Friday, October 21, 2011

30 differences between Denmark and the United States

I have been meaning to do this post for awhile, but it always felt like it would take more work than just a post talking about what I have done. As I have been here a month and a half I have noticed more differences, but yet it stays somewhat similar.

1. Very little censorship.  It is so weird hearing songs on the radio with swear words in them or seeing adds on tv with swearing and nudity. Here is an add for a cell phone company that was quite a shock to see on daytime tv:
And trust me there are one's even more shocking than this! But in a way I think it is better. The United States is very strict and somewhat prudish when it comes to what can be shown in public, but Denmark is very open about it. There aren't really ratings on movies and just some of the general topics of shows are deemed acceptable here. It just makes everything more comfortable and open to talk about in a way.

2. SO much more freedom. Everyone just gets a lot more freedom, responsibility, and trust at a much younger age in my opinion. Little kids (maybe 6 or 7) ride the regular transport bus home from school and get home on their own. The would never happen in the US. Then parents would be afraid of something happening to the child all the time. Don't get me wrong parents worry about their kids, but they just don't always hold them back, they let them do things on their own. Another example of the freedom is with school. At my school it seems like it is pretty much your responsibility to show up. Of course the school might call your parents if you have too many absences, but really only if it was a huge problem. Not like in California where you miss one class and you get a call home.
Also it seems like a lot of people have jobs.

3. Everyone eats with a knife and fork here. Now don't get me wrong, I didn't just pick up food and eat it with my hands back home. People here eat with the knife in their right hand and the fork flipped over in their left hand. They always keep them in their hands pretty much until they are done eating. It took some practice and lessons, but now it is almost automatic for me. One day I was trying to show some girls from my class how I used to eat, but whatever I did just felt too awkward and I can't even remember how I used to do it. I find it so adorable when I see little kids eating with their knife and fork. They just look so proper. Also, we eat a lot of open face sandwiches here and they are always eaten with a knife and fork!

4. Danish people are a tad more reserved until you get to know them. This is not meant to be rude to Danish people, it is just something I have noticed and had to get used to. In the US I just feel like we talk like we are friends with everyone. We hug each other a lot more and are just extremely friendly from the start. Where as sometimes you have to get to know one another better before you get to that point.
I think Danes try to stay out of one another's business in a way, for example if I were standing on the street looking really confused at a map and looking around a lot no one would really say or do anything different. Whereas in the United States I feel like someone would ask if they needed help or something. It is not better or worse, just different things for me to get used to.

5. People bike EVERYWHERE, no matter the weather. It does not seem to stop no matter how much it is raining. Today it was pouring rain and many kids in my class showed up with the front of their pants soaked, or some other kids wear waterproof pants I have noticed (Katie didn't you need a pair for your orientation? ;)) I have yet to have to bike somewhere, but I know when I move to my second family I live biking distance from school, so I think I need to start practicing before there is snow and ice everywhere! I love it on Sundays though just to see cute, elderly couples out for a bike ride. It just looks so happy!

6. Having your elbows on the table is not rude here. Before I came to Denmark I didn't really know, so I just tried to eat with with my elbows off the table, which is something I rarely do. After a few days and eating with many different people I came to the conclusion that it is not rude, so now I am comfortable just resting my elbows on the table as I eat.

7. The stoplights/ walk signs. First of all stop lights go from green to yellow to red and then back from red to yellow to green, so once the light goes from red to yellow the cars start getting ready to go. I don't know how well this would work in the United States because I feel like people would start going just way too soon with this system.
The walk signs are also different. They still throw me off sometimes. There is a green walk man and a red, don't go walk man, but the light counts down in red and I used to think it was how much time I had to cross the street, turns out it's actually how much time until I CAN cross the street. Good thing I figured that out!

8. Sundays- everything is closed pretty much. Almost all stores are closed all day. Sometimes I can find a coffee shop or something open, but usually only one. Some grocery stores are open, but if they are it is for a very short time.

9. There are so many traffic circles here. In Petaluma there are maybe 3-5 tops (don't quote me on it). Here they are everywhere! I think I go through 4 just on my way to school. I just feel like I am always going through them haha!

Now the rest I'm just gonna list without explanation:

10. winnie the pooh = peter plys

11. they sell beer and wine at the movies

 12. guys wear tunics and capris

13. people eat carrots/cucumbers a lot as snacks at school

14. ketchup costs money at some places and mayonnaise is an option for french fries usually

15. all cars are stick shift

16.  swearing in class is fine.

