Julia, Outbound to Denmark

I am officially in the last hundred days of my exchange and it is bittersweet to say the least. I have met such amazing people and learned so much. I am so grateful for this opportunity. I left the United States as a person different as I am coming home. I have learned not only about Danish culture, but about the culture of all of my friends I have made along this journey. When I left, I had no clue what I was doing. I didn’t even really know where I would live. All I knew is that wherever I went, I would have an amazing time.

It hurts my heart to think that soon, this will end. However, in a way, exchange will never end for me because I know that I will always have my amazing and beautiful friends and family to talk to, no matter the distance. In fact, we are all already planning our future trips together. The beauty of exchange is that although it is just one year of your life, it stays with you forever. I will always remember all of the laughs I have had with my friends and family. I remember the many times I have said the complete wrong words in Danish, like giving birth to my friend’s verses following them or saying an inappropriate word instead of the color red to my host mom. I love having tea time and eating fastelavnsboller with my family, exploring the beautiful unseen parts of cities in Denmark with my exchange friends, soaking in all of the sun we can possibly get during the winter in parks, and dancing and singing Danish music with my classmates. These are moments I will forever cherish in my heart.

I never really know what to write about in these journals because there is so much that happens while being abroad. I have had some highs and some lows, but in the end, it has been an unforgettable experience. My best advice to people would be to never say no. I have tried things I would have never done in the United States and having an open mind and being willing to do things that are a bit out of my comfort zone has allowed for me to make some of the greatest memories. Being open minded has allowed for me to take a ski trip in Sweden, explore some of Denmark’s most beautiful places, and make lifelong friends. The little bit of embarrassment or nervousness I may have felt is nothing compared to the great times I have had.

January was a very hard month for me because it was very cold and dark without any snow. I had to go back to school, change families, and readjust to a new schedule. However, I still had a good month overall because I bonded with my family and was able to see my friends. February has come and gone in the blink of an eye. It became lighter outside and just a bit warmer. I went on a ski trip in Sweden for a week which was very fun. I was amazed when I found out that I was able to put my skis on at the house we were staying in and then ski in/out to go to the mountains. I was also able to see how similar, yet different Danish is to Swedish. It was quite confusing at times to go to ski lessons when the instructor spoke fast Swedish. When I told people that I was an exchange student, they were surprised that I could even follow her instructions. Seeing the snow made me feel a bit better because when I had left Florida, I thought I would live with snow when I was abroad, but we only had about three centimeters of snow the whole winter. After being in snow for a week, it’s easy for me to say I am so happy that there wasn’t that much in Denmark because I didn’t realize how annoying it was to walk in. I was also able to take a day trip to Malmö in Sweden with my friends, which was "hyggeligt". We were able to be tourists for the day. It was funny to see how different Swedish people are from Danish. For example, Danish people will not cross the street unless the walking sign is green, even if there are no cars, but the Swedish people crossed whenever they wanted.

March has brought plenty of rainy days. I think it has rained for two weeks straight. Many of my exchange student friends and I have started to realize that we are coming towards the end of our exchanges, so we always try to make sure to enjoy my time here and keep busy. I go out with my Danish and exchange student friends on the weekends and spend time with my host family. We are trying to cross all of the things off of my exchange year bucket list, so saying I am busy is an understatement. My class trip was to Rome for about a week, where I learned more about Italian culture and was able to do this with the people I love, which made it all even more special. March is now over, and it is crazy that we are already in the month of April, but time flies by when you’re having fun.

I sometimes forget how much my life has changed and how the lives of my friends and family back in the United States has moved so much slower than mine. These past seven or eight months have been full of more experiences than I have ever had in the past ten years of my life. I forget that I am abroad because it all just seems so normal to me, until someone asks, and I have to explain what I am doing. I watched a video on why students should study abroad and almost forgot that this is exactly what I am doing right now. I know when I come home, I will realize just how different the way of living is here, but now, I can say I have fully emerged myself in the Danish culture and I feel as if I am just a local, which is simply the best feeling.

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