Tuesday, July 29, 2008
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday, July 27, 2008
The sovereign freedom of traveling comes from the fact that it whirls you around and turns you upside down and stands everything you took for granted on its head.I'm not sure who said this or anything so it's an unknown quote.
Friday, July 25, 2008
Sure, I've visited Chattanooga before, but there's nothing like coming and knowing that everything you see will one day be called home. Grandpa and I have been enjoying the ultimate chill time with boutes of travel inbetween. The other day we went to see downtown. Boy was it great. The walking bridge that was an old railroad bridge provides great views of the area. It was a plus with the great weather we had too. After walking over the river and back again our tummies made their usual hunger noise. That's when we parked it at Cheeseburger Cheeseburger. They only serve cheeseburgers there (well, pretty much) and boast some of the best milkshakes around. It was like walking into an old dinner like atmosphere just packed to the brim with people. I have a feeling it's like that all the time. If you ever get the chance you HAVE to get a strawberry cheesecake milkshake. I'd go there just for the shake.
After filling up on some pretty awesome food we made our way around to the water and walked around. There was this awesome parking meter at the top of one of the steps that was blue with a red and white poke-a-pot pole. Really cool. There was also some strange wooden structure with a portion of railroad tracks. Grandpa is standing it in, in the picture up above. It was a great day that we ended at the aquarium. Over all a great day of being a tourist in my own city.
Tomorrow we're going to see the Lookouts, a local baseball team, play. I'm looking forward to stuffing myself with hotdogs. There are two places were hotdogs are their absolute best - camping and at the ball park. I, of course, am going to go sporting my Tampa Bay Devil Ray's hat. Thanks to Papa Fred and Deb, I've found a new liking towards baseball. Couldn't play the game to save my life, but it's enjoyable to watch.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
I never quite understood why we would hold such high standards for the 16th year of life so I've never looked forward to it. I never expected anything special because to me it's just another year - any other day to have an excuse to do something special with friends and family. This year, I not only turn 16 but I also embark on the adventure of a life time. It seems perfect. Some friends from home have asked me if I'll miss not having a 16 birthday in the states with my family and friends. I said "No", well I guess to be more exact, "Hell no!" How many Americans can say that they turned 16 in Denmark?
Even though I won't turn 16 until 3 August, my family has done some celebrating. While in St. Petersburg visiting my Aunt Donna, Grandma Jo, and everyone else, we decided on a dinner cruise to celebrate my birthday a little early. It was just short of cool. The sights were really awesome. Some of the homes there were amazing. I think they said something along the lines of 1.4 million dollars per level of home. That's some serious cash since some of those places were 3 floors! As we got to the mouth of the Gulf of Mexico we saw the sun set then ventured back indoors to eat a fabulous meal. It turned out to be a great night especially since it was something I'd never done before.
(just a down right perfect sunset)
The food was great as was the company. I think the sad part was that most of the music they were playing was geared towards the older age group and I actually knew a good bit of it. Who says the oldies eventually die??!! Anything can make a come back.
I think the biggest stumbling point for most people involved around what to get me. Well, I could image how hard that must have been. Most have settled on a little pocket cash which is greatly appreciated. I'm not an overly materialistic person and money can be but aside if anything for something important like college or the latest book....
16 is such a big year, and even though I'll be caught in this mad mode of transition I don't think I could ask for a better one. Now the interesting post to read will be the one I write after and concerning my birthday on the third. Y'all better look forward to it so I can be pointed out as a hypocrite when I complain.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
And so a little bit of research was done through the most unreliable site on the Internet; Wikipedia. Come to find out that the first nationally organized group of newspaper photographs was in Denmark. The Danish Union of Press Photographers was founded in 1912 in Copenhagen by just 6 photographers. Today the DUPP has 800 members.
Though is just a small little something of nothing important it was the irony that I found most odd. It seems that now that I have become exposed to Denmark in the most superficial way that it pops up everywhere. There are so many things to Denmark that people just don't know about. I guess the major one is the Lego. We think of it as an all American play toy, but in fact the Lego was made in Denmark. The original Lego land is not in California, but in Denmark. It is such a small country that we tend to think that it has nothing to offer the world like a larger country, say America, would.
It just goes to prove that small countries are as capable of doing as much, if not more than any larger country. It also goes to show that sometimes odd occurrences aren't really that odd, but just a sign that you are doing the right thing.
After spending the morning in China Town we scaddled over to the most visible landmark in the city. Now your probably thinking it's the Golden Gate Bridge, but I have to say that it was probably the least visible landmark in the city. What I'm talkig 'bout is Coit Towner. This collosal mass of a tower stands tall on Telegraph Hill. If you dare to look through the tons of photos I took you can get a great view of Coit Tower at ever angle. The information in the book said that the tower was built in honor of firefighters and is suppose to look like a fire hose. Personally, I didn't see it AT all.
We went for the lost look after Coit Towner. We began to wonder around the area just north of Cow Hollow. I'm not sure what the original attraction was to this area but we ended up seeing Daniel Steel's mansion and a few other nice houses inaddition to postcard row.
