Sunday, January 22, 2012

All the exciting things

Ok so to make this post as short as possible I will just include the exciting or bigger things I have done so far in January and a bit from the end of December.

Before school ended for winter break I went to a gymnasium party with my class. First I was with Sara and Josephine from my class to get ready, then we went to a pre party with my class and then on to the gym party. After the dance I went to a club, because I was old enough to get in that night, plus it was free admission since I had been at the dance. I was there with Nora and Alicia and I saw my host sister there and some other people from my class. It was a fun night, but we didn't get back too late, only  2:30.

Me, Alicia, and Nora and 2 random girls in the back

On The Monday after Christmas All of Brian's family came over and we had another julefrokost. It was very nice and of course we ate more food! We also danced around the tree and this time I got videos and pictures!

All usual julefrokost food

I went to Odense a few times over break with different exchange students to take advantage of the after Christmas sales and just explore the city.

On the Monday after New Years Jette, Mie, Alicia, Jette's friend and her daughter (who live in Gamborg), and I went for a nice walk in Middelfart. It was nice to get some fresh air and just have a nice walk.

On the day before school started again Alicia and I went to the Børnehaven for the whole day and played with the kids, which was fun and got the kids more comfortable talking with us. I think they now kind of understand why our Danish sounds funny and why we don't always understand everything they say, but they are good at teaching us new words!

I went to a last and final julefrokost for the scouts since Brian and Jette are pretty involved in it. Mie and I went and ate lots and then were exhausted when we got home.

I have now visited Hans Christian Andersen's museum/house, which was something I wanted to do, but just had never found the right time. Jette, Brian, and I went. It was pretty interesting to learn about his life and see all the items they had from it. They even had his dentures there. There was also a really cool library where they had LOTS of HC Andersen books that had been translated into all kinds of languages.It's amazing that I have always known his stories, I just never really knew who they were by.

In language school we got to watch Charlie and the Chocolate Factory one day in only Danish, which was fun and I could understand most of it. And of course we ate cake with that.

I went to Odense this past weekend with Anna (from New York) and Alicia. We just spent the day shopping and hanging out and overall it was a nice day.
Some American pride. Too bad it cost like $25 otherwise I would have bought it

A nice sunset Alicia and I saw on the walk home to Gamborg

This past Sunday I went Anders' house (my counselor) and had lunch with his wife, son, and their son's girlfriend and her kids. It was a nice lunch and good to catch up with my counselor again. I did get a bit lost in Nørre Aaby again, which is crazy because of how small of a town it is, but to my credit I had never come from the train station before and it took me awhile to figure out how to get to the right side of the train tracks and what not, but I figured it all out eventually.
That evening when I got home Brian had heated up the hot tub they have, which is nice and wooden and heated with fire. Mie, Jette, Brian,  2 neighbors from Gamborg, and I all went in and it was nice, but very hot!

On this past Monday I was in Århus with Alicia and Brian because Brian had meetings there. We just spent the day exploring Århus a bit more and then of course getting a bit lost when trying to find the train station, but we got it all figured out eventually and overall it was a good day. Then Brian took us to the Gamle By in Århus where they brought old houses from all over Denmark to Århus and recreated what towns looked like and the houses. They actually take the houses apart one by one and label the bricks and then put it all back together, which must take forever. I love all the old houses and seeing what Denmark used to look like. There was one radio shop from the 60s or 70s that has all these old radios and different music devices that had been found in some store somewhere and had just been closed in the store with some old man who lived their still. it was all kind of a funny story. Then we saw the University where Brian and Jette both went and saw the outside of the apartment they lived in. Then we went back to the center of Århus and went under this bank where there is a museum of things from Viking times that they found down there. It was crazy to think that all those old things were just found down there. Then we drove home and I slept most of the way.

I cooked Mexican food for my family this past week and it all turned out well. I made burritos and  made refried beans since they don't sell them here, Mexican rice, guacamole, and fresh salsa all from scratch.

I went to a karate class in Odense last Thursday because that is what I am doing in gym class now. All the people who are doing karate/yoga had to go to Odense and take a class. It was interesting and a little weird. It was some good bonding time with the kids in my class though.

Snow on the window!

more snow!

Random, pretty sunset on my walk home from school

That is the quick update of what I have done recently! I'm hoping I didn't forget anything important!

Farvel for nu,

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Nu det jul igen og nytår!

Hej alle,

So the Holiday season is now all over and while it was a great few weeks of festivities and hygge it is sad to know that one of the holidays I was looking forward to most in Denmark is over and therefore my year is just that much closer to the end.

The Danish Christmas is just such a special time of the year filled with so much happiness, family time, and jolliness.

 Starting the first of December was the Advent and for me that included me getting a doll calendar with 24 little presents tied to it. I opened one a day and these ranged from candy to a ticket to a play to Danish books and so on. It was such a fun little thing to get to open every day and a nice thing in the Christmas season. My windowsill became full of all of the little presents quickly, but it brought the Christmas season into my room for sure!

Another thing we had for Christmas was the Advent candle, which changes for each family, but my family had a nice wreath with 4 candles in it and it all looked very nice since my host mom is a florist. The way you do it is you start with just one candle lit for a week and then on the next Sunday you light 2 and so on. In my time here I have noticed how much Danish people love candles. They just think it's so cozy and some have candles with dinner every night or just have them lit a lot. Even the day care I volunteer at has candles lit and it amazes me how no kids light themselves on fire or mess with them at all. I guess that's my paranoid, protected American in me.

