Monday, June 28, 2010

"Yeah Sure, Ya Betcha!"

Leaving Denmark was one of the hardest things to do. It was like leaving an old friend, not knowing the next time I will see them again. That is hard to come to terms with, being that Denmark has been my "very best friend" for a year. But I KNOW I will be making a trip to Denmark sometime again!
2 days before I was heading home, I had a (little) breakdown. It was actually a large breakdown...I cried for 20 minutes to the point of it hurting. It was great to just get it out and I felt like those 20 minutes spread over the next few days, because I had dry eyes saying goodbye to my family and AFS friends, still not easy but no tears. On Friday night I had to say goodbye to Hjalte and Aske, my host brothers. The next morning they had a swimming competition and had to leave early in the morning. It was weird to saying goodbye to them, not hard, just strange. It didn't feel real. Like saying goodbye to a friend for the weekend, knowing you will see them the following Monday. But there won't be a Monday. I will miss having siblings around all the time, but I have to say being the "only child" at home has its benefits.

The following day I slept in, woke up, ate my typical Danish breakfast of yougurt and oatmeal and made sure all my suitcases were in order. The day seemed to drag on forever. Kjeld drove me alone to Copenhagen, so I had to say gooddbye to Gerda in the driveway. Again, it felt like a "See you later" goodbye. It doesn't really seem real until you are not seeing them daily or missing them. Kjeld dropped me off at the school we would be staying at and then came in for cake and coffee. It was strange to see all the other exchange students with the host families. Kjeld said goodbye and then I was on my own. It was really real at that moment. I knew that I was going home and that I wasn't going back to my house later that day or tomorrow. Then they put all the exchange students into a courtyard where we just talked and caught up. Most of the students who came by train arrived and it was fun to see them again, as I hadn't seen most of them since the first camp. We were 4 Americans (including myself) from Alaska, Michigan and Connecticut and were the only ones who would be leaving on Sunday, the 27th. Because of that we had to go to a 4 hours of sessions alone where they talked to us about how it could be going home and the potential of it being very difficult, something we all already knew quite well. That night we not given a curfew, so I stayed up til 1 a.m. just catching up with all the students I hadn't seen since awhile. It was really great, but I knew that it was probably better for me to get some sleep, as we were leaving for the airport at 8:30 a.m. the next morning. I didn't get much sleep (Thanks Italians) and showertime came much too soon. After breakfast we got all our gear together and walked to the airport. It was fun to be in the airport again after having just been there to get my parents. I really love airports. Some many people traveling all over the world, each with a different destination. I just love them. Anyway, we went through security and then had a longer walk to the gate, where we just sat, shared stories and looked at pictures. I was really happy to be traveling back with such great people. We laughed a lot and I am sure some of the others waiting were a little fed up with us, but we figured no harm, no foul. I have no idea if that made sense. The plane ride back was 8 hours of movies, eating, bathroom trips and a limited amount of sleeping.

Flying into Newark was a little bit of a surreal experience. It was a "Holy Crap! We are in the US again!" We observed how larger the roads were, how many more cars there were ON the roads, football/baseball fields and swimming pools. Getting off the plane was a punch in the face because the temperature was 91 degrees! NINETY-ONE! I don't even know if it has ever been that warm in Denmark, EVER! Just kidding! And so humid, that is something I did not miss one bit. We walked through Customs, collected our bags and then randomly met an AFS volunteer, just in time too. She told us we had to put some speed on it otherwise we may not catch our planes, which was maybe a little more of an exaggeration than need-be, but it got us moving. We said our quick goodbyes and then off we went. Really all alone. It felt great to be on my own, being in charge of myself, but then again it was a little upsetting knowing that I wouldn't be together with the other AFS students ever again. But I wasn't exactly thinking about that.

I caught my flight to Chicago in good time and boarded with no problems. The entire flight I was feeling a little uneasy and looking out a window thinking about the life, the people you just left behind in your home for the past year is bound to bring out some emotions. It was only a few tears, which than lead to a few more. Then the flight attendent stated in her very Midwestern accent, "Well folks, We'll be in Chicago in just a little bit." I let out a little giggle and then I kept it under control as the woman next to me gave me an awkward glance. It was just what I needed. Landing in Chicago was a strange feeling. All I was thinking about was how it would be to see my whole family again. Then, through thr doors we saw each other and it wasn't the exact feeling I thought I would have. It really wasn't a feeling at all. I hugged everyone and forced smiles, but on the inside I was really blank. It is a strange feeling, almost like boredom, which sounds terrible after seeing my family after a years time. I guess it was not what I was expecting. Anyway, we made a our way to a Culver's for my first (and delicious) American meal in a year. Then we spent the night in Chicago and the following day made our way to Rio, WI, my parents hometown. It was funny to see that nothing had changed. We had a little party that evening which was nice to see my family again. It really was a neat. The following day we headed home in the afternoon and I was greeted by the exact same Black River Falls I left. Nothing had really changed at all. It was that moment and previous moments like it that made my year in Denmark seem like a couple days. I unpacked and just walked around the house looking at all the things I had been missing the entire year. It was weird for me to be confused over which light switches turned on the bathroom light and which drawer holds the silverware and how to turn on the TV. The things that should come easy, but don't. Those will be the frustrating times that will are ahead. Feeling like a guest in my own home. Learning previously common knowledge over again. Saying weird, messed up phrases. That will be tough. It will take time. Lots of time. Although it feels great to be home, I really miss Denmark, my friends and my freedom there. The memories and experience I have had in Denmark will forever be in my heart and I will never forget the amazing people I have encountered.
I guess this is my final blog entry, as my AFS year has now ended and will not be as exciting as the latter. I would just like to thank everyone who has been involved in my AFS exchange year: my readers, those that financially supported me, my family and friends and anyone else who had an influence on my year. Thank you so much for making it what it was. My year was absoulutely incredible and for that I have all those behind me to thank. Thanks so much! Tak, skal I have.

Andy E

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Final Week

I had been planning for a while that my final week would be busy and productive; I would say that it has turned out to be more busy than productive.

Monday: A great day with my good friend Frederik. He is a nice person and really helped me adjust to life in Denmark when I first came. We spent the day out at his house in the country. We played Backgammon, saw some of the World Cup, watched a funny Swedish film (which with the help of subtitles and a sharp ear I was able to understand.), played a little "football" and just relaxed. It was a great relaxing day, something I can always use.

Tuesday: One final day in Copenhagen. I went together with a girl from New Zealand who had to buy souvenirs for her family. We met up with some other exchange students and then all got lost in the world's largest H&M (it is not really the largest, but it is HUGE!). I bought some final things and even found shoes, which is something I desperately needed. Copenhagen is a beautiful city and feel lucky that I was able to experience it as much as I did. It will for sure be something I miss.

Wednesday: Sankt Hans Dag, the longest day of the year. I had made plans with some of my classmates to get together and have a picnic in the park. It was great weather and fantastic food together with loving friends. It was very nice. Later in the day we took to one of the girls in my class' house. She offered to have people over for a little dinner before the Skt. Hans Dag festivites. We had, once again, great food particularily Danish Strawberry Cake, which I took the pleasure of having thirds on. SO delicious. After dinner we made our way down to the park for the "burning of the witch". In olden days (a LONG time ago) on June 23rd they would burn witches and have a big fire and celebration. No longer are witches burned, but the tradtional fire is still a big affair. I felt a little strange taking pictures of, basically, a bonfire, but I thought the tradition was very interesting. From the park we made our way to a friends house, where...

Thursday: ...we pulled an all-nighter (almost). The reason for this absurd lack of sleep was because at 5 a.m. we had to get up to decorate a truck. Interesting? This is also an old tradition (not as old as the witch burning though) for 2.g and 3.g students on the day before 3.g "graduation". What happens is that each 3.g class gets a large farm/moving type truck, which is then decorated by the class below them (2.g) in outrageous attire. Then the truck drives to each 3.g students' house and has some sort of course, something like a progressive dinner. The courses can be anything from smoothies to sandwiches to fruit to candy. It is a day affair, hence the 5 a.m. starting time. It is appropriate as well because from 4 a.m. to 11 p.m. it is completely light out, making it easier to do something than sleep. After the trucks left was it time to say goodbye to my class. It was easy than I imagined, but harder than I wanted it to be. The fact that we will see each other again (hopefully soon!) comforted the departure. I went home to catch up on my sleep and then went off again to the beach, this time with my exchange student friends. We grilled on the beach and caught some rays, even did some swimming. It was the last time I would see some of them which is hard to think about. The next time I will see the most of them will be at the final camp.
Friday: Tomorrow I am going to start to get all my things in order and make sure my suitcases are the proper weight. I am planning on staying as busy as I can. The busier the better. Maybe a nice head-clearing run is in order.
Saturday: The day I have been thinking about for quite some time. I am not exactly sure what I will be doing in the morning, but in the afternoon my host family and I will drive to Copenhagen and say our goodbyes. It will be neat to see all the exchange students I haven't seen since the start, but it will also be the last time for a lot of things and that is hard to think about. I am hoping it will be a positive, relieving experience, but I am expecting the worst. I know it will be for the best.
Sunday: I fly home at 12:20 p.m. and arrive in New York at 2:45 p.m. EST. Then it ends. I leave the other American students and am on my own. I take a plane from New York to Chicago. If it isn't obvious enough, I am really not sure how to feel about this. It will be nice to be back on American ground, but the thought of that freaks me out a little to. Only time will tell.

Andy E

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The End Seemed So Far Away..

