Laura, outbound to Greenland
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It’s almost my six month mark and I’m already halfway through exchange. It feels as if Christmas break was just yesterday. Now it’s already February; time is going by way too fast. It’s hard to believe that almost six months ago I got on a plane and left everything I knew. A lot has happened in half a year, nevertheless two months since I wrote my last journal. I never realized how hard it is to keep updated with these. Before leaving I told myself that I would update on the website every month yet here I am only writing my third journal. So much happens on exchange, sometimes so fast I can’t even keep up. Taking the time to sit down and write about what you’ve been doing is much harder than it sounds.
I’ve moved in with my second host family late November and they’ve been amazing. Having two little siblings around the house has been an experience in itself. Back home I have an older sister so my house is usually quiet; here it’s the total opposite. They may be loud but I’ve come to love them and their energy. Living here has been a blessing with getting to class. I live about a ten minute walk away from school as to where I had to take the bus to school at my first family. Living here also puts me closer to the city center so everything is only a walking distance away. I miss my first host family so much but living in a new house has given me new experiences and more people I can now call my family.
Christmas break has been one of my favorite times since being here. The first day of December is when everyone started decorating their homes with lights and decorations. If you look almost every house has a bright yellow star hanging in their window. In the winter the sun comes up at 10am and sets at 3pm so they really light up the city and it adds a warm feeling. In greenland and Denmark they celebrate Christmas on the 24th, not the 25th like in the US. I woke up on Christmas Eve and had a nice breakfast and got ready to walk to the hospital to watch santa fly in on a helicopter to bring presents to the kids in the hospital. The whole town showed up to come see him. It was nice to do something different on Christmas. The rest of the day consisted of relaxing with family and eating. In the afternoon I went with my first host mom and the other exchange student here to a Greenlandic church service. All of it was in Greenlandic so I didn’t understand a word of what they were sayi ng but just being there and listening to them singing was something amazing. Another tradition here is that they open presents in the evening and before that they sing and walk around the tree. Christmas day was my lazy day consisting of being with my host family and friends. A few days later was the 31st. New Years Eve was celebrated with a party and a whole bunch of fireworks. When 12 o'clock hit fireworks lit up the sky. My friends and I walked around the city and watched the never-ending show. Experiencing a whole different culture’s way of celebrating the holidays was such an eye opener. Yes this year was very different from how my family back home celebrates Christmas, but that makes it all the more special.
Two weeks after Christmas came my birthday. I was excited to turn 17 and go celebrate with my friends. The day started with my host family waking me up by singing a Danish birthday song, a tradition here. We had a nice breakfast and then I got ready for school. School was boring as usual but I got a break 10-12 so it wasn’t that bad. After school my friends took me out to a Thai restaurant in the City. All the friends I have here made my exchange. Without them my life here wouldn’t be the same. These people are some of the best I’ve ever met and it breaks my heart to think about leaving them in a few months.
Being here has absolutely been amazing, it still feels like I’m living in a dream. My birthday marked the halfway point of exchange. I have four more months here in Greenland and I’ve already started crying. I got a little homesick during Christmas break but I got over it pretty quick. It’s weird, I miss my life back home and am looking forward to the summer but at the same time I’m so sad about eventually leaving and want to stay here forever. Before leaving I thought exchange was going to be easy and that I wouldn’t get homesick at all. What I can say now is that no matter how much you might think you won’t miss home, you will. Exchange is filled with hard times, good times, and better memories that you will hold forever. The moments I spent here is something to treasure. Through the good and bad I’ve loved it all. If I had the chance, I would relive this year all over again. I wouldn’t trade the time here for the world. Thank you so much Rotary for giving me this chance to represent America and have the best year of my life.
Posted on Sat, February 4, 2017
by Terri Wescott