Saturday, August 27, 2011

The wonderful life

Well here goes my first weekly update; hopefully by making myself do these once a week I can stay on top of my blogs and keep this updated and maybe even keep the blog posts short ; )
Saturday and Sunday were just nice, relaxing days since my host parents were cutting down trees in the forest, since that is how they heat the house in Winter. I'm sure you'll enjoy that, Dad. My host brother and I walked out to see them and went around a bit on their ATV. We watched a few movies and just overall had a calm weekend.

Monday was back to school and the classes were long since I only had classes in Danish that day, but it was still alright and I tried to translate as much as possible. Then I went to play soccer-golf with my host mom and brother. It was really fun and completely different than anything we have at home. It's like miniature golf, but bigger if that makes any sense. There are different obstacles and you kick a soccer ball through the obstacles to get to the hole. That probably made no sense, but trust me it was fun!

Tuesday I had school again; a bit more fun since I had English class, but the girls in my class are all really nice and help explain things to me! :)
I also started my first day of soccer practice on Tuesday. It is my host sister, Ellen's, soccer team and the girls were nice and helped me figure out what to do. I haven't played soccer in maybe 7 or even 8 years, so it was a bit challenging, but I think it will be fun and a good way for me to meet a few more people living in my area, plus keep those exchange student pounds off ;).
Wednesday was another long day at school with only hard classes in Danish, but again the girls tried to explain as much as they could to me and the teachers had some other things for the other exchange student, Paulina from Chile, and me to do.
Thursday is always a long day at school for me (I get out at 3:22 and the rest of the days either at 1:30ish or 2:30ish), but it was still a good day considering I didn't have any English classes. In my social science class we were in groups and then had to give presentations to the class about our topic. Ours had something to do with political parties. My group came up with the opening sentence for me to say and they helped practice it many times to make sure I could say all the words. I said it in front of my whole class and they were all really nice about it and clapped for me even though it was just the start of our presentation, they also said they had all understood what I said, which is a bonus :)

The focused look of reading Danish.

Later that night my host mom, Jytte, and I went to the town hall of sorts to help make sunflower arrangements for the upcoming sunflower party the town is having. We had some confusion trying to find the right vases, but in the end it all turned out very nice.
Friday was a nice short day at school for me and the classes were fairly easy since I had gym class, English, and history (which I can't understand YET). Then I went home and got ready for the 18th birthday of one of the girls in my class, Rikke. Another girl in my class, Cecilie, was really nice and invited me and the Chilean exchange student to her house for dinner before the party. It was really nice going to her house and some other girls from my class were there, so I got to know them better! We then went off to the party. There were about 100 people there and it was just a really nice, long, fun night!

Some of the girls from my class at Cecilie's house. 

Today (Saturday) I went to Odense with Jytte and we did a little shopping at the mall, but I didn't buy very much since I am saving up for the shopping in Århus this week at INTRO CAMP!!! Sunday I am headed off on the train from Odense to Randers and then up to my Rotary intro camp in Bjerringbro. I will be gone all week learning some Danish, meeting all the other exchange students in Denmark, and seeing some sights in the area! Overall I think it will be a great week! Now I just have to finish packing :)
I have now had the 3 week anniversary of being in Denmark and the 2 week anniversary of being with my host family! It already seems like it is going so fast, it's crazy!
Well farvel for nu,

Friday, August 19, 2011

Starting School

On Monday I started school at Middelfart Gymnasium. I am in class 2c, which is the second of the 3 years at the school. There are 6 other exchange students at the school; a boy from Brazil, a girl from Germany, a girl from Austria, Alicia from Canada, Agne, the girl from Lithuania, and in my class a girl from Chile named Paulina who has already been here 5 months. The way my class explained what the different letters mean (like 2c) was that a, b, and c are language and more general subject oriented, while the others (x,y, and z) are the kids who sit looking at their calculators all day, but it really just means they have more science classes.
Here was my schedule for the first week just so you can get an idea of all the confusion I had the first day:
My classes are all the one's that say 2c, but I was a tad confused and ended up in a 3c Spanish class, but the rest of the week was great. The schedule changes every week and sometimes classes get canceled, so you can do whatever you want during that time. 
here is what classes I am actually taking:
2c da: Danish- not very easy for me
2c EN- English- a nice break for me ( I think it will be my favorite class)
2c ol: Classics- pretty much ancient Greek things and right now they are reading the Iliad. Another hard class to sit through. 
2c Ng.- nature geography- not too bad, but I still don't understand anything in the class
2c Ma- math- I'm not really sure what we are studying yet, so we will see how this one goes!
2c HI- History- google translate is my best friend in this class- well and the girls that are helping me to understand it a bit more
2c Sa- Social science- pretty much economy and government- another confusing class for me
2c i.d- P.E. which is a fun class since we are doing jump rope right now.
2c SP- Spanish- another nice class for me
I think I also have a religion class next week, which will be a completely different type of class for me.

