Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Intro Camp

On Sunday, I came home from what can only be described as the best week of my life. The Rotary Intro Camp was a blast! I had so much fun and I made so many new friends that I already miss, even though we've only been apart for two days.. For those of you on Facebook, you may have already seen the millions of photos from that week. For those of you not on Facebook, I've got plenty of pictures here for you. Our days were pretty routine at the camp. Breakfast at 8, Danish class from 9 until 12, lunch, class again from 1 to 4, then we had some free time, dinner at 6, and then they usually had some sort of entertainment for us in the evening. Our classes looked something like this: (You'll find me in the top left)

The food looked something like this:

Okay fine, just my food looked like this...

Our free time consisted of pool, foosball, dance parties, and sitting around the couch singing and trading pins for our Rotary blazers.

The surprise entertainment included a cheesey Danish film, a live band performance by the Striving Vines, a bonfire with brød on a stick, soccer, and on the last night we had a dance.

On Wednesday, we took a trip to Viborg and got to walk around the town. We were suppose to have a tour through the cathedral, but it was locked when we got there, but it was still a gorgeous little town to explore. Then the buses took us to this hilltop with the most beautiful view! We had scones and tea here, and then returned to the school for more Danish lessons.

Friday we went to Århus to visit the Art Museum and do some shopping. I bought some clothes and then most of us went out and bought a bunch of chocolate, because they were only feeding us healthy food at the camp, and we were in need of some sweets! The art museum was actually really cool, and their most famous piece, "The Boy", is pictured here, along with the mirror room, and me by the museum.

During the classes we learned a few more basic phrases, the past, present perfect, present, and future tenses, and a ton of new vocabulary. We also learned a new Danish song everyday. Our teacher would show us a popular Danish music video and then we would get the lyrics and he would help us translate it all. It was a fun way of learning some new words, and at the end of the week, everyone was singing these Danish songs :)
On the last day of the camp, each class put on a little entertainment piece, and then the teachers all performed a few of the songs we had learned. Then we had a dance and everyone was preparing to say goodbye in the morning. It was the most exciting week, and I found it so amazing that there were so many different people from all over the world, all blending together and connecting so well! I became really good friends with many of the Spanish speaking students, (they all thought it was really cool that I was almost fluent in Spanish), and with the Brazilians, because they always start the fun! My blazer is now full of pins of all kinds, and my wrists are crowded with bracelets and ribbons from all over as well! The Brazilians had the most people by far, so of course I have a ton of Brazilian pins and scarves and bracelets now.
As much as I miss the Intro camp, it's nice to be back with my host family, and to go back to school. I missed my classmates, and plus I get more sleep here than I did at the camp. I'll leave you with a few more pictures from my amazing week:

Pictured here is Missy (from my district in MN), Gustavo (My host brother from my 2nd host family is in Brazil right now living with Gustavo's family), Ayume (from Brazil), and me.

Missy and me with our Brazilians friends in our blazers.

All of the exchange students from the US.

Me, Tommy, and Missy, (we all flew to Denmark together).

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Danish Lessons

For the past week I have been attending a class in Svendborg, a town about 15 minutes away, for exchange students on the island of Fyn. There were 14 of us in the class; 4 from Turkey, 2 from Japan, one from Thailand, 3 from Italy, one from Finland, one from Latvia, and 2, including me, from the USA. The three other exchange students from my gymnasium were at the class as well, so we all took the train together to get to the class everyday.
I felt like I was in kindergarten all over again- learning the ABC's, how to count to 100, the names of the months and days of the week, and learning to say the time, all in Danish of course. The teacher only spoke to us in Danish (unless we were all really struggling) and she spoke very slowly and used many hand gestures to help us figure out what she was saying. It worked though! I can now say all of the previously mentioned, and several basic conversation pieces such as "How are you?" and "Can you please repeat that?" and "Can you please speak more slowly?". Very useful. The class continues every Monday from 8:30 to 12:30, for about another month or two. My host family said I am picking up on the language very quickly, which is good because several of my classmates at the gymnasium said they would give me two months to learn Danish, and then they wouldn't speak any english to me! Quite the challenge, but I accepted. They've got a countdown going already, so I'm studying away!
I attended my first Rotary meeting on Tuesday, and it was actually pretty exciting! My counselor, Arvid, picked me up from my house and took me to the meeting which was only about 5 minutes away. I was greeted by all of the Rotary members and they were all so excited that I could be there. We started out the meeting by singing a Danish song, just for fun, and then I introduced myself and told them where I was from (in Danish), and then we were served dinner. After dinner we had coffee and tea, and then the Rotary members talked about an upcoming fundraiser they were putting on. Afterwards they had a small break and several of the members were taking pictures with me and talking to me about the places they had traveled to, and that was about it! The meeting continued for another hour, but Arvid took me home because he said it would put me to sleep if I had to listen to it. He's great.
On Sunday I left for the for the Rotary Intro Camp for a week in a town in northern Denmark called Randers. I absolutely love it so far. All of the Rotary Exchange students who are in Denmark are at this camp, so there's 150 of us, and it's a blast! So many people form so many different places, and we all act like we've known each other forever. Here we have Danish lessons for 6 hours each day, but I'll get into more detail on the camp once it's finished. The language isn't too difficult yet, and it's more similar to English than I expected. Here are a few pictures from my first 3 weeks:

The bunkers on the western beaches, and the surfers.

