Sunday, June 26, 2011

I love...

All of the windmills... and the wind :)
How GREEN the grass is
How often it rains
How the fields turn from brilliant gold to cherry red in the spring

How the sun is only down for 3 hours in the summer
The long bus rides
The even longer train rides
The old man on the corner that waves to all of the cars
Playing ping pong in between classes
How the tallest point in Denmark is not much taller than the hill I live on
How they have letters I still can't correctly pronounce
Being called “the American”
When my class breaks out into song
How they get scared when there is more than 6 inches of snow on the ground
Meeting exchange students everywhere I go, because it’s such a small country
The freedom I have here
Being asked to say “rødgrød med fløde”
All of the walks they go on
How everything here is like a fairytale

They bike everywhere... even in the rain and snow
All of the brick roads
They have a Queen
The beautiful/interesting language
When people don’t notice that I’m an exchange student
Being one of 5 million in the world that can speak Danish
How the beach is only 20 minutes away, no matter where you are on Fyn
How fresh the food is
Livepostej, frikedella, fleskastej
How many potatoes they eat
Rugbrød and remoulade
Partying like a Dane
Odense classic
How they put flags up everywhere when it’s someone’s birthday
The blonde hair and blue eyes
How they dance around the Christmas tree holding hands
How much they love their country
How easy it is to travel from here
Rotary Youth Exchange Program
My new friends from all over the world
My amazing counsellor, Arivd
My 6 new brothers
My 3 new sisters
My 3 new moms and dads
My class. More than they will ever know

I hate that it's almost over

Thank you to everyone who has been a part of and made possible my year in Denmark - all of my exchange student friends, my families, Rotarians, the Danes, and all of those in between. It's been such an amazing year, and I wouldn't trade it for anything. Tak for ALT Danmark. Jeg kommer til at savne jer alle sammen så meget! Men det er ikke en farvel, kun en vi ses :)

All for now,

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Summing It Up

I realize it’s been a while since I last blogged so I’m going to try and sum up the main events that have occurred since last.

Last Day of School- My last day of school was May 13, and it wasn’t really the most exciting schedule I had that day, but it turned out to be a great day! First I had History, then two hours free, then Nature Geography. But I wanted to spend more time with my class, so I decided to go to German with them in one of the hours I had free. So that was fun to try! We had cake in history because someone’s phone went off in class, and when that happens, that owe everyone else cake. Then we also had cake in Nature Geography, because our teacher’s phone had gone off during class last time, and then I had made cookies for everyone since it was my last day, so we got a lot of nice treats at school! I had also just bought a new camera, so some of my classmates were testing it out and took many photos and videos throughout the. After school we had MGP, which was a sort of talent show at the school with “judges” and everything. So us 6 exchange students decided to do a little act, and we sang “Don’t Worry Be Happy” in our own language (English, Spanish, Turkish, Japanese, and Thai) and then all together in Danish. It was quite adorable, if I may say so. The other acts were rock bands, comedy skits, guitar playing, and singing. So that was a nice, fun way to end my year at Midtfyns Gymnasium.

Euro Tour- The next day I left for my 18 day bus tour around Europe, which can also be explained as one of the best memories from my entire exchange. I traveled with 57 other exchange students from my island of Fyn, from southern Jylland, and then we had 3 exchange students from Lithuania that also joined us. One of them happened to be another exchange student from Northfield! So Natalie and I were reunited and got to travel together :) Basically, we drove to all the big cities around Europe, and we had our main guide and then two younger guides who were both exchange students a few years back. Our guide, Henrik, would show us all of the main attractions and tell us what was exciting to see, and then they would give us the rest of the day to explore ourselves and see and do what we wanted until it was time to eat or it was curfew. We slept in hotels and hostels, and we usually ate breakfast and dinner at the place we were staying, and then we were given money for lunch everyday. Some of the days were driving on the bus all day, and in that case we would stop and have a picnic lunch.

