Saturday, December 17, 2011

I don't know what to call this so here ya go: Another Blog!

Why hello everyone,

So I have basically been having a blast the past few weeks and my exchange has definitely gone up on the happy- scale (is there such a thing? I don't really know, but for now we'll pretend!).

I spent a weekend in Copenhagen (which by the way is my favorite city! It is so beautiful! It's a great mixture of new and old- marked with history everywhere and yet modern at the same time.) I went with my club president and his wife. We had a great time, just walking around the city for a while. We also stopped by the National museum (which by the way has a great brunch saturday morning for anyone interested.,.. and it also has some really cool viking artifacts).

We also did a little creeping and found the USA ambassadors house and, of course, being the American I am I couldn't help but take a photo:

The best part about visiting Copenhagen was Tivoli! For everyone who doesn't know what Tivoli is- it is one of the most magical theme parks! It is smack in the middle of Copenhagen and at Christmas time it is beautiful! That weekend was amazing and definitely won't be my last weekend in Copenhagen (I love that city too much- I definitely reccomend it to every traveler!).

Aside from visiting Copenhagen, I've just been busy living life. I still go to language classes every tuesday and thursday. I go to the gym mondays (which unfortunately hasn't been doing too much to fight my rotary fat.... well at least I have a good excuse for buying cute clothes here?).

On Monday my 3rd host parents took me to Århus for a few hours to see "Den Gamle By" which was fun! It was interesting to see houses from over a hundered years ago! Heres one pic:

Another fun thing I did was learn how to shoot a gun [insert the screaming and fearful faces from my family and friends back home here]. I was surprisingly good given it was my first time!
^photographic proof

Since some people have asked me about the Christmas traditions here in Denmark I figure I should share them here:
~ They eat Æbleskiver and drink Gløgg (both pure deliciousness.... just use google and educate yourself). Oh and they eat pebernødder which are delicious little cookies and eat Ølkage which is basically the same thing as gingerbread, but made with Danish Christmas beer instead. These four things are basically the reasons why I am fat!
~ They have a Kalendarlys (advent candle) which you burn a little from every day in December which are amazing.
~ They actually celebrate the 4 sundays before Christmas which my family never did back home.
~ They always have real trees and wait until like a week before to decorate them!
~ They put these cute things around the house called nisser and they are basically little elves and they're adorable!
~ They have advent shows! The classic one is hilarious because it's half in english and the english is so terrible and they speak my language- Danglish! It's hilarious!
~ They celebrate the 24th not the 25th!
~ They put real candles on the christmas tree and dance around it on Christmas.
 Basically Danish Christmas is amazing! It is so beautiful and I can say that this Christmas is sure to be one I will never forget!

Last weekend I made a "Thanksgiving meal" for my host family. It wasn't a full legitimate Thanksgiving meal like I had hoped, but it was nice nontheless. It was just the 4 of us so there was no need to make a giant meal and they don't have a lot of things I needed to make some things I love (sweet potatoes aren't in Denmark along with canned pumpkin and we couldn't find a real pumpkin in December so no pumpkin pie or sweet potatoe casserole for me this year). It was great and my family liked the meal (although they probably thought I was attempting to give them diabetes with the amount of butter I put in the stuffing).

Aside from that I have just been making friends and having a great time here! I love my host family and the thought of leaving them scares me! I love my 3rd host family already, but this family now is so amazing and leaving them will crush me!

Wednesday is my last day in school before 2012. That day we are just having a few hours of activities and then that evening we are having the gymfest which should be lots of fun!

Until next time, I want to wish you all a Glædelig jul og Godt Nytår!


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Pictures I promised ages ago :)

So I suppose I finally should get around to posting some pictures of me here! I'll start from the beginning and work my way through 3.5 months!

Leaving Florida: Me and my little brother at the airport August 5th, 2011

West coast trip: One of the amazing sandsculptures I saw when I visited the west coast.

My birthday: Me with my birthday cake

Intro camp: A picture of me in front of ARoS museum in Århus while at intro camp

District Get- together: Me and Misaki (Japan) after we hiked Himmelbjerg!

Random: Pretty Danish sunrise

Me right before my first take off:

Viking: Me dressed as a Viking in "Roskilde Viking Skib Museet"

Roskilde kirke: Me standing in the church in Roskilde
Unpictured: below my feet are dozens of dead ancient kings, queens, and other royalty

Me and my "friend" the guard in Copenhagen (this is as close as he let me get to him):

Den Lille Havefrue: The epitome of Denmark!

Me and My new boyfriend: JOKING! He's way too old for me! (it's the bog man in Silkeborg!)

National G2G: On the train ride home after our get-together (this picture doesn't even come close to showing how tired we were)

Kolding huset: Me in the courtyard of the castle in Kolding!

Obviously I've done much more than shown in these pictures but I just thought I'd attempt to keep my word!

Much love!


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Værts familie skift!

So.... I have officially switched host families! Oh and I've gone to a Rotary weekend on Sjælland (the island where København is), gave a 20 minute presentation for my Rotary club (in full Danish!), and today I visited a castle and mall with my new host parents.

Here's what's happening:

Host family switch-
On Sunday 30. October, I switched families. I spent the weekend packing and relaxing for the most part. That day my old host mom took me to Silkeborg and we saw the Bog man (google it!), but other than that I stayed home. That night, my new host parents came and we all had some coffee and then they took me home! I was absolutely amazed to discover all of my junk I've aquired already fit into their car. The next day I unpacked (and realized how many of my clothes don't fit anymore :/ stupid Rotary fat!) and I have felt at home here ever since. My new host family (my host mom Vivian, host dad Bjarne, brother Morten, and their adorable dog Sofie!) is wonderful and I feel so comfortable with them. I already joke around with my host brother and we all agree it feels like we've known eachother a lot longer than just a few months! My host mom is a hairdresser (and she gave me the cutest haircut which I LOVE!) and my host dad is a postman. I find it hard to believe I've only lived here just shy of two weeks because I already have found a routine and feel completely comfortable with them.

Rotary presentation- på Dansk!!!!!-
On 2. November, I actually got up the courage (I still don't know how- I was scared to death about the speech!) and gave my speech to my Rotary club. Now, if you ask anyone that knows me, they'll tell you I am not a shy person and so public speaking doesn't bother me (heck I've done acting on and off for years!) but this was one of only 2 speeches I've ever given that I was afraid for (the other one being the speech I gave at my Rotary district interview just last year). The whole car ride down I sat in the back silently and for the first time since I arrived here I actually couldn't finish my meal at the meeting! It was finally my time. I stood up and within one second of facing my club, all of my nerves calmed. It was insane, but just looking at their faces I realized they were supporting me and were proud of me and so I gave my speech without fear. I may have flubbed a few words, but overall it went well and I must admit I never expected to be giving a speech in Danish, but I did it! The night turned out to be a success and I was so proud of myself!