17. we call our teachers by their first name

18.  you can trust almost every bakery to be delicious. Even 7/11

19.All school stuff is turned in online, you check your schedule online, and everyone brings their computer every day to school

20. emergency number is 112 not 911

21. Once you turn 18 you start getting paid by the government a couple hundred dollars each month

22. Milk usually only comes in 3 sizes and only if you go to the bigger stores

23. Driving age is 18 and it costs a lot to get a drivers license 

24. drinking age is 16 and sometimes beer is sold in vending machines

25. Their aren't really substitutes at my school, class is either just canceled or the students are supposed 
to do the work on their own 

26. the Danish flag is used a lot like for birthdays and other celebrations

27. kids can have their phones out in class

28. we are given breaks in class where it's fine to go out and smoke/ so many Danish teenagers smoke

29. Some public bathrooms you have to pay for

30. Most Danish people love lakrids (licorice). There is everything imaginable in lakrid flavor- ice cream, gum, gummies, sauce for ice cream, and alcohol. 

Well that's all I have for now, but I am sure there will be more to come!
Farvel for nu,

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A much needed update!

First of all sorry this has taken awhile to write; I've just been busy, and tired and didn't really feel like spending a lot of time writing a long blog post. But now you can know what I have been up to for the last 2 weeks or so.
Friday the 7th I was driven into Odense to meet Jaz's aunt. Jaz is a friend of mine from back home, who I have gone to school with since kindergarten and he happened to come to Denmark for the year also to live with his aunt and cousin. Jaz's aunt happened to be in Odense, so she offered to drive me to visit Jaz for the weekend. He lives in a town called Birkerød, which is like 20 minutes from Copenhagen I think. We spent Friday just watching a scary movie and going for a walk with a girl he know's who is from Poland and lives in Denmark now.
Saturday (October 8th): It was a really busy day, so I will try and remember everything we did!
First we drove to Kronborg Castle (Hamlet's Castle) and walked around. I think this is the first castle I have ever been to and it was really nice. We also took a tour of underneath the castle and climbed the tower. From the castle we could see Sweden, which is such a weird feeling; being able to see another country from across the water!

Then we walked around the town of Helsingør and I tried this Danish snack. I asked whether it was better to know before or after I tried it, and Jaz's aunt said after. It is  called flæskesvær ( I think) and ended up being fried pig skin, but it wasn't actually as bad as that sounds, it tasted alright!
Then we took the coastal drive to Copenhagen and it was a really pretty drive! Then we saw the Little Mermaid. Everyone else that had already seen it told me how small it was and that they were disappointed, but I had then imagined it would be really small, so it was bigger than my expectations.

Then we got dropped off at the train station to meet Sonia (the girl from Poland) again and walk around Copenhagen for the rest of the day. We walked on the shopping street and I resisted buying very much except for a few postcards and a keychain for my Rotary blazer, which by the way is getting filled pretty fast! Pictures to come soon!
We also went to Nyhavn, which is probably the picture you would see first if you were to google Copenhagen pictures.

Then we headed to Christiania, which is a small, controversial community in Copenhagen. Here's a link to read more about it, since it would take too long to completely explain on here: , but pretty much it is a very unique place that can really only be found in Denmark. In Christiania you can't take pictures because of all of the drug trading, so I only have this one from the front gate:

Christiania was a really unique place to go and it was fun to look around.
Then Jaz, Sonia, and I went to this really good coffee shop called Barresso, which I may have talked about before, but it is really good, but incredibly expensive. I ordered a small hot chocolate with whipped cream, but as with anything I order in Denmark I am never really sure what I am getting until Ihave it in front of me. This turned out to be a VERY small drink with a straw with chocolate on it to stir in the hot milk, then the whipped cream was literally just a glass filled with whipped cream. This cost me around 7 dollars, but it was still good!

Then we went home and had dinner, then just relaxed after a very busy day!

Sunday (October 9th): We had breakfast with Jaz's grandparents and the food was delicious as Danish food usually is and it was really nice to meet his grandparents.
Then we drove through places in Copenhagen again, like the Parliament building, the Queen's castle, and this area across the water from the Opera house. We also climbed the Rundetårn (Round Tower) and got a great view of Copenhagen!
Then I took the train home, which was just a nice, calm train ride, with not too many people. It was good to be home again!

