By Anna Sams
I’ve been in Denmark for about four months, and I believe its high time for another installment to my adventure log.
Over the last two months or so, a lot has changed around here. I’m getting a better handle on the language (it has proved itself a worthy opponent) and I am continuously building relationships with my host family and my friends. I still find it easiest to make friends with the other exchange students, as we have so much in common.
One of my best friends, whom I spend a great deal of my time with, is a girl from Australia.
But as her exchange year is from January to January, rather than August to July- August, she will be heading home soon, and if I don’t build relationships with my Danish classmates I will be left very alone.
The Danes in general are a very closed people. They are not discriminatory, it is just very difficult to work one’s way into the preestablished social groups.
However, I have a few good friends, and really that’s all I need.
I have recently changed host families, and I’m very excited to get to know them. I will miss my last family. They were nothing but sweet and accommodating,but they were so different from my family at home that it was a little hard for me to fit in sometimes.
They were a very separated family. Most of the time doing things by themselves, which led to me spending a little too much time on the computer or just alone in my room. I’m using the move as an opportunity to become a little more involved with the family, and I think my new family will be very open to it.
I still don’t know very much about them, except that they are very excited to have me because their 15-year-old daughter wants to go to America next year. So, it will be pretty nice to have someone really interested in America.
My last host family has already been there a few times and my brother was there last year for exchange, so it seemed that it was old news and not very interesting to them. All in all, the new family is very hospitable and has taken a great interest in me. I think I’m going to be quite happy there.
I miss expressly the sports attached to school. I am so accustomed to going straight from school to sports where you meet other kids and bond and build a team.
But here, it is not like that at all. There are a few sports offered after school,but they are only offered one day a week and different people show up each time, so it’s not like the close knit teams from back home. It’s not bad; I just wish I could be playing volleyball more than once a week.
However, there is a bright side. Having practice only once a week allows me to try lots of different things. I also go to yoga and rock climbing, and some of my classmates are planning to take me with them to their special student organizations (kind of like Leo Club).
So, there are pros and cons. Of course if I wanted to be more serious about sports, I could join a club team. I think come spring I will begin the hunt fora softball team, but my hopes are not high.
Anyway, right now I get the majority of my exercise from biking, which is a good thing or else I’m sure I would be gaining significant weight. They say that most exchange students gain about 10 kg over the year, and I’d prefer if that didn’t happen. I think I may have gained a little, but I’m very thankful that it hasn’t been too drastic. But people are always feeding me, always offering me cake (they eat more cake in Denmark than anywhere in the world, apparently) or another helping of dinner — how can I say no? My philosophy is, if it tastes good, eat more, no matter whether or not you are hungry. I’m only in Denmark once, why spoil it by worrying about getting fat? I should rather enjoy it while I can and not stress myself any more than I have to. I don’t need the extra anxiety.
Speaking of anxiety, let’s talk a little about my troubles. Some of the things I miss the most about home are the common amenities that we take for granted in the U.S., such as late-night grocery stores. God forbid I want ice cream after 8 p.m. Or anything other than food on a Sunday.
However, I have been fortunate that in December all the stores are open on Sunday for Christmas shopping and also there is always a good Turkish restaurant open at all hours of the night to satisfy my late-night snacking needs.
A few other things I miss about sweet old Cooperstown are my favorite restaurants (i.e., The Diner, Sal’s), Cooperstown High (never thought I’d say that), the lake and of course all my friends and family in the place I knew so well. Lately, it has been much easier than it was in the first two months or so.
The beginning was rough. I was constantly thinking about home and things I missed, of course I never considered going home, but I spent a lot of my time missing things. But what I’ve come to realize, is that everything I’m missing will be there next year when I come home. Denmark won’t be; Denmark is only once.
A year seems like a long time, I feel like I have been here forever, but really its already been over four months and a year will be gone before I realize. Before I came to Denmark, I thought I’d never be homesick.
I thought to myself, what is there to miss about Cooperstown? What could possibly be better there than anywhere else? Oh, how I was wrong. Everywhere has its charms, but there is no place like home. However, that doesn’t mean that I can’t enjoy myself here in my new home.
Denmark has of course its own charms, like beautiful views of the surrounding sea, delicious breads and gigantic IKEAs. Therefore it’s really not too hard to find joy in the little things.
They help take the edge off the little things I miss from back home now that I am away.
So all things considered, I’ve had a pretty successful, stressful, crazy, confusing, awesome, sad, once in a lifetime four months, and I can only wait and look forward to what is coming next, while of course stopping to smell the roses and enjoying everything as it comes my way.
In my next report, I’ll be writing about my experiences with the Danish Christmas, and my new host family (as in the time it took me to write this article, I moved).
Indtil næste gang, glæderlig jul og godt nytår! (Until next time, Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!) ANNA SAMS is a Cooperstwon Rotary Exchange student in Denmark.