School is over, which is still strange to think about. The last 2 months of school were filled with all these random holidays (Kristian Himmelfartsdag, 2.Pinsedag, etc.) and cancelled lessons, that I got out of the routine of school. So when school finished up, it felt really unofficial. I guess I shouldn't really say that school is over because my class still has to go to all their exams, but I will not be partaking in the exams process because my class has exams in all the hardest classes; classes which I literally slept through (only a few times!). The last day of school was kind of hard because I realized that I wouldn't be seeing the now familiar faces I see everyday: dreadlocks girl, sweatpants guy, furry leg warmers girl and smiling grandma lunchlady. I will miss them all so much!

Instead of going to the exams I did a little "internship" for a week at my host mom's school. The first 4 days I helped with something called "Miniby". It was a neat little activity for all the kids from 0-2 classes (K-2nd grade). The kids had to work in different places (bookshop, pizzaria, bike-wash, etc.) and then they got money for the time they worked from the bank, where I worked. Then they could buy pizza, bookmarks, even clothes from the lost and found! The idea behind it was to help the kids see that money has to be earned and is not just given. It was neat to see the kids so intent on making money. Probably the funniest part of the entire week was when they found out I was American. The asked, "Do you speak English?!" "Ja." "Aww! Cool!" I am pretty sure that will be the first and last time anyone will be impressed that an American speaks English! The last day I helped out in a special education room, just helping them with reading and playing with them. School is so different than in the US. The kids have more of a friendship with their teachers. They eat lunch together at their desks and just talk. It is so nice and hyggelig. I think it makes it easy for the teacher to teach because there is mutal respect, something lacking in American schools. At the end of the week the class asked me to be in their "friend-book". It was a really nice week.

On Sunday then we had my AFS region's last meeting. It was a canoe trip. I guess I do not have so much to say about it, but just imagine being in a canoe with a Thai girl and French boy who had NEVER canoed before. It was pretty intense. Half of the trip was us bumping into trees, the shore, fences, other canoes, poles and anything else that was in our way. Part of the trip we were also going backwards, so that might explain that a little. It was a great day full of sun, singing and great friends!

I kind of freaked out over the fact that my parents and best friend were then coming in 4 days! Crazy! I got the house ready for them and had our plans all set. On Thursday morning I met them in the airport at 9:00 and then took them home. It was so weird to see them. They didn't belong in the picture, but it was a nice change. During the week we went to Copenhagen, my school, my city and ended the week with a very nice party from my class. The week went by really fast. It was nice to see them again, but I am not going to lie I did enjoy having my bedroom all to myself again! It was an easy goodbye because I would be seeing them in 10 days, which is nothing compared this year apart!

The past few days have been filled with last-minute plans and goodbye parties. It is so sad to say goodbye. I am bad at it. My goodbye consists of about 3 hugs followed by a short conversation and then some more hugs. I am just really enjoying my last times with my friends. These memories will be the ones I retain forever, so I better make them good!

The thought of packing and all the final details are pushing me into limbo. One week left and I am not sure how to feel about going home. I had a little taste when my parents came, but it will be hard to know until I am faced head-on with it. I am going to miss my Danish friends so much and equally, if not more, my AFS friends. They have been the ones who have helped me through the year and taught me so much about myself. It will be hard to get used not being able to call up my French, Thai, German, Kiwi, Argentinian, Japanese friends and get hang out. I will never have a time like this ever again and that is hard to come to terms with. These people are my family and from now on, I will always be missing someone, some place. I realize that life has to move on but I want all these people to continue with me, right by my side. Oh, how I wish that could be.

Andy E

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Danmark er min kærlighed..

Today I realized how much I love Denmark and moreover, how much I will miss it. I really feel like I belong here. It is not a mistake that I came to Denmark, nor is it a mistake I fell in love with it. The trying times are over and now I can sit back and enjoy my final month in my wonderful second homeland.

"Dig elsker jeg - Danmark, mit fædreland."

Andy E

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Happy, Smiling People

Time doesn't seem to slowing down, and neither am I. Or at least I am trying. Last week we had a 4-day weekend, so we took advantage of that and took a trip to Jutland(Jylland). We left early Thursday morning for LEGOland! (I thought it was comical that to drive from one end of Denmark to the other takes only 3 hours. Man, this country is small!) LEGO was founded in Denmark and is stand for "lege godt", or 'play well'. It seems to be one of the stereotypical things that the world knows Denmark for. The park was not so 17-year old exchange student friendly, but I did get a few rides in. The main attraction is called 'Miniland'. It is an area of different "themes" where everything is made from LEGO bricks. Some of the themes were: The Queen's residence, Scotland, Amsterdam, Norweigan fishing village, Kennedy Space Center, etc. It was really impressive and I found it hard to take it all in because there was so much to look at! Thursday evening we went to a restaurant that was trying way too hard to be American. It was filled with everything you would associate with the US: baseball, fishing, license plates and Marilyn Monroe. There was even anti-Canada memorabilia. What?! I did, however, have about 30 servings of coleslaw because I miss it so much and it was surprising good for such a tacky restaurant. We slept at a hotel, had the best contential breakfast in the world and then made our way to an outdoor science park. It was only about 40 minutes from Germany, so I heard a large mixture of languages. The park was a really neat concept with very children-friendly science things. There was a lot to do, but again, 17-year old exchange student. The highlight of the day was a Segway driving course. Segways are a fun concept, but I was unimpressed, I will leave it at that.

Wednesday night was a highlight of my exchange year. In March I went to Spain with my class for a week and it was so incredible. Our teacher thought it would be a really nice idea to get together and share our pictures over some Spanish food. We had planned this evening for a quite some time and I had been looking forward to it for awhile. It was, simply, hyggelig, an untranslatable word for the feelings of cozy and comfortable. We had a huge amount of delicious food and sat and talked for long time and saw a slideshow of all the pictures. Both our advisors from the trips were there (Spanish and History teachers), along with our English teacher. I ended up talking to our History teacher as we unloaded the dishwasher. A few days before we had found out that she is being cut from the teaching staff next year (also our English teacher) due to budget cuts (It isn't just the United States!). I asked her what her plans were for the upcoming year and how she felt about it, not to make conversation, but because I truly care about her and her situation. Something I forgot to mention a long time ago was that Danish teachers are called by their first names, by everyone. (If you asked me some of my teachers last names, I could not even tell you!) It isn't out of disrespect, but it is quite the opposite. At that moment while I was talking to Mette, I realized that a title doesn't necessary show respect, but instead a friendship, like the one I have with my teachers, is the greatest sign of respect one could ever have. At around 8:30 we bid our goodbyes, but the party wasn't over for my class. Instead we made our way to one of the bars near the school. We all just talked and all-in-all had a wonderful night. It is a night I will not soon forget!

School is winding down and the temperature is rising. No good. This Friday was the last day for 3'gere (the equivilant of Seniors) and it was a really exciting day. First off, all classes were cancelled. Second, the temperature was in the 70's. Lastly, all 3'gere were dressed in outrageous outfits and each class put on a funny skit in front of the school. It was really fun to see something so different than the US. School was followed by a party in the park. There was at least 700+ people in the park, along with a DJ and a giant field of foam, courtesy of the Roskilde Fire Department. It was a beautiful day filled with beautiful people. I enjoyed myself a lot. Next week is my last instruction week of school; then come the exams. I am starting to enter a phase of limbo, with that thought "I may never see these people again." It is really uncomfortable to think that I will be leaving my class and Danish friends. Whenever the subject comes up, everyone says "We aren't going to talk about it." As sad as it is to leave, I am humbled that it will be hard to leave my friends. Imagine if I left with no friends, connections, memories; That would be sad.

"Sometimes the best friends you have are those across the world!"

36 DAYS!


Thursday, May 6, 2010


Surprise, surprise. Once again I all together forget about my blog. Usually two possible reasons are to blame for my absence of blog writing: 1) Nothing very exciting has been happening or 2) I have been very busy. Oddly enough, both are at fault. I have been keeping busy by doing not very exciting things, I guess! I take this as a good sign, however. My life here in Denmark has become quite "normal" and the things that I used to find different and interesting are now my norm. For example, the train is no longer exciting and foreign because I take it every day. The food is no longer exotic and strange, because I eat it every day. The language learning is no longer difficult and tiring because I speak it every day. I guess you could say I have now become a real "Danish American"!

Here are a couple small things that have happened in the past weeks.
-I went to the beach with some other exchange students (COLD!)
-I baked my favorite Danish dessert: Drømmekage!
-I got hooked on a Danish TV show and watch it almost every Monday-Thursday
-I went to a very large May 1st festival in Copenhagen
-I saw a very funny Danish comedy
-I played Scrable and WON with the word 'fup', which means to cheat ;)
This entire week at school has been quite different. We are doing something called AT, which we where we work in groups and create a project using 2 or more of classes. My group, for example, is doing a project about the Aboriginals of Australia and their relegious beliefs. We are using English, Religion and Social Studies classes to help us analyse all our research. The week is really more about research skills and practice with proper report writing than the project. It is quite different than anything in the United States and I really enjoy it, but don't get me wrong it is a lot of hard work. We present our next Monday, so wish me luck!

