Wednesday, December 14, 2011

My mom told me I needed to update everyone....

Hej alle,
It seems to have become somewhat of a habit now for the last few posts that I have been apologizing for not writing for awhile, but here it is again, sorry, but this month has been so busy so far!

I have lots to write about, so let me try and make it as short as possible, which we all know won't be very short!

On November 27th I moved to my new family, which is in a town called Gamborg, but technically I live on a small island named Svinø. The town has around 170 people and my island has I think around 6 houses, so I'm in an even smaller town than Morud! I am definitely getting a different idea of what a small town is considering I used to think of Petaluma as a small town! Oh before I forget here's a bit about my family: I live with the Vrængmose Vangsted family. There is the dad, Brian, mom, Jette, and my 2 siblings, Mie (17) and Jonas (20). We have 2 cats, one which has taken to me quite well which can be a tad annoying when it crawls on my lap while I'm doing homework or writing letters.

It was pretty sad for me moving for a variety of reasons. First of all I really enjoyed living with the Jørgensens and I will miss them since I won't be able to see them as much. I want to thank them again so much for all that they did for me and how much they helped during my first few months here. I know and hope we will stay in contact long after I leave Denmark!
Another reason it was sad was it just makes me realize how fast this year is going. I mean I have been gone from home for 130 days, which is really hard to believe. I have been here more than 4 months. I have met so many people and been to a lot of new places. It is just hard to grasp and with moving it just made me have to confront and actually realize that 1/3 of my year is done.
What really got me emotional was when Jytte said that is must be hard moving all the time and for me having lived in the same house all my life and gone to the same schools, it is definitely something difficult to get used to. Just packing up everything you own to go to an unknown place. It also just makes me realize if it's this hard moving 20 minutes away after 4 months here, just how hard it will be moving back to Petaluma after a year here.
Well let's get this back to a happier place now! So I moved all my many bags and suitcases of belongings ( I figured why try and pack it all small when I'm going to just unpack it again), so I had quite a few bags and what not.

ok back to the update!
That day I worked on unpacking mostly and then we went into Middelfart (10 minute drive away) and saw the Christmas decorations since it was the first day of advent (advent here is you get a present either every day of December until the 24th or some families do it that when the kids are older they get one larger present every Sunday of Advent. My first family was very nice and gave me 4 for the weeks I wouldn't be with them. The first day I got a nice owl necklace, some candy, and a book on how to make these Danish heart decorations.
We walked on the shopping street and then went to Hindsgavl castle, also in Middelfart, to see the flower decorations since my host mom is a florist and used to work there. We ate some Christmas desserts and drank gløgg, which is warm, mulled with some raisins and nuts in it.

æbleskiver and gløgg

everything I have accumulated

tree lighting ceremony and my host sister Mie

Mayor of Middelfart

Then we went home and I finished unpacking the rest.
Here are the rest of the highlights from the end of November/beginning of December:

That Monday (11/28) was just a normal school day. I now take a different bus to school, which only takes 20 minutes and is a 10 minute walk from my house.
After school Alicia, Paulina (Chilean exchange student in my class), and 3 other girls practiced our African dance for gym class because we need to perform it this Friday, which should be interesting to say the least.

Nov. 30- I didn't have the first 2 classes, so I was all excited to sleep in and then go to the next 2 classes, but whoops I slept through my alarm and woke up 6 minutes before needing to be at the bus, and since the busses are usually a few minutes late I ran there trying to make it, but I didn't, so I got 2 more classes off! Then I didn't have language school, so instead I just took the bus and hung out with some of the exchange students from my school.
That night my family presented me with the Christmas advent calendar which is this really tall doll with 24 little presents tied to it! It was really nice and is now hanging on the back of my door in my room and I get  to open one every day!

my new family


Christmas calendar

Dec. 1- I went to school and then Alicia was moving that day to Gamborg also, so I went to her family's house and helped her finish packing. I also got my 2nd lovely package from my family, which was filled with some American foods I was missing! I shared some with Nora (Austria) and Alicia and then we kinda lounged for awhile until we needed to leave to Gamborg, then we rushed and packed really fast. That night I went over to Alicia's after dinner and I can already tell it will be really nice living so close ( a 5 minute walk if I go fast). It will be really good during those times when there is nothing to do at home or with friends from school.

Dec 2.- There was a Fredags Cafe after school so Nora and I went together and Martin (from my class) taught us how to make the Christmas hearts, which was very nice of him!
Then Nora, Katharina (Germany), Alicia, and I went to Odense for the rest of the day to shop since the stores were open late. I only bought one shirt and then we ate at McDonald's since it's cheap and we are poor exchange students. It was a nice evening, just shopping and seeing Odense all decorated for Christmas. I slept at Alicia's that night because the next day we went to Copenhagen!