Now just the highlights from last week:

Wednesday at language school we were given the assignment to find something interesting to do in Middelfart and make a speech about it as if we were showing it to our parents from back home. We were put in pairs and I'm with Alicia (from Canada). The class went down to the tourist center and chose our topics. Alicia and I chose the psychiatric hospital museum, because we really couldn't find too many fascinating things in Middelfart that we could make a speech about.
On Thursday we went to the museum and struggled a bit trying to figure out what we needed to pay since the man working only spoke Danish. In the end we got our tickets and the man convinced us to buy a pamphlet explaining the museum in English. We had fun wandering around and figuring out what things were, but it was a bit creepy with it's white walls and soundtrack of patients from when the hospital was still open.

Friday: My class had the last 2 classes of the day canceled, so I went to a sandwich place that is really good with  some people from my class. Then we went back to school because we were having a "Fredags Cafe", which is pretty much just people drinking beer and eating cake after school, but the money was for charity. There was also a limbo contest, which was funny to watch and the winner of course won a bottle of beer. Then the "slave auction" began. It was pretty much people going on the stage offering different things and then the audience would bid on them. For example some of the things offered were making lunch for someone for the next week, playing Oh Susana on the harmonica while the guy took off his clothes, unlimited drinks at the next Gym party (that one went for a lot), and so on. It was really funny to watch and 2 girls in my class helped explain what it was the people were offering.

My host dad, Niels, was gone in Germany until Sunday, so it was just the 3 of us home. That night we watched a traditional Danish movie, called Olsen Banden. They didn't have any English subtitles, but we put the Danish one's on because it made it easier to be able to read and listen, so I could actually understand some of what was going on. I want to watch it again once I get better at Danish, so I can fully understand it.

Saturday was my last soccer game. I played for about 30 minutes and made some good passes as the girl's on my team told me. We won 5-2 and it was a good game to end the season on!

Then that night I taught them to play a card game called Ocho Pinnocho and I changed it so Chris and Jytte had to answer in English and me in Danish, which made it a lot more challenging at least for me! We also were talking about some tongue twisters and difficult words to say sin Chris is always trying to get me to say Rød Grød Med Fløde ( something only Danish people can really say correctly), so I taught him She Sells Seashells by the Seashore and another exchange student had told me that Danish people have trouble saying "There are 2 squirrels in the refrigerator", so I tested that on Chris. He flawlessly said all of it, but then wouldn't try refrigerator, so I said I wouldn't be entertaining him by saying Rød Grød Med Fløde anymore haha. Eventually he tried saying it after a bit of persuading and did pretty well considering it is a pretty hard word to say!

Then we watched Bingo Banko as always and then an American movie that was on tv, but as usual I fell asleep!

Sunday we went to Legoland again because we had some free passes from last time and Jytte had gotten a few more at work, so we invited Jytte's friend and her 2 daughters and 2 of the oldest daughter's friends. They are all friends with Ellen (my host sister who is in Alaska on exchange) and I have played 2 soccer games with one of them. The four of us just went off on our own and they were all very nice to me and we spoke mostly in Danish. It was cold, but at least there was no rain! We rode lots of rides and this time Legoland was decorated for Halloween (even though they don't celebrate it here), which was nice. It is so different here with places closing for winter because of the weather. Tivoli and Legoland are both closed now, but they open for certain times, like Christmas and the fall holiday (which I am on right now). It was a nice day at Legoland and I am glad I got to go again!

Monday, I went to Fredericia to see the exchange student that lives there, Cadu (from Brazil) and Alicia and Gustavo from my school also came. I met with Cadu first because Alicia and Gustavo had some issues with the train. Apparently they had ended up on a direct train to Kolding, when they had thought it would stop in Fredericia, so they had to take another train back, but it all worked out.
We just wandered around the shopping streets and ate lunch (bread and chocolate milk), had ice cream, shopped, and had fun. It was a really nice day and we had a lot of fun and I didn't spend TOO much money. ;)

Now I am on efterårsferie, which is a week off from school. It used to be a week where the kids would go help pick potatoes with their parents, but now it's just a vacation week.

I have lots of plans for this week, so the next blog will be full of exciting things!
Farvel for nu,

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Highlights of last week and so far of this week!

