Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Highlights from 2008

Here is just a list of some of the highlights from 2008. Just as a note, they are in no particular order.

  • Spray painting 'B' Mountain from 08 to 09
  • Getting a decent enough grade on my spanish final (dear lord, I still don't know how that happened)
  • Finishing sophmore year of high school
  • Visiting the spectacular city of San Francisco
  • Going on the sunset dinner cruise for my birthday
  • Moving to a new country (of course that has to be on this list)
  • Meeting and making friends from all over the world
  • Living to see the day where an African American will lead my home country
  • Living to see the day where Bush would end his 8 year reign
  • Visiting Copenhagen and various other cities in Denmark
  • Having a danish Christmas (Jul)
  • Experiencing the best New Years ever! (the fireworks put the fourth of july to shame)

2008 has been a great year. Looking back, the last 365 days has just past by. It's hard to believe that earlier in the year I was in the middle of the desert over 10.000 km away from where I am today. Ah, the good times.

Thursday, December 25, 2008


I strongly urge you to start with the Min Første Jul post and work your way up.

Also, there aren't any pictures becuase stupid me forgot my camera (we went to mormor and morfars for Christmas). So you'll have to satisfy your curiousity with questions which I can try to answer.

Happy Christmas to all!
Glædelig Jul til alle!

Nisse --> (No English)

The Nisse is a big Danish 'tradition', 'belief', thing. It comes from Scandinavian folklore (reconized in Norway, Sweden, and Finland also). It is a little creature that protects the farmer and his family especially during the night. A nisse is kinda like a garden gnome in America. In modern Denmark, nisses are often seen as beardless, wearing grey and red woolens with a red cap. Since nisses are thought to be skilled in illusions and sometimes able to make himself invisible, one was unlikely to get more than brief glimpses of him no matter what he looked like.

Today the nisse is more associated with Christmas, sometimes being called Julenisse (Christmas Nisse). He is kinda like Santa's helper. He is said to be the one who delievers the gifts, but he doesn't live in the North Pole. For danes, he lives in Greenland or just in the surounding forest. In is typical to put out a bowl of Risengrød (porridge) for him on Christmas Eve.

The belief of the Nisse is a lot like the belief of Santa. I mentioned earlier (at least I think so) that Santa isn't as heavily pushed as in America. I would say that the Nisse takes his place.

I mentioned before, though, the Julekalender. There is one particular Julekalender, that fetures three nisse. They are searching for a book that has all the instructions on how to destroy Christmas. Their mission is to get it back to santa. One of the songs on the show is 'It's hard to be a Nissemand'. The show is an odd mix of danish and english. It is very common to hear people breaking out into random song, sining that particular one.

The Nisse is very esential to the Christmas traditions and beliefs to Danmark.

Traditions of Jul

Some tradition and ways of doing 'Jul'.

- One of the most important tradition to mention is the actually date of Christmas. In Denmark, Christmas is actually celebrated on the 24. not the 25.. I didn't know this, but apparently Jesus was born during the night on the 24. Noting special is done on the 25.. Some families have the tradition of going to church, but that is an individual like tradition.

- Danes typically sing/dance around the tree before opening gifts. It is traditional to hold hands while singing some carols around the tree. I can't speak for all of Danmark, but my family in particular sang about five or so songs.

- The Christmas meal is very typical of danish food in general. There was turkey (which was jokingly called Timmy, Tommy's brother) and pork. Red meat just isn't eaten here. There was red cabbage and potatoes of course. As much as danes eat potatoes you'd think they have 1001 ways to make them. No such luck. Danes love to eat just plain boiled potatoes and smother it in brown sauce which is coloured a dark brown, mind you. Luckily for me there were Christmas potatoes there also. These are plain small boile potatoes which get pan candied with brown sugar so the outside is slightly sweet. The meal is finished off with risalamande. It is very hard to explain what it is so here is wikipedia's definition:
Cold Risengrød with whipped cream, vanilla, and chopped almonds, often served with hot or chilled cherry (or strawberry) sauce. A particular tradition is often associated with eating Ris á l'amande, where a whole almond is mixed into the pudding, and the person who finds it (typically hiding it inside his/her mouth) wins a prize. Usually served as desert at Julefrokost (Christmas lunch) or on Christmas eve and is very popular. Nine out of ten Danes enjoy it after the main course Christmas eve.

I got the almond and scored some dark chocolate (mørk chokolade på dansk).

Thoes were just some of the basic traditions of Jul that I found most different from American Christmas.

Min Første Jul --> My First 'Jul'

This is, by no strecht of the imagination, my first Christmas. In fact, it is my 17th, but it is my first Jul. Danish and American culture is very similar. So similar in fact that there isn't very much 'culture shock'. Where it makes up at is Christmas. Jul (which is danish for Christmas, if you didn't pick that up) has all of the basic Christmas elements: tree, gifts, Jesus, and cookies. What it seriously lacks is the commericalization of the holiday. Now, usually that would be a good thing, but I find that it leads to a lack of emphasize on the holiday spirit.

It is traditional in an American Christmas to put up all your decorations and holiday spirit after Thanksgiving. Then follows the tree around the second week or so of December. The tree is decorated with lots of colourful lights and manufactured, colourful, ornimates. The stockings are hung by the first place with care and the smell of fresh baked cookies becomes a permanate fixture. Jul isn't quite like that.

The sign of Christmas in Denmark is the Julekalender (Christmas Calender). It is a show on the tele that airs an episode each day until Christmas. There is also the other Julekalender. That is the advent calender which we are all familar with in America.

For all of you who look forward to out doing your neighbors each year in outdoor lighting during the holidays, Danmark is not for you. Danes don't decorate the exterior of their home with lights, santas, or candy canes. In fact many think it is too gaudy.

For thoes of you who spend hours searching for the perfectly full and cemetrical Christmas tree, Danmark is not for you. The danish Christmas tree is the ultimate Charlie Brown Christmas tree. These things are some of the scrawniest things I have ever seen.

For thoes of you who look forward to decorating the tree with the beautiful lights and unique ornimates, Danmark is not for you. Until recently manufactored ornimates where a rarity. Danes prefer to handmake their ornimates. It is typical to see a tree adorned with paper folded stars (which are complicated to make) and pocket like weaved hearts (not as hard to make). It is also common to adorn you tree with mini danish flags and real live burning candels which do get lite.

For thoes of you who look forward to the holidays because it means quality time with friends and family, Danmark is for you. Danes don't emphasize the gift giving. Christmas is a time where you visit your friends and family. OF course every visit involved coffee and cake.

My first Jul, over all, was different. There is an AFS saying that we live by: It's not good; it's not bad; it's just different. It is extremely true and a necessary saying for us. My first Jul wasn't good, wasn't bad, it was just different. Some of the traditions I like, other's I'm not so sure I dig on.

NOTE: I will be making multiple posts on Christmas. I'm sure you'll end up reading thoes before these, but its the thought that counts.

Friday, December 19, 2008


Today was Juleafslutning. It's like Christmas closing. The day began as any other. I suppose this time the temptation to oversleep and avoid the day's activites was a bit stronger though. Upon arrival the school set up morgenmad (breakfast). As like any school activity I ate with my class. The concept of a class is harder to understand from an American point of view because we don't have classes in the same sense. In school you do everything with your class - eat lunch, hang out, make friends, get drunk, etc.

Breakfast consisted of bread with butter and coffee or apple juice. This is a very typical danish breakfast. What distinguishes it from american bread sandwhiches is the fact that danes eat 'real' rolls. Often times there are seeds of some kind of the top and are freshly bought form the bakery or pulled from frozen bags only to be placed in a warm oven. This is very usual. Following the meal a few songs were sung and some students did one or two mini-performances. Once the tables were cleared a mad dash to the assembly hall was made.

3.G (third grade)* was putting on a play of sorts for the school in the assembly hall. There are many times in which not understanding the language becomes very frustrating and this was one of them. Actually though, it was very understandable. 3.G basically made fun of a lot of things with mini-acts and video. 1.Gs(first grade) was made fun of, the other school, and various other things.

Juleferie (Christmas Holiday) offically began after 3.G's show. The halls were littered with circles of 'Glæde Jul's and 'Vi Ses's (Happy Christmases and Goodbyes). Once released from the confines Saai (THA) and I went to the small Thai store by the trainstation. We bought a few things for lunch and headed to my house. I don't think what we made was actually Thai food, but rather some Thai influenced meal. Saai said it would be called Pad Mai. Pad means fried (like in Pad Thai) and mai is like short noodles. The noodles turned out too soft so they broke into small chunks rather than long strands. It was a very basic meal, but still nice. Doing things different every now and then is good. It was a good start to the Juleferie.

Come monday Saai and I are going to København for the day. Look forward to that post!

*In gymnasium we have three grades. They are called first g, second g, and thrid g. In danish instead of adding st, nd, rd, or th to a number all they do is put a point after it. So in English we would say 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th in danish they just say 1., 2., 3., 4.. Much more simple if you ask me.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Living in a Musical

So far, I've passed 2½ months in my 'new' home with my 'new' family. 2½ months doesn't sound like a long time, but when you live with people for that long it just seems to become longer. I don't know how that works, but for some strange and odd reason, it does.