And very exciting news! My PARENTS and BEST FRIEND are coming to Denmark!!!!! I am really looking forward to that. They fly into Copenhagen June 10th and fly back to the States June 18th, 10 days before I leave myself. I am excited for them to meet my family and friends and I have quite an agenda of things to do planned for them. It will be VERY FUN! On a more random thought, next week I am going to Jutland (the peninsula connected to Germany) to visit LEGOland! LEGOs were invented in Denmark, so we are only going to absorb some good Danish culture..not for fun at all! ;)

Speaking of not fun, my departure date is sneaking up closer and closer. The current countdown is around 53 days, which seems like nothing compared to having already spent 9 or so months here. I am trying not to think about the time but it so hard to ignore the fact that in 53 days I will be going back to my old life. Same place, same people, but I am not the same. That is something I am quite scared to face, but it is all part of the growing experience. So, my offical itinerary is as follows:

27 June, 2010
CPH-Copenhagen 12:20 PM -- EWR-New York/Newark 2:45 PM
EWR-New York/Newark 5:42 PM -- ORD-Chicago O'Hare 7:24 PM

A long day of traveling! But in Chicago I will be picked up by my parents and brother and drive to the nearest Culver's (!) or other established American restaurant. I plan on gaining at least 10pounds in the first 2 days back. ("Hey! I forgot about {insert an unhealthy typical American snack, fx. Zebra Cakes!}" ) Just kidding, I have more self-control than that. After Chicago, my parents and I will drive back to good ol' Wisconsin and see my family. THEN, we will drive home and I will sleep for 48 hours consecutively! I am really looking forward to seeing BRF and all my faithful blog readers again. What will you do without my inconsistant blog entries?

Andy E

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


I had an epiphany moment last night. I was sitting in my bedroom watching Queen Margrethe's 70th Birthday Party on TV (her birthday is on Friday)and totally realized I was understanding everything. I was thinking in Danish, 'I understand everything, but I do not know how!' It was one of those weird moments when I had to take a step back clear my mind and anaylse the situation in English. From that point on, I was attempting to translate everything I heard into English. It was not an easy task and after 30 seconds I totally gave up. (I have a new found admiration of translators!) It feels like I am not learning any more Danish, but it is to the point where the absorption of Danish is happening naturally. I am sort of on auto- pilot and I do not have to try as hard to learn more Danish. It is such a crazy feeling! Maybe one day my Danish will come in handy, for example if I marry a Danish princess. That would be nice! :)

Andy E

Thursday, April 8, 2010

On A Personal Note...

A is for Appreciation, without it I would be rude
Amy & Steve
Amy & Aaron
Anne & Larry
B is the for Blissful, you helped put me in the mood
Becca & Jeremy
Bob & Carol K
Bob & Carol Y
Bob, Anna, Matthew & David
Brian & Julie
Brian, Joann, Mackenzie & Matthew
Brian, Susan, Jamie, Matt & Cory
C is for Compassion, caring 'big time'
Carol & Kayla
Carroll & Ann
D is for Denmark, the reason for this rhyme
Dad, Mom, Aaron
Dan & Marilyn
Dave & Tracey
Dave, Luane & Jennifer
Dave, Sherry, Kelsey & Erica
David & Peggy
Don & Vangie
E is for Education, I am learning quite a lot
F is for Family, whom I haven't forgot
G is for Generous, a gift without a price
Gene & Janet
George & Beth
Gil & Alice
Grandpa & Grandma E
Grandpa & Grandma H
Grant & Geri
H is for Humility, a feeling that is quite nice
I is for International, the person I have become
J is for Joy, and knowing where I come from
Jason, Chanda, Jack & Molly
Jeff & Sue
Jim & Carol
Jim & Donna
Jim & Roxie
Jim, Andrea, Zach, Millie & Maddy
Jim, Carolyn & Emma
Joe, Jean, Caleb & Jacob
John & Sue
John, Marie, Emily & Sean
John, Mary, Jessa, Michelle, Katie & Tommy
Judy & Ken
K is for Kage (Cake), my favorite Danish food
Karolyn, Barry, Jessica & Mitchel
Kathy & Lon
L is for Love, which I must, of course, include
Lee, Kim & Breanna
Lyle & Ruth
M is for Mature, I have come a long way
Marc & Jenny
Mary & Vernon
Mary, John, Lizzie & Lauren
Megan & Mallory
Mike & Sue
Mike, Rita, Belle, Amber, Noah
Mitch & Sue
N is for Ninty Kilograms, is what I now weigh (almost)
O is for Ordinary, I haven't changed a lot
P is for Phenomenal, the type of year I sought

Paul, Connie, Eric, Nathan & Lauren
Paul, Lisa, Nicholas, Nathaniel & Lydia
Paul, Mary & Megan
Peter & Jone
Q is for Questions, 'What is this?!'
R is for Reflection, a chance to reminisce

Ralph, Stacie, Michael, Rob & Brad
Rich & Jill
Rich, Judy, Olivia & Maria
S is for Support, without it I would not be here
Sarah & Lynn
Sarah & Victoria
Steve & Sue
Steve & Vicki
Steve, Sally, Sunde, Josh, Monica & Dayton
T is for Time, it is coming to the rear
Thor & Kathy
Tim, Kitti & Ethan
Tom, Sue, Tyler, Kim & Kate
U is for Unforgetable, the people that you are
V is for Vigtig (Important), because you've got me this far
W is for Wonderful, the way it makes me feel
to know that I have helping friends, always at my heel
Y is for You, which this I must say:
Thank you from the bottom of my heart; Tak ska' du ha'

I want to thank everyone that has helped me, both finacially and emotionally, to persue my dream of being an exchange student. Your gift has gone a long way and truly touched my heart. The length of the list humbles me. I cannot say thank you enough. You are extraordinary people who I owe a lifetime of gratitude to. Thank you
all so much!!!

Andy E

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Travel Bug Bit Me...Hard!

Once again my procrastination and lack of motivation has gotten the better of me. It had been over a month since my last post and A LOT has happened. I will try to summarize it all so this post doesn't end up a book.

March 13th I left with my class for our trip to Spain. We flew out at about 2 p.m. and got to Barcelona around 5 p.m. From there we took an hour bus ride to Tarragona where we met our host families who we would live with for the next 4 days. Everyone else had already met their Spanish student in Denmark when they came to visit, but I had not. I stayed with a girl who went to Denmark the year before. Her name was Claudia and she was really nice. She was actually a BMX'er, as in she rode bikes down rocky hills and went off jumps and stuff. You would never have guessed. I lived with Claudia, her mother, father and grandmother: none spoke English (besides Claudia), so I forced to use my Spanish which has been dormant for quite some time. They lived in a really nice house with marble floors and nice things. My first cultural shock was in the first 10 seconds upon entering their house; I asked where I should put my shoes and was told that in Spain you wear your shoes all the time. It seemed really strange to be walking on marble with my beat-up American running shoes, but I did. (The next morning I came down for breakfast with socks on and was told to go back upstairs and put my shoes on!) From then on, I wore my shoes all the time, except when I took a shower and slept.
The first night we ate a traditional meal of Spanish torillas (potatoes, eggs and onions), ham, bread, soup and fruit and strawberries with whipped cream and cake. It was one of the biggest meals I have ever eaten in one sitting; it kept going on!!! Good thing I was hungry. After dinner, we went out with the people in my class and their Spanish students. We were about 40 people all trying to go to the same bar and it wasn't very successful. We ended up walking around the entire city. Finally, a few of us split apart and went to a small café/bar. It ended up being around 3:30 a.m. by the time we went home and I was really tired..REALLY TIRED! The next day around 10 a.m., Claudia, her boyfriend, her dad and I went out on their boat. It was really nice weather and I even got to drive a little. On Monday we became tourists. We saw a Roman aqueduct, an UNESCO World Heritage Catalan monastery (truly spectactular!) and visited a 200 year old vineyard. It was a really productive day. The next day we spent a little time at the school. We all went to a different English class and after that we had a history lesson. A teacher talked about Cataluna's history in Spanish, as our teachers/chaperones translated it into Danish. They are both really, really good at Spanish. I understood most of the Danish, but I surprisly also understand a lot of the Spanish. That was a big surprise. Afterwards we took a tour of Tarragona. It is scattered with Roman ruins and to walk around and hear about this ancient city was really special. We visited the Roman circus (where there were chariot races), a large church with very artistic statues and the ancient amphitheater (where gladiators fought, Christians were burned and exotic animals were displayed). Tarragona is actually the first Roman city that was built outside of ancient Italy. I found that really interesting and felt lucky to have seen this city up-close. That night all the Danish and Spanish students had a small gathering with snacks. Then, we were in for a really special cultural treat; there was a Catalan human tower practice going on and we got to watch. They have a huge crowd of people at the bottom supporting the bottom people of the tower. People then climbed up and stood on their shoulders. It was increible to watch and I am glad I got to see it.
The next day we left our host families and took a bus to Barcelona. We checked into our hostel and took a short tour of the major sites in Barcelona: lots of churches! We also saw Barcelona's famous food market and it was awesome! Fresh fish (literally, they were still moving!), fresh fruit and delicious ice cream: it was an experience all itself. Afterwards we had freetime to do what we wanted. 3 others and I took the long trip to La Sagrada Familia, the famous unfinished church by the architect Antoni Gaudí. It was as large, detailed and well..unfinished as the pictures show. The 4 of us sat in a park next to the church and ate cookies and just talked. It was mega hyggeligt and I really enjoyed it. Then we were sort of bombarded by a swarm of Asian tourists, so we decided to leave. It was well worth the walk and was another UNESCO World Heritage Site off my list. That evening we saw another Gaudí masterpiece (his work really is everywhere!): Casa Batlló. It was an entire house designed by Gaudí for a wealthly family in 1877. It is filled with unique mosaics and stunningly-creative architecture. That night we experienced the Barcelona nightlife and let our hair down. It was a really nice night with some really nice people. Our last full day in Barcelona we spent visiting Parque Güell, and you guessed it, another Gaudí masterpiece and yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site! It is a huge open terrace with serpintine tiled benches around it. There is also a walking trail with scattered sculptures from various artists. In the middle of the terrace there are people selling everything from scarves and earrings to wind-up boats and birds? When a police officer is cited, someone blows a whistle and everyone packs up their stuff and runs away. Apparently it is illegal to sell in the park, and most of them are most likely selling illegal goods too. It was quit funny to see. The rest of the day we had free. The next morning we flew back home, all tired and ill. All-in-all it was an increible trip and a really great experience.
You can see my pictures of both Tarragona and Barcelona at this link:

