Two and a half months!
I can hardly believe I’m in the 11th week of my exchange here in beautiful Denmark, and yet in a way it seems like I’ve been here forever. After celebrating Fastelavn, a completely new festival to me, we’ve moved on to the lead-up to Easter. Every shop seems to be selling pastel, egg and rabbit-themed decorations- which seem much more appropriate in Denmark’s spring than they ever did in New Zealand’s autumn. It is really beginning to feel like spring here, with flowers springing up everywhere and the days getting longer, but it’s still pretty cold by New Zealand standards. I think my Danish friends have a different concept of temperature, since they insist it’s a warm day when it’s barely 12 degrees outside!
It’s been a busy 7 weeks since my last update, starting with an incredible skiing trip to Norway with my host family where I learnt what real cold was while gradually getting better at reamining upright on a pair of skis. Since then, I’ve visited Aarhus and the beautiful ARoS art gallery, met my lovely contact family and joined a Spejder (Scouts) troop with whom I’ll be heading to a big camp with during the summer break. I’ve also been to several official (and unofficial) AFS events including the Spring Camp in Odense, which was an excellent chance to catch up with the other students in other parts of Denmark, and a fun movie night with the other exchange students in my chapter. Sitting at a table where there are conversations going on in 4 different languages between people from 9 different countries is an amazing feeling, and meeting so many people from different corners of the world really gives a whole host of new perspectives on local and international events.
At school, I’m beginning to understand more and more but I still miss most of what the teachers are saying when they get up to full speed. My friends have been incredibly helpful and patient with my attempts to particpate in group work and hold conversations with them in Danish, though I have no doubt my language skills are still pretty awful compared to the amazing English everyone seems to speak. School in Denmark is quite different from my school in New Zealand, without any dress code or uniform rules and with much more usage of computers. There’s a lot more group work here than I’m used to, and far more presentations- but it’s all helping my Danish and my confidence! I also went to my first school party, which was an interesting experience.
The lake near where I live is really pretty now that we’re getting the occasional clear sky. It’s amazing to see how it has changed in the weeks since I arrived- from completely frozen over when I first arrived to a beautiful blue when the sun is shining. Seeing how the seasons change is an experience you can never get just by visiting somewhere for a few days.
I’ve pretty much adjusted to biking on the wrong side of the road, but I’m still getting used to the complete absence of mountains. It’s great for biking but somewhat disconcerting when there’s barely anything between you and the horizon. Danish culture is still a little strange to me as well- shaking everybody’s hand when you arrive at a family gathering, waving the flag at every celebration and eating warm liver paste on heavy rugbrød are still traditions I’m adjusting to, but it’s all part of the experience! It’s also really interesting to try to explain New Zealand culture and traditions to people- although it can be annoying when people think we’re part of Australia! Living in Denmark is giving me a whole new perspective on my own country.
In a couple of weeks I am heading to Copenhagen with my host family, and I’m super excited to be properly introduced to Denmark’s capital, having so far only seen the airport!