Because of thoes 2½ months, I've grown to know my family more and more each day. I've come to the conclusion that I'm living in a musical. It's the best way to describe this "crazy family that I'm forced to live with 6.000 miles away" (running joke). At any conversation, talking about anything, someone or some group will randomly break out into song.

I'm not joking or making this up. The family that I live with and am surrounded by loves to sing. It's like a hobby or something. People have been know to walk around the house singing or just break out into it in the middle of dinner if the right thing is said or done. A personaly favorite of theirs is "Tommy" More (Tell Me More) from Summer Nights (Grease). I don't know if I've told the story behind this, but here it goes anyway. For Thanksgiving I named the turkey Tommy. Well, my hostdad and brother teased me about it by calling it my boyfriend and how we were going to eat him. Now everytime something like that comes up or they want to tease me some more they will start to sing Summer Nights but instead of saying "tell me more" they say "Tommy Moore". It's pretty funny actually.

So, now you know the reason if, when I come home, I break out into random song. It's all becuase I'm living my life in a musical.

Saying Goodbye

Being abroad has made me realize that only having the experience and opprotunity is just half of what it means to be an exchange student. The other half is the friend you make along the way. I can now boast to having friends from all around the world. The hardest part of having friends from all around the world is saying goodbye when the day comes.

Today I had to say goodbye to Alana from Austrailia. It wasn't a tear-jerking farewell, but merely a hug and brief heart-felt words. Being away from home only makes one depend more on their friends. It is essential to have people with which one can communicate with and be undserstood by. It's interesting to see how these bonds are formed. People you only see maybe twice a week become important because you know they are there for support.

It's always easier to say hello than goodbye, but saying goodbye only means there is a hello more to say.

Don't be dismayed at good-byes. A farewell is necessary before you can meet again. And meeting again after a moment or lifetime is certain for thoes who are friends.
-Richard David Bach

Nothing makes the earth seem so spacious as to have friends at a distance; they make the latitudes and longitudes.
-Henry David Thoreau

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Decking the Halls

It is tradition that come the first of december, all of the Christmas decoration come out and go up. For us in America this day happens on Black Friday - the day after Thanksgiving, the day were all hell breaks lose in the stores.

Gosh, November just flew by. It really did. I just can't believe there are already Christmas decorations up and three weeks of school left.

In the honor of the tradition, I decorated my room with Christmasy Cheer. Mondays (and Wednesdays for that matter) are language school days. Saai (Thailand), Alana (Aussie), and I decided to have dinner after language school. We choose a Mexican place called Tortilla Flats. Mainly this was becuase Saai had never had Mexican before (it's sad when you have to explain what a taco is) and honestly I was craving food with flavor. Saai's bus only comes once after language school so inorder for her to come to dinner with us she had to spend the night at my house. It was a perfect day to decorate.

Life without Christmas truely seems really foreign. I couldn't image not celebrating this wonderous holiday. After dinner Saai and I stopped by Føtex (super market) to buy some mini Christmas trees, lights, ornimates, and anything else that struck my fancy. I must say that carrying trees on a bus does turn some head.

We did everything they way it should be done. I put some Christmas music on in the background and set out the cookies. We then proceeded to decorate my Christmas trees. Sadly her light-putting-on ability was much better than mine.

It's something special when you can share you holiday with anothe person who knows little about it. It was a giant culture night really. Once we finished doing the decorating we watched a movie from Thailand. Well, it was bought here but it is in Thai with Danish subtitles. It was hard to understand at times, but it was nice.

Christmas truely is a time for caring and sharing. (I know, so cheesy!)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sølvbryllup --> Silver Wedding

In Denmark wedding anniversaries can be a big deal. The major wedding anniversaries that I know of are the silver and gold wedding. The silver wedding happens at the 25th year marker and the gold at the 50th year marker. Yesterday (and I suppose the early hours of today) I attended the party side of the silver wedding.

The silver wedding events are a week long thing. The night before the anniversary friends and family gather together to build an arch covered in greenery flowers and lights. Once complete they are transfered to the couple's home. Here the object is to set up the arch over the door front without them knowing. This however is just about impossible seeing as everyone knows the tradition and is expecting it. On the up side, this means a warm place for the freezing exchange student to stay and coffee once the arch has been rectified.

The morning of the wedding all friends and family gather at an early hour outside of the home to sing morning songs. This is suppose to wake them up. After the singing coffee and breakfast is served to all of the singers. Breakfast is the basic rolls with tradition morning topings such as cheese, chocolate, and other berry spreads.

The next free day (usually a saturday) the couple will have a formal party. Parties such as these are very much different from what happens in America. In America maybe there are two or three toasts and a buffet plus a live band and an open dance floor. No such luck here. We arrived at 17.00 and didn't end up finishing 'dinner' until probably 23.45 or so. We had an appatizer which was served individually, multiple toasts, then a buffet style entre. After the main meal there were more toasts and a few skits from the couple's children, siblings and other family memebers. There is a lot of pressure put of the couple's children because their form of entertainment has to be excelent. They are also expected to do a parody of a song in honor of their parents. Finially a buffet style dessert was served followed by the last of the toasts.

Another very differen thing is the singing. They sing all the time, though I was informed that this party didn't have nearly as much singing in it as normal. After dessert coffee was served and the area was cleared for dancing. The particular party I attended was a bit more religious if you will, so the dancing was folk dancing. Folk dancing... All I can say is that it is every teenager's worst nightmare, but let me tell you, it was sooo entertaining. After the dancing was over a finally song was sung for the couple and a 'get-out' meal was put out.

All in all, we didn't end up leaving until 02.00. It was a very fabulous and interesting event. There is a lot of tradition in this even that I don't think is as evident in America.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Sick Days

Maybe I'd spoken too soon or it's just the holidays letting me know they are here, but today I'm sick and it's the first time since I've arrived in Denmark. It's not a major sick, but it's the one where your body is weak, your nostrils are plugged, and you go from burning up to freezing cold in 5,9 seconds.

After eating breakfast and realizing there was no way I was going to school I asked for some meds. I've come to the general conclusion that Danes don't believe in meds - at all. Unless you are sick and dieing on the ground they don't have anything for you. Luckily I brought miniature supplies of the basics with me from the states. I fell back asleep for another six hours which was great becuase my night had been horrible. I got six hours of sleep in which time I woke up twice because I was so hot. Mind you, my window was even open and it isn't exactly a summers day here.

Needless to say, when you are sick, sometimes you just want to be home - currled up in your bed with your mom bringing you your 'sick food'. It's interesting to see what people like to have when they are sick. Everyone is different. For me, it's egg drop soup. Mom makes a killer egg drop soup whenever someones sick and boy, let me tell you, when I woke up that's all I wanted. In my attempt to make some I realized we had no eggs... That's just a little bit important. Switching tactics I decided on chicken noodle soup - no chicken... Imporvising, I came up with turkey noodle soup. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't mom's egg drop soup.

Sick days aren't horrible, but they are just that; sick days.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Killing Tommy 2008

Ah, Thanksgiving - the official entry into the holiday season. I just couldn't not have Thankgiving. The smell of pumpkin pie lingering in the air while other scents of turkey mingle. It doesn't seem like as important of a holiday when a person is at home, but away is another story. This year I celebrated this beloved holiday with 10 other people - five of them my family, four of them my danish friends from school, and one of them a fellow American (Kyle, seen in the picture with me above).

Though it was away from home, I have to say that it was one of the most memorable Thanksgiving days. The star of the dinner was a giant turkey named Tommy. When I say giant, I mean that 24 lbs. just fit in the oven. Accompaning the bird was the classic mashed potatos, green bean cassarole, stuffing, grandma's spinach artochoke cassarole, gravy, and jellied cranberrie sauce. Dessert was a fabulous pumpkin pie and the best chocolate burbon pecan pie in the history of pie.

It wasn't quite like home (though Kyle insisted it tasted just like his mom's Thanksgiving), it was great. Good food, good company, and a good time. The only things really missing was the parade and the game. Kyle managed to get the parade from last year but all of the performances were missing. We came to the realization that the parade is actually quite boring. No one really watches it. The parade is normally only on for background while you peel potatoes and cube bread. The game.... Well, there was a game on at 7, but it wasn't quite the same. A game's a game you say, but the Thankgiving day game is something special whether you realize it or not.

The meal was great and the company better. Heck, we even had four continously repeating Christmas songs in the background becuase that was all that we had. It is officially now the holiday season. I think I might buy myself a mini Christmas tree for my desk...

Friday, November 21, 2008

Den Første Sne -> The First Snow

The radiator is on 4 as the winter weather outside threatens to freeze us all. Inside we are safe, but once outside we are subjecte to the white blanket. I'm happy now that I have my winter coat. I wrap myself up in a jumper and scraf then button up my coat.