G2G in Holbæk-
Last weekend we had a national get together weekend for all of the inbounds in Denmark in Holbæk (on Sjælland). It was from friday to Sunday and it was the craziest 3 days! It was amazing to see some of my really good friends again. I got to see my old roommate from intro camp (love ya Kelsea if you're reading this!), my oldie, the other two people from Florida, and so many other people! We spent most of the weekend doing nothing, but we did go into town for a few hours to shop (where I only bought food... hahah I'm such an exchange student!), and we were given a huge party! On Saturday night we had a huge halloween costume party (where I borrowed a friends sailor costume). That party basically lasted all night (literally I got one hour of sleep that night, well actually Sunday morning from 7-8 am) and it was crazy but so much fun! Exchange students are the best people to party with! That entire weekend was exhausting (not just because of lack of sleep but spending a weekend catching up with them was draining) but it was amazing. It was almost theraputic because you realize that you aren't the only one experiencing the things that happen on exchange. Unfortunately it was our last g2g as a group because our oldies (the people from Aussie land and the kiwis!) will be leaving in January :( As much fun as the weekend was, I was so happy to go home to my bed and be back with my host family (... and sleep!!!).

Today, my host parents and I went to Kolding (about an hour drive). We spent the morning at the giant mall there! It was fun spending time with them and just relaxing. Then we went to Kolding huset (which translates to the Kolding house), which is one of Danmarks many castles. It was so beautiful and when we climbed the tour we had a great view.

My new project:
Tomorrow will be my last day speaking english! I have decided that starting Monday I will speak ONLY DANISH 100% of the time (unless I am in English class or talking with a non-dane, since my American family and friends and fellow exchange students won't quite be able to do that! Don't worry mom and dad I will still speak english with you!) for a full month! I have already warned everyone and they are all excited (which scares me a little.... I think they'll find this way more entertaining than me. Although I have tried to speak Danish most of the time, I have slacked a little at school and figured this might give me some motivation. I am hoping to be much more fluent after 4 weeks of this!

That's about it for now. I could babble on and on about how I've changed this year so far and everything I've learned, but you would probably be bored. I will say that I have grown as a person, learned more than I knew was possible, and experienced so many wonderful things. Oh and now I can say I've been here for 3 months! I am super excited about that but sad as well since it means my exchange is that much closer to ending :( and to make that reminder even stronger, I just discovered that this weekend my District back home is holding interviews! It feels insane knowing that just last year I was in their shoes and I still can't believe it.... but enough of my tear fest of how quickly this year has gone on, I'm going to go back to living my happy (short) life here in Denmark! To everyone in America, happy Thanksgiving since it will be in just a few weeks! I love you all!


Thursday, October 27, 2011


So I thought I should tell you all what I did during my “efterårsferie” which literally translates to be autumn holiday (In Denmark, you get a random week long vacation from school and often times adults get out of work as well).

I’ll start at the beginning and work my way through:


My last day of school before the holiday my class all had to take their final exam for their intensive Danish grammar class, which meant I got to come in late (yay!). Then we had a biology class and were free. Some of my friends and I went out to lunch and then I took the bus home where I relaxed for a few hours.

That evening I went to the “efterskole” (it’s like a Danish boarding school that many teens go to for a school year when they’re anywhere from 15-17) that my current host mom works at. The students were putting on a circus styled play with Beetles music. I got to watch that with my host mom, afterwards I ran into a friend, then they had a reception which I helped with, and then my host mom and I went to her bosses house for a small gathering/party with all of the schools employees. I went home and slept.

Saturday and Sunday:

I mostly stayed around the house and relaxed. My host mom and I went to a very small museum in a nearby town. I also took what I am quite certain was at least a 10km walk with my host mom (she says it was 5-6 km, but I have run 5k’s before and this was definitely longer!). She had just asked if I wanted to go for a walk, which I stupidly agreed to and put on my fall boots that I was still breaking in- note to self: Don’t do it ever again: wear sneakers on all walks! I had blisters!


First, I went over to my third host family’s house. I got to have breakfast with them and get to know them as well as see the house (the house is adorable, they even have a beethingy- can’t think of the word because I’m losing all English this year- since my host dad makes honey! I didn’t get to see my room because it isn’t finished yet, but I saw where it will be and I can tell I’ll love it!). We discussed what it will be like when I live there and got to know eachother better. They live in a different town than my other host families (only 8km away), so we walked around the town and I got to see the school they both worked at (they are both retired teachers). We also discussed what I would be interested in visiting while I live with them and they seem like such a sweet family. I am very excited to live with them eventually and I think they will be a good family for me.

Then, my host mom walked me to the cookie factory in their town (that’s right there’s a cookie factory IN MY TOWN!!!!). For all of you Americans, every heard of Royal Dansk Butter cookies (they come in the round blue tin with a Danish farmhouse pictured on the front)? Well here they go by the name Kjeldsens  (they have a different name for the USA because the average American who doesn’t know how the Danish alphabet works pronounces the J and D when it should be pronounced like “Kyelsens” or “Kelsens”)… well anyways, the main factory is in my town. The plant manager is a Rotarian in my club who gave me and my host mom a tour! It was like a dream come true- I mean who hasn’t dreamed of touring a cookie factory (especially since here things like that are top secret- my host mom who toured it with me has lived in that town for quite a while and says she’s never been in!)! We got to eat a few cookies fresh off of the line (still warm and oh so good) and I learned more than I ever knew there was to know about those lovely cookies! Did you know they make the paper cups the cookies go in at the factory? Or that the butter comes from New Zealand? Now you do! And of course no Rotarian in my club would miss an opportunity to donate to much weight gain here- I was sent home with too many cookies to count (seriously, I got 3 normal sized cookie tins, one jumbo tin of chocolate chips, and a box of a new cookie type)- My Rotary Club is determined to make me jump a few clothing sizes this year!

After that, I went and spent a few hours with my second host family (well only the parents and their sweet dog Sofie because my brother was out of town for his holiday). We had a snack, I got the tour of the BEAUTIFUL house and my AMAZING room! (seriously I don’t know how but my host mom designed the most amazing room- simple, sophisticated, and perfect in every way!). My host mom doesn’t speak much English, but she can understand quite a bit, which is good because I am sure it will help my Danish improve!  We had dinner and just got to know eachother! They seem so sweet and in just those few hours, every fear I could have had was completely gone because I felt right at home! That evening I went to the gym with my future host mom because every Monday night she works there! Then I went home and got ready for the next day (I’m a busy girl- gotta get some sleep eventually!)


I woke up bright and early (5:30 AM) in order to go to work with my club counselors wife at “Børnehaven” (the daycare that the government provides for all children- but unlike in America, the govt. daycare is so nice and way more classy!). It was a tiring day but overall fun. I actually read some books (all in Danish) to little kids, played games, did some arts and crafts, etc. and the best part was that I HAD to speak Danish because although Danes are crazy language robots that have almost perfect English (seriously- how do they do it?) the little 4 and 5 year old don’t!