After we had picked everyone up, we started out drive to Berlin, Germany where we spent two days. I got to see the Berlin Wall, Berlin Cathedral, I went to the top of the TV Tower, and then we met up with an exchange student who had been living in Berlin the whole year and he showed us around some of the non-touristy spots. After our two days here, we started our drive to Prague, Czech Republic. On our way there, we stopped at the concentration camp Theresienstadt, where we got a tour. Once we arrived at our hotel, we ate dinner, and then went to a water fountain light and music show. It was so beautiful! The next day we went to St. Vitus Cathedral, and then we were allowed to tour the rest of the city to sightsee/shop/explore until dinner. Prague is an absolutely gorgeous city! The following day we left for Austria and we were on the bus for the majority of the day, but the landscape was beautiful! Our next day was spent in Vienna, Austria, and me and my friends were very excited for this day because it was “Sound of Music Day” where we all dressed up cute and sang Edelweiss as we walked down the streets :) We went to the Schönbrunn Palace with the whole group, and then we went off exploring.
The next day we were driving again, and this was an even longer drive down to Italy. We arrived in Lido de Jesolo in the evening, but before going to dinner at our hotel, we all headed down to the beach (which happened to be right across the street from our hotel!) This was one of my favorite locations. It was 90 degrees the whole time we were in Italy and we had an entire day to literally just sit on the beach. We ate delicious Italian pizza and pasta, refreshing ice cream, and we all got a nice tan! Our third day in Italy we took a boat over to Venice, which was incredible, minus the extreme amount of people that were there. It was almost 100 degrees this day, but we still enjoyed it! We took the gondolas and saw the palaces and bridges. It was all amazing. That evening we went back to Lido and enjoyed our last night on the beach. The next morning we drove to Verona where we saw Juliet’s Balcony and the Arena. We continued on to San Remo where we ate dinner and then spent the rest of the evening at the Riviera.
We are now at day 11 of the trip, and on this day we drove to stunning Monaco! Everything here was perfect. There was no trash on the grounds, there were perfectly trimmed plants and flowers all over, the buildings were beautiful, and the scenery was flawless. We unfortunately only had a few hours here before we had to continue on to France. Once in France, we went to the Fragonard Perfumery near Nice. We got to see how they made their perfumes and which flowers they used, and then we all bought some of their perfume of course! We got to our hostel in Avignon, France late that night, so we ate dinner and then hung out at the hostel. So the next day we got to see the Palace of Popes and the Saint-Benezet Bridge. We met two French boys who showed us around the town and took us to the the really good views of Avignon.
After Avignon, we drove to Paris! We had three days here and we got to see the Eiffel Tower (obviously) and the Louvre, Notre Dame, Triumph Arc, and everything in between. I went up to the top the Eiffel Tower with some friends and we got to look out over all of Paris! On our last night there, we went back to the Eiffel Tower to see it up close at night. We had a curfew of 11:00 pm, and we had some trouble figuring out the metro, so we didn’t even get to the tower until 10:30. As we were getting off the metro, we saw all of the other exchange students getting on it to go back to the hotel. So were all a little stressed and we weren’t even sure we would get to see it with the sparkling lights. But when we got to the square, there was a complete calmness that was there. Beautiful violins were playing, there were other people there, but it wasn’t crowded, I was there with my 5 best friends, and then the Eiffel Tower started blinking with lights. It was one of those moments I won’t forget. We made it back to our hotel 2 minutes past curfew, but that was okay :)

Day 16 of our trip, we headed to Brussles, Belguim. There really isn’t too much to see in this town except for the Atom Statue, and the Manneken Pis, but they do have amazing chocolate and waffles! This was also our favorite hostel that we stayed at. They had good food, they had a ping pong table, and the rooms had showers in them! The next day we headed to Holland. By now we’re all very tired, and starting to get sad that it’s almost over. In the past, they’ve had trouble with exchange students in Amsterdam, so they weren’t going to let us actually see the city, but just take a canal tour of it. The canal tour was not very exciting, and our guide realized that as well, so they decided to let us have 3 hours to see the city after lunch. And there were no problems :)
Our last night on Euro Tour was a calm one. We were at our hotel out in the middle of the woods and our guide gave a little speech, then gave us free pop from the bar. And then we spent the rest of the evening talking, laughing, crying, and signing flags, t-shirts, maps, and journals. We left early the next morning and drove back to Denmark, stopping every few cities to drop people off and say goodbye. It was an incredible trip with people and places I will never ever forget.

Saying Goodbye- The goodbyes continue, and that’s something that I don’t think I’ll ever get used to. You don’t want it to be goodbye, but the truth is, you never know if you will see these people again, (that’s why I’m going to make traveling free when I rule the world). This past Thursday the Brazilians had a big gathering in Odense with exchange students from all over Denmark, so all of us non-Brazilians in the area came too to hang out and say goodbye. Some of these people we may have only met two or three times, but it doesn’t matter because with exchange students, you become best friends with everyone right away, and you feel like you’ve known these people forever. We all hung out in the park all day and stayed up all night together before everyone left the next day. It’s only dark now for about 2 hours, so it’s quite easy to stay up all night.

What’s Left- I still have until July 4th here in Denmark, so I don’t want to start counting down the days yet. My last week will be spent at a week long concert with all of my classmates and two of my host siblings, but other than that, the only thing on my to-do list is see everyone as much as possible and enjoy my last few weeks here. I still can’t believe that it’s been almost a whole year that I’ve been away, and it’s even harder for me to comprehend that this is almost the end. It’s been such an amazing year, and I can't say thank you enough to those who were a part of it and made it possible.

All for now,

More Photos HERE