My puppy, Mali. She came with us to the west coast.

The delicious fish dinner that Niels cooked up! One of the best meals I've ever had.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Tuesday. My first day of school. The day where I would receive a tour of the school, meet the other three exchange students, and meet my new teachers. Or so I thought it was Tuesday...
It turns out my first day was actually suppose to be Monday, but my host mom and I both could have sworn the paper said Tuesday! So I kind of skipped my first day of school. By accident. Instead I got a quick tour on Tuesday and I only met one teacher, and no exchange students. The school was very kind about our little mistake, though, and I got to start school the same day as all of the other students.
So today, Wednesday, I finally got to go to my first day of school in Denmark. And it was great!
Danish schools are a bit different from Northfield. School starts at 8 15, and the time you're done depends on what classes you have that day, so it could be anywhere between 1 and 5pm. My school, or gymnasium, as they call it, has a first, second and third grade. I'm in the second grade, along with Soren. But each grade is split up into classes which they stay with throughout the day, and then the teachers move around to different rooms; the only time the students move is for a science or an art class. The class i'm in is called 2im, meaning the second grade, international music class. This class stays together for all subjects except for music and language classes, then they split up depending on which subject they're focusing on. I'll be in the international half of the class, but ironically enough, I'm the first exchange student to be in the international class! Each week is a different schedule, and we have to check online to see what classes we have each day that week. About 90% of the school work is done on the computer, and they're trying to become a paper-free school!
Today was a shortened day, so school didn't start until 10am. After biking to school in the rain, I met with Kamilla, one of the school counselors and she introduced me to a few of the kids in my class so they could show me around. The first class I had was Nature Geography, and the teacher talked the whole time about what we would be covering during the year, but of course it was all in Danish so I have no idea what we will be covering during the year. Next there was an assembly to welcome the first grade class to the new school. Everyone in the school participated and the teachers taught us a short dance and then we danced with the first graders to polka music. It was quite interesting, and apparently they learn a new dance each year for this assembly. Next I had Ancient History, and then Danish class. The people at the school were all very friendly and outgoing, and I made many new friends (though I don't remember half of their names). I was surprised at how much I was able to entertain myself while all of this Danish speaking was going on! But luckily I start a Danish language camp next week, and then the week after that I have my Rotary Intro Camp where I will also be taking Danish lessons! So I'll be able to communicate with them all soon.
Okay enough about school, much more has happened since I last wrote. I found out that the sour-tasting milk I put on my cereal last week is actually called Okologisk and it's basically the stuff that is left after making butter, but some Danes drink it and use it on their cereal... This past weekend I got to meet Henrik, my 22 year old brother who has been working as a lifeguard for the summer. My family took a trip to the upper western coast of Denmark, about a 2 hour drive from Ringe. There are about 4,000 bunkers from WWII all along this coast, and they were pretty cool to look around in! At the beach, Henrik and Soren then taught me how to surf, which has been a definite highlight so far! I've also been eating a bit more interesting food, but still loving it all! The other night we had squid spaghetti. Yes, squid. It was so so delicious. I also ate herring, and my host mom was so surprised that I actually liked it, so she took a few pictures of me eating it :)
I'm learning new Danish words each day, and I'm loving it here more and more!
All for now!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Odense and Copenhagen