The next week was quite boring and long, but the week after was Easter vacation. I am really getting used to Europe's generous holiday breaks! I didn't have anything planned the first part of the vacation as my host parents were in Londona and host brothers at a swim camp, but on Thursday I took the train alone to Sweden. I had been planning this trip for quite some time. I went to visit Tove, one of the exchange students who lived in Black River Falls last year. She and I were good friends and it was nice to see her again. She only lives about 2 hours away from Copenhagen, which is too close to not visit her. I spent the Easter holiday with her mom, mom's boyfriend, sister and 2 brothers. Swedish and Danish are similar languages, both spoken and written, (not as close as Norwegian and Danish, though) so it was fun to speak Danish to them and try to understand Swedish, we tried but mostly just stuck to English. I went to her brother's "football" game, ate 2 Easter dinners with her family and friends and ate A LOT of candy!!! We went shoppping one day and bought at least 3 kgs (6.6 lbs.) of candy. It ended up being for our Easter eggs, but still...that is A LOT of candy. In Sweden everyone has to find their Easter egg filled with candy. The eggs are about the size of a handball but because no one knows that sport I will say they are about half the size of a basketball, and they are not filled with candy, they are OVERFLOWING with candy of every single kind imaginable. It was quite an experience. The 5 days I was there, I did not really do anything extraordinarily so it is hard to write about it; It was just nice to be with Tove and her family for Easter and to be in Sweden. The last day, however, we went shopping and I bought some new jeans from H&M and I went to IKEA and took a catalog, so now I can really pretend to be Swedish!

This past month has been filled with lots of exciting things, but I also had a stint of homesickness. It is to the point now where I have seen what I wanted to see and have done what I wanted to do. I just felt like I wanted to go home. But then I realized that I will never again be able to be a teenager in Denmark, so I really should take advantage of the time I have left and do something worthwhile. The weather is slowly getting better: no rain yet. I have also started to take walks in the forest near my house. Altogether, I am ready to come home, but not ready to leave Denmark. I am doing my best to fully enjoy my final months here in Denmark, because I know I miss it like crazy when I return. I also found out that my parents will be visiting me in June!!! I am super excitied for that and really looking forward for their visit. Thanks for reading!

Andy E

Thursday, March 4, 2010

"Time Flies"

Last week I had vacation and I throughly enjoyed the break. Wednesday and Thursday I went to school with my host mom and talked to some of the English classes there. The levels of all the students ranged from terrible to crazy good, and they were only 14 years old! I had put together a little power point about Wisconsin and I talked about school, free time, myself and just the United States as a whole. I can sincerely say that I had a good time. On Friday I went to Copenhagen and meet up with some of Aaron's (my REAL brother) college friends, who were visiting a friend of theirs. We just walked around Copenhagen in the morning and saw some of the sites and in the afternoon we ate at a greek buffet and talked for 2 hours in a nice cafe. I was really glad that I went and got to see them. That evening I meet up with my host brothers and one of their friends and his mom and saw Avatar 3D. It was in a giant theater that had 8 seperate entrances. We were dead center and it was really nice. I was disappointed with the movie though. I think it is highly overrated...but that is just me.
On Saturday, I woke up, did my cleaning and then went to my fellow American Joe's house. We helped with dinner and then just watched TV and talked. It was really nice to just talk about things. We seemed to keep bringing up going home, which then made us sad and we decided not to talk about it anymore. I spend the night and we woke up at about 11:30 a.m. to the sound of birds chirping and church bells ringing. It seemed straight out of a movie. And now for a little bragging: we could easily carry on a conversation in Danish, but realized it seemed kind of impractical when both our mother tongue is English. This gave me a nice boost. School started the next day and it was the same-old, same-old. To me, it was more boring that usual. Oh well, life goes on. On Thursday we saw a fantastic movie for Spanish. My class is going to Spain in 1 week and so recently we have been doing some listening tests, and what better why to practice than watch a movie?! The movie was called La lengua de las mariposas (The tongue of the butterfly) and if you only see one foreign language movie in your life, let this one be it. It was absoulutely fantastic and now I am spreading the word! There isn't much else to write about, so I have composed a list of interesting facts about Denmark that your probably didn't know.

-A typical Danish breakfast is hot rolls with cheese and jam or havregryn, which is müsli (oatmeal) with milk or yogurt. Fruit is also popular.
-Milk comes in a 1 L carton, as does yogurt.
-Everyone owns a bike (or two or more) and rides it almost everywhere.
-The Danish alphabet had three extra vowels: Ææ Øø Åå.
-A large portion of Danes smoke.
-The Danish public transportation system is extremely developed and is usually quite punctual.
-Danes appreciate exercise and popular sports are badminton, soccer, swimming and running.
-Almost all Danes have some proficieny in English and many also know German also.
-The normal work day is from 8-2.
-A popular fashion trend is to wear tube socks and tuck the pants legs in the socks. (My class has told me many times that this ISN'T cool)
-I am not sure if you know what MC Hammer pants are, but they are also popular.
-It is not uncommon for someone to wear the same outfit 2 days (or more) in a row.
-Danes eat surprisingly healthy and a lunch of whole carrots and cucumbers is not unusual.
-There is no "school lunch". Most schools have a canteen where you can buy sandwiches, drinks, snacks, etc., yet most students bring their own lunch. It is called a madpakken (food pack).
-Danes pride themselves on their homes and they usually keep very clean and tidy. Houses are also not that big.
-Some Danes are extremely anal about crosswalks. If you cross when the light is red, they will let you know how they feel about that (I know this from personal experience).
-Beds consist of a sheet on the matress and a feather blanket in a sheet: only 1 layer, no middle sheets.
-TEA, COFFEE, BEER (Denmark drinks more coffee than any other European nation!)
-A driver's license is 40 times more expensive than one in the US
-~50% of their a Danes' income goes to the state
-Schooling is free for all Danes, from kindergarten to medical school.
-Students from 18-aprox.25 who study, recieve a monthly stipend, about $150-450, depending on the need.

Still curious about Denmark? If you have any further questions about a specific part of Danish society, please ask. It will give me something to do besides take a nap. ;)


Monday, February 22, 2010


I made my way safely to and from Norway with a bus last week. I won't write much about it for the fact that it was pretty much the same week as before. (Read previous blog) However, this time was with a bunch of Danes and every night we all ate dinner together and it so nice and hyggelig. One night we had a buffet with 8 different kinds of fish and all these salads and breads. It was quite astounding, actually. Another night we all came back for cake and there was 7 or so different kinds of cakes and it was some of the best cake ever! And yeah, we skied a lot and it went surprisingly better than last time. But who cares about skiing if there is cake! :)

I have been thinking a lot about a lot of important things: my future mostly, but also my past. I can easily be classified as a dweller and a "what if"-er, and I do not see this qualities leaving anytime soon. I recently saw a documentary about an American living in India. She was a photographer and gave 10 or 12 slum children cameras. The pictures they produced were simplely tremendous. She sold them in the US and the money they generated she used to find the children schools where they could escape the slum and their othewise slum future. I really stuck with me and started a battle with myself. I felt really selfish and plain dumb for choosing Denmark, when I could have chosen India, Ghana or China; countries that are significantly different than the US. The truth is if you take away the language and the little things here and there, the US and Denmark would seem almost the same. Do the same for the previous countries and the results are quite different. I do somewhat regret coming to Denmark, when I could have experienced something more powerful and life-changing in another land. The problem that I think about is the person I was then and the person I am now. The 'then' person was not a risk taker. I was outgoing and friendly, but was definitely afraid of the cultures that seemed so far away and distant. I believe I choose Denmark because, although it put me out of my immediate comfort zone, it allowed me to be stay within the realms of my "normal". Generally the people have the same values, religion and access to the rest of the world. Believe me, I am glad that I am in Denmark and I know I have had some real unique experiences and have made some life-long friends, but the "what if" still gets me. What if I went to a country where the majority were not of Christian belief? What if I went to a country where the food was totally different? What if I went to a country where they weren't 'white'? All these questions haunt me, but I reassure myself that Denmark has given me some of the best moments of my life and I woundn't trade that for anything.

I know I have the blessing (or curse) of the travel bug. I want to travel around the world and experience all the different cultures and meet new and interesting people. I want to see the history past and the history of the next generations. I want to be living history and share that with the world. Maybe this is why my mind wanders and ponders the past, present and future so much. My future may be uncertain and my life, a blank canvas, but if I know what my head wants, and more importantly my heart, my decisions will become much more clearer.

Onto the clichés. I have been in Denmark for almost 7 months and have 4 months remaining. The first 6 or so months I was climbing a mountain. It was hard and it never seemed liked I would reach the top. The time went by slowly and I was many times discouraged, but I didn't give up. I finally reached the top and really enjoyed it. I had accomplished my goal, but I was quickly hit with reality when I realized I had to climb back down. The climb down goes much faster, but is harder. I don't want to leave the top, but I cannot stay up there forever; I have to come down. It isn't that I don't want to come down, because the bottom is safe ground and is my comfort place. It is just that I have experienced the peak of the mountain and will always want to go back. But I can't because there are more mountains to climb and more desents to make, but they will come. Right now I am just trying to come down the mountain and enjoy every step that takes further from the peak, but closer to the ground.