That day was my “resting day”. I had been very busy for the past few days and definitely needed some rest. I slept in late and caught up on some online tv! Then that afternoon, I hopped in the car for the “long” (less than 3 hours!) drive to none other than: KØBENHAVN!!!!!! (for those of you who can’t recognize the name it’s Copenhagen- Denmark’s most amazing city!) Their son lives there and so we stayed in his apartment! That night we didn’t go into town because we got there after dark, but just knowing I was less than 10 minutes away from one of the most amazing cities thrilled me!


That morning we woke up early and prepared to go into the city. We took the short bus ride into town and I was in awe right from the start! First we walked down the famous harbor and I took the ever so popular picture of myself with the harbor in the background! Then we took a 60 minute boat tour of the harbor and it’s areas! We saw lots of amazing places from the water and I recommend this to all visitors (only 40kr - $8 USD for an hour long fun informational tour!). Then we got off and walked over to the queens castle (castle? Palace? No American knows the difference since we don’t have them but you know what I mean!) to see the changing of the guard! By looking at the flags, we knew the Queen wasn’t home but the Crown Prince was home in his castle right next door! I took a picture with a guard (funny story- I knew to not stand too close so I stood a few inches away, my host dad holding the camera motioned for me to inch a little closer so I stupidly listened…. The guard gave me a look that was half scared, half ticked off and then motioned for me to move closer- I didn’t smell I promise so he just must not have liked me L ). Then we walked over to Christiansborg Slot (slot means castle in Danish) to tour the Folketing (parliament). I saw the group of seats where the royal family sits when they come to watch the parliament! It had a red rug and all! After that we walked around outside and then went into where the Kings horses for the carriages are kept! The horses were sweet and I saw carriages for the Royal family! Then we toured the castle portion of Christiansborg slot. Then we walked down the main shopping street and then returned to the apartment.


That morning we started in Copenhagen by touring Rosenborg Slot. This castle was built before the USA existed (1624 to be exact)! The castle and insides were amazingly stunning and I even took a picture in front of a really old throne (legitimate royal butts sat on that thing! Ahh so cool). It’s also there that the royal jewels and riches are held. Denmark actually happens to have the worlds 3rd largest set of Regalia (if it’s wrong my host dad said it not me! Haha google hasn’t been helpful in my search for the truth and world listing). I was absolutely speechless (ask anyone who knows me well- it takes a miracle for that to happen) when I saw the crowns and jewels! But we had to eventually leave L After that we went to lunch. We then went and saw none other than DEN LILLE HAVEFRUE (the little mermaid for those of you unfamiliar with the Danish language)! It felt so weird to be taking a picture with this statue because it was the first thing I found out about Denmark officially after being chosen to come here! It was a moment I won’t forget and it was amazing! Then we went to Christiania (best described by my host parents son as “a place for people who want to be free”). It is almost like a hippie-homeland! It is an area in Copenhagen that basically doesn’t belong to Denmark (technically it does, but in some ways it doesn’t). It is very interesting to walk through. There is graffiti EVERYWHERE! I mean when we drove up there were 4 people painting graffiti on the walls to the town. We walked through and saw everything. I think most Americans would be taken aback by Christiania but I am now at the point where nothing shocks me. We even walked down pusher street (google it for info….) and it was an oddly amazing experience! After that we walked across the street to the church that has the Round tower on top of it. We then had the experience of walking up the tower! It was really scary at some points because its so old and the stairs were very narrow and people were walking up and down at the same time! It’s a good thing I’m not afraid of hights though- because the view was phenominal and worth every step! That night we walked around and saw Copenhagen by night which was beautiful!


That morning we drove to some town on Zealand and I got to ride in an old car (sorry Grandpa I wish I could tell you what type since you are probably wondering, but we all know how big my interest and knowledge of cars is). Then we went to Roskilde! While there we went into Denmark’s largest church (according to the desk employee it is Scandinavia’s 2nd largest)! It was amazing and giant…. But of course that’s not all- It’s also the gravesite for all of the Kings and Queens of Denmark! The one currently standing is from the early 1200’s and made of brick but there was one before that from hundreds of years earlier made of wood. It was creepy yet awe inspiring! Columbus hadn’t even sailed the “ocean blue” yet and that giant church was already built! And seeing some of the coffins for the Royalty and knowing a dead king was in there was a bit freaky but nothing compared to WALKING ON THE GROUND THEY’RE BURIED IN! I literally stood just feet above where Kings and Queens older than I could imagine were buried! It was oddly spectacular and awe-inspiring! Then we went to “Roskilde Vikingskib Museet”  (The Roskilde Viking ship museum). I saw 5 viking ships that were discovered just a  few decades ago in Roskildes waters. Given my extreme fascination with Vikings I was in love with the museum! That afternoon we drove home, a bittersweet moment for me!

Sunday: Of course I had to end my amazing holiday with more fun! That morning my second host moms brother and his family came by to pick me up to go to North Jylland to visit with my entire 2nd host family (my host family left Saturday so they couldn’t drive me). The whole car ride down I bonded with my host cousin who is really nice and easy to get along with as well as her whole family! Then I spent the day meeting the family that will all be coming over for Christmas! It was odd how quickly I felt comfortable with everyone! I instantly felt like a member of the family! After a few hours of fun and getting to know everyone, it was time for another “long” (only 2 hrs this time) ride home with my future host mom, dad, and brother. I spent the car ride bonding with my brother and can tell this family will be perfect. Eventually I got home and prepared for this week of school.

My autumn holiday was amazing and full of memories! Since then I’ve just been busy with school, Danish, and life! This Sunday I will move host families and I am so excited! I already love my next family and can’t wait to live with them! The one sad thing about it is that moving means that I will have finished 1/4th of my exchange! I still can’t believe 3 months are almost gone and I am already having to think about when I’ll come home. I have started to make a life here, a life that I love and don’t know how to leave. I have friends and family, am finally being able to understand the language and communicate somewhat effectively, and have changed as a person! My outlook on life is different and I now see things as a Dane. I know that this is the point of my exchange, but I can’t help but feel sad about if because I don’t know if I’ll be ready to leave Denmark in 8 months or how I’ll find my way back into my Florida life. As much as I miss my friends and family back in Florida now, I already know it will be just as hard when I have to leave this beautiful place in only a few months!

Today I am finding it even harder to believe that I will be leaving so soon since my Danish is finally getting good! It has been steadily improving and for a few weeks now I have had random thoughts or words be in Danish, not English, when I think. Then, last night, I had my first dream in Danish! I remember it was this time last year almost down to the week that I was being told by Mrs. Paula from RYE FL that I would eventually dream in Danish and now I am having that happen! The dream was very short and basic but in Danish nonetheless! I was so excited and it’s safe to say it made learning this hard language a lot more rewarding!