Most of my classes are pretty hard for me considering they are all in Danish, but I am starting to figure out they are talking about and when I recognize one word during a lecture it makes me feel good! I guess I should explain how the classes work here.
First of all my school is under construction right now, so everything is constantly changing. The classes are in different rooms every day and sometimes you have to switch in the middle of the class. Also, the time you get out of school depends on your schedule for that day, so I can get out as early as 1:35 or as late as 3:22. The classes stay pretty much the same except for language where they are split up a bit more depending on which language you want to take, but all the rest you are with the same kids except for P.E where 2 classes come together. I think this is really nice since I will then be able to become closer with these 26 people instead of having different kids in every class. There are 26 kids in my class: 5 boys and 21 girls. I have been talking with the kids and eating lunch with them. They are helping me understand what is going on in class and helping me with what I need to bring. One girl, Sofie (she was an exchange student in Idaho 2 years ago), helped me a lot the first day when the bus never showed up at the right stop. I think I am going to get along well with this class, plus we have cake every Friday in history! I don't know if the explanation of the school system made any sense, but I hope you got the picture!
Well that is how school is here in Denmark and now I think I understand where to go at least. 
I am planning on doing a blog about the differences between Denmark and California soon and now I am planning on doing weekly blog posts on what has happened to me, but don't count me on that since I have no clue what is coming up!
Farvel for nu,

My First Danish Party

On Saturday I went on a short sailing trip with Anders and Karin to my second host family's house for Mie's Welcome Home party. Alicia, the other exchange student in my area from Canada, and 1 of Mie's friends came and we all got ready together. It was just like getting ready for any other event back home, but the party was entirely different from anything in California.  There were around 30 people there all between the ages of 15 and 20 (I think). It was a fun, long night. I met some of my soon to be neighbors and a lot of Mie's friends and some people who would be attending Middelfart Gymnasium. Eventually I went to bed at 3:30 at Mie's house while the last 5 people stayed downstairs to keep partying. The party was full of Danish music that everyone knew the words to and then lots of American music. There was also an exchange student there from Lithuania who I talked to for a bit. I'm just going to end this post saying their are a lot of differences at Danish parties that took me by surprise, but it was overall a fun night.  
Farvel for nu,

The beginning with my first host family!

On Thursday I spent the day packing and then just relaxing until my first host family came to pick me up and bring me to my new home. It was an exciting day finally moving in, seeing my room, and getting to unpack all of my things. That night we had pizza, which I guess is a tradition since Jytte works later on
Thursdays. The rest of the night was just nice and relaxing, watching a movie and finishing unpacking.

On Friday I went to Ikea with Chris and Jytte to get a few things for my room (Ellen's room-Thank you Ellen!!), which was really nice of them. We got a chair for my desk, a lamp, and some other impulse items, just like any Ikea shopping trip. And of course we had to have some soft serve since it is always so cheap at Ikea. After that we went to Bilka, which is similar to Target or Walmart in the sense that it sells everything, food, clothes, electronics, and so much more. Here I got my new Danish phone, which was a really good price (and for Denmark that's saying something!).

Chris and I also went on a walk through their property with their dog, Mille. Their land is so beautiful and green and they have quite a few acres. It is very different living out in the country with complete silence all the time, but it is also really nice. By the end of my year it is going to be weird being back in Petaluma with all the sounds of the night since all 3 of my host families live in the country.

It was really nice moving in with them and I think we are going to get along really well!!
Farvel for nu!