Outside isn't the winter wonderland we think we will see. No, today the roofs are white instead of their usual red and black. Sleep cars are covered in a white blanket and others are running around with theirs as a cape. The grass of some yards have a light dusting of the cold stuff. The trees that cling to their foliage now shamelessly shead theirs to the hard ground.

Today was the first snow of the season. I was under the strict impression that it didn't snow here, but reminense of last nights events can been seen melting away in the shinning sun.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Holiday Season

We are exactly 34 days from Christmas - the holiday were families gather around the lighted fir tree and spread yule time cheer. Smells of cookies baking in the oven swirl through the air and sprinkles of red and green are everyewhere. I have been doing a lot of thinking about the holidays. It seems that between 31. oct and 2. jan a lot of important holidays get shoved in. Between the fired turkey and honey baked ham something happens - you can't see it, but rather feel it. We all know it - the feeling that puts an extra spring in our step and some carols in our mind.

This time now the city has been placing giant (somewhere between 15 and 25 feet) fir trees around and beautiful garlins with lights between buildings. It would be a lie to say that I didn't miss my family a little. The holidays are thoes times when you usually want nothing more than to curl up with the ones you love while sharing a hot cup of cocoa and reading The Night Before Christmas.

But the best way to cope is to find things to look forward too and, well, I'm looking forward to the holidays! As days go by, I don't think we really stop and realise that never ever again will that day happen again. As long as some form of human existense is around, today will never happen again, nor will yesterday or tomorrow. So why waste the day? Why not make today or tomorrow something to remember? Well, that's what I'm trying to do. But, back to the holiday excitement.

There are two main things I'm super excited for. One is having the 2008 Christmas in Denmark. From what I've read, they go all out. It's a holiday they love and celebrate all of the wintery December month. The second thing I'm excited for is Saai, my Thai friend. This Christmas is her first Christmas. I can't denie that there is something special about that. When we walk to language school together we sing Christmas songs and I try to teach her new ones like the twelve days of christmas. For most Americans, Christmas is something you grow up with. You wake up at 6 a.m. to see all of the gifts Santy left for you and to see if he at the cookies and milk you left out and the teeth marks in the carrots from the reindeer.

The holidays are a time of giving and caring - were friends and family come together to appreciate each other and what each person means to the other. To have the opprotunity to spend it here and to teach another our holiday is an opprotunity I wouldn't miss.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Second Attempt

Today marks 12 days since my self inflicted exile. The week seems still, a distant past, but I've decided for a second attempt.

Now why in all that is good would you want to plunge into another week of hell? It's such a good question. So good, infact, that my answer seems to be not enough. My experiment left me in shambles by friday and I really did feel just like quiting. But you know the age old saying: What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger. And that's just what that week did. I'm dwelling on that week more than I would like to, but it is important. As Kyle's dad said (AFS exchange student's dad) it's "...yet another of a long series of self-discoveries." (quote can be viewed under comments from previous post).

So what really made you want another week of hell? Well, my friends actually. I was sitting at lunch today and one of the girls said "Vi snakker dansk til hende." (We speak danish to her.). What was most interesting is that she is, of the three girls I hang out with most, one of the ones who tends to ignore me. I think she is the most uncomfortable with her english so it makes sense that she would want to speak danish. We made an agreement during thoes 15 minutes of eating - "Hvis jeg snakker dansk til jer, må I snakker meget langsom til dig." (If I speak danish to y'all, y'all must speak very lowly to me.)

Do you think your danish is improving? Honestly?, I can't tell. My best answer is that I know more than I did when I left and thank god for that. I'm continually saying that it's hard and frustrating and that is because it really is. When people talk to me they have to speak slowly and pronounce properly. Even then I have to be given a moment or two to register what they have said, saying it over again in my head so I can comprehend the meaning. Sometimes words are so close that I think they say something different or a word has another meaning so I'm confused. There are times when you use animal and times when you use expensive. It all depends on context because in truth they are the exact same word. Walking down the street I have to remind myself that it is an animal hospital not an expensive hospital even though I'm sure it actually is. The learning process of this crazy language is 1) reading 2)writing, and lastly 3) speaking.

Do you have any expectations for this up-and-coming impending day of doom? Well sure. My biggest goal is to handle the isolation better. The only way to fix it is to talk and then I will only talk in danish. I think I learned a lot from the previous week. It has made me stronger in some ways. I understand what it means when people say you have to fight for what you want - really fight for it. Now it's my time to apply that.

When is D-Day? 6. June 1944 at 06.30 hours. Oh, wait... 17. nov 2008 at 00.00 hours. (my attempt at some humor - laugh with me, not at me)

Wish me luck!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Kun Dansk --> Only Danish

For the past eight days I launched myself into the impending torture of kidding myself into thinking that for the next three weeks and possible month I was going to speak Danish and Danish only. Kun Dansk. Boy was I wrong. Day one was interesting, tiring and fun to say the least. The trill of pointing and making vigorous motions this way and that to try to convey my un-mutterable thoughts. I truly felt like a complete mute. The day past and new ones began. My frustration levels topped charts and exceeded limits. I couldn’t say what I wanted to say and by the time I had figured out how to say what I wanted to say I had completely forgot the conversation all together. My sentences were short and not so sweet. My thoughts raged in my head, just begging to be said.

Needless to say I broke down. Not being able to say anything and having not a single clue what people were saying to me was crushing - a blow to the gut. Humans were ment to be socialable creatures, even the most secluded ones. The depression sank in and never in my life have I ever wanted to just curl up in a cave and stare into nothingness for eternity. Sounds bad doesn’t it? 13½ hours of sleep later and I can’t believe that was my week. I can’t believe it even happened and that that was me; so distant and lost, fighting for nothing.

Being an exchange student in Denmark and probably any other cold-region country is extremely hard. The people are naturally colder towards foreigners and treat us like just any other person. Well that’s what we wanted, right?, just to be treated like every other person and not to be so different. It’s not quite the same though. It only means that you truly have to fight for what you want: fight to be heard, to be included, to seriously, no shit, take the initiative to do something. When all you want to do is hovel in your room with a box of Special K, you have to make yourself get up and do something, anything. No one wants to be the girl eating lunch along and quietly because her morals say don't intrupt the people talking around her especially when she probably won't even understand anyway.

I tend to think now that the only way to go is the busy way: life in the fast lane. This and that, here and there. It distracts the mind, keeps the body moving. And then somewhere along that fast lane we pass by the dark exits and meander our way towards the light. Each person’s dark exits and lights are different, but I the end we all make it to the understanding and happiness that is meant to be reached in this upside down and backwards world we shoved ourselves into.

The life of an exchange student is filled with thrills and spills. It’s not for the faint at heart or the wimpy bimbos on Third Street. No, we exchange students are made of this tough skin that lets us do the thing called survive in some of the most hostile seeming places on this earth.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Den Først November....

I dag er den først november. I dag, vil jeg snakker engelsk ikke mere. I day og til den 31. Juni, vil jeg snakker dansk. Det vil være meget hård, men det vil lære mig dansk. Jeg håber, vil jeg lære dansk hurtigt! Og, måske, vil I lærer også en lille dansk.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Final Hours

This blog was posted 31. okt 2008 at 06.29. I have, now, officially only 17½ hours left of english. As suggested by a viewer, I will make little mini posts in danish and y'all can attempt to read them.

Why in the world are you quitting english? Interesting question. Native english speakers have the hardest time with danish because everyone here speaks english as a second language. Usually people start to get things around christmas time. They say that if you haven't 'gotten it' by christmas time, there is no hope for you. I refuse to be one of thoes people who goes home after a year in denmark with no ability to speak danish. I just won't have it!

How are you going to accomplish this monterious task? Well, my first step is to completely quit all english for at least 3 weeks. I'm talking no leters, calls, instant messages, text messages, general conversation, of any kind in english. My only exception to this is English class and my diving class (my text book is in english).

You've gone mad haven't you? Honestly?, I think so. There are times when I have to question my judgement and what I was thinking when I did something, but I think that is all apart of being an exchange student. I think it's a little mad to quit english, but I also think it is necessary to force myself to speak danish. I know that once I start to speak it all the time the muscles in the back of my throat will develop more and I will start to understand the language a lot more. It's all a process.

Oh, and I just realized that it is Halloween today. Wow, completely forgot.


The Thannings

(left to right: Jeppe, Anne Theresa, Gert, Laurits, and Bente)

Okay, the post you have been waiting weeks on end for. It's finally here. Now everyone can get some real sleep. (Okay, so you haven't been having restless nights over this,,, but that's not the point.)

As you all know I have moved to a knew host family. This time I'm living with the Thannings (there is no 'th' sound in danish - it is pronounced with a regular english 't'). We are now six in number. Of course you know me, but there is also Gert (father), Bente (mother), Anne Theresa (18 year old daughter), Jeppe (16 year old son), and Laurits (12 year old son). Our charming home is situated in the suburbs of Vejle in an are called Mølholm. (Don't have my new address? Please email me for it at

So what went wrong with the other family? Nothing went wrong so to speak - we just didn't match. Looking back it is actually very hard to believe that I did spend my first two months there. I know that here is where I'm suppose to be.