Until next time,


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Recent happenings

Okay I think I officially win the award for being the worst blogger in the world and I apologize for that! I honestly didn't realize it's been a full month since my last update! Time has never moved so fast in my life!

I honestly can't even remember all of the fun things I've done since my last post. I'll do my best to cover the important things:
  • I went to a sommerhus (summerhouse- it is basically a smaller vacation house in a more remote area where families go to relax for the weekend or during one of their holiday breaks. Most Danish families own one.) My Rotary club president and his wife have one in an area about 1 hour away. I went with them along with my friend Nanna (it was her family I lived with for the week my host family was gone. She has now been chosen as my club's future outbound and she is hoping to go to the USA). We had an amazing time just relaxing. I also made rice krispy treats for everyone (they sell marshmallows and rice krispies and yet no one here has ever heard of rice krispy treats).
  • My town had their annual "Due dag" (and no, for once google translate isn't lying- it does actually mean pigeon day!) It is a long standing tradition in my town. It originated as a day where people would bring prized pigeons to show and/or sell. Then it eventually branched out. They still sell birds, but they aslo sell cats, dogs, bunnies, chickens, mice, etc. (Don't worry mom and dad- I won't be coming home with a new pet, although I was very tempted). They also sell lots of other random things and it's almost like an outdoor market mixed with a flea market mixed with a garage sale. It was definitely an experience!
  • My Danish is improving by leaps and bounds! I have actually caught myself thinking in danish a little. Now in my head, instead of saying but, I say "men" and instead of saying if, I say "hvis" and a few other things. For about a month, my host family has spoken mostly all danish to me and lately I have spoken almost all danish to them. I still have a longggg way to go though!
  • My french class won a contest so we got to spend a day in Aarhus (one of my new favorite places in the world- it's DK's 2nd largest city) and we went to a french rap concert. My french teacher lives in Aarhus, so before the concert, we went to her house for brunch (I found this odd that a teacher would actually invite students to there house, but everyone in my class acted as if nothing was weird about it).
  • My music class took a field trip to the Aarhus concert hall and listened to some classical music.... not going to lie- It was just as boring as any other symphony, but we were allowed to go shopping for 30 mins after (my friends and I went to McDonalds, I actually remembered where it was from the other time I went while at intro camp). It was nice to have a day off from school as well.
  • I can now say I have seen a handball game! For all of you reading who are unfamiliar with this quite strange sport, I will attempt to explain it. The average number of scores (goals? I don't quite know the lingo) and the pace is similar to basketball. There are 6 people playing at a time (basketball has 5, so pretty similar), but I forget whether that number includes the goalie or not. It is almost a mixture of soccer and basketball actually, except that all the players (aside from the goalie) play both offense and defence. It was actually interesting (which is more than I can say about basketball or soccer, sorry...). Oh and I would like to add here that forgive me if I said something wrong about any of the sports I listed, don't even bother emailing me to tell me, first off- I don't care, second off- I'm sure my little brother will set me straight!
  • I have seen more farms than I thought imaginable. I have been to multiple cow farms (one of which had a cow milking robot- not going to lie, I was amazed), seen a pig farm, and a mink farm (that one was not very amazing for me, although the pig farm was also one where the animals would be killed, at least it was for meat, I honestly couldn't look the poor little minks in the eye without seeing a fur coat... I guess you'll never be able to take the animal lover out of me!) I always knew the area around me was full of farms, but holy cow there's a lot!
  • I have now been to a danish movie theater! On monday night, I went to have dinner with my Rotary club president and his wife and after we went to see the movie "One day" (which is a very good movie and I highly reccomend it!).
  • I got lost on the bus system! I guess now I can scratch off the ultimate bad experience that all exchange students are bound to have. I was taking the bus to go to my exercise class. I had only been once and that time my host mom drove me, I didn't know what town it was in. I get to the bus stop and there are two busses, so I ask which one goes to the Ungdomskole (the place it's held at), someone directs me to a bus, I sit down and after a short drive, the bus driver stops and says "this is it". I look out and realize it was the wrong place, and just my luck that was the last stop and there wouldn't be another bus going back to my town for like 5 hours! I got out, sat down, and called my host mother only to remember she was at the Rotary meeting. Long story short (well... shorter), she eventually came and picked me up and I survived to tell the tale!
Other than that, I've been busy with school, friends, and language classes. Next week I will have a school holiday. I will get to spend some time with my next two host families, tour a cookie factory (Kjeldsons which is known as "Royal Dansk butter cookies" in the states), and my host family will be taking me to Copenhagen! I am so excited about that!

Also, I figure I should try and remember all of the differences I've noticed from DK and the USA:
  • You call your teachers by their first name, if you try and say Mr./Mrs./Ms. then you're wierd
  • It is actually allowed to have computers in class and you can do whatever you want. If you feel like taking a nap, that's cool. Rather go on facebook than do your chem work, that's cool too! Heck, don't wanna go to class, see ya later! Students here are allowed to do what they want in class, but they rarely ever skip and usually pay attention, even though they're allowed to do otherwise.
  • There are way less police officers/ambulances/firetrucks around here. I was probably here for aver a month before I saw a cop, only saw an ambulance when I was at the big festival in Silkeborg, and saw my first fire truck last week! I'm sure the low crime rate helps (seriously crime is almost nonexistant here! My classmates will all leave class and just leave their computers lying around and come back a few hours later and they'd be untouched.... I have a feeling I will have problems coming back to America after being used to virtually no crime).
  • When the stop light goes from red to green, it goes red, red and yellow, green.
  • They don't have a lot of intersections with stoplights, they have a lot more round-abouts here!
  • Teens drinking is quite common here. The schools will throw parties with alcohol and on fridays after school, they have something called a "fredags cafe" where they sell beer and soda and students just relax together for a few hours. Denmark actually has the highest number of teens who drink in the world (when the teens tell me this, they are proud of it, but when adults say it, they same "it's such a shame", but yet they go along with letting their teens to drink! I suppose it isn't as bad though, because they don't have serious problems like drinking and driving).
  • The weather here is the most bi-polar thing I've met in my entire life! On any given day, you can walk around and see people wearing shorts and a tee shirt or a sweater and boots. What they're wearing depends solely on how the weather was when they left the house, because it changes so often.
  • Potatoes (or "Kartoffler" in danish) are a constant at dinner. Almsot every dinner here, I've had potatoes. And they actually have dishes depending on the season, because the potatoes do better with certain things at certain times. Summer is boiled potatoes (tasty, but since it's "special" to have a sauce on them, it gets boring at times) and winter is mashed potatoes (can't wait! yummm).
There are lots of other things but I can't remember them now, so I'll add more some other time. I'll try and update soon!

Vi ses,


Monday, September 12, 2011

Intro camp.... and a ton of other stuff!

Wow! It has been a really really really long time since I did a blog last. I'll try and keep it brief (but I say that everytime and fail epicly everytime... so- No promises!).