Thursday, February 4, 2010

The ENTIRE Month of January

For starters, I apologize for my blog absence for the whole month of January; I have "good excuses". However, I have being keeping a list of things to include in a blog, so I am hoping not to miss any details. Also, this blog may reach a point where you get tired of reading it, because I am predicting it will be lengthy. Feel free to stop halfway and take a little walk. Also, the Spell Check isn't working, so mind the mistakes. And feel free to comment!

New Year's Eve

I spent New Year's Eve with two other exchange students, Kate from Australia and Jason from France. It was really nice to get together and just hang out. We went to Kate's house and filled ourselves up with peppernuts and muffins and played the Australian version of Monopoly and also Apples to Apples To Go!, which my mom had sent as a gift for my host family for Christmas. It was quite enjoyable and we really enjoyed ourselves. The New Year was brought in with a solid 30+ minutes straight of fireworks. WHOA! It was pretty exciting. The next day was a really lazy day and I ended up watching the USA's youth hockey team play Canada with commentary in Danish. However, that night was filled with a lot of scurring and last minute chores, as the next day we went to...


We woke up at 5 and slowly got our things into the car. We drove to Copenhagen's airport and meet my "host cousins", Justine and Therese, who came with to Norway. (They also had never skied, like me) We got on our 8 a.m. flight and took off for the shortest flight I may ever take in my life, 55 minutes. An hour later we had landed in Norway and were greeted by snow, snow, a little wind and more snow. I have to say I felt a little at home being surrounded by so much snow; it felt right. The next 6 hours were possibly the most boring of my entire life. Despite recently arriving to a new country and being in an incredibly beautiful airport, there wasn't much to do. Sleep and looking at books in a bookshop, pretty much consumed the rest of the time. Finally, the train (what we had been waiting for) came and we got all out stuff together and sat on the train...for 3 hours. It was, however, much easy to keep entertained on the train because the train ran right next to some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen. Snow-covered trees and houses high in the hills turned into ice-filled rivers and cities by the water. It truly was amazing.
We finally reached our destination at about 7 p.m. and the moment we walked off the train, we were immediately reminded that we were in Norway. It was -10 degrees C, which means nothing to anyone reading this. It is about 14 degrees F. Yes, very cold. We waited about 15 minutes inside a nearby supermarket for our taxi and it drove us 15 minutes up into the hills/mountains. We reached our cabin and we were all really glad to be in from the cold. The cabin was small, but perfect for us. There was a kitchen/dining/living room, a small bathroom and two bedrooms; one with a full bed and one with 2 set of bunkbeds (one of the bottoms was a full bed). The cabin had sleeping for exactly 7 comfortably (My host dad, mom, 2 brothers, 2 "host" cousins and me). Our cabin was one of about 12 all closely together. There was a central store, ski hut and some other outbuildings, but there were also more than 30 campers, many who belonged to people who lived there during the winter months and moved during the summer. There was a sense of permance to them.
The first day we woke up at 10 and went to prepare our skis. The weather was actually really nice and I was only wearing a t-shirt, long-sleeved shirt and a sweater. I was excited and nervous to try skiing for the first time. We started with the basics of rhythm (left foot, right pole; right foot, left pole) and then moved to stopping and slowing down. My host brother, Hjalte, was giving me all this information and I just did not understand anything he was really saying, so when I first tried going down a little hill I immediately fell and realized this would be no cake walk. After 15 more minutes of falling down, I had only learned how to go up a hill. I didn't even fall down right, I kept falling down on the back of skis and it really hurt my butt. Finally, we decided we should take learn-by-doing approach. Kjeld (host dad), Aske (host brother), Justine, Therese and I all went together for a "short" 2 hour 5 km tour. During the trip, I fell down at least 18 times and 4 times on a single hill. It ended up taken about double the time and by the end of the day I was well ready for bed. The next day we did some more technic work and I got really discouraged. I kept falling and after the 40th time, it isn't much fun. I was also real slow and kept falling behind. Thankfully, I wasn't the only one finding it tough; Justine and Therese were also having problems, but I still didn't understand how I was the only one falling every single time on hills?!
Everyday we finished skiing around 5 p.m., when it satrted to get dark. We had brought with some movies to watch and decks of cards. It was really nice to all be together and just relax. For Christmas, the "cousins" had recieved some used English books from their cousin who lives in Texas. We had a quite a lot of freetime and so I borrowed one of the books. They were extremely girly, but I realized how fun reading is and that I need to start reading more. (Since then, I have begun to read the Harry Potter series. I have never done so and I finished the first 2 books in 3 days.)
As the week progressed, my atittude improved as well as my ability. On the down side, the weather got worse and so much colder. The second to last day it was -24 degrees C (-11 degrees F) and we decided to just take the day off and give our bodies a rest. It was much needed for me. My body was just aching from falling so much. The final day was our longest and coldest day. We took an 11 km tour and it was absoulutely beautiful. I had to just stop sometimes and look around at the untouched and barren landscape. The weather made it quite difficult as it was windy and -31 degrees C, which is -24 degrees F! YES, -24 DEGREES FAHRENHEIT!!! It was worse when we stopped for a break, we just wanted to keep going. Ice formed on eyebrows, eyelashes and nose and started to on my cheeks. When we got home, my body was physically in pain because the I was warming up too fast. It was quite the day. We got home without problems and all-in-all, it was a really great trip. I will actually be going again Week 7 (2/13-20) and doing pretty much the same thing. I am hoping it will be a little warmer though!


Homework, Sickness and Spanish Students

The Monday I got back, the joy from my trip died. I was given a 15-page assignment for English and Social Studies about U.S Immigration, due in 2 weeks. I was not in the mood for hard work (Am I ever?) and from then on my nights were devoted to research and creating acceptable English sentences, hence why I was unable to blog. I kind of became a hermit for a week. It didn't help that I also became sick and stayed home from school for 2 days. When the due date finally came, I was just glad to be finished and I think I actually created a decent report. The due date was also a date that my whole class was looking forward to. That day 30 Spanish students arrived in Denmark and went to live with various people in my class. The next day we all went together to Copenhagen and walked around and saw some of the big tourist attractions. It was fun, but I finally realized how pathetic my Spanish is. I kept trying to say something to them in Spanish, but it would come out as Danish. It got to be kind of a joke. On Tuesday we went skating, which was another first for me. I was terrible at first, but then one of the Spanish students helped me and I was a little farther from terrible, but not by much. It was really fun. They stayed until Thursday, but I left on Wednesday for..

Mini-Exchange in Ålborg

I stayed home from school on Wednesday, because at noon that day I would take a train to Køge and meet all the other exchange students and then take the train together to Roskilde and get on a train together to the other side of the country to Ålborg. This plans were changed by the arrival of snow. In Denmark, when snow comes DSB (Danish train company) act as though they have never seen snow before. The trains are always cancelled or late and it is just a mess. On this particular day there was a lot of snow and the train I and the other exchangies were going to take to Roskilde was cancelled. After a few phone calls were exchanged, I found out that we would be taking taxis. My first taxi ride was probably one of the most frightening experiences of my life. It was in New York on my way to meet all the other Americans going to Denmark. It had just taken 2 flights all alone and now was greeted by about 60 taxis outside the airport. I was to look for a black cab that said "Red Hat". After 50 minutes of me walking around with my baggage for the next year following me and having no idea what I was doing, I finally found it. It was a beige cab and the company was "Red Cap". This taxi ride was not much better. First it was about 15 minutes late. Then for 1 minute I tried to tell him that I wanted to go to the next station so that I could maybe catch the train on time, rather than drive all the way to Roskilde. He didn't speak much English and I was so nervous, I couldn't form proper sentences. Finally I got to the proper train station and was 5 minutes too late. I was met by the chairperson of my local AFS chapter and he arranged for a seat for me on the next train. So, I had to take the train all alone to Ålborg, about a 4 hour train trip. The train didn't come on time and I waited and waited and 35 minutes later it finally came. I took my seat on the train and just relaxed. I had packed some 'gummi' candy and just ate it and read Harry Potter. 3 hours in and delayed because of the snow, the train stopped in Århus, Denmark's 2nd biggest city and an hour from Ålborg by train. I had to switch trains and finally I arrived in Ålborg. My family picked me up, drove me home and bought me a pizza for supper. It was a hectic day, but ended nicely.
The family I lived with there was incredibly sweet. The parents were both dentists and they had 3 kids who were all exchange students: Stine (27), Alabama; Søren (23), Mexico and Katrine (19), Spain. Katrine is in her final year of school and is the only one that lives at home. They lived in a house from around the 1870's. It was pretty spectactular and quite large. They also had a pet turtle that was really big and slept the all day. In the morning, it would get a bath and then afterwards just crawl around the house. I feed it some lettuce. It was quite possibibly one of the highlights of my life. Just kidding. My family said that they want to visit the USA and now that they know someone who lives there, they said they would so sure visit sometime. I really hope they do. All-in-all the week was really nice and some of the highlights were:
Den Gamle By (The Old City): It is an outdoor museum in Århus with more than 60 buildings that were moved there from all over Denmark. It is set up like, old city. There was a tobacco shop, a school, a sawmill, the mayor's house, stables, etc. Everything is authentic and the building are incredible old; I believe the oldest building I saw was from around 1560! Really a must-see
Lindholm Høje: Once an ancient Viking village, Lindholm Høje is a museum filled with Viking artifacts and information. It was so unique how they could preserve everything from so long ago. It was quite unique. Afterwards we went skating
Dinner with Exchnage Students and Families: On Sunday we all got together and had a really nice dinner and just sat and talked. It was really hyggeligt. We then told everyone about our families back home and in Denmark and about ourselves and then people asked questions. It was fun.
Tuesday: The day we went back it snowed the whole day. We all got together at one of the AFS leader's homes and ate breakfast and just Danish. The snow was the perfect packing snow and we had maybe the best snowball fight I have ever had and built easily the best snowmen I have ever built. We took the train home and I learned how to count to 10 in Thai and a bunch of dirty pharses in French. I would say it was a successful day!