My first, but definitely not last trip to Odense and seeing some horses

On Wednesday Karin had to go to work in Odense and invited me to come along and walk around the center, while she worked. I got a map and after asking one woman I made my way into the center of Odense. Odense is the 3rd largest city in Denmark at around 167,615. I wandered around just looking at all the shops and bought a candle simply because it has my name on it and as my family knows it is impossible to find things with "Nina" on them, so whenever I see one I buy it. I walked for quite awhile and took some pictures of things that looked important (other tourists were taking pictures of them also). I think I also made my way to Hans Christian Andersen's house, but it wasn't open yet, so all I have so far are pictures of the outside, but another time! I then went and read on a bench for awhile just taking it all in. Around lunch time I found a hot dog stand and had a Fransk dog, which is the hot dog just stuck in a long roll with this dressing called Remoulade, which is really good. I then eventually made my way back to Karin's office only asking one person for directions the whole way (although I did have an incredible amount of trouble finding her building and the door to actually get into the building), luckily there was no one else around to see my struggles : ).
That was my first day exploring Odense and it was a quite nice one, especially since it barely rained.
After returning from Odense we went to Karin and Anders' son's horse farm where he was currently having a riding camp for kids. Kim and his girlfriend run the riding camp all summer and the kids seemed to be having fun sleeping in the barn on hay! We got a tour around and saw some really nice horses!
That was the end of my first Wednesday in Denmark!
Farvel for nu,

Meeting my families!

On Tuesday, August 10 I met all of my host families. Earlier that day Karin had sent me to the store in Nørre Aaby and after a little bit of getting lost and having trouble finding the right things in the store I finally completed my first Danish grocery store experience.
The rest of the day was spent preparing for my families to come. They all arrived and it was so nice to see them all after communicating with them for so many months. I had already met 2 of my 3 families in Denmark. I had met my 2nd family at the Jazz festival, so that was a nice, unexpected surprise.
We spent the night just talking and drinking coffee and tea and having some more of that delicious Fyn birthday cake. This was also the last time I saw Ellen since she was leaving for Alaska that Thursday. Overall it was a nice, hyggeligt (no direct translation in English, but it really means something along the lines of cozy, nice, and usually there is food) night.
There were also 2 girls there around my age who were the daughters of a man in my Rotary club.
It was a really great night and I realized how great my year is going to be living with these 3 different families.
A little side note: I had found out my 2nd host family 2 days before leaving, so I didn't have much communication, just one e-mail. The family lives in Gamborg, another small town, that is not too far from my school. In the family their is a 17 year old daughter named Mie, who was in Australia last year on a Rotary exchange and who is in first year at the same school as me, a 20 year old brother named Jonas, who was in Australia 4 years ago as a Rotary exchange student and now goes to a technical school, and the mom, Jette, who owns a flower shop, and the dad Brian, who works in his family company.
Here is a picture of all of my families together:
from left to right: Eva (Rotarian's daughter), Rotarian, Ida (Rotarian's daughter), Tina (third host mom), Mie (second host stister), Jonas (second host brother), Karin (counselor's wife), Brian (second host dad), me, Jette (second host mom), Ellen (host sister who is on exchange in Alaska), Niels (first host dad), Chris (first host brother), Jytte (first host mom), and in the front, Anders (counselor).
More posts to come!
Farvel for nu,

The first 2 days in my new life- Rotary, CPR, host families, and flowers.

For the first 5 days of my exchange I lived with Karin and Anders Schebye. It was a nice house in a town called Nørre Aaby, which is a nice small town. They have a dog named Childe who was nice to have around.
My second day in Denmark we were going to go sailing on Karin and Anders' sailboat, but once we got to the marina it was too windy. Instead we decided to take a trip to Bogense in the northern part of Fyn (the island where I live). There was a flower  festival that weekend, so we spent the day walking around, looking at the different displays and going in a few stores. We had a traditional Danish lunch of smørrebrød, which are open face sandwiches on rye bread. The bread is taking some getting used to, but I'm actually starting to enjoy it. After looking at the many flower displays we headed to their friends' summer house. It had a beautiful view right onto the water. There we had cake since it was Karin's birthday and they all drank lots of coffee. Karin, her friend, and I went on a short walk along the beach and I was just thinking the whole time "Wow, I am in Denmark." We had some pork and potatoes for dinner (another traditional Danish meal) and finally ended the night with more coffee. Again I was tired as I was still trying to get over the jet lag and when we got home at 10:30 I went straight to bed and slept very soundly.
On Monday Anders and I went to another town to try and get my CPR number (a Danish number used for everything), but for some reason I still don't understand we couldn't get it yet, so now I am just waiting for the notice in the mail that I can go register. After that we stopped by my first host family since the town we were in before was very close to Morud. It was so nice finally meeting them. Ellen was in the process of packing, so we only stayed a short while, but it was still nice to see them and where I would be living the next few months. I also tried some traditionally birthday cake that is only on Fyn. It was good, but very sweet.
That night was my first Rotary meeting. I was not sure what to expect my club to be like, but it is very different than my one back home. This club has only men in it, so I feel a little out numbered ;). I introduced myself in Danish and then they went over their usual topics and then we had dinner. I also met my first host dad, Niels, for the first time.
It was a nice night and I enjoyed meeting my Rotary club although I could understand next to nothing. My first 2 days were very busy, but I was just about over jet lag by the end of them :)
Here is the link to where I will be uploading most of my photos for all to see, since it would take up too much space on a blog post!
Farvel for nu,

Traveling days.