It's only been 2 days since my last blog and I already have much more to write about! The life of an exchange student is not a dull one. On Monday, I slept in until about 11:20 and I thought I was going to be the last one awake and I was all worried that I had missed breakfast and possibly lunch, but when I came downstairs, my mom told me that Soren was still sleeping. So I felt better, and was glad to hear that Soren enjoys his sleep as much as I do. Susanne got out some cereal for me and what looked like milk... So I poured a bowl of corn flakes (that's about the only type of cereal they have, and I miss Malt-O-Meal already) and poured the "milk" on top, but it turned out to be more like a really thick cream that had a bit of a sour taste to it. Similar to condensed milk, but I wasn't really sure if they covered their cereal with it, or if it was a substitute for milk, so I struggled for a bit. But I ate it all, and it was pretty good! Then Soren came downstairs and poured himself some cereal, but he took out the milk and just ate it normally, so I'm not really sure what or why I put this other substance on my cereal... Oh well! After breakfast, Soren took me to the school we will be attending and luckily it was open so he was able to show me around and he told me a bit about how their school day works. I will get into more of the school subject once I actually start. We then went and picked up my host brother, Aske, from my 2nd host family (Aske leaves for his exchange to Brazil tomorrow) and the three of us drove to the town of Odense, which is the largest city on the island of Fyn. We walked through the downtown area and did some sight-seeing, but my favorite part of our trip was when they let me order our lunch. It was my first time testing my Danish, and after repeating to Soren and Aske what I was supposed to say about 10 times, I asked the lady in the hot dog wagon for three hotdogs. It must not have been that bad, because about 30 seconds later we each got our hotdogs! The Danish hot dog is a bit different, though, but much more delicious. The actual sausage is a bit longer than the bun, and then 3 sauces are put on, mustard, ketchup, and remoulade. Then it is topped with fresh onions, crispy fred onions, and pickles! It's pretty messy to eat, but very good! I also tried licorice sticks. Apparently licorice is the big candy in Denmark and they love it. I'm not too fond of it. These sticks were literally small parts from licorice roots and you just sucked on them and you got the taste of the licorice. We spent the majority of the day in Odense and then drove back to Ringe. For dinner that night we had chicken, corn on the cob, and a small "salad" containing tomato, avocado, and a special cheese made with wildebeest milk. It was all very tasty!
Today, Susanne and Neils worked all day, so Soren and I took the train to Copenhagen. It took about an hour and a half to get there, but it was pretty cool to take the train, especially since we go through an underwater tunnel to get to the island that Copenhagen is on. Once we were there, we met up with two of Soren's friends that were exchange students in Australia with him 2 years ago. Caroline was from Norway, and Jonas was from Copenhagen. We went into the amusement park called
Tivoli, which is in the center of the city and has a lot of really neat old-fashioned buildings and rides. Soren bought me a pin there to put on my Rotary blazer :) After the park we walked through the main street, which is one of the longest shopping streets in the world! There was a lot of cool buildings there, but what I really liked about it was that there weren't any skyscrapers because they didn't want to cover up any of the old, historical buildings in the city. It was a really pretty place and there were bike everywhere! I loved it. We said goodbye to Caroline and Jonas and got back on the train to Odense, where we would take another train back to Ringe. However, the train to Odense was delayed about 40 minutes and once we got on, there were no seats, so Soren and I started a trend and sat on the floor in the aisles! About halfway through the ride, the train stopped because a man on the train was having breathing problems. They completely shut down the train and all of the lights turned off for about 5 minutes while they started it back up. Then we continued on to Odense. Once we got there, we bought our tickets to Ringe but the screens that tell when and where the trains will be were all turned off and we found out that the trains were done for the night... sweet... Soren said we could just take the bus back, but the bus that went straight to Ringe had left about 5 minutes before we got to the station, so we took the bus that took about 3 times as long to get to our town because of all of the stops it made. Soren and I had some great bonding time as we were traveling, though, and we're becoming really good pals!
Tomorrow we don't have anything planned, which is good because my feet are quite tired from all of the walking. For dinner tomorrow night I'm making Sloppy Joes! This should be interesting considering I've never made them before... But Soren said he would help me.
Wish me luck!!

Sunday, August 1, 2010


So, I wasn't originally planning on having a blog, but after my list of people to write letters to got to more than 50, the idea seemed a bit more appealing to me. So here it goes..
Today is my first day in Ringe, Denmark, and so far I absolutely love it! My airplane left at 3:30 pm on Saturday, and I finally arrived in Billund, Denmark, (which is where Legos are made) at 10:30 am Sunday. I flew over with two other exchange students from my district who were also going to Denmark and I am so glad they were there because I would have gotten completely lost in the airports. All of my luggage arrived safely and my Rotary Counselor, Arvid, and his wife were at the airport to pick me up. They are so sweet and were very excited to have me there. We took about a 45 minute car drive to a town near Ringe where Arvid lives. On the ride there, I saw more windmills than I've ever seen before! It's fantastic! I also noticed that there was not a single pick up truck nor SUV on the road. They all drive small, eco-friendly cars and some people seemed to just barely fit in their cars. Once at Arvid's, all 3 of my host families came with one of their children to greet me and to have lunch. I love them all! They're just amazing and my host siblings and I bonded quite well! The lunch table had about 10 different bottles of wine on it and everyone was grabbing their favorite kind. My brother, Soren, asked me which kind I would like... not knowing what any of them were, or what they tasted like, I simply shrugged my shoulders and was hoping that maybe there was some other option. I think he understood because he then passed me the sparkling water :)
After lunch, my first host family took me to my new house and got me all settled in. In this family I have my mom, Susanne, father, Neils, and three brothers, Soren (18), Henrik (22), and Jens (24). Henrik and Jens are both living in Copenhagen and studying there, so I have yet to meet them. My host mother told me I could sleep for as long as I would like once we got to the house, so that's exactly what I did! I only slept for about 2 hours, though, when the sweet, sweet smell of chocolate cake caught my attention. I went downstairs and helped Soren and Susanne continue to prepare for our dinner that all looked delicious! So far I haven't had anything too weird to eat, and I'm liking the rye bread more and more!
Soren and I are becoming great friends, and we're not positive yet, but we think I'll be in the same grade as him at our school, which is only a 10 minute bike ride from home! Arvid told me he would take me to the school before the first day (August 10) so I can meet some of the teachers and become familiar with the area. Then, on the 22nd, I leave for Language Camp until the 29th. Hopefully it will help me because at the moment, my Danish is quite poor. Luckily, all of my families speak English very well!

Time for dinner! Farvel!