Week before intro camp:
The week before intro camp, I stayed with a temporary host family that lived just a few houses away. My host parents went to Greenlang on vacation, so I got to spend a week with the sweetest family in all of Denmark! The family I stayed with has kids (I was probably too excited about this- but oh well!). They have a daughter who goes to school with me and a 14 year old son (same age as my brother, Grant, back home- but way less annoying!). The mom spoke no english, which was hard at times, but helped me learn danish and always worked out since everyone else knows english. The family was amazingly sweet to me and I loved every minute of my week there! The day before I left for intro camp, a Rotarian in my club, Hanne, took me to a Medieval festival in a nearby town (Horsens). It was amazing! I ate some really good food (that's how you know I am an exchange student- every place I go is judged by the food!), spent some time with her family, and just had fun.

Intro Camp!!!!!:
On that Sunday, I was picked up by my club counselor and driven to my week long intro camp! For everyone reading this who has no clue what intro camp is, it's basically where the country puts on a language/culture crash course for the inbound exchange students! I got to meet all of the summer students and we spent the week getting to know eachother. I made so many friends (and became very good friends with my roommate- Kelsea from Washington state!). We did so many fun things, so I'll just rattle off the best: private concert with an amazing Danish band, spending the day in the 3rd largest city in Denmark- Aarhus where we visited an amazing art museum- ARoS, watching the danish film "In a Better World" (which won an Academy Award in the USA last year!). We also spent 6 hrs a day learning Danish- insanely hard, boring, fun, awesome, and everything all at the same time! I had a blast at intro camp and now I am even more excited to meet with the other exchange students soon!

District G2G:
This past Sunday, my district held a get-together for the inbounds in my district. We hiked 6 km (almost all uphill, and one part of that was climbing the tallest hill in Denmark, which everyone says is jokingly small, but when you are climbing it, it doesn't feel that small- even though it's only 170.86 m tall!) We also canoed 5-6 km. I think it's safe to say that I have finally worked off all of the Kjeldsons cookies I got for my birthday! I also got the chance to meet some oldies (exchange students from Australia, New Zealand, and a few from S. American countries come during January so they have been here longer and are called oldies, and once they leave, I become an oldie to the newbies that will come).

I was going back and forth on whether I should write about this, but it was something very important to me, and something that many people reading this would never understand if I don't write it. Yesterday was the 10 year anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy. I knew that day would be hard on me, but I didn't know how hard. Although the attacks changed the entire world, no one felt it like Americans. It was very odd not being in America on that day. Everyone here constantly asked me how I felt about it and kept asking me questions. I suppose it was because they wanted an American's view, but it seemed odd. Of course I was upset, and of course it affected me- what else do they expect! I guess it was weird going from America where people don't ask that question (because everyone knows how you feel- and they feel it too) and then arriving here where I kept getting asked about it. There is no way to explain what it felt like to me on the day the attacks occured, and I have never had to explain it until now. There is also no way to explain how it felt living through the 10 year mark in Denmark. It felt weird, spending a day where Americans come together, out of America. I did realize that the whole world truly does feel affected by it, but I also realized how much more it affecting America. I guess now I am just babbling on and making no sense, so I will stop, but I just thought that 9/11 needed to be mentioned, because it was very significant to me and showed me a lot about the world.

Other than that:
I might be taking a 60 km biking trip later this month. I would go with other teens into a nearby town (Silkeborg) and back, it would be a weekend trip. My blazer is now full of pins! After all of my rotary events, my blazer is completely full (and I have almost no pins left- I will need to make more!). My language is coming on a little bit better. I can now understand a lot more, but finding the words to talk is still tough. Tomorrow, I will be tested at my language class to move into the next class level (I hope I pass!!!!). Denmark is tough at times and I finally realize how much I love Florida, but I love it here! The language is hard, but so rewarding when you learn something! I am starting to feel like I fit in, but I still know I have a long way to go.

Vi ses!

Knus fra Danmark!

<3 McKenzie

Saturday, August 27, 2011

What's going on with me lately

Okay so I know it has been less than a week since my last blog, but I thought I should post one since I won't be able to until like the 2nd week of September.

So this past week was fairly normal I suppose. Sunday I went to a museum in a nearby town (I actually don't quite know where it is, just that it was closeby). They were having a day where vedors could bring stuff and you could see some things from around 100 years ago. It was cool to just walk around and see some older things. They also had some ponies that you could ride. My host dad walked by it and said to me "do you like horses" and I said "yeah I love them!" so he was like "here go ride a pony" and handed me 5kr. I turned the corner and realized that the horses were like migit ponies and the people riding them were all under the age of 8 and about 50lB's lighter than me... but what the heck! So I rode a pony, and the poor little horse let me ride it and never complained (well it did try to keep walking close to the bushes so my legs itched a little.... such a rebel horse!).

School was pretty normal all week. I went to classes, became very confused, then decided to make flash cards on danish vocabulary. That reminds me- the whole concept of flash cards is completely foreign to the Danes! I have to use smaller sized sheets of paper because they don't sell index cards and constantly have to explain what a flashcard is because no one has ever heard of them until now! Friday we had an "eventdag" (event day) where my grade went to Silkeborg and went canoing for hours! Like no joke... we got in the canoes at 9, canoed until 1 when we stopped for luch, then canoed back and got back withing an hour (the way down we had to fight the current and wind, so it was luckily much faster the way back!). All of the students had more fun than expected, but still hated it basically... but what surprised me is that everyone actually showed up! In the USA, if you go on a field trip you don't want to have, then you just don't show up, but everyone still showed up!

My Danish is finally beginning to improve. When I first arrived, I never had a clue what was going on, but now I am starting to hear key phrases, and when I watch tv, I sometimes know what will be said before they say it because occassionally I can understand the subtitles (it's such a cool feeling!). I still have a lot to learn, but I never expected I would even get this far. I have already made stacks upon stacks of flash cards, and have many more I need to make, but eventually I will know Danish and be capable of having a real conversation. At times I get very discouraged and feel as though I haven't learned a thing, but then I will be able to say something in Danish and I realize that I couldn't do that a week ago!

Overall, my past few weeks here have been better than I ever imagined. I will admit that I have had some rough times where all I think about is the things I miss from home (friends, family, food, tv, my iPhone, picking on my brother, being able to listen in on others conversations, and actually having to work in school-I still don't know why I miss that one!) but then I think of all the great things I've done here and how I have already changed and become a stronger, better person. The one thing I can say, is that even when I have times where I miss home, I have never wanted to give up, never wanted to go home, and never wished I didn't make the decision to come- and I'm very proud of that!

I just wanted to thank everyone who has supported me this whole time and encouraged me. I also want to thank all of the people who ever told me I wouldn't make it, my dream was too crazy, or that I wasn't good enough for this- I am happy to say that I am currently in the process of proving you completely wrong!