Hej igen, (hi again)
So now you know what I did Monday and Tuesday of last week, but as for the rest of the week I didn't really do anything on Wednesday or Thursday.
Friday I stayed home with Chris and we watched tv, but I was exhausted so I just fell asleep on the couch as usual. I just get so tired here with so much Danish all the time and just focusing really hard on what people are saying, trying to figure it out, so I usually fall asleep fairly early (9:30 on school nights, and maybe 10 or 11 if I'm being a real rebel/ have a bit more energy on weekends)

Saturday was the district conference in Odense, so it was really good to see a bunch of exchange students again. We did a short presentation at the conference, but it wasn't much. We just walked in with flags from our home countries and some people said something in Danish if they wanted to. No one from the US was going to, so Anna (from New York) and I decided to just say a very short thing in Danish, and it went well.

Then all the exchange students went bowling. We had a good time and it was the first time we were meeting the "oldies", or ones who have been here since last January. They were from Australia and one from Argentina I think.It was fun, but everyone wished we could have had longer to hang out and bowl. A lot of other districts in Denmark have had a get-together for a weekend, but no one is really sure in my district if we are having one or not, so we'll see!
Saturday it was just Chris and I home again, so we watched this show called Bingo Banko, which is like the American show called National Bingo Night, which really didn't last long. It is basically a tv show that starts around now each year and then you print out bingo cards off the computer and play. The hosts do all kinds of crazy things to get the numbers to make the bingo and if you get 1 row, 2 rows, or all 3 rows filled you call and can win lots of good prizes. We have never won yet, but we're hoping I'm the lucky charm (so far not too much). Then we watched a movie and again I fell asleep!

Sunday: I worked on my Rotary presentation all day and wrote a whole speech in Danish. Then I baked brownies to bring to my Rotary presentation, since I thought it might be a nice touch to show an American dessert!

The brownies!

Monday: I was nervous all day at school about my speech, but one of the girl's from my class helped me on the bus ride home with how to say the more difficult words, which was really nice of her! Then I practiced some more at home until it was time to go. There were maybe 30 people at Rotary that night and all my host families were there. They started by inducting 2 new members and then it was my turn. For a moment we couldn't find my speech, which stressed me out a bit because let me tell you I could not have done it off the top of my head. Luckily we found it underneath some other papers! The speech went well I think, considering I spoke for about 10 minutes in ONLY Danish. I think people understood most of what I said, or at least they were being nice and said they did, but everyone was really nice about it and laughed at the funny parts, so I know they could understand some. One of the parts many people enjoyed was when I said that in Petaluma we have the "World's Ugliest Dog Contest" and showed a picture of last years winner. Then we had a delicious dinner as always and then I served my brownies, which I think was a nice end to the evening. By the end of the night I was exhausted from having been worried about the speech and having finally given it, but I feel accomplished for being able to do it all in Danish and it really shows me how much my Danish has improved since I have arrived! But one thing is that after giving the whole speech in Danish, all the Rotarians spoke only in Danish to me and I couldn't understand a lot of it still. I think my writing is improving much faster than my speaking just because nothing is pronounced like it is spelled.
Exchanging Rotary flags ( I don't think flags is the right word, but for some reason I just can't think of the right one now!)

Tuesday: It was a really good day for me even though nothing very excited happened. We got out of school early, but the bus didn't come for another hour, so 2 girls from my class and I walked to the center of Middelfart since they needed to go to some stores there. It was just nice hanging out with people from my class, similar to what I would do back home.
Also Jytte and I decided that we should start speaking almost only Danish, and I realize just how much I have learned since I have been here. While I am no where close to fluent, it just feels nice to be able to finally understand and be able to respond to simple sentences and questions in Danish.
Then I had soccer and it was a fun practice. We did lots of small activities the whole practice and then just had fun shooting goals at the end. Plus the weather was perfect. It was crisp out, but there was no wind, so it wasn't too cold. And the sky was dark, with even darker clouds, but the field was all lit up by the lights. For some reason it was just a great day and when your'e an exchange student you know not every day do you feel like this, so it's nice to have a day like this!

Wednesday: My Danish language teacher was sick, so the exchange students just walked around Middelfart. We went in lots of stores and in this second hand store we had lots of fun, since a lot of the stuff was old and looked like it was from the 70s. Alicia (from Canada) found 2 American flag handkerchiefs and they were cheap, so of course I had to buy them!

Well that is all that has happened these last few days, but the last week has been busy and I already have plans for this weekend!

Farvel for nu,

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Concert in Tivoli!