I know, I know, finally a post. I have been here almost 2 weeks and the time has just flown by. I'm just going to do a quick recap of what has happened in a few separate posts, so as not to bore everyone with a minute by minute recap.
Traveling: On Friday, August 6 I got on the plane from SFO to Amsterdam. I was surprised no one commented on my blazer, but I think all of the people in my terminal (which was of course the very last one at the airport) were Danish or from Amsterdam, so they might not have wanted to use their English. I was in line to get on the plane and all of a sudden I hear something that sounds like a fire alarm, no seems to panicked though and soon enough I am on the plane. Luckily there was only one other person sitting with me and she didn't talk much. We both just watched our movies. I must have watched 4 movies on the 10 hour flight and it seemed like they just kept feeding us over and over again, but I guess it just felt like that because none of it was at my usual eating times.
Then I arrived in Amsterdam at 9:10 on Saturday the 7th. I had a little more trouble finding the customs area and making my way around, but after asking several people I found my way to my terminal (again almost the last one). I definitely got my walking in those two days after continuously walking back and forth trying to figure out which way to go. After about 30 minutes of sitting there I saw 2 exchange students. One I had talked to through facebook before, but the other was a new face. They were both from Illinois I think. Shortly after their arrival more and more exchange students started trickling in. By the end I think there were 9, maybe 10 of us. We all got on the plant that would bring us to Billund, Denmark. I sat next to the boy I had been in touch with that is from Illinois, Matthew.
We arrived in Denmark right on time and it was weird, but we didn't have to answer any questions at customs, we just walked on through. Then we got our bags and it was time to go meet whoever was waiting for us. I walked out and it was easy to find Anders, my counselor, since he had a sign for me. We put my bags in the car. Dad: luckily they all fit easily and no ropes were needed ;)
We started the hour and a half (I think) drive to Nørre Aaby. I was very exhausted at this point as I had been traveling 14 hours, but it was so nice to see the Danish country side.
                              Here's when I first arrived- the moment I recognized Anders:
We arrived at Karin (Anders' wife) and Anders' house and soon after we went to a jazz festival in Middelfart. By this time I was completely exhausted and had trouble keeping my head up as we listened to jazz for a few hours. Below is me with some people that were playing music in Middelfart:
I had my very first Danish meal on Saturday. We had 2 sandwiches, one with smoked salmon and another with curry chicken at a restaurant in Middelfart with Anders' secretary and her husband. Once we went home at 7:30 I went straight to bed and slept for the next 14 hours.
I will do the next few days living with my counselor in the next post.
Farvel for nu,

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Here I go!!!

Here I am, night before departure. Only 14 hours to go until I am on that plant to Amsterdam and then off to Billund, Denmark. It is crazy to think that in around a day I will be starting the adventure I have been waiting for. Everything is packed. Who knew how hard it would be to pack your life away into 2 large suitcases, a duffel, and a backpack? Well pretty hard! I had some last minute adjustments that needed to be made today since the bag was over weight, but that is all fixed and cross your fingers all goes well at the airport! Tomorrow I will put on my Rotary blazer covered in pins and get on that plane at 1:10 pm and probably shed a few tears here and there, but I know I am doing the right thing and that this will be the best year of my life so far!
I had two going away parties this week and they were just a nice close to this summer!
Well I don't want to bore you with a long post and I should be getting to sleep since I won't get much sleep for the next day and a half.
I have waited for this day for so long and now it is only a few hours away from beginning! It really hasn't felt real until tonight that I am going away... for a year, but now it is sinking in and I couldn't be more excited!
Thank you to everyone who has helped me/ put up with me through this long, crazy couple of months, Thank you Rotary for giving me this opportunity and thank you to my parents and sister for supporting me with this decision!
I guess right now I am really only excited to go, not nervous, not scared, slightly sad about leaving, but the excitement definitely beats the itsy bit of sadness of leaving what I have know for 16.5 years. I just can't express how truly grateful and excited (yes, I know I have overused it in this post) I am right now except through exclamation points and the word "excited"!!!!!!!! Well here I go writing too much, so let me just sum up my feelings into a few words:
delighted, enthusiastic, excited, passionate, thrilled, happy and then sad. But clearly I am really only EXCITED!!!!!!!!
Next time I write on here I will be in Denmark! So weird to say.
Well farvel for nu,