Katharina (Germany), Nora (Austria), Alicia,and me in Odense

Dec. 3- Alicia's previous host family (Lis and Jens) kindly took us with them  to Copenhagen and Alicia and I spent the morning shopping (I only bought 2 things) and then went to Tivoli to see the Christmas decorations. It was nice in Tivoli, but pretty cold. We just walked around and took some pictures. We also sat with the Julemand (Santa Claus) and took a picture. Then we took the train to  Lyngby to meet up with Lis and her daughter who lives there and we had a nice dinner of sushi. Then we went and picked up Jens from his party and drove home. We got home kinda late so we just stayed up for awhile watching tv and then fell asleep.
Yeah this store had some not so American foods haha- things I don't even think we have in America, but there were some things that were so tempting to buy, but I resisted the urge to buy a $5 snapple. 

waiting to see Julemand (santa claus)

In Tivoli




The next day we just relaxed because my host parents and Jonas were also recovering from a party at Brian's work.

Dec. 5- School, then that night Alicia, Mie, Jette, Morten (Alicia's host father), and I went to Middelfart Interwheel (the wives and daughters of Rotarians club) and Alicia, Mie, and I gave short speeches in Danish about our time here and a bit about home and for Mie about Australia. Then there was a long meeting with the woman reading a long book in Danish, going over notes from other surrounding Interwheel clubs. At one point they said something about an exchange student named Francisco and Alicia and I started laughing so hard even though it wasn't very funny because we are friends with him and it was just so random that his name was mentioned. I'm sure all the woman thought we were crazy. Then we got to play bingo and win prizes. I won first and chose and got a box of chocolates. then we ate risalamande which is like rice pudding and is very popular around Christmas time. The tradition is that whoever finds the whole almond in their portion is supposed to keep it a secret until all the risalamande is gone and then that person wins a prize. Coincidentally Alicia and I both won this one also and we won candles.

Dec. 6- We were doing this thing called AT, which is like 2 subjects combined and then the kids do a presentation on it. It's somewhat hard to explain, but it was for 4 whole schools days this week and was very boring for me.

Dec. 7- So since AT was really boring and I couldn't do anything the previous day Brian let me skip school, so Alicia came over we ate a nice breakfast together and watched the Amazing Race from in Denmark, which was kinda funny because they were all pronouncing all the names really funny. Then we had language class. I made macaroni and cheese that night for my family and it turned out really well for my first time making it all on my own and only my second time in my life. That night I went to Alicia's to work on our Danish homework, but that didn't turn out so well, we just ended up bugging her host brother while he was skyping with his brother who is in Brazil on exchange.
macaroni and cheese and garlic bread

Dec. 8- So I got to school and it turns out the teacher had canceled the first 2 classes, so Paulina and I just worked on finishing the Danish homework. Then we had language school where we actually accomplished a lot more than usual.

Dec. 9- We did our AT presentation and I said the conclusion in Danish. Then I went shopping with a girl from my class (Sara) to buy winter shoes, which didn't take too long to find a pair I liked!
Then I waited at the train station for Alicia, Emily (from USA), and Nora because were going to a party for the exchange students that are leaving soon since they came last January. there were A LOT of exchange students in Odense that night and it was a really fun night and good to see lots of people. There were mostly Brazilians since those are some of the ones going home soon, but it was a really good time with lots of fun people. I took the train home at 4 in the morning and then slept for 6 hours until it was time to get ready to go out with my family.On the way home it was the first time I had seen snow on the ground here, it was only a little bit and it melted, but still it was snow!

Some nice winter shoes huh?

Just kidding I got much more practical shoes than these. 

Dec 10- It is a tradition in this family that usually Brian's mom takes all the old enough cousins out shopping to buy X-Mas presents for their parents and to a Christmas play in Odense, but this year she couldn't, so Brian took us instead. There were 5 cousins I got to meet and then Mie, me, and Brian, since Jonas couldn't come. We went to a mall in Odense and went around helping the younger ones find their presents. The cousins were all very nice and one had been an exchange student in the US a few years ago. We then went to McDonald's for lunch (geez I have eaten way more McDonalds here in the past 4 months than I have in the past 3 years at home combined I think). I think that was the most I have ever seen spent at McDonalds, close to $100 for lunch haha.
Then we went to the play and I saw most of the first half and understood somewhat what was going one, but then the second half was really confusing and I was really tired, so I napped a tad during that one. Then we went back to Brian's mom's house and had pizza and watched the Christmas calendar on tv. Then we went home and watched a movie on tv and then I went to bed and slept for a nice, long time.