Three other kids... are these people mad? Well, my thought exactly. Who wants to have four teenagers especially one who doesn't speak their native language fluently. It turns out that the Thannings did and things have been going well. I think the biggest reason is because we are much more alike.

So who are these people? Funny question, I've been asking myself the same thing. The hard this is that you can't just figure out a family in a few weeks. Here is what I have so far. Gert is a caretaker of a boarding school north of here. He's funny and pretty caring. He has worked with young people for many years so he understands us, if that's possible. Bente is a judge in a city court all the way in south Fyn (long commute). She is pretty much the backbone of the family - does all the paper work and cooking. She also corrects my danish assignments and puts all the commas in the right places (they use their commas differently here). Anne Theresa has just returned from a year in the states as an exchange student and attends the first year like me, but in another gymnasium. Her english is fantastic (duh...) and loves to speak english. Very unlike her older borther I might add. The middle child is Jeppe (pronounced Yeppa). He plays handball and pretty much is into anything sport oriented including American Football. His hates english and languages in general, but I don't mind correcting is homework because that just means he owes me :D The youngest is Laurits. He is apart of a club like thing called FDF. It's a lot like boy scouts, just not. He also enjoys playing on the computer, a lot.

I have it really well here and think my new family is great. Though I probably don't know much about them now, I plan on spending the next 8 months figureing it out.

FYI: Come the first of November I will officially stop speaking english. I'm going to experiment with the first 3 weeks of absolute NO english. This means for a full 3 weeks there will be no blog entries, no emails, no phone calls, no instant messaging to any of you unless you suddenly learned how to speak danish. It's harsh, but its for my own good.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Tyskland --> Germany

When I say I didn't do too much this past weekend I mean that the trip down to Germany on saturday wasn't too much and that on the seventh day I rested. Now your probably thinking "Germany! That's not nothing!" And in which case I would have to say, "Straight up it's not nothing!" but when in Rome do as the Romans.

It was explained to me once that to the Danes, Germany is two things. One, Germany is just a country you have to go through to get to the other countries. Two, Germany is were we buy all of our cola and beer. Because of the extremely high taxes here, many people living in Danmark make day trips down to the German boarder stores to stock up on things such as beer, wine, cola, and anything else unhealthy. When I say stock up, we're talking about the mother of all hens going to Cosco to buy toilet paper and paper towels saying that the two packs of 24 rolls is absolutely necessary. I saw people walking out with cart fulls of what has to be somewere around 100 cans of something. It's insane!

But they do that and I even participated in the ritual. Though I didn't buy any beer, cola, or wine, I did manage to get away with 2350 g of candy for only 100 kr. For all of you Americans, that's just over 5 lbs of sugary goodness for just under 20 USD. Seriously a good deal. Besides going to the stores we stoped by a place called Dannevirke. I can't remember if that's the danish of the german, but I think it's the danish. Anyway... It is like a museum of sorts. It is an area that tells a lot about the Danish and Germany history.

Over the years the boarder between the neighboring countries has done a lot of hopping. At some points it's germany and at others danmark. There is also a wall of sorts there ment to be like a fortification. I don't quite understand all of it because low 'n behold - no english. The wall is, by the way, the picture to the right.

On our way back home we stopped by this town in very southern Jylland. It's name alludes me, but it is home to the crown prince's brother, the corn prince. He lives here and thrives on a very good farming like industry. We were able to see his mansion, through the gates of course. Though I'm still barrowing a rather dated camera, I was able to get a fantastic picture if I might say so myself.

All in all, even if the Danes think a quick trip down to Germany every three or four months is nothing, it was just short of awesome for me. It's another country checked off my list, but quite frankly, I can't wait to go back. Besides, I never even got a postcard - of course I will have to go back.

FYI: Come the first of November I will officially stop speaking english. I'm going to experiment with the first 3 weeks of absolute NO english. This means for a full 3 weeks there will be no blog entries, no emails, no phone calls, no instant messaging to any of you unless you suddenly learned how to speak danish. It's harsh, but its for my own good.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Trip to Fredericia

Fredericia is a city south of me. It has a major train hub in the area. Leaving from my city, Vejle, to any place south of me means I will have to stop in Fredericia. Well, that is if I choose to go by train. This time, though, I wasn't going anywhere else and really wasn't going to sight see. No, this time I was visiting a friend.

Alana is what we call an Oldie. Basically she has been here since January and knows a few more ropes then we do. Her birthday was monday so to do something we speed it up to the saturday before. She invited some people over to her house for a 'party' in honor of her birthday. As it turns out only two of the people she invited were able to come - Saai and I. (sounds cool doesn't it?? Saai and I....) Anyway, it was just Saai and I coming so it wasn't a party, it was more along the lines of a "party".

Saai and I started off at the Vejle Station buying about 200 g of candy, our tickets electronically, and then hopping on the train south. It takes off skirting around the fjord then under the bridge and off into the country side. We were in the front of the train and had the compartment to ourselves, which is extremely lovely.

The fredericia train station is smaller than that in Vejle, but has more trains so technically looking around the platforms is much more interesting and fun. Alana was there to pick us up since we had no idea where she lived. From there my pictures went down with the sun. Darkness and an older camera mixed with three exchange students walking through a city usually comes to some odd and non-visible photos.

The "party" as actually a lot of fun. Alana has like her own apartment at the top of the house. All that she is missing is a refridgerator and her own bathroom. We staid up until 3 a.m. watching chick flicks with wedding themes and eating junk food and cola.

The morning after we took a walk to the waterfront to get a view of Fyn (one of the islands). It was raining and cold so really it wasn't too enjoyable but I was able to get a really great view and some decent pictures. I didn't get a chance to see the rest of the town and some more of the historical sights (lots and lots of history in Fredericia). Of course that only means that I will have to return.

(Saai [Thailand] and Alana [Austrailia] by the beach. You can see Fyn in the background)
Happy Birthday Alana!

P.S. I will get something up on my new family. Really, I will. I'll take some picutres of the house and my family members once the weather starts to look decent.

The Box

Today I got my first care package. Its really great to get something from time to time. Who doesn't like to get mail?? In honor of the wonderful American holiday of Halloween (okay, so its not American but the way we exploit it, it might as well be one) my box contained some Halloween M&Ms and some Halloween socks. I also recieved a new bathing suit, which I seriously needed, and some goggles, which I also needed along with some other basic things like the nice shampoo and conditionor that I use back home. It's not that Danmark is some hick country without shampoo and conditioner it's just that things here are soooo expensive that I've turned into a el-cheapo here. I buy the cheapest stuff I can find that won't completely kill my hair and I don't buy conditioner. This is a treat!

To all of you out there that want to know if I need/want anything from the states or aren't sure about gifts or whatever, I'll make it easier for you and just go on ahead and tell you.

  • Scarves (did I mention that I also got this wonderfully beautiful, soft and warm one)

  • Peanut Butter!!!!!! (small jars, nothing huge)

  • Smelly candels (Danes don't believe in having candels that smell... at all)

  • Money (It sounds petty, but things are very expensive here and what we use in Denmark isn't used or isn't fashionable in the States and I also want to take some trips which costs me train and bus fees)

  • Cards!!! Postcards!!! Post in general!!! (Don't have my address?? Please email me for it for security reasons. My email is

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


A: Hey, good to see you
B: Yeah, good to see you. How are
A: I'm doing well, and you?
B: Good, thanks. Hey I
have to go now, but we should catch up over a cup of coffee.
A: That
sounds great. How about tomorrow?
B: Tomorrow sounds great.
I know a great little coffee shop a few blocks for the train station. How
about we meet there?
A: Yeah, does meeting around 2 sound
B: Yep, 2-ish it is. See you tomorrow.
A: Bye

Pretty typical conversation right?? Nothing looks unusual or out of the ordinary, but if you take a closer look, the -ish kind of sticks out. What is -ish and why do we use it?

I've never paid much attention to this little add-on we English speaks use. Come to think of it I believe it is strickly American slang. The brits, to my knowledge, don't use it and the Danes certainly look at you funny if you use it.

-ish is an add-on that means about. If you were to say 2-ish a person would processes that as saying at two o'clock give or take five or so mintues. It's used any time we want to approcimate something. The carpet is a grayish colour. It's not exactly gray, but you can't really call it any other colour.

This is just another example of the odd language we use in day to day life without thinking about it. One of the joys of being in a foreign country is seeing and discovering these oh so obvious aberations of the American English language.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Host Families

I'll just flat out say it - I've changed families. Why you may ask? Because things just weren't working out. I can't exactly explain it. There are times when you just know that you fit and I just didn't. It wasn't actually me who thought there was a problem. The host family came to me and said there was. After not being able to fix it we decided it would be best to switch families. We parted on Tuesday 7. Oktober and since then I have been living with my latest host family, the Thanning's.

