all of the Rotarians smiled while I spoke so I either really impressed them or they felt so bad for me that they all they could do is smile. I’m hoping it was the first scenario, though! All of my classmates in school are very supportive of me when I attempt to speak Danish, so it’s a really nice environment to be in. I have grown so close with my classmates already that I know it’s going to be extremely hard to leave them in a matter of just 8 months.

Denmark is my home. The thought of leaving home scares me, but I know that when I do leave here, the people I have met, the places I’ve been and the memories I have made will stay with me forever.