Conclusion (Finally.)

I have recently been thinking deeply about how my time in Denmark has gone so far. I have faced lots of obstacles and made difficult decisions, and feel I have changed because of them. I am so much more independent and open-minded. I have always been a really indecesive person and usually made decisions based on other people and how it would affect them. Now, I am better aware of what I want, but still am aware of how my choice affects others. With summer approaching and June 25th becoming closer, I also feel anxious. I am not anxious to leave Denmark but more, anxious to return to Wisconsin. If anything at all, this separation from my "real life" has made me appreciate "home" so much more. I think I also have a new appreciation of the English language. Even though it is so common and unorginial, per se, it is a beautiful language and I really am proud to be a native English speaker. Finally, I believe my worst enemy is time. Maybe because it is so unlimited, or so it seems. We cherish time, yet throw it away. We forget about time, however wish we could have more. We need time, but want it to sped up. "Give it time", because "time flies". We can never make up our mind about time. It is like a 'half full' 'half empty' thing; sometimes its full and sometimes its empty. That is just the way it is. I have to just remind myself that time is precious and needs to be enjoyed, but also that the one lost is time is lost forever. I just hope time is on my side.


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

"God Mad"

After 5 failed attempts of me trying to be clever, I have resorted to being blunt and extremely unpoetic. Intros have never been a strength of mine.

Christmas in Denmark was honestly and truthfully, not that much different than it is in the US. Right away it seemed heaps different, until I realized that, well, it isn't. People exchange gifts, just like in the US. There are seasonal movies on TV, just like in the US. Everyone is, generally, in a jolly, "christmas-spirity" mood, just like in the US. Everyone dances around the tree while holding hands and singing holiday songs, just like...oh wait, no. Okay, so besides that and the total lack of Christmas lights on houses and blow-up Santas on lawns, Christmas in Denmark was very similar to how it is in United States. However, one major difference, FOOD! I know I have meantioned this before, but the Christmas food in Denmark is truly magnificent. In the days leading up to Christmas, we had all this traditional food. And/duck, risengrød/rice pudding, risalamande med kirsebærsauce/rice pudding and almonds with cherry sauce, brunede kartofler/caramelized potatoes, æbleskiver/something like apple pancake donut holes, and more. Also, Danes celebrate on the 24th. That is when all the gift-giving, dancing (more like walking) and christmas spirit happens. Leaving the 25th to be a lazy day of playing with your newly aquired presents and eating all the leftovers, YES! The food is already something I know I will miss. Knowing that I feel this way, my host brothers bought me a Danish cookbook for Christmas called "God Mad" (Good Food)! It was by far my favorite present. I made sure it has all my favorite recipes. I cannot wait to get back and make all these crazy Danish dishes. I guess I have the next 6 months to practice them!

The 26th was a family gathering of Kjeld's, my host dad, family. Many of them came early and I had lots of awkward conversations with them. My life is about 70% Danish now, refering to language. For the majority, Aske and Hjalte speak English to me. Not for my benefit, but for theirs. However, recently, they have begun to speak more and more Danish to me. I would classify my Danish as a 2/5. Suffcient, but LOTS of room for improvement! :) Anyway, back to the family gathering. It was pretty much just a lot of talking and playing cards, but it was fun. We had Vietnamese food and we ate with chopsticks, which I am surprisingly decent at using. It was really delicious food. Afterwards, we exchanged presents. I was happily surprised to get 2 presents.: running socks and a gift certificate to the movie theater. I felt bad that I hadn't gotten anything for the gift-givers, so I went to my room and searched for something to give them from all the gifts my mom sent. I think that they were also plesantly surprised that I had returned the favor. All-in-all, it was a really nice evening.

New Year's is coming up and I am glad to say I have plans. Never in my life have a made plans for New Year's earlier than the 31st, so I was glad to break that. I am going to spend it with an Australian exchange student who has already been here for 11 months. She leaves the 4th and since I will be in NORWAY, I will not be able to see her off. But, I am not too sad, because I will be in NORWAY! I am super-duper excited! We leave Jan. 2nd and come back the 9th. It will be a week of skiing and having fun. I am pretty sad that I will miss a week of school, though. ;)

I hope everyone had a tremendous Christmas season and has a fun, safe New Year's. Take care!


Thursday, December 17, 2009

One word...SNE!

This morning I woke up and was greeted with a snow-covered window. I sat and looked outside for a couple seconds. The excitement set in. I quickly took a shower and ate breakfast. Gerda told me that usually whenever it snows the train comes late and so I probably did not have to hustle to the station. Being a Wisconsinite, snow is nothing new to me. I have seen and done many things, that to foriegners would seem utterly strange. For example: snow in October or April, having back-to-back snow days, the whole concept of a snow day, snow plows, shoveling your driveway once and immediately starting over, snowmobiles, etc. One thing that not many Wisconsinites get to experience is riding a bike in snow. To Danes, riding your bike in snow is like any other aspect of their day. To Wisconsinites, riding your bike in snow is something that only mad people would do. So, I was excited.

I got all bundled up and headed outside. An immediate smile came to my face. I hopped on my bike and started my usual 6 minute bike ride to the station. Right off the bat I ran into problems, literally. The snow drove my bike off course and into some shrubs. I laughed to myself and continued on. It was pretty difficult as I was on a road that is not driven on very often and I soon realized that it didn't help I cycling in a small drift. I found an easier path and continued on. Not as hard as I thought it would be, as long as I stayed out of the drifts. As I turned onto the main road I bike on, I struck the normally visble curb. I was thrown off balance and I ended off almost falling off, but I didn't. As I reached the station I realized that it was 2 minutes past the time that they train comes, however I saw many people still standing on the platform. I quickly locked my bike and headed up to join the crowd. A few seconds later the speaker said (in Danish, obliviously) that the train was cancelled. So, I waited inside the station building and watched as the group grew and grew. 40 minutes later the next train came..10 minutes late. The train was already full and I luckily got a seat. As the train stopped at the rest of the stops, the train became more full and more full and more full. People ended up standing in the asile awkwardly and scouting for open seats. I thought it was "hyggeligt" (no exact translation, but it means something like "cozy".)

When I got to school (25 minutes late) I meet some of the students in the cafeteria and they said that our teacher hadn't come yet. Just then she walked in. She also takes train and no surprise, it was cancelled and delayed. The rest of the day continued as normal minus the 30% of the school's students absent. My train home was delayed and I ended standing in the cold for 50 minutes. I was freezing. The train ride back was not a repeat of the morning train, thankfully. My bike ride home was also quite a bit easier as than the morning. Because of this, I completely regarded that there was ice on the road and Mother Nature sure taught me a lesson. I was riding my bike past two old ladies when I hit some ice and feel off my bike. It was like slow motion fall, which made me feel like I was in some kind of action film. The old ladies watched it all happen and quickly made sure I was okay. They kept saying a phrase similar to "oh my goodness". As a result of the fall, my chain fell off my bike. I attempted to get it back on, but the old ladies kind of distracted me. I told them "Goddag and pas på" and swiftly left them pushing my injured bike. By the way, I am totally okay. I thought it was more fun than painful.

If the snow stays, which is a possibility, it will be the first "White Christmas" in Denmark in 14 years! That is so crazy! I am really looking forward to it. I should probably do my homework now. Who knew English could be so hard!

God Jul and Nytår!


Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Baker's Party

I figured it was time that I stop being lazy and write another blog post. So...

Two weekends ago was my "Julefrokost" with my class. It was at one of the girls in my class's house. There were about 20-25 people that came and it was really nice and I had a really nice time. It was two days after Thanksgiving and the meal was seriously bigger than any Thanksgiving meal I have ever had! There were 5 courses. Course 1: Fish on bread with remoulade (a delicous Danish sauce similar to tarter sauce but better!) Course 2: Tarteletter (a Danish dish similar to chicken pot pies) Course 3: Frikadeller (little round, fried Danish meatloafs, but again, better!) Course 4: Flæskesteg (roasted pork) and finally Course 5: Ris a la mande (rice pudding with almonds). It was super delicious and was some of the best Danish food I have had yet. After dinner, things got a little crazy. There was a lot of dancing and some heavy drinking. There were also a few "regurgitation-happenings". About 15 people spent the night and the others went home. I stayed and slept on a hardwood floor with 1 blanket. Not the most comfortable sleep I have ever had! The next morning we had a very typical Danish breakfast of hot rolls with butter, jam and smelly cheese. I took the train home and that night went to my host mom's mother's house (my host grandma..if I can call her that). Ironically enough, she lives near Herfølge, the town that I lived in first. It was a very large dinner with endless portions. Duck, potato, a really good cucumber salad and of course cake! I was pressured with my Danish because "bestemor" (grandmother) speaks fast and mumbles: like most Danes do! All-in-all, it was a really nice evening.