There will be a lot more on the Thannings come my next post. There has been a change of address also. I will get that out as soon as possible. If you haven't heard the new address please email me at and I will give it to you.

AFS Autumn Camp

AFS does many camps. Last weekend there was the autumn camp. Basically its just a camp for AFS to make sure everything is going okay with the students and their family. Mine was south of me and included all of south Jutland which was about 30 of us. It was a lot of fun though boring at times. Getting there was fun....

We recieved an invintation in the mail and I read it wrong. Go figure. So I ended up showing up 2 hours earlier than everyone else. Me being me wanted to go on my own instead of going with someone else. Again, me being me, I had to go a different way. So instead of going by bus like the rest of the population, I went by train. Boy was that an experience! By the time I had gotten to the school (the camp was being held at a school) I had taken two buses and two trains, been yelled at by a driver, and riden a train without a ticket.

Because I arrived 2 hours before anyone else I had to help set everything up which wasn't really that bad. Once everyone arrived it was just one social mass of people. Multiple languages and hundreds of pictures equals a group of exchange students. That is one thing that will always be an exchange student thing - pictures.

In an effort to entertain us they decided to have a party. Well, more like a 'party.' Honestly I thought it was a little boring but the best part is just socializing. Talking with everyone and learning new things is great. Usually the AFS parties have themes. This one was a PJ Party. And if we learned anything its that guys don't wear pj's to sleep. Naturally none of the guys had anything decent to wear. Luckily for the girl's eyes the camp leaders thought to bring lots of extra boxers. Kinda funny to see the guys look at one another with slight panic in their eyes when they heard they had to wear pjs.

My trip back was much more tame. In place of the two busses and two trains I got a ride with another exchange student. It was fun and nice to talk with the others.

P.S. - no pictures in this post because I'm too lazy but there is an album of over peoples pictures that I put up. Oh, and my mp3 has really died now.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Æbelø --> Abble Island

I've just realised that I never did a post on Æbelø!! So I guess I'll do one now.

Æbelø is an island north of Fyn (island between Juttland and Zealand). I'm really not entirely sure what the island's clame to fame is, but a big highlight for me was getting there. Being an island, I'd like to tell you we took an exciting boat ride there or hopped in a puddle jumper for all of 10 minutes, but I can't. Truth be told we walked there. Now how can you walk to an island? Being the smart*ss that I am, I'd say with your two legs... The water is quite short and if you plan it right you can go at low tide so the water only comes up to about mid calf or so. I was quite skeptical at first thinking that they were joking especially because I was sure the water would be really cold. Well they weren't and you bet your bottom that water was cold.

I went bare foot because Heidi said she was and I assumed that others would also. I also assumed that if people were going bare foot then the route there would be easy walking. Boy as I wrong. Once we were out of the water we walked a kilometer over a smaller island en route to Æbelø then we walked on the strip that connected the two. We were told that there were a few more rocks and what not. I didn't think too much of it because before it was all smooth sand with some seaweed and the occational shell. ... Let's just put it this way - had my trek across that 1½ kilometer strip been video taped everyother word out of my mouth would have been "Ouch!" and "Jesus!" and "God bless frigging America!". And I'm seriously not joking. I wouldn't be surprised if it took me an hour to walk that. The crazy thing is that I was the only one like that even though there were many other bare foot walkers. Conclusion; Danes have feet made of steel!

We then got a little tour after lunch. Unfortunately lunch needs some attention. That lunch, sitting on the ground on and island somewhere in Europe was the most American meal I had had in a month. We had triangle cut sandwitches made with white bread. There were some with salami and others with cheese. Now, back to the tour. For the most part it was really awesome. The times with the explanations got a little boring, but that was just because I couldn't understand it. We saw a tree that was hollow which I suppose inspired H.C. Anderson to write a story though I'm not sure which one. Also along the walks we enjoyed snatching blackbearies from their bushes. We even saw a heard of wild deer and sheep!

On the trip back I really stopped careing whether or not I got wet, so by the time I made it to the main land I was soaked - well from the waist down. The water was also much heigher up though I think it was warmer. Of course, that could have just been my numb legs. The world may never know.

My pittiful state walking across this crushed shell and rock infested 1½ kilometer strip

Mogens and I standing by the hollow tree with Camilla and the others in the tree

Camilla is in the tree and peaking through a hole for a picture

A nice view of the curve of the island from a vista point we stopped by

NOTE: I have ordered a new camera and hopefully will get it soon so I can post more pictures and have them up sooner!

Monday, September 22, 2008


I must give credit where credit is due. I have been informed that we do actually have an iron and an ironing board. I guess the fact that I never really asked wasn't the best. The odd thing is that if you never see anyone use it and it's not where you keep it at home assuming just becomes natural. Soo... I've made an ass out of myself assuming, but hey; life is life.

P.S. The hair staightner worked great!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

You Know Your an Exchange Student When...

We exchange students love this phrase. It can be made into a game or make a super entertaining post. So here it goes...

  1. know cities by the places that offer the cheapest food
  2. can navigate the bus and train systems like the back of your hand
  3. don't think its odd that you and/or others take more than 2 modes of transportation to school (I take three)
  4. can count to at least ten in two other languages not spoken in you host country (my latest and greatest is Thai which I can count in up to 100)
  5. can buy a KitKat Crunch bar, two bags of M&Ms and two caramel filled chocolate bars for just 20 kr. or 4 USD (that's freaking awesome)
  6. ...your flat iron (for hair) doubles as an iron for you pants
  7. ...walking around with a camera attached to your wrist is no longer the touristy thing to do
  8. ...take out sounds funny because now you say take away
  9. ...your spelling, which was originally crappy, has completely gone down the drain becuase now you mix and match spellings and string unrelated words together
  10. ...your now horrible spelling and writing is completely readable to you and other exchange students (how this happens I'm not sure)
  11. enjoy 20km (12 mile) bike rides
  12. can shit, shower, and shave in 5 minutes flat (a seriously impressive feat when your a girl with long, thick hair)
  13. ...the only time you think your singing is good is after you've had a few beers with friends (especially true for exchange students to Denmark)
  14. can honestly say that you have friends in 7 or more countries around the world
  15. ...facebook becomes a way of life
  16. can talk to other exchange students for hours upon hours and have no idea what your talked about the next day
  17. ...drawing on your paper and taking cat naps is the best way to pass class time
  18. don't understand a think that is said in English class (serious, my teacher teaches in danish)
  19. no longer bothers you to hear your name in a conversation that you can't understand

That's all that I can think of for now. This is post number three all in one day. I'm on a roll! Or, it could just be the KitKat Crunch bar, two bags or M&Ms, and two caramel filled chocolate bars I had.... The world may never know.

Two Muffins for the Price of One

A few weeks ago I started language school (sprogskole på dansk). Usually I'll attend after school for three hours on mondays and tuesdays. We exchange students have a small tradition of getting chinese during our break or flood the vending machine with orders. You know it's pretty bad when you feel bad every time you pass the chinese take away stand and don't buy something because the servers stand up expectantly every time you pass. Or, lets take the vending machine for instance. It's pretty bad that you know how to order yourself in line so that you are the one to get the free muffin. There is some defect with the machine so that every third muffin given out will not come. So all you do is ask for you money back, put it again, hit number 43 and out comes not just one, but two.

We don't think of it as stealing, but more along the lines of taking advantage of an opprotunity to save money. I have mentioned before how truely expensive this country I have come to love is. In fact it seems to be its only major deal breakers. So, I've priced my winter coat at 800 kr. which is only 160 USD. It's actually a really good price as far as winter coats go here. When I'll actually get it is completely up in the air becuase I'm out of shampoo, I need another pen, my socks are holly, and I need another camera. Did I mention that I've already spent my monthly allowence plus some for this month??

Life isn't about finding true love or completeing what it is you are here for; it's made for cutting corners and making the best out of the crappy lemons you were given.

I will Survive

I think there comes a time in everyone's life where they realize that they truely will make it in life. When and where this moment happens can't really be determined. Only the person will know. For me I can honestly say that yesterday was my day.

We take so much for granted, especially in America, that our vision is a clouded one. You can't realize what you have until you reach for it and meet nothing. Lets take a breif flashback to Meatloaf and Mashed Potatoes Sunday. The recipe called for melted butter. That's simple enough; just pop it in the microwave and nuke it for a few seconds. Oh, wait, there is no microwave. Now for the mashing part. I'll just toss the potatoes in the Kitchen Aid and let it do all the work. Now where did that Kitchen Aid go... Fast forward a bit. Something so typical that we don't think twice about - an iron and ironing board. Who doesn't have one?? The Bech's (my host-family), that's who. So how exactly am I to wear a pair of slacks?? Well, I suppose my hair straightner could double as an iron....

It's times like these when you are able to take a step back and realize that if I can use a hair straightner for an iron then I can survive in today's world. And then looking back it dawns on you that you have been surviving. Using the sleeping bag to block out the light and the extra umbrela to plug the skylight - these are all times when you managed to survive. And then you think of the time that you successfully tweezed your eyebrows in the reflections of your cell phone becuase your too cheap to buy a mirror for you room. I think we tend to doubt our abilities.

