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,