This past weekend was really fun as well. Gerda, the boys and I drove to Fyn on Saturday. Actually, first we went to Aske and Hjalte's swim meet and then we drove to Fyn. Fyn is the little island between Zealand (the island Copenhagen is on and that I live on) and Jutland (the peninsula connected to Germany). It is often called "The speed bump of Denmark". Danes are so funny! :) Anyway, we visited Kjeld's (my host dad who works in Bangladesh and comes home soon) sister, Helle, and her husband, Jørn, and their twin daughters, Justine and Therese, who are 15. We got there at about 6 p.m. and had dinner and then just relaxed. The next morning Gerda and I ran really far and then my ankle started to hurt. (I cannot remember if I wrote this in a previous blog, but awhile ago in gym class I was playing volleyball and landed funny on my ankle. That night it had gotten really puffy and I iced it, but it still hurt a lot. I couldn't walk on it and so I took a "recovery day" and stayed home from school. It has gotten a lot better, but every once and awhile it starts to hurt again.) So, halfway or so through the run I walked back to the house. It was a really nice run and it was great to run with some different scenery. So, the rest of day the 5 of us kids make Christmas cookies. Det var virkelig hyggeligt.

Christmas has come to Denmark! Although there is no snow, not many decorations, no people caroling and it rains (almost) daily, there is a really big, lit christmas tree by my school that I walk past every day and that is good enough for me! The Danes are really big on Christmas, not so much with decorations and presents, but with food, candles and something called julekalendar. First, the Danes have a lot of food that is strictly christmas food. All the food we had at the julefrokost was really christmas food and if you had it outside of winter, people would make fun of you (except fish, obvisouly, and frikadeller). There is also something called risengrød, which is a mixture of rice and milk and you put butter and cinnamon and sugar on top. It is really filling, but really good. Pretty much every Dane has some way to count down to Christmas. Most popular is candles. You may have a big candle that you light every day and gradually gets down to the 24th or you might have 24 little candles (like we have). Note: Danes celebrate Christmas on the 24th instead of the 25th, no explanation except for the fact they want to be unique. And finally, julekalendar! There are some TV programs that show a 30-minute clip of a show from Dec.1st until the 24th. Two channels have them and each has 3 different shows: one for todlers, one for children/exchange students and one for adults. You can buy a calendar that count down the episodes, which is why it gets the name julekalendar (jul(e)=christmas and kalendar=calendar). My favorite show is called Pagten and it is about this boy who meets an elf (nisse in Danish) and they have to save everyone from the Ice Queen (Isdronning). It is really addicting! I will write more about Christmas after it actually happens.

I am actually quite busy for the next for weeks, and months at that. Here are some of the bigger things I will be doing in the coming months.

Dec. 23-Jan. 3- Christmas Break
Jan. 1- 8- Skiing in Norway with my host family and Justine and Therese from Fyn (my host cousins?)
Jan. 17-24- Mini-Stay with a family in Jutland
Feb. 14-21- Skiing in Norway with my host family, AGAIN!
Mar. 14-20- Trip to Spain with my class

I may not write again until 2010! So, I wish everyone a safe and merry christmas and wonderful new year. Glædelig Jul og Godt Nytår!


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Løver og Tigre og Bjørne, Øv Mig!

First off, I changged the color of the blog. I did some research and black text on an off-white background is easiest to read and is better for your eyes. I also changed the text to a more modern, sleek, read-friendly blog. And no one cares about this, so moving on...

The title reads, "Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!" I really couldn't think of a clever title, hence my previous blog post's title of "Clever titles are hard to think of...", so instead I thought of something clever. Oxymoron?

I believe this is the first time I have blogged and it hasn't included over 3 weeks full of events. So, that is maybe a good sign? Honestly, I am bored, so I thought I would make use of the time I have and fill everyone back home in on my happenings.

Last weekend was really fun. We went to Tivoli and saw a play/musical in English. It was super funny and it was even more funny, because there was a lot of Danish humor. Actually it was more just stupid Danish phrases. They would say them in Danish and then translate them to English, where they make no sense. For example, "there are owls in the marsh", "to kill a parrot", "to be dog-hungry" and "to have a bank". There were also a lot of puns on the English language too. It was really funny. Afterwards we walked around the Tivoli Gardens and looked at all the Christmas decorations and other cool things. Then a few of us exchange students went around Copenhagen and just talked and walked and laughed. It was nice. We decided to entertain ourselves by going up to complete strangers and talking to them. Actually, we met more Norwegians and Swedes than we did Danes! That is the cool things about Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, is that if you speak slow and use your hands, you can communicate with any Scandanavian! It was really fun! Oh I almost forgot, there was a Danish girl who came with us to the play and she was an exchange student in WISCONSIN! It was so awesome. She sounded like she was from WI too. I even quizzed her with "bag", "couch" and "Milwaukee". Then we talked about Culver's, cheese curds, State Street and other WI insignia. (That doesn't really make sense, but I don't care!)

Today is Wednesday and it is a day I dread. 1) I am only halfway through the school week 2) I have Spanish (good in the US, bad in Denmark when you are trying to learn the language of Spanish instruction) 3) My night to cook food for the family. Okay, 1 and 2 were really weak reasons for not liking Wednesdays, but I needed to build up to the climax of reason 3. Anyway, I am a terrible cook. Back home, I made chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter and jelly sandwichs (which everyone in Denmark think sound disgusting), and pretty much everything else was made by my glorious mother. So, once a week I am all alone in the kitchen cooking recipes foreign to me and attempting to make something edible for the whole family. I dread this so much! But, when I actually doing it and cutting, slicing and dicing and disgracing the cooking gods, I really enjoy it. I put on some music and sing along and just cook. However, Wednesday evening is really nice, because I know that I will not have to cook again until next Wednesday. So far, I have made pizza, chili, tuna macaroni and cheese, burgers and frikadeller, a Danish beef patty, aka heartheart with ketchup. So good. So, if anyone has any yummy meals, send them to me. No "cream of..." cans; they're American!

Well the weather in Denmark is pretty bad and sad, sometimes it makes me mad or glad, but mostly it makes me wish I had my dad. It is so dark all the time! From 4 p.m. to 8 a.m. is complete in udder darkness. As I used to say when I was little, it is "peach black". I have to do everything in the dark! AHHH! But, when it is not "peach black", it is overcast and chances are that it is also raining. It is always, ALWAYS WET! ALWAYS! There hasn't been any snow here, but I don't feel bad because there isn't any in Wisconsin at the moment either. Snow in Denmark comes rarely and stays shortly. Inappropriate use of an adverb. Sorry, BRFHS English Department; I try my best!

This upcoming weekend is my Christmas dinner with my class. I am really looking forward to it. A blog post will follow, but it may be a few weeks late, as usual.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone and enjoy the time with your families and friends. Because you never know when a family member might decide to be an exchange student halfway across the world in some unknown country where they speak some unknown language and live an unknown lifestyle, where they don't celebrate the American holiday of Thanksgiving. You just never know...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Clever titles are hard to think of...

I am really bad at keeping up with my blog. To be honest, it is kind of something I dread because I have to remember everything that happened, try to make it sound interesting and it is all in English. Honestly, my English is bad. I am seriously considering not coming bad to the US, because I know that I will have to work hard again. Here, I can pretty much do whatever I want. In school, if I want, I can take my shoes off, play backgammon and write notes in Danish to my friends (honestly, it helps!). A major reason that I have all this freedom is because I do not really understand everything. So, it will be weird to go back to school and understand everything and also have homework! My teachers always just tell me to make a power point about Wisconsin or the Declaration of Independence (which I did, and no one understood because how do you make the Declaration interesting and understandable to Americans, let alone foreigners. Sorry Jefferson...). You can say I pretty much pull the "Exchange Student Card" a lot.

On Halloween, I went to Næstved to see some of the exchange students there. If you have been following my blog faithfully, Næstved is a town I have talked about a few times. There are some really fun exchange students there, and whenever I go we always have a good time. I honestly cannot really remember what else happened that day. We walked around Næstved, went to a bar and practiced our Danish. It was really nice. Two students from New Zealand, who live in Næstved, and I are planning to cook supper at one of houses sometime. It should be really fun.

That week in school there was sometime called OB day. It is a day where the students find a business/company/organization who will pay them for a day's work. Then the students give all the money to a good cause. This year the money went to help children in Zimabawae go to school. That is a HUGE difference from US to Denmark; The students are extremely politically active. A few weeks ago students across Denmark planned a big protest at all the gymnasiums. No adults, no school help, only 16, 17 and 18 years old. It is really incredible.

Another example of their political activism was this past week. All the classes were cancelled for the week and every student was placed in a group, which apparently you could choose but I obvisously didn't understand that. Anyway, the week was devoted to research and activism about the climate. It was pretty much a mock climate conference, similar to the UN Climate Change Conference that will take place in Copenhagen in early December. If you haven't heard of it, it is called COP15 and I really encourage everyone to read more about it, because the things that will happen there will be decide the fate of our planet. Moving on, there was a lot going on this week. There were countries from all different postitions on the climate (US, Russia, China, Kenya, Saudi Arabia, etc.) There were also groups like the European Union, GreenPEACE, Green Air and oil companies that tried to persuade the decisions of the conference in a certain direction. There were also terrorists who kidnapped one of the leadersThere were a bunch of debates and agreements between countries and it was really cool. I was Bolivia. It was nice too, because I was with people from different classes who I didn't know, so I was put out of my comfort zone. There wasn't much for me to do the whole week, so I spent a lot of time on Facebook and playing trivia online. Time well spent. The week ended with a party at the school and some really good bands from the school. They were really talented.