Knus fra Danmark (hugs from Denmark),


ps- sorry if my spelling is off- I tried using spellcheck but it's set for Danish, so everything gets hilighted, because they words are english!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

First week of school/16th Birthday/Random outings

So I have now been in Denmark for 2 weeks and a lot has happened!!!

Where my last blog ended off, was on Sunday. The next monday I went into town with my host mom to try and get my Danish CPR number (it's a number that everyone gets once they are born or move here and you need it for everything- library card, bank account, etc.) but we discovered that I can't get one until my visa comes in the mail (still waiting...) Tuesday, my mom went to work along with my dad, so I stayed at the house and just watched tv, ate, did normal things. Wednesday I went into a nearby twon called Herning with Camilla (17yr old host sister in 4th family). We went to the "Herning Center" (MALL!) and I am now in love with Danish fashion and need to go clothing shopping (I only bought pencils and sunglasses that day because I hadn't recieved my allowance from Rotary yet so I had no Kroner and all the clothes were still for summer). Thursday I went to Nanna's house. She is a girl my age and I will be living with her family next week while my host parents go to Greenland. That night I went to my host moms school that she works at (called an aftenskole which is a boarding school) and I met some really sweet girls! Friday I stayed at home all day again, but that night all of my host parents came over and I got to meet them all- Sweetest people in the world! That weekend was fun! One day I got to go to the west coast of Jylland and see beaches and also visit a sandsculpture place where artists from over the world came and made sandsculptures! Another day I went and helped chop wood on my host parents farm.

First week of school:
Monday I started school! I started in what they call 1G(G=grade) at a gymnasium (high school). They gymnasium has 3 grades and I started in the youngest. Because I was in the youngest, I (along with my classmates) was painted with a green face and got my hair sprayed green. It was interesting, but almost funny because we all had it done to us. Oh and the upperclassmen call us fro now (frog). The first day was just being shown around by the teachers. The first 2 or 3 days of school was hard because although everyone was nice, I didn't have a strong friendship with my class. On wednesday we had english and that was amazing. Wednesday was the day where I really bonded with my class (not because of English, but because we played games together and I started to talk to more people and branch out). Thursday was a good day as well but Friday was amazing! It was my birthday so my class sang to me and we also had a free period at the end of the day so we sat around a table, while they taught me weird Danish words and laughed at my accent and then I impressed them by doing the peter piper toungetwister! And afterschool, we had our first cafe. It is basically where they have beer and soda for sale and you sit around with classmates and talk.

My first Rotary meeting:
The first week I was here I had my first Rotary meeting and got to go up and introduce myslelf to the club. The Rotarians are all so nice! Then this last week, I had my second meeting. This was the meeting where Camilla (host sister- remember her? well she just had an exchange year in Australia... and fyi- the aussie accent is amazing!) spoke to the club about her exchange. I got to see her blazer and it is covered in pins!!! Oh and since my birthday was going to be that week, my club bought me a gift- a Fancy flag on a nice flag stand! And one of the Rotarians in my club works at the factory that makes Royal Dansk cookies (oh yeah the factory for that is in my town... so much for trying to not get fat this year!) and she heard I like them so she brought me a tin of a specialty cookie for christmas season and also told me I can tour the factory sometime (ahhhhh!!!!).

Language school:
Oh yeah so this last week I started taking language classes on Tues and Thurs after school in Herning! They are really helpful and the teachers are nice. Oh and to get there I take the bus! Tuesday my dad drove me, but Thrusday I took the bus, alone, for the first time! I was so proud of myself!

Finally..... Birthday!:
So Friday was my 16th Birthday! I honestly thought it might be hard to have my birthday on my 2nd week here, especially since it was a birthday that meant a lot to me (why? driving... duh!). But.... my birthday was amazing! I already talked about school and Rotary parts of my b-day. But that night when I got home a friend (Anna) came over for some coffee (she couldn't come later that night because she was going out of town) . Then that night, some other girls came (Camilla- the host sister Aussie!- then Charlotte-Camilla's older sister/my older sister- and Maria and Alberta and Nanna- the one I'll live with for a week.) We had "kage mand" which is cake man! It is a "cake" (it tastes like popovers) drizzled with icing and then covered in Danish candy! Oh and it's shaped like a person! So you light the number of candles for your year (16 for me!) and they don't sing and you don't make a wish, but when you blow out all of the candles you have to blow them all out at once (if not, the number of candles left burning is the number of boyfriends you have!)- I blew em all out at once! Oh and when the cut the cake, they slit the throat and the birthday person screams (because they're killing you!). haha it was really entertaining! Oh and I got lots of great gifts from everyone, and another Rotarian dropped by and gave me some beautiful jewlery (she owns a jewelry store!). Oh and that night I stayed up til 1 am so I could skype with my family (everyone but my mommy because she was working!).

This weekend:
So yesterday was Saturday and it was really cool! I woke up and got to go with my host dad to a place where you can fly glider planes. It's a plane that seats 2 people, and it's hooked up to a string. The string pulls you really fast until you get in the sky, then it snaps and you can fly! It was so much fun I went up 3 times haha! Then I stayed at home for a while and worked on my Danish. That night I went with my host parents to a nearby town called Silkeborg where there was a festival that only happens every 3 years! We went and sat on a boat with some people and then that night they had fireworks! And I think fireworks are really expensive here, because they told me it would be 150,000 kr (= $30,000) worth of fireworks... but it lasted like 4 minutes... so basically I got to watch $30,000 blow up in colorful explosions in like 5 minutes!

So far my stay here has been amazing! I am already in love with the beautiful country of Denmark! Some people get a car for their 16th birthday, I get to spend a year in one of the most spectacular places on Earth- I'd say I got the best birthday gift!

Vi ses (see you soon),


Sunday, August 7, 2011

First Blog From Denmark!


Okay.... so... we have a lot of catching up to do!

I said goodbye to my friends during my last week. I had different get-togethers and said goodbye. My mom, dad, brother, grandparents on my moms side, Dalton (dad's girlfriend's son- aka- my second brother) and Mrs. Paula (my district counselor) came to say goodbye to me at the airport. I somehow made it out without crying too much (I somehow didn't cry when my parents said goodbye, but when Mrs. Paula said goodbye was the only time I actually cried- it confused me too!).

I made it past security (I have no clue why everyone makes a big deal about security being bad- they're super nice and it's not a big deal!). I then found my gate, then turned back around for my last starbucks, and grabbed a sandwhich. My first plane was brutal- It was sooo small. On one side it had 1 person (me) and on the other side of the aisle it had room for two. Then I went to Newark- omg that airport is huge (or at least it feels like it when you're flying alone for the first time) but everyone was super helpful and nice. My next plane was giant (747!) and I had a window seat and sat next to two french guys. This made me really happy because I got to practice my french and they said I wasn't terrible- but they probably laughed at me and said it in french so I'd have no clue! They love my "american" accent! haha! Oh and when we left Newark, I saw NY for the first time! We flew right past the statue of liberty (this thrilled me beyond belief- can you tell I've never been to New York but have always wanted to!). Let me just say that
1) a 7 hour flight in an uncomfortable seat when you're too excited to sleep or do anything can be boring.
2) Plane food sucks. Period.
3) The flight attendant giving out heated towel thingy's before dinner is pretty cool- not gonna lie!
4) Europe is absolutely adorable- even from the air.