Being and exchange student is truely your first opprotunity to get a taste of the real world without having to stuff your mouth. There is still the security of some parental support, but not in the sense of what we are use to. Everything we think we need and everything we know we need, has to be decided by no one other than ourselves. Here you don't have mommy and daddy to run home to. It's just you, a pocket dictionary, and the big bad world.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Camp Kulsø

In the schools you are put in a class. In this class you will go to every subject with the same people, you will eat lunch with the same people, and you will most likely hang out with the same people. It makes sense that team-building is a big thing. There is nothing more important that getting to know your class on a social and acedemica level. During the first month we did lots of little team-building activites, but the last monday, tuesday, and wednesday of August was the real test.

For these days our school, Rødkilde (don't worry, I can't say it either), decided that all 1. g's (first grade) needed to go on a camping trip with our class. So that's just what we did. Monday started out a normal day. The only difference for me was that I was driven to school because in addition to my school books I had a duffel bag of clothes and rubber boots and my bike. We attended classes like nomrally, ate lunch like we always did, and complained about the homework. After school, instead of going home we all divided up into our groups within the class, got on our bikes and enbarked on a 30 km (18 mile) bike ride.

The ride itself wasn't too terribly bad. The worst part was actually getting started. The bike that I was using wasn't working right. We had only been on the bikes for 10 minutes and already the chain had come off 3 times. Luckily one of our group members, Chris, was able to put it on each time but by then a few other groups had passed us. It was going to be a long bike ride. We called the emergency number on the paper and asked to be picked up because a bike wasn't working. They said that it would probably be an hour or two. Good think none of us were hurt or something... Eventually we decided to split the group and I would take Hanne's (pronounced Henna) bike since she had already gone of the trip a few times. Her, Chris and Signe (don't say the g and the e is like an a) took my bike. They turned around and went to the bike shop we saw further back and pleaded to have it fixed. The owner saved the day and fixed my bike. By then the rest of us were ahead.

We stopped only two other times after that. Once on top of a huge hill and another at the half way point. Finally making it there we set up camp and ate bread on a stick - seriously.

Tuesday was filled with 4 different team building activities. The first one pretty much sucked. To start with it was raining, we were all still tired, and the activity itself left all of us blind folded. First we were put on a string and we had to, while blind folded, find the end. The string went through trees, up and down hills, and crossed more than once. The goal was to do it quickly. The second part of Activity One was an activity that tested our ability to communicate. Lined up in a row, blind folded, two ropes (one big and one small), and a stick was put out in a field. We had to find all tree iteams and set them up a certain way. The pole had to be in the center, the small rope in a circle around the pole, and the large rope in a square around the circle. The person who found the pole couldn't say they had founded it. Now image being blindfolded, searching in a feild for some things, and not being able to understand what anyone is saying. I just stood there for this activity.

Activity Two was a treasure hunt of sorts. On trees all around the camp were plastic page protectors with papers in it. On the papers were numbers. The first person there got the highest number and it went down from there. We had to copy from the master map and then go out and find all that we could in 20 minutes. We did a lot of running but we're first to almost every single one. The goal, as a class, was to get the most points.

Activity Three was very interesting. We took a walk to an area with a net strung between two trees. The net was homemade and had various sized squares. We had to get everyone through the net. Sounds pretty easy, where's the catch? Well the catch is that the person going through the net can't actually touch the net and the squares can only be used once. This activity helped to build trust. A few people, including myself, went through some of the lower squares to get to the other side. Then we actually handed people through the net. People on one side would pick a person, pick them up, and put them head first through the net. Then the rest of us on the other side would help guide them through and hold them up until they were completely through. It took a long time but it was kind of cool.

Activity Four was rather boring - canoeing. We were put in groups of three. So how can three people canoo in a boat with only two seats? Well one person gets to sit, doing nothing. I got to be the person to sit. The first half of the trip was nice because I was able to relax, but on the way back it was just plain out boring. Finally we ended day two by the fire playing cards and eating dinner.

Wednesday was the most fun. We only had one activity that day in addition to breaking camp and biking back. The activity was my favorite. We had to build a raft out of barrels, trees, and 25 pieces of meter long twine. Our group of six completed building the raft first. We dragged it down to the lake to make sure it floated. Then four people, me included, got on the life rafts and some oars. To past the floatablility test we had to paddle our little make shift raft around a pole in the middle of the lake. It was a lot of fun. The best part about being first is that we got to see everyone else with their rafts. Out of the other three rafts only one of them was successfull. Seeing the other rafters diving into the water to abondon ship was hillarious.

I kind of felt bad that they went swimming, but oh well. To conclude our fun time we broke down camp, ate lunch and loaded up the bikes. As soon as we were able to leave the skies opened up and let fall a terenchal rain. There was no way I was riding my bike 30 km in the porring rain. So I called Mogens (host father) and asked for a ride home. Luckily he had just gotten off work so he was able to come and get me along with another friend.

Whether or not Camp Kulsø actually brought us closer or not, it was a lot of fun.

Monday, September 1, 2008

A Month Walking on Chuck Taylor

Looking back on the past month it is hard to believe that I really have been here for 31 days. So much as happened. Many times my feet have been wet and many times I'm sure they will be agian. It seems that Converse are popular but not realy practical. I've walked on dirt, grass, the road. My feet have peddled many a kilometers and it feels like they have done nothing. The thing with my Converse is that where ever they go, I go. So what is my obsecion with Chuck Taylo you may be asking? Well, I'll tell you. I've had the same pair of shoes for over three years. After a while you go places and do things and these shoes have seen every inch of it. It's hard to discribe.

In the past month I've experienced so much. My Converse and I have seen Manhatten from a Greyhound bus, sat on an 8 hour flight over the Atlantic, and have strode over the streets of Copenhagen. Together in the past month we have biked many kilometers and walked just as many. We have experienced first hand public transportation and the madness of the shopping street. Chuck and I have stopped at many ATMs and bought few things. We have stepped in mud and been dripping wet from the dewy grass.

With my Converse I'll experience all the ups and downs to this new life I have chosen. I've been told that there are 4 crises that you will have. The three week crisis, the one month crisis, the Christmas crisis, and the departure crisis. So far I have missed two of them. It's hard to say that I miss people and things when in reality I don't. Well, that's a little cold. Of course I miss people, but not to the point that it is a big deal. There is so much to do here and to look at that you don't have time to miss people and that's just the way it should be. When every bus ride offers new and exciting things to look at you really do forget all about what isn't there. Its just me, my bus pass, and a pair of beat-up Converse.

So here's to the month and the next 10 that I am to have. Skål! (Cheers på dansk)

Saturday, August 30, 2008

En Dag, En Uge, og Et År

So for a little update. I have fixed my mp3!! My camera is still gone, but I have been able to barrow one and will get some new pictures up soon.

School has been going good. I have friends and have enjoyed the freedom that comes with being a teenager in Denmark. Everyday after school I walk to shopping street and shopping center. Things are expensive but I try to look for the sales plus I usually see people from my class there. The excersice is great! Come monday I will start language school (sprog skole). From there every monday and wednesday I will attented language school from 14.15 to 16.45. It is exciting to finally get some formal instruction on the language I am surrounded by 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and will be for 11 months.

I have found that there is a lot of free things offered in Denmark to the people. In fact if you continue past elementary school (grades 1-9) and you are over the age of 18 the government actually gives you money. I recieved a flyer for what they call a Ungdomsskole which is in english a youth school. They offer a long list of activities for people my age. Some of the things are acedemics like math, others are sports, and general interestes like hiking and design. So why should I not do something fun like that, its free after all? Well, I signed up for it and not just for something boring like hiking or camping or photography, but diving! The course doesn't start until 21. of October, but I still can't wait.

It seems like my calender will be filling up soon. I will have language school after gymnasium every monday and wednesday. Come october I will have the diving classes on tuesdays and fridays alternating. So what next? Well I found a riding school in Egtved (7 km from me) that offers jumping and dressage lessons. Compared to the states the prices are pretty cheap as far as lessons. It costs 210 dkk to be a member, and you have to be a member to ride and then only 250 dkk a month for a lesson a week. So if you care to know what that is in USD just divide by 5. They also offer two lessons a week for 460 dkk a month. For now I will do a lesson a week, but maybe do two lessons a week to do both dressage and jumping. I have inquired so far about lessons so that is a maybe. A sure thing is swimming. There is a sports center in Vingsted (about 5km north east of me) that has an olympic size pool. It is a little on the expensive side, but I think I'm going to start swimming once a week. There aren't like gym memberships but punch cards. For now a 10 time punch card will do and thats around 250 dkk I think.

What more else could I do?? Well nothing for now. Actually it's a beautiful day so I think I will go for a bike ride, maybe get some more pictures of Rugsted and actually do a post on the tiny village I live in.

As for point standing the 50 points is awarded to Aunt Donna who knows that Another Brick in the Wall is a song by Pink Floyd. 10 points to the person who tells me what the title of this post says.