We also made lots of Christmas cookies and sweets. I helped with these a lot and it was fun learning how to make some Danish desserts! and I will definitely be making them next Christmas!

The month of December was also filled with MANY Julefrokosts (Christmas lunches/dinners). I think by the end I have had 4 and each time the food was delicious and I ate way too much.

In Denmark Christmas is celebrated on the 24th, so that was a bit different for me. We ate pizza at a Gamborg family's house the 23rd (so pretty much like Christmas Eve). Jette's mom was staying with us for 3 days and she comes from Northern Jutland and therefore has a very different accent that was tough for me to understand. The  24th was filled with just preparation for that night. We went to church in the afternoon, which was a new experience for me and it was not too boring especially because we kept getting up and singing different songs. Overall it was a good experience going to church for Christmas once in my life. Then we headed home and watched the last Ludvig og Julemanden, which is a Danish Christmas tv show. Each year there is a new series made and it starts on the 1st and one new episode is shown every day until Christmas in which the story is resolved. There is also a show from Greenland, which I only saw once or twice and then another one, which is the Christmas Kalendar and is really funny for me because it is a mix of English and Danish. The last one has been shown for a long time and is just replayed every year. I watched them as much as I could and could surprisingly follow most of it, which felt great. I mean we do have to put on Danish subtitles, so I can read along, but it feels so good to be able to keep up with it.

Then we finished preparing dinner. The dinner was really delicious and included regular boiled potatoes, brunede kartofler (like caramelized potatoes), turkey stuffed with pork and grapes and nuts,  a salad made of apples, grapes, celery, and a creme fraiche dressing, and of course brun sauce (gravy), with it. It was all so good and filling.

Then once we could eat a bit more we broke out the risalamande, which is rice pudding (the same as risengrød, which I mentioned in my previous post, but mixed with cream and sugar, and vanilla. A whole almond was hidden in one of the plates and we all devoured our risalamande with warm strawberry sauce on top to see who had won. Jonas ended up winning and he got a box of chocolates and a movie.

Then Mie and I lit the candles and sparklers on the tree (yeah you read that right we put candles and sparklers on the tree!) and then it was time for the tradition I have been excited to see ever since I found out it happened, and that is dancing around the Christmas tree! We all joined hands and didn't exactly dance around it, it is actually more of just a walk around the tree while holding hands and singing different songs. We sang maybe 6 songs and then went on to the final song, which is Nu det jul igen and involved going much faster around the tree and singing the 6 line song over and over while continuously switching directions.

Here are the lyrics: 

Nu' det jul igen,
og nu' det jul igen,
og julen varer li' til påske.
Nej det' ikke sandt,
nej det' ikke sandt,
for ind imellem kommer fasten

and the translation: 

Now 'it's Christmas again
and now 'it's Christmas again
and Christmas items like Easter.
No it's not true,
no it's not true,
for sometimes comes Lent

Then we ran around the house holding hands still and singing the song. We ran through a bunch of rooms and it was very fun and exactly how I wanted it. ( a video/ pictures will come in the next post)

Then we sat down to open presents. The way we did was whoever got the last present would go a pick another one for someone else to open. From my family I got a very nice charm bracelet that is popular in Denmark and tickets to go see a band called Nik og Jay with Alicia, Mie, and Jonas, which should be fun! Then I got 2 more charms from my host grandma. The presents are all perfect. I really enjoyed watching everyone else open the presents from me and I am glad they liked some California swag.

By the end of all that it was kinda late, so we all headed up to bed. 

It was weird waking up on the 25th with no urgency and excitement to run downstairs and see all the presents under the tree and get ready to open them in my pajamas. But I did get to enjoy a nice early morning skype with my whole family at 6 in the morning and then again with my parents that night (Christmas morning for them) and it was just perfect. 
Christmas day was very relaxed and just calm, which is so different for me and was a bit weird, so it didn't feel like Christmas so much then. 

New Years was pretty fun and definitely different than what I am used to. It started with a party with my host family and all their friends and some of their kids and we just ate dinner and watched the Queen give her annual New Year's Eve speech on tv, then I went with Mie (my host sister) up to pick up Alicia and Mie's friend from where they were in Gamborg. Then we went to a party at Mie's friend's house (also in Gamborg) with all the Gamborg teenagers and then a few other people. It was a little awkward at first since I don't really know any of them, while they have all known each other a LONG time, but it got better and ended up being a fun night/morning considering we didn't get home until 5 am, right when Jetter and Brian were also getting ready for bed. At midnight everyone went outside and lit fireworks off. Dad, you would have loved the fireworks here since there don't really seem to be many regulations and they have some pretty big ones that shoot up into the sky fairly high. Overall it was a nice New Years Eve that I will never forget. The next day though was spent helping clean up from the parties and then Mie and me relaxing on the couch for hours. 

The Queen's speech on tv


Overall the Holiday season was very nice and I hope everyone back home had nice holidays! I am trying to get back on schedule with my blog, but I just don't always have the motivation to write it even if I don't have anything to do.

Farvel for nu,

p.s I just realized some of these pictures are repeated from the last post, but oh well!