Monthly report- (January to February)
I have decided that amongst writing little blog posts about what is happening weekly(I’m trying) I will recap once every month to reflect and explain what has been happening and how I feel about it.
I may as well try recall all the little details and minor events that has occurred in the first month of being in a foreign country where the language is foreign even though most Danes speak english. This would be a somewhat long summary of most things that has happened.
It’s crazy to think that a month ago today I left home to travel across the world and
as most of you may know, I left home to Auckland Airport to depart to Los Angeles on the 10th of January, at 3pm. Sweating in my black heavy blazer, we finally reached to check in at the kiosks. (Still hasn’t hit me that I will be flying across the world). As we said our final goodbyes, I realised how close my family was and a wave of appreciation overflowed me with joy, but also sadness (still hasn’t hit).
Now onto some happier things, a group of 31 kiwi kids were about to take on the world and we were going to start off in Los Angeles, California. When we arrived at LAX, Warren, a rotarian from Westchester Rotary Club, met up with us to almost be our tour guide for the next 3 days we were spending in LA. Shortly after he met us, we took a bus back to our hotel- we were not expecting the rooms to be that big. It consisted of 2 double beds, an ensuite bathroom and a table. That afternoon we were lucky enough to be met by other rotarians who took us to Santa Monica Pier/Promenade and most of the others went shopping. However Claire, Rhys and I decided to just stay at the pier and play some arcade games and overlook the water. In the evening, Warren and the Rotarians took us to Shakey’s Pizza Parlour and had pizza’s 2 times as big as the ones in New Zealand.
The next day we spent the whole day at DisneyLand followed by a quick rush back to the hotel for Rotary Meetings at Westchester Club where we all introduced ourselves and presented our gifts. That night we were in the spa and pool and eventually got kicked out because we were being too loud. Nonetheless the day after that we went to Universal Studios which then followed by a bus tour around the main street of LA (walk of fame, sunset boulevard, etc). Finished the day off by meeting the Interact of one of the schools in LA (walking distance from our hotel). By learning their stories and why they wanted to be involved in Rotary it truly inspired us all and opened our eyes up to the bigger picture of what’s happening around us. Shortly after, a small group of us ran towards to pool and Rhys, Luka, Nicola, Shanni and I ended up staying in the spa till 2am forgetting that we had a flight to catch towards Heathrow the next morning.
During the LA stopover I got to meet such amazing people that I would not have been able to meet without the help of Rotary. These people have high goals, achievements and have accomplished such awesome things and of course we all share one thing in common, the want to travel the world, meet new people, experience new things and learn new cultures and languages. Leaving them at Heathrow genuinely made me cry a lot more than I did saying goodbye to my family (which is weird).
Nonetheless Claire and I finished off our hour long flight towards Copenhagen to finally end the travelling for one year. As we touched down, it was snowing the night before and it was cold and definitely windy (we were not prepared at all) I was met by my second host family, Jacob, Birgitte and Kirstine (my first host family was in france) in which I would spend the first few days with them.
It was amazing to finally be able to meet my host sister (Olivia) whom I have been messaging on Facebook with 4 months prior to my departure. Olivia and Kirstine took me to the round tower and I was able to overlook almost the whole of København (Copenhagen) which was really pretty (some pictures will be attached at the end). Shortly after, I got to meet my first host family properly and got to be introduced to my host brothers, Oscar (14) and Albert (17). I started school and made new friends whom have already invited me to go to Berlin and Paris with them (however we have a 3 months exit rule in the district). I’ve been to an 18th Birthday and I have never felt more at home than watching the Danes drink away their kroners.
After a week being at my first host family, my host mum and I decided to talk a walk in the cold from Strandboulevarden to Nyhavn and back through Nørreport and finally back home. I got to see most of the touristy parts of Copenhagen, but the way kiwis would (on foot). It was an unreal experience and even though it was really cold, there wasn’t much wind which really helped with the walk back. One main difference between Denmark and New Zealand so far apart from the weather and temperature, is the difference between the
In school its a lot more different than New Zealand. Kids here get paid to go to school at the age of 18 which is interesting and very different compared to New Zealand. We are all treated like adults and we are responsible for our actions and our futures. School is all in danish which requires me to pay a lot of attention if I was to somewhat try and understand the language and even learn it. It is really hard but I have been enjoying it so far!! Here is a short blurb in Danish: ‘Hej, Jeg hedder Emily. Jeg er sytten år. Jeg kommer fra Auckland, New Zealand. Jeg er bor i Strandboulevarden, København ved Svanemøllen Station. Jeg kan forstå en lille smule af Dansk. Jeg elsker Danmark!’
The language is definitely hard but I am getting better at it with more practice and my host family only speaking Danish to me unless it’s an important subject/topic. My friends in school end up speaking to me in Danish as I have adapted an ‘i definitely understand what you’re saying’ face which is quite funny when I answer with ‘Nej’(which means No).
Fast forwarding it quite a bit, on the 29th of January to the 4th of February I was lucky enough to be able to hop onto a 4 hour long train ride to Aarhus and then catch a connecting train to Bjerringbro where we were going to meet one of the teachers who was going to take us to a Højskole he works at. This meeting was intro camp where we would be introduced to the Danish culture, language and people. We sat through long hours of Danish classes in hopes of learning this difficult language. We ate way too many different types of desserts and breads with different types of spreads. This week long camp involved 20 Australians, 7 South Americans (from Brazil and Argentina) and 4 Kiwis. Let’s just say by the end of it we were grateful we could go home.
During this camp we were taken to Aarhus to experience the rainbow panorama, watch people ice skate and experience the eventful life lived by the people in Jutland. From what I am aware and have gathered from most of my friends, City people don’t exactly like people from Jutland (which I find rather funny). Over this camp I got really close to some people and learned that Danish is actually not as hard as I thought as long as I put my mind to it.
This experience overall has been amazing but I have definitely been missing home and the things that I know as ‘normal’. I have eaten way too much bread in the time I have been here and spent most of my money on cinnamon swirls(they are heavenly) but I also found out that Marmite on toasted rye bread is amazing !!
To reflect on my time here so far, I would say that Denmark has shaped me into the person I am making me more independent and confident in catching public transport- most of the time forcing me to trust my instincts. I have learnt to trust people and to learn and understand how others work. Aside from all the learning, I don’t know if it is too soon for me to say that I’ve fallen in love with this place yet but it is definitely getting there.