I figured it might just be easier to make a separate blog post about the concert since there is lots to tell! On Monday (9/26) I went to a concert in Tivoli with Alicia (the other Rotary exchange student at my school) and we had some adventures. First of all when we got on the train we kinda forgot that we needed to make sure we got in the right wagon, so we walked back and forth like 3 cars in the train and people kept pointing which way to go, but whenever we got to the spot they pointed to it was some really weird door and was just like the connector for the two trains, so it was a bit sketchy and we had no idea how to get to our car. Even the ticket checker had pointed for us to go this way. It wasn't until we had the ticket checker bring us there that we realized we had been walking through the quiet zone the whole time! Whoops! and let's just say we weren't being as quiet as they wanted, but we didn't know! So then the ticket collector brought us to the post we had been to 3 times and was like "Oh I guess you can't go this way". Alicia and I didn't feel so stupid then that we couldn't figure it out, because there really was no way to get through there! The solution we had to get to our train car was to get off at Odense and run the length of the train to get to our car, but luckily it all worked out and we made it.
We arrived in Copenhagen with no more trouble and then we were waiting for Simran (from India) to arrive when we saw some more exchange students, so we said hi to them and wandered around the station a bit.

We had found a sign that said NFL so of course us Americans had to take a picture!

Then once we found Simran we headed over to Tivoli (a very famous and old amusement park opened around 1843). We squeezed together on a ride that we thought was going to be more intense than it was, so we were freaking out about where to put our bags and such, but once it started it was really calm, so we just laughed the whole way since we had been worried for nothing! We rode a few more rides including this spinning swing that goes 262 ft ( 80 meters) up in  the air. It was pretty cool and we got a great view of Copenhagen from up there!

The really tall swing!

Lily, Simran, Alicia, and me

Then we found more exchange students and were all so excited to see each other. I think there were between 20-30 of us at Tivoli that day. For most of the night it was Alicia, Simran, Lily (from Colorado), and me together. We went on a ride called the Dæmon 4 times because the first time I was nervous and Alicia didn't go, the next time we convinced Alicia, but she was nervous, and than the last two were to get good pictures to buy. It was fun and one of the scarier rides at Tivoli, but it really wasn't that bad.

 Alicia and I refused to go on the ride where it drops you a few hundred feet really fast because we just have the fear that our legs will get cut off and personally I don't like the feeling of my stomach in my throat, so that ride we skipped.
The concert had a bunch of really popular Danish artists. The lineup was: (here's a popular song from each band also
Sak Noel


Rasmus Seebach

Nik & Jay


Alexandra Stan

Kato & Friends


Burhan G

Hampenberg feat. Alexander Brown, Yepha & Stine 

and the last two I don't think i heard and I don't really know who they are, so feel free to listen to them on your own!
You probably don't know most of these bands, but the one you might know is Aqua- "I'm a Barbie girl, in a Barbie world..."- Yeah, ring a bell? Turns out they are Danish, which I didn't really know! Too bad they didn't sing Barbie Girl at the concert.
We got pretty close to the stage, but then it was too crowded, so we wandered around Tivoli for a bit. Then we just sat in the garden at Tivoli and watched the concert from the screen since we were tired and knew we had no chance of getting close to the stage. It was really nice just being there and enjoying the songs, even though we couldn't sing along with most of them.
Then Alicia and I had to go catch the train back. Sounds easy enough right? Well not for us. We felt all smart that we found where the train should be, so we went upstairs to look for food. Then we headed back downstairs to the platform. It was a bit confusing since we had gotten off the train across the street and now we were getting on in the station, but we just hoped we were in the right spot. We then just sat there for about 10 minutes. Then I looked up at the screen and it said a different destination than what we needed, so I asked a woman if we were in the right spot. She said we needed to be 2 platforms over and we only had 2 minutes until the train was supposed to leave (Danish trains are very on time unlike the busses here), so we ran up the stairs and then over to the stairs to bring us to the right platform. We found our train, but then it was so full that we had to just keep running to find a place where we could squeeze in. Finally we found a spot where we could barely fit. Then we had to make our way through lots of people to find our seats. Some nice Danish teenagers had people move for us since we felt bad making everyone stand up (there were people EVERYWHERE- seats, aisles, doorways). Then we found our seats and had to have the 2 people move that were in them since we had them reserved. Then we tried to sleep until we got to Odense.
Alicia spent the night at my house and then we went to school the next morning. I had so little sleep that I wasn't even tired until I got home and then took a long nap and went to bed early!
The concert was really fun and I am glad I went even though train tickets are crazy expensive here!

Farvel for nu,