Okay so now that I've given the ever so short story of my first two flights, I'll bore you with the last. haha! So I boarded my plane in Frankfurt for Billund and of course after lucking out on the past two flights with no kids around me, I just had to get stuck next to two kids. And just my luck, the one sitting next to me had to order apple juice (which by the way I have always hated because the smell makes me want to puke!) and then proceed to spill some on my rotary blazer- Kids officially suck! My blazer looks nice still, but if you smell that spot, you can smell the juice (ewww!).

Once I landed:
I  walked off the plane, found the baggage place and waited.... and waited... and waited some more! After a veryy long and nervous wait (my biggest fear was my bags not wshowing up and by then it seemed like it might happen), my bags finally showed up! Thank God!!!! I then walked out (yes that's right- no customs in Billund apparently- I was really happy, but kinda sad because I got no passport stamp, so now my passport only has Germany's stamp) and found my Rotary club president, his wife, and two of their grandchildren. They picked me up and took me to their house where I had lunch and waited for my mom and dad to come. I was finally able to nap (but I'll say that 1 hour makes no difference after 24 hours of no sleep).

Home at last:
Then I went home and unpacked, had another light nap (about 30 mins) and had dinner. We then went to our neighbors for some drinks where I was informed of the surprise party being thrown for one of my host sisters. Then I wound up going to that party (yup a party on my first night and by then I had slept 1.5 hours in over 30 hours!) but had a blast and met so many new people! Then I went home, showered, and finally got to sleep for real!

Next morning:
Min mor woke me up at 9 (Danish time zone now- but what would be 3am in FL) so that I could get ready to go to her sisters house for her sister's kids birthday party. Then we went back home and later went to an outdoor concert. It was interesting to hear the music (some Danish songs and others were English- "Aint no mountain High enough", an ABBA song, and a song from "Titanic" haha). We also went to a museum nearby that was about the vikings, saw the two mounds built in memory of King Gorm (first King of DK- he also brought Christianity to DK) and his wife, a 1000 year old church (I thought it was super old, but to the Danes its "just another church"), and we saw a replica of a viking ship. I will post pictures at another time, I'm just so busy I don't have the time right now!

I am so happy to be in Denmark and settled down in my new how! Until next time,

Farvel fra Danmark!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Travel Plan

Hej Everyone!

So I promise I will actually keep this one short.... I just wanted to announce that I now have my visa processing (ugghh of course it will just never be completed, they still have to send it to the office of immigration in Denmark, but at least now I have my passport!!!!)!

The BIG news though, is that I now have my flight plan!!!!!! I will have the actual tickets soon (they're in the mail from my travel agent.... or at least they better be!), but I have my official itinerary! So........ the plan is:

I arrive at JAX (Jacksonville International Airport) around 10:45 am and leave there at 1:50 (unfortunately I have to be there 3 hrs before I leave). I will be heading to Newark NJ where I'll arrive at 4:14 PM (I love how they're so precise instead of just rounding to 4:15.... but anywhoo) and leave at 5:50 PM (kinda a short layover for someone who has never flown alone before and has never been to that airport) for Frankfurt! I arrive in Frankfurt at 7:25 AM (such a long flight, and yes you might like to think that I will have plenty of time to sleep, but let's get real here.... it's me.... hyperactive McKenzie.... plus I'll be super duper pumped about leaving for Denmark for a year.... in other words... there's no way I will be getting a wink of sleep!) From Frankfurt, I will leave at 8:55 (so much for the whole "we give our exchange students long layovers.... that's really short and normally I'd be excited but that seems like a very short amount of time to find my way in a German airport.... but I'm still confident it can be done!). I will be heading straight to the Billund Airport where I'll arrive at 10:10 AM and once there I will find that all my bags arrived on time and then quickly move through customs without any confiscations and then find my host family greeting me (I'm being positive, even though we all know that there's a very small chance it will be THAT perfect!).

Oh, I almost forgot to mention the air companies (is that what they're called?) that will be taking me to the amazing land of Denmark! Continental airlines/ Express Jet (both are listed on the ticket so I'm not sure which) will be taking me from JAX to Newark. Then Lufthansa will be taking me  from NJ to Germany and from Frankfurt to Billund. Oh and you wanna know what plane I'll be taking as I cross the pond.... take a guess....

here I'll give you a hint:

That would happen to be a Lufthansa Airlines Boeing 747! I know my excitement is a tad too much.... but.... come on I've never flown internationally! These are the pathetic things that make me happy!

Okay so yet again I kinda stunk at being brief and short.... but if you know me then you know that will never happen.... I like to talk too much for that!

I will probably not post again for maybe 2 weeks or so... right before I leave! Yay!!!!!


Friday, July 1, 2011

RYE FL Events & My New Home!

     Hej! So now that you've gotten caught up on how I got into RYE, I guess I should finish all the catching-up we have by telling you all about my orientations, 6970 district conference, and my info on my new home for next year!

     As far as orientations go, there were two RYE Fl statewide orientation weekends. They were both held at the beautiful Lake Yale Baptist Conference Center (me and my sarcasm again!) in Leesburg FL (a.k.a. the middle of nowhere).

     The first orientation was in January. This orientation happened a little over a month after I found out what country I was going to! It was amazing! I made tons of friends (there's over 75 of us) and had the time of my life. That orientation was mainly focusing on language and learning about Rotary International and Rotary Youth Exchange International & FL. At this orientation, I was really excited because I took a picture of myself with the Danish flag for the first time! See:

(Isn't the Dannebrog just beautiful!)

     The second orientation was last weekend. Before that orientation I was only able to say that I had RYE friends, and now I can honestly call them my RYE family! We basically spent the entire weekend bonding.... although RYE FL claims it was for "cultural boot camp"! That weekend we played tons of fun and... interesting games (oh and the games usually had some multi-cultural twist that we weren't aware of at first). I don't want to say too much so that if future students end up reading this then I can't be the blame for ruining the surprises. Basically we had a psychologist (Dr. Dennis White) who specializes in culture shock come and create zillions of fun cultural difference simulations and we all had fun! This is our group picture of all the exchange students from my graduating class of RYE FL (that's right... we all graduated from cultural boot camp and we have the certificate to prove it.... it's okay you can be jealous, we understand!):
     In between the two orientations, the main event for my district was the district conference. It was a two day event in May (the Rotarians are well known by us now for their perfect timing.... the Friday was an AP exam day and the Saturday was an SAT testing day... great planning!) that all of the inbounds and outbounds from my district attended. Friday was the big flag ceremony (sorry no picture :(  but I wish I had one), lunch with Rotarians (very interesting!), an amazing speaker who survived polio, fun and games at the YMCA, and an insane sleepover at the YMCA.... a very busy day obviously! Saturday we woke up (with the help from a little Starbucks coffee that a nice Rotarian brought us.... the ballet room floors don't make for a good night's sleep!), did some activities, and then did a huge service project! Here's a picture of some of the group at the service project:

     Aside from those 3 jumbo-events, the only other event that happened for the most part was the District 6970 language camp. All the future outbounds spent a day at a local community college with people fluent in our future languages. We practiced our speeches and learned some basic phrases.