(Daniel Steel's Mansion)
Postcard Row was wonderful. By then we were dog tired. Our feet were hurting and we had no desire to go anywhere if it included walking up a hill. Postcard Row is a row of victory houses called the Painted Ladies. Each house has a unique style and eara of painting. To me they all looked victorian but I suppose one was more gothic then the other and so on. The striking difference between the victorians and the city is wonderful. There is a park infront of the houses called Alamo Square. It was a great park but you had to walk up a hill to see the houses with the city in the background. My travel buddies ditched me so I got to walk up the hill to get the great photos while they sat down on a bench. Once walking up this hill I waited for the Chinese tourist to snap their photos then I snapped mine.
We wound down at a Catalan restaurant called B 44. Normally allies are places to avoid, but this restaruant was well worth the venture. The add in one of the tourist books boasted B 44 as a place "Where the locals go for Catalan cuisine in a modern atmosphere, specilaixing in paella and other Spanish dishes." Boy where they right. Each of us tried a different paella dish along with great tapas and dessert. We even had a little fun with our leftovers on the table.
I highly encourage playing with your food. Its fun!
Sunday, July 6, 2008
For now I am visiting my Aunt Lisa in Orlando, FL. She recently purchased a beautiful condo that any guest could very easily mistake for a house. I pride myself is saying I am the first official guest to check in, but we won't dwell on my bragging rights. The condo has been tastefully decorated throughout its three bedrooms and two baths. Now matter how spectacularly decorated the interior may be, it is the exterior that is to die for. As most may know since the beginning of time our (well, my) dear Aunt Lisa as rented apartments. If there is an apartment complex in the vicinity of her work chances are she has called it home. Most apartments come with amenities such as common areas, laundry mats, a communal swimming hole, and a gym. I am here to tell you that here any guest has access to a personal pool and a fabulous jacuzzi tub in the guest bathroom. As for the common area the living room is a great space to sit in front of the boob-tub for an hour or you can curl up in a chair by the fireplace. Sure there are some electrical issues and the occasional kitty toy lying around, but it is just freshly inhabited after a brief dry spell. Any guest would be lucky to book a room here. Not only are you free to make yourself at home, but your favorite pop will be stocked in the fridge and all your meals will be cooked perfectly for you. Enought about the home - how about what I've been doing? Now that your all excited about hearing about me I'm going to tell you that I really haven't been doing too much. Aunt Lisa and I decided and a nice time indulging at home was in order. So far we have done some small shopping, cooked some fabulous oriental dishes (I can now make crab ragoons!), and have taken total advantage of the personal pool that we don't have to share.
After a week of stay at Aunt Lisa's condo, I will make my way about an hour south of here to a very small and remote town called Dade City. Here I will book residence with Papa Fred and Debbie. The first thing to be said about Dade City is the location. I'm in love with it. It has that kinda small town feeling by not. It even has a Winn Dixie (hey... I haven't seen one of thoes in ages)! I love the trees and the river and just the access to the great outdoors that it provides. There is nothing like waking up in a house way up in the trees. A few years back their dream was realised when they embarked on the building of their dream home. I am pleased to say that Papa Fred and Debbie are NOT leaving their plot of land and beautiful home anytime soon. Standing three stories tall this house in a fabulous walk in the woods. Complete with two bedrooms, two baths, a giant personal office, four outdoor decks, a kitchen any chef would be proud to cook in, and a fireplace that scales two stories, this home away from home is a great way to enjoy a Florida summer. Never will you be bored for it has to offer any resident or guest alike a pool table, dart board, jacuzzi, outdoor dinning for a hundred (okay, maybe not that many), and an amazing view of the nature. You can even go kayaking along the river conveniently located ajacent to the home. What exactly I will be doing here I don't know because, as I type but not necessarily as you read, I am sitting on the computer in Orlando, FL.
After my tree top stay in Dade City I'm going to assume that my journey will wind me a little further south to the St. Petersburg/Tampa area. The POA kind of stops after a week. I will be arriving home (which is going to be Chattanooga, TN) on the 23rd of this month. From there I will be chillin' with gramps for a few days until I embark on the adventure of a life time.
Oh, did I mention that I got my SAT scores back?? Probably not so here they are: Critical Reading 560 , Math 530 , and Writing 610 (a 10 on my essay)! That, for you mathematically challenged people (yes, dad, I'm looking, no, starring, at you) is a grand total of 1700. Not too bad for my first try as a sophomore.
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Uniquely all the homes in Florida seem to be the same but different. All the contradictory characteristics of an area are enticing. Homes in Florida seem to all have rod iron columns on their front porch or at least rod iron railing leading up to their door. Hanging over each window is a shutter like awning with a scalloped trim usually made of a tin or a vinyl. The landscaping consists of at least one Palm tree and other tropical plants or its just one huge over grown mess. Homes are all one story because they have to be at least 50 years old or they are new construction with 2 stories. One of the most diverse and uniquely similar aspects is the colour. Typically we tend to paint our homes a neutral colour so as to present a clean looking home that doesn't stand out, but this isn't always so in Florida. Colours such as salmon, peach, terracotta, pale blue, pink, and even the occasional lime green often blanket the exteriors of homes.
Even with these vividly worded images, when you step back beauty of the home goes unnoticed. It's just an old decaying home on 4th St. that's painted an obnoxiously bright peach colour. The roof tiles in old Spanish style are falling off and the garden that was once manicured to perfection has grown wild.
The things that make us leave home, make us return.