Friday, August 22, 2008

A Featured Blog

So, I recieved an email a while back commenting on the wonderful blog that I have and whether or not I would mind having it posted on the AFS blog page. Of course I said go for it, and I'm proud to say that my blog is not only listed as a link, but also there is a blog entry on my Jelling Stones article.

If anyone cares to see go here and scroll down the 10. of August and see!!

P.S. Technical difficulties. Not only has my 2 month old camera died, but also my 2.5 year old mp3 has been laid to rest. I guess the only electronic thing to go is my phone and it's just over a year old. Now I'm glad I didn't bring a laptop because that would be an expensive replacement.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Comercials and Taxes

We all know them, and we all hate them - comercials and taxes. They say that there are two things that you have to do in life and that's die and pay your taxes, but I really think that there are actually three; die, pay your taxes, and watch comercials. In fact there is only one time during the entire year that I can think of that includes the word like and comercial; the super bowl!! We've all experienced the hour program that turns out to be 30 minutes worth of program and 30 mintues of repetative comercials telling us to buy their car and visit their store. And no matter how old or young you are chances are damn good that you've paid taxes. So wouldn't it be nice to not have to watch comericals or pay your taxes? I think so. Well, I've found the world of no comericals, but when you find the tax free land you better let me know because I, along with the rest of the world, is still searching for it.

So, what, you may be thinking, does comercials and taxes have anything to do with each other. Well, I'll tell you. If you live in Denmark and pay danish taxes, then you don't have to watch comercials. Think I'm joking, well I'm not. As you have all heard, taxes are very high in Denmark, and other Scandinavian countries in general and that's completely true. Here everything and anything that is taxable is and they aren't just a few percent here and there, they are high. There is a media tax here which allows for one channel, DR1, to be completely commerical free and another channel, TV2, to have all the commercials at the end of the program. It's one of thoes things that I noticed just a few days ago, but am loving it. When there are commericals they are actually pretty funny beer commericals.

So... about that tax free world. I've found where it is not. Here in Denmark their taxes are 60%. I haven't really had to pay taxes besides on the items I purchase so my ability to gage how high or low this is, is non existint. Here, you don't have a subtotal then a tax added total. All the prices is what you pay, but the tax has already been included. This is because different things have a different percent tax. Like, for instance, junk food. There is a higher tax on junk food, like chips and candy, because it isn't healthy for you. Consequently, people here at school eat things like apples and bananas, and peaches rather than bags of chips and cookies. They really don't notice it either, to them it is just a healthy habit to get use to.

I think for now Americans will deal with the comercials because I'm pretty sure that we couldn't handle over 100% taxes on a new car, extra taxes on the unhealthy food, and 100 dollar pairs of pants. I just don't see it happening any time soon.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Another Brick in the Wall

So many people have been asking about school and now that I've had one week of it, it seems appropriate to write about it. I would have some pictures for you because the school is really nice, big, modernish, and new but my camera broke and I'm not sure what I'm going to do about replacing it yet. I need to replace it soon though. Anyway...

The school system here is a lot like that of Germany and just about as backwards as you can get from that of America. Mandatory school stops at grade 9, but most people go onto a Gymnasium which is like U.S. high school. There are three grades which are like 11, 12, and 13, but here they are called first, second, and third year. Unlike the U.S. system you don't really pick your classes, you pick a line. Different schools offer different lines. There are 9 classes at my school and about 4 different lines. You can have a more math and science related line, a language related line, a social studies related line, or a more mixed related lines. The line you pick determines which subjects you get. With in that you will probably get to choose something like art, drama, or music or spanish, french, or german. I'm in a language line and have chooses art and spanish.

Now for the classes. This is perhaps the most confusing part of it. I have 8 classes - method of naturalscience, danish, english, spanish, math, art, gym, and social studies - but you don't have all the classes everyday. Actually I only have math once a week and social studies once a week because thoes aren't enphazied as much in the language line. I have danish, english, and spanish twice a week and have a lot of my mehtods of natural science. Because I'm a first year some classes, like my methods of natural science class, are only intro courses. The first year is built so that you can have a semester of you choosen line and see if it's the right line for you. If it isn't than you can change classes. Another interestingly difficult to understand aspect of the school system is that your schedual changes from week to week and your classes are almost never in the same class room. To check to see what you have when and where you have to log onto the school webpage to get your schedual. It's recomended that you check it dailly because some times a class will get canceled. It seems that here they don't have substitute teachers. So, if your first modul class is canceled then you don't have to be to school until 9.30!

Now for some of the basics. School starts at 8.00 and ends about 14.00. You get a 15 minute break inbetween each class, which totally rocks, and usually only have 3 to 4 classes a day. We only get a 30 minute lunch, but that's really no big deal. Things here aren't strick in any way shape or form. In America you have to have a hall pass to be out of your classroom, here they don't have people walking around making sure people are where they are suppose to be. If you don't have a class during one of the moduls then you aren't restricted to a certain area, in fact you can leave and come back if you want to.

Some shockers.... Smoking is fine as long as you're outside. Every friday the school holds a little 'cafe' like deal where students and teachers hang out after school in the Cafateria. There is loud playing music, giant pieces of practically cheeseless pizza, and beer. Yes, you read that right, they sell beer and both students and teachers are drinking and the people out side are smoking and yes, this is all in the school. Not everyone drinks and not everyone smokes. In fact I think the system works well because people have the option. In America I'd say that young people abuse alcohol and smoking because it is something that they can't do. Here some people won't have a beer, some will have just one, and others might have two or three, either way whatever you choose is okay. Only the people who want to smoke, smoke and if you don't that's fine too.

For now that is fine. Please leave questions so I know what to write about next time concerning school. Sometimes it's easy to miss things when they become everyday typical things. Oh, and 50 points to the first person who 'gets' the title.

P.S. The school website has been changed from what has been up there.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Jelling Stones

Denmark is proud to say that it is the oldest monarchy in western Europe and to prove it's point it proudly displays they Jelling Stones. Now what, you may be asking, are the Jelling Stones. Well I shall tell you. The Jelling Stones are two stones that are around a thousand years old. Errected in the late 900's by the first king of Denmark, Gorm the Old, they stand as a physical birth certificate of Denmark.

What is most interesting about these stones and just going to visit them in general is that they aren't roped off and nor do they have a gate around them. There isn't a park or staff standing around to tell you about them. You can touch these stones and walk all around them. You can get as close to them as you would like and it's absolutely free to see them. In fact they stand in the middle of a church yard. And one of the most beautiful church yards I have ever seen.

Most other European churchs are dark and ornate. Here though, and in Denmark in general as I am told, the churches are very light and simple. This is the church that stands right by the stones. It is painted white inside and out. There is only one stained glass window and the others are normal to let light in. Walking in doesn't take your breath away and it wouldn't take you more than 20 minutes to see everything there is to see, but it gives you a sense of simplicity and tranquility when you walk in. To me, and I'm not a religious person, this is the right place to seek inner peace and be one with your god or gods.

I was also most taken about by the cemetary. All around you is a grave yard but you never really notice because it is so beautiful. Each plot, usually a family plot, is hedged with a box wood, or something similar to it. In stead of cold, standard, concrete tome stones there are rocks carved with the names. It's a very natural look and very appealing. Often there are sculpted bushes and trees that look as though their branches are laying a protective blanket over their owners. It's the kind of place that makes you want to buy a plot because you know your family wouldn't mind coming to visit you.

Nobody would mind coming to see that. I know I wouldn't. On either side of the church there are two hills. The picture above was taken from one and the other is behind the church. These are the hills where the king and queen are barried. I believe the one were this picture was taken was the queen's hill and the other one was the king's hill. Either way the views each hill provided was wonderful. And the best part about all of this is that Jelling really isn't too far from Rugsted. Then again, for us in America, nothing here in Denmark is too far away.

The Great Copenhagen Adventure

I mentioned in another blog entry or whatever it is you want to call it that upon arrival the AFS DK group took us on an outing to Copenhagen. Well, I told the truth. We arrived in Copenhagen after a long and tiring flight around 8 a.m. and made it to our camp place at probably 8:30ish. By the time we unpacked, got the tour of the place, and had lunch there was about 50 of us and we didn't have much to do while we waited for the other students. It had already been arranged to have the earily arrivals go to Copenhagen, I guess we just got lucky that thoes people were us.

We started off with about a kilometer walk through the town of Kastrup, where we were staying, to the train stations. From there all 50 of us hoped the train for a few stops down to the metro. There we picked up the metro which took us all the way to the heart of Copenhagen. Okay, maybe not quite the heart, but it did take us too a very touristy spot called Nyhavn. The picture above is it. If you ever pick up a book on Denmark or Copenhagen then chances are damn good that you will see this picture or at least something similar.