     Now.... the fun part! My new home! Beginning on June 9th, I began getting emails from my 4 host families. I won't bore you with all the personal details but here's the basics:
  • Family 1: Will just be my host parents, their cat, and me. Their children all live out of the house.
  • Family 2: I'm going to have a sister!!!!!! They have 3 daughters, but only 1 still lives with them (the other 2 have already moved out). My new sister is currently on exchange in Australia but will be back in time for me to live with her! They have a cat too!
  • Family 3: It will just be my host parents and me. They have children but they've all moved out. The parents are both retired school teachers. They don't have any pets :( which I wanted but they were so nice about it and I think I'll absolutely love living with them (I get to be an only child for 1/2 of the year next year for the first time in my life!)
  • Family 4: I will have a brother (when I first heard that I thought "oh great so much for a year without a bratty younger brother like I have now" but it's cool because I will finally have an older brother! He's 19 and sounds really nice!). Oh and the family has a dog so when I miss my doggies I can just hug their dog!
     So maybe I did go a tad overboard with details that only I care about.... sorry I have a tendency to talk on and on and on (especially when I'm excited!), just ask my friends and family! But I promise I'll try (but still no guarantee) to be brief about my town....

     My town(s) is Ejstrupholm (where my host families live)/ Nørre Snede (where my Rotary club meets)/ Ikast-Brande (where my school is).... it's kinda like one big town made up of these 3 tiny towns. It's a really really really small town about 35 km away from the Billund Airport (Billund is the area with Legoland theme park!) and it seems adorable. It's on central Jylland (the continental area of Denmark that shoots up above Germany). Unfortunately google images sucks and doesn't really have any pics of my town, but I promise I'll post some once I get there! For now, here's a map of Denmark and the tiny red circle is where my town is:

     Until next time, Farvel!

          -McKenzie B. <3

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

How it all got started

     Hey everyone! So before I start blogging about my RYE (Rotary Youth Exchange) orientations and the last few months before I leave, I figured I should tell you about applying and getting my country assignment (Denmark! woohoo!!!!!).....

     Let me just start off by saying that this has been a dream of mine for basically my entire life. I don't quite remember this, but my mom has always told me that when I was in 1st or 2nd grade, I told her that I wanted to be an exchange student in Europe for a year. I guess I always wanted to do it for a few reasons. When my mom was in high school, she hosted an exchange student from France for a few weeks over the summer. I still hear stories about her hosting and how they are still friends. Another reason I always wanted to do exchange was because I was always super independent and loved to travel.

     So, now that you're all caught up on why I wanted to do exchange.... I'll tell you about how I actually got into a program as great as RYE Florida! One day in August during my sophomore year of high school (the past year of school), my french class was told to go to a presentation on exchange. I sat down in the auditorium and listened to the amazing Mrs. Daphne Cameron (one of the Rotarians sending me out of the country for the year) give a presentation on RYE. The whole time, I remember sitting listening to her describe all the ups and downs of exchange, I kept thinking in the back of my mind that as much as I wanted to do this, it would cost tens of thousands of dollars and my parents would never say yes.

     As much as I thought about my parents saying no, I couldn't get the idea out of my mind. All day at school, I basically paid no attention to my classes (oops! I probably should've still listened in class... but it's okay it all worked out alright in the end!) and kept reading the flyer they gave us over and over.... I probably read it well over 200 times.... and I wound up memorizing it! haha

     That night, I came home from school and ever so casually (can you detect the hint of sarcasm?) brought up the presentation to my mom. My mom actually laughed when I told her! She knew I wanted to do it but she (like me) figured it would be uber-expensive and said no... but then I told her it was only $4,100 and filled in all the other details. After I said this, well let's just say the laughter turned into a face I liked very much (it's that face your parents give you when they're actually thinking about maybe saying yes to something but they don't want to let you know they might say yes.... even though we can totally tell they might say yes!).

     To make the super long story a little shorter, my parents agreed (and it was actually a lot easier than I thought it would be). About two weeks later (but what felt like years), I went to the parents presentation in Ponte Vedra given by Mrs. Paula Roderick (another one of those awesome Rotarians you just can't help but to love because they're being angels by giving me this miracle). How did this presentation go? Well.... let's just say that if my mom wasn't 100% convinced that RYE is the program for me, she was definitely sure after that night. It actually went so well that my application (longest set of papers I have ever had to complete in my life!!!! But then again I haven't applied to colleges yet...) was in the mail the next morning!

     Okay so in my attempt to keep this short (my failed attempt... sorry!), I will skip all my nervousness and head straight to the interviews... but I can't say too much (I can't give away all the RYE FL D6970 interview secrets away)! I went to the interview, almost peed my pants because I was so scared in some of the rooms (for those of you who know what I'm talking about.... room R is evil.... but I want to be in that room 2 years from now!), and had my brain fried from answering so many questions. One the 1.5hr drive home from Daytona, I basically sat there and told my mom that the interview didn't deter me one bit and if I didn't make it in this year I would just try again and again until I either made it in or was too old! Luckily for the Rotarians, I made it in on my first try!

     Then, one of the longest waits in my life began.... I had to wait about 1-2 months before I found out if I would get in!!!!!! Eventually I got my email telling me I'd been accepted, and let me just say that I have never been so happy to see an email. I still feel bad for my friends who had to listen to my screaming! I called just about everyone I know that night and I put it on facebook!

     Then, one week later (almost down to the hour), I got the most amazing phone call of my life! Mr. Jody Davis (another one of those RYE angels... there's a lot of them!) called me to tell me the words "Well, McKenze.... (insert insanely long pause here).... you're going to.... (even longer pause).... DENMARK!!!!" I didn't even know how to respond. Honestly, the country didn't matter to me at that point. I was still in the happy cloud of excitement of being accepted. I was just happy to know my country!

     That night, I spent HOURS on the computer researching my amazing, beautiful, new home! There was more screaming, more phone calls, and more posts on facebook!

    Well... I think this is long enough for now! In my next blog I promise I'll get you up to date on my orientations, other RYE events, and finding out my host families! But for now, I just want to say "tak Rotary"!

     Until next time, farvel!

     -McKenzie Bolin