Dec 11- Jette, Brian, and I went for a walk around Gamborg, so I could see the area which was nice. Then I went home and cleaned my room and relaxed the rest of the day since I was still tired from the weekend. We also baked some Christmas cookies, which turned out pretty good! One was pebernødder and the other I can't remember the name of.


Dec 12-
Brian had to drive up north Jutland for work, so he invited me along. We left pretty early (7, so maybe not THAT early, but still it is for me) and started the 3.5 hour drive to a town called Thisted. We stopped at a place along the way in Jelling, which has 2 large stones with writing in Runes (the viking's writing) and was the first place Denmark was mentioned in writing I think. There were also these 2 huge mounds that were burial grounds for vikings and apparently they form a ship shape somehow.
Then we kept driving and tried to find a coffee shop somewhere, but of course in Denmark nothing opens until later and even though it was like 9:30, no shops were open. Finally we got to Thisted and found a cafe where we could have hot chocolate, which was very nice. Then Brian went to his meeting and I stayed at the cafe for awhile and then walked around the town of Thisted a bit.
Then Brian, his coworker, and I went for lunch and then Brian and I were on our way again. We stopped in Klitmoller, which is usually a really good surfing spot, but the wind was coming the wrong way, so there weren't very big waves. Then we started driving home and took a ferry for 10 minutes and then drove home. I slept most of the way, but it was a nice trip getting to see more of Northern Denmark and the differences from Fyn.
rocks in Jelling



Dec 13- It was Alicia's and my first day at the børnehaven (pretty much day care) where we had decided to volunteer. It was a bit tricky at first since the kids were pretty shy and they knew we didn't speak much Danish, but after a little while they became comfortable and we could do some basic talking with them. Luckily we were doing art projects together, so we could use our hands to show things we couldn't explain. I think this will be a fun thing to do and learn some more Danish, since the kids never laugh when we mess up.
Then I went to Kolding with Jette and Mie to go Christmas shopping. It was a nice day and we got a bit of the X-mas shopping done!

Dec 14- We had a language school party for Christmas, which was pretty fun. We played Bingo in Danish and won little prizes. We also ate æbelskiver. Then we exchanged gifts in the German game we were playing called Engel Bengel (pretty much secret santa). Overall it was a nice day.
Then we baked more Christmas desserts- this time with lots of marzipan.
The whole class!

Dec 15- We had language school again, but it was pretty much just talking since it was the last time we would all be there since Paulina (from Chile) and Gustavo (Brazil) are going home in the next 2 weeks. We also had two picture frames for them with a class photo.

That night Alicia, Jette, Mie, Morten (Alicia's host dad), and Frederik (Alicia's host brother), and I all went to the church in Gamborg for the Lucia ceremony. It was a short church ceremony where we sang, and the little kids walked in with their candles and white dresses and Lucia with a candle crown on. Then we went to the Forsamlinghus (community center) and had æbleskiver with a lot of people from Gamborg.

Dec 16- In gym class we had been working on a dance unit and the exchange students were all in the same group (Alicia, Paulina, and me) with 3 other girls, who we didn't know too well. And the dance the other girls chose was African dancing, but we hadn't gotten much practice or prepared much and then that day Alicia and another girl were sick and another just didn't show up. So it was Paulina, another girl, and me doing the African dance. let's just say it was extremely embarrassing.
Then after school I went to Odense to see my neighbor from home, Tanja, who was an exchange student in Denmark 7  years ago and was here visiting her host families. It was good to see someone from home and just talk about the differences between exchange then and now.
Then I went to Alicia's house for awhile and we were supposed to just have a girls night, watching Mean Girls and eating American/Canadian junk, but her host brother and his friends enjoy bothering us, so that plan didn't work too well, but it was a fun night anyways.
Tanja and I

Dec 17- Jette and Brian were having a party for their friends from University that day. There were around 17 of us in total. There was one other girl my age and her name was Nina coincidentally enough. We had a big, long lunch. and then later we spent almost 2.5 hours with everyone going around the table saying the important things that had happened since they last saw each other since they only see each other 2 times a year. Then us younger people just watched a movie and tv shows, while the adults went downstairs to party. It was a nice day, but I was very tired by the end of it.

Dec 18- We had a lazy day once everyone left while Brian and Jette went to get Christmas presents. Then Mie, Brian, Jette, and I went to get the Christmas tree, which only took 5 minutes. It was good just to relax after the party the day before.

So there is the long awaited/needed update. I am sorry it is SO long, but it needed to be done!

I can't believe it is almost Christmas- 5 days for me! There is no snow unfortunately and there will only be snow on Christmas if some miracle happens :(.

And here is a nice photo of the view from my house! It was a really sunny, nice day, which doesn't happen very often this time of year and the past few weeks have been pretty dark and grey.

Farvel for nu, and the next blog post will be a nice jolly holiday one!

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