We got the joy of a canal tour, as they called it. The tour consisted of a lot of people shoved on a very flat boat that took us around the harbor and the surrounding area for about an hour. The sites were wonderful and the city is just gorgeous. The total down fall was that we were dead tired and at some point every one of us dozed off. About the only thing that kept me up was the 208 pictures I took along the way. Notice in the picture the guy in the blue shirt. That's James and he dozed throughout the entire ride. Alison, the girl in the lime green shirt is passed out with her head leaning aganist the bar. And then there's Mark. He's the guy in the green shirt who is down for the count and had been for the passed 20 minutes. Needless to say, the flight was long, the time difference was getting to us, and none of us were ready for a day filled of sights such as Copenhagen. Though I did take tons of pictures, I too dozed off. Because we were a large group we got to get on first. As soon as we were on the entire group got to wait for the boat to fill up with random people. At this time I think everyone of us was asleep, and I include myself in this.

Besides being dead tired, the things we passed by were great. We say the queen's palace and a bunch of monuments. The boat took us down one canal that was lined with beautiful old buildings right there on the water which was lined, of course, with boats and a beer stand. We also passed by an old battle ship that had been truend into a museum and a few other things. It's definitely a trip to do when in Copenhagen.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Arrival Camp

Day one of arrival camp was probably the longest day in history. We arrived on the morning of the first of august very tired. As if that wasn't enough we had to take in a whole new country and embrace a total language barrier. Because we arrived so early the US students along with a bunch other got to go on a little trip to Copenhagen. The trip was great and would have been much, much better had we not been falling asleep where we stood.

I guess before I should address the Copenhagen trip I'll address lunch. Danish lunch is a truely interesting experience. They eat open face sandwhiches which I'm sure most of you have heard of. The idea of Danish meals is to fill up on bread. The tops and other items is just for taste. It is typical to eat a very dark bread. I'm not sure what it is in english and I couldn't tell you what it is in Danish if I tried, but I'd say it is close to what we call pumpernickle bread. At first the bread is dry and not very flavorful. What taste it does have is kind of harsh and nothing compared to what we are use to. By lunch number 3 we are all pretty much use to it and can go as far as to say we like it. Some popular sandwhiches are butter, egg, tomato, and mayo or butter, salami, remoulade (a kind of sweetish mayo/mustard mixure that we don't have in the states), and sometimes fried onions. I personally really like the egg sandwhich and just butter and cheese. Another unique one is Leverpostej and bacon. It is a meat pate made of pork liver. I didn't know that until after I tried it. It's nothing really to be afraid of because it tastes just like ground up meatloaf which is really good and anything with bacon on it is good.

Anyway.... The arrival camp was good. It was great to meet lots of people from all around the world. To entertain us they did an entertainment time. Here each group ( we were split up into about 13 groups or so with 10-15 people in each group) would perform a little skit for the rest of us. It was really fun. For our group (10) we had Kyle (USA) stand with his back turned to the audience with just a towel on so that it looked like he didn't have any clothes on. Then we had a sign on him so that only we could see. It said something about mini hot dogs for sale for 25 kr then we would walk past him like we were on the street and make comments about how small and little and what not it was. Obviously we were talking about the hot dogs but to the audience our comments were kind of suggestive to him. It was hilllarious!

Another interesting thing about the camp was the showers. In Denmark and most of Scandinavia they take showers after gym class. No big deal right??? Yeah well, there is only one shower room with about 9 or so shower heads.... You do the math.

My the end of the camp we were all ready to go home and unpack out suitcases and really start to live. It's great to be around all of thoes interesting people and have a great time but sharing a room with about 20 other girls while sleeping on the floor isn't very much fun after awhile.

And so the camp ends on the 4. We pack our bags, eat breakfast, clean up, and wait for our families to arrive. Some leave early because they have to catch the train, others wait because their families come to get them. Me, I wait, and now I'm home writing to you so I'm here and well.

Gateway Camp

You would figure that of all the flights going to La Guardia and of all the people that will fly there in one given day, the chances of meeting someone you know or could potentially know would be very, very slim. I guess fate played its part and I ended up meeting another AFSer on my flight from Chicago to La Guardia. As if fate hadn't already done it's part we sat in the same row right next to each other. Who would have thought.

The night before I got about 4 to 3½ hours of sleep so I was already tired enough. The AFS USA gateway camp had plenty planned for us. It came complete with a schedual and name tags. Staying at St. John's wasn't really anything special. The dorms wouldn't have been so bad had you time to lay out a rug and bring your own bedding. The food wasn't terrible but the elevators were packed. In fact I think we were able to get a good 12 people or more in one of them.

The most fun we really had was hanging out in the hall way to the lounge. The lady, Janet, who ran the program was kind of boring and too serious. We did some skits, but she would suck all of the fun out of it by talking about 20 minutes on each one.

The camp wasn't anything I expected. They never really tell you the specifics so I went thinking there would be all the Euro students there. In fact only the students going to Denmark and Norway were there. It seem like as soon as everyone got there we all hit it off. It's hard not to when all of us shared a common interest.

The final and really only second day at the camp was spent packing and traveling to Newark. Yes, to all of you who didn't believe, I left from Newark not JFK. The drive to Newark isn't great in distance but you have to drive straight through New York city and the traffic is terrible. You have to been in a good area I think to appreciate New York. What we saw from the bus was dirty and ugly. The most spectacular site was, interestingly enough, a cemetary. Never before had I ever seen such a large expance of tomb stones.

The check in process was fairly easy. On the down side our terminal was very boring though. Only had one store a small little cafe, if it can be called that, and a currency exchange place. We exchanged our money and then proceeded to wait a few hours for our flight which would prove to be very, very long.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Questions

This is just a brief update to let the whole world know that I am alive and well, living in Denmark. Since my last update I have been bunking with students from all over the United States and from all over the world. There was a gateway camp for two days in New York and after flying on an extremely long flight from Newark to Copenhagen there was an arival orientation for about 3 days.

So far I love Denmark. Even though the country is flat and many people have assured me that Danes or coconuts, I really love it here. The views are great and the cities are fabulous. When I first got here AFS DK did a trip to Copenhagen and it was beautiful. The public transportation is wonderful and people really do ride their bikes. In fact in the larger cities there are special lanes just for bikes.

Yes, I have met my family. They are great and I really like the village, Rugsted, even though it is very small and in the middle of no where.

Such a hard question to answer because I've only known them for a day and a half so far. We are all adjusting to each other so once things settle down I'll be able to better articulate what they are like. Christoffer and Casper are just like any boys; playful and antaganizing towards each other. Camilla is playful and can be very talkative. None of the children speak english so right now I'm just the observer. Heidi is very helpful and Morgens is good. For now that's all I can tell, but in reality I could probably have already told you that.

Any more questions so far, just comment and I will answer eventually. As far as contacting goes, I'll get back to y'all on that.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Goodbye America, Helllooo Denmark

Finally, after months of waiting, my adventure is to begin. I've backed my bags and said my goodbyes. It's amazing that after months of dreaming of this day, of signing paperwork, and of sitting tight the day has come for it to really happen.

It's hard to say that I'm scared of what is to come or that I'm frightened about this or that because, in reality, I'm not. I'm just totally psyched about meeting new people, learning a new language, and exploring a different culture. I'm not saying I'm totally comfortable with starting a new school while living with a new family, speaking none of the language, and not knowing hardly anything about the customs. I've spent a good portion of my life moving to new schools where I knew no one outside of my family, but this is a whole new ball game. At least when I started a new school before I could talk to them and they would understand, and I didn't have to worry about doing some social faux pas.

Now I'm sure you're thinking, "Well, you did prepare for this, right?" I did, more than you would know, but you can't just read a book and understand everything. Understanding in itself isn't something very comprehensible. I've always thought that to understand one thing is to know its opposite. To understand day you have to know night. To say I understand they culture would be a lie. No amount of preparation can really prepare you for anything like what I'm about to do. I'm sure other exchange students can vouch for me there. I guess you just have to prepare for the unexpected and grasp all the knowledge about your country of choice before you go. That's just what I've done.

I'm most interesting in this blog because it's my thoughts and feelings right then and there. It will be most interesting to sit down one day and read from start to finish everything I've posted once I return. I want to know if my expectations were right or if I was absolutely crazy to not be frightened or scared or whatever it is your suppose to feel at this moment. So in order to do that I'm going to write, well, type my expectations.

To make expectations is to be disappointed. I don't expect everything to be perfect. I expect to make mistakes and to make a complete fool of myself every now and then. I don't expect to never be homesick and I don't expect to fit right in. I expect to learn more about a different way of life and I expect to come home a different person. I don't expect to change the world and I don't expect to come back a perfect person. I expect to come back an understanding person and I expect to come home with a general knowledge of the language and culture. I don't expect to know everything. I expect myself to stay in touch with friends both here and there. I expect myself to learn about and appreciate my own culture. I expect myself to return a citizen of my own country, a prospective citizen of my host country, and a true citizen of the world. Of all of these expectations, I expect to be disappointed - it's just the way life rolls.

So, with all that said, Goodbye America and Hellooooo Denmark!

P.S. Don't have my address or point of contact? Wish you had it? Shoot me an email at