Yesterday, Gerda, Hjalte, Aske and I went to Gerda's brother's farm to help out. We chopped wood, fed sheep, goats and cows and got really dirty. It was a really long day, but it was fun. I have really cool boots now and I cannot wait to use them again! There were also some neighbors there to help out with some meat packing and we had really, really Danish food. Rugbrød with leverpostej and cucumbers; apple crumble and æbleskiver, light round cakes, similar in size to a golf ball, which you dip in marmalade and powdered sugar. Really good! Rugbrød is a dark, bread that (almost) ALL Danes eat. It took time for me to like it, but now I have my favorite combinations: Cucumber, egg and mayonaise is one of favorite, pepperoni is good and so is pickled herring in curry sauce. Sounds gross, tastes good. Leverpostej is gross and I will never like it. It is literally "liver paste". No, thank you. For the most part Danish food is good. Heavy, but delightful. Not a good description of food, but I really don't know how to describe it. There are some really Danish foods and meals, but there are also a lot of pastas and rice and non-Danish dishes.

Today, Gerda, Hjalte and I went on a bike ride into the country. It was the nice to see the surrounding area and all the tiny towns and anicient estates. We passed a church built in 1587 or sometime around then, and it was so incredible to think what life was like back then and what the area looked like and so on. It was really beautiful and for the first time in..well maybe ever, the sun shone and it didn't rain. Honestly, the past month has been so rainy. Everyday it rains, and rains, and rains...seriously. If Seattle thinks it is rainy there, I think Denmark has them beat. It is a cold rain too. It isn't a rain that you go running in or play around in. The song "Singing in the Rain" was definitely not written by a Dane, lets just say that. It doesn't help that it is getting really dark now. It gets light at 8 a.m. and gets dark at 4 p.m. But if it is a rainy day (every single day), it never really gets light, so the whole day is dark and it makes you feel like buying chocolate and brownies and getting fat. I know from personal experience.

I am really looking forward to the next few weekends. As Christmas comes closer, all these neat traditions happen and it is really nice. Next weekend I am going to Copenhagen with my AFS chapter and all the exchange students in it, to see a Christmas play in English. The weekend after that is a Christmas lunch with my class. It should be really fun. I am really looking forward to it. And then the weekend after that weekend, we are all going to Fyn to visit my "host cousins", if I can call them that. We will do some Christmas baking. Then Christmas is almost here and then I will be home soon! So weird. I don't really think about time much; it takes away from the whole experience to think about when it ends. I am just enjoying as it comes.

IDA! I hope you are finally happy that I meantioned you. I will see tomorrow!


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A Day in the Life of Andy Epps

6:05-Wake up, hit the snooze button

6:08-Get out of bed, open my window and check the weather for the day, which by the way is impossible because it is pitch black.

6:09-Decide what to eat for breakfast. It switches between corn flakes with bananas or 2 pieces of bread: one peanut butter, one Nutella. One day every 2 weeks we have Danish pancakes, which are a conbination of American pancakes and crepes; not too thick, but thick enough to stuff with Nutella and bananas. Yes, I eat my pancakes with Nutella and bananas. Breakfast is usually accompanied with a little Danish lesson from the newspaper, which I forget 12 seconds later.

6:18-Finish breakfast. Go to my room and decide what to wear for the day. Usually after I look through my limited supply of American clothes I realize that it doesn't really matter what I wear, because 1) I am American and Americans wear whatever they want to and 2) Whatever I wear will be covered up by the sweatshirt I will be wearing all day because it is so cold. After this thought, I grab something and head to the shower.

6:20-I stand in the shower and forget that the water is 112 degrees, because it only says 44 on the handle. I usually silently sing a song in my head that I played on my iPod about 264 times yesterday. It is possible.

6:26-I turn off the shower and feel bad I have just been standing under expensive hot water for 6 minutes. I then proceed to open the window in the bathroom to let all the moisture out. Usually 3 seconds later my feelings for taking a 6-minute shower are relieved. I then for no apparent reason stand in the shower, covered with a towel and waste about 23.75 seconds of my morning. I change and proceed to my room.

6:29-I close my open window and get my backpack ready for the day (books, gym clothes, money, etc.). I get all my warm clothes ready and start to put them on, while watching Simpsons on TV 3+.

6:38-I am ready for school and also the weather of the North Pole. My typical wardrobe for a day consists of:
1 t-shirt
1 long-sleeve t-shirt (sometimes)
1 sweatshirt and/or sweater
1 pair of socks (although I have wore 2 pairs before)
1 pair of underwear
1 pair of the 3 jeans I own
1 rainproof jacket
1 pair of rainproof pants
1 winter jacket
1 scarf
1 pair of $3 gloves
1 extremely positive attitude!

6:39-I realize that I have not brushed my teeth, shaved, applied deodorant to my axilla or stared at myself in the mirror. At this time I also question my daily routine and wonder if it is the most efficient. Luckily, I have built in time for this exact purpose. So, I brush my teeth, shave, deodorant myself and stare into my eyes for 8 seconds in the mirror.

6:43-Get ready to brave the Danish elements. Say "Har en god dag", "Vi ses" and/or "Hej Hej" and the occasional "See you later alligator" to Hjalte and Gerda. I get on my bike and say out loud, "I hate this bike." Seriously, I say this every single day. My bike squeaks, randomly changes gears on its own, has the most touchy brakes ever and sometimes runs into, if you ever see me run into a curb, it IS NOT me, it is the bike. I just remembered that 95% of the readers of this blog live 4,000 miles away and will never see me ride my bike. And the 5% that do not live 4,000 miles away will still, never see me ride my bike, so....

6:46- Halfway through my bike ride to the train station and I am thinking, "I hate wind. I hate rain. I hate dark. I hate cold." Sometimes this thinking is done aloud.

6:50-I reach the station, lock my bike and stand on the platform waiting for the train that comes 7:04.

7:04-Get on the train and remove my "Santa Claus" clothing. Get out my iPod and find a new song to play 264 times that day.

7:40-Attempt to sleep after remembering that I only have 10 minutes to take nap or risk falling asleep in one of my classes.

7:51-Arrive at the station in Roskilde and either: get my stuff together and walk off the train or wake up with drool on my chin, get my stuff together and walk off the train. Optional 2 is more common.

7:59-8:02- Depending on my walking speed, how cold it is, whether the train was late or not, I arrive at school anywhere between this time. As soon as I enter the door, I say "God Morgen" to as many people as possible.

8:05-(1:40-3:25)-School. An accumulation of me playing backgammon on my iPod, pretending to listen/understand during lessons, eating chocolate chip scones (Yumm!), going on Facebook, standing or walking around awkwardly and talking to myself. Pretty boring...

2:08, 2:38, 3:08, 3:38, 4:08-I take the train home, depending on my class schedule that day. My train leave every 30 minutes "On the 8's", if you were wondering.
Note: We will say today is a normal day, when I would take the train at 2:08.

2:55-I arrive in Haslev after waking up 3 different times to see if we were in Haslev yet, almost missing my stop. I get my bike and it is all wet (SHOCKER!). I unlocked it and ride home.

3:03-I arrive home and am greeted by Hjalte and Aske playing "Let's kill people" computer games. Not my thing, but thats cool. I usually watch an epiosode of Navy CSI (NCIS, as it is called in the States) or something else. Maybe a little Facebook time, but I usually just relax.

5:00-Dinner preparation time. If it is Wednesday (my day to cook) I start to make the meal, but no matter what day it is I usually help the cook because I like to peel carrots and potatoes...not! I do it more because then we can talk and my Danish improves and I get to know a little more about them, and they get to know me also.

6:00-Aftenmad. We are pretty good at eating at 6:00:12. Danes like to be precise!

6:25-We finish eating and clear the table. The cook cleans the kitchen and the table. Computer time for the boys, M*A*S*H time for Gerda and me.

7:00-8:29-I don't know what I do. TV, Homework, Reading, Danish, Ice Cream, etc.

8:30- Top Gear! It is a British TV show about cars. I am not a car enthusiast, but it is really funny and entertaining. It reminds of Car Talk on NPR ( for those of you who do not listen to Car Talk or for that matter NPR, shame on you) where only 30% of the show is actually about cars. Most of time the show is about these random competitions between the 3 hosts. One was about who could make the best amphibious car and one time they went camping and accidently set their camper on fire. Funny stuff. Top Gear can also be substituted for MythBusters. There is a ridiculous amount of American TV here.

9:30- Again, like clockwork, we all go to bed. However, I have "the foriegn card", so sometimes I can get out of going to bed early, but normally I am dog-tired. Sometimes, I even go to bed at 9:00. Trust me though, if you were hearing, reading, speaking, learning a new language 24/7, you would go to bed at 9 too. Also, if you didn't remember, I get up at 6:05...EVERY morning!!!

10:02-Random time, but I would say I usually fall asleep around then, after some intense thinking.

You have just experienced 'A Day in the Life of Andy Epps'. Thank you for reading and just so everyone knows, it was snowing today! Whoa!

Andy E

Sunday, October 25, 2009


Home is where we feel comfortable and safe. We can love, and that love is returned. The dreams we dream are safe from prejudice and by no means, unattainable. We can be who we want to be. You are never a stranger at home. Home is where we can think and reminisce. Home finds you, it is not a choice, but instead an obligation. You heart only knows when it is home. There is an energy we feel there, when we are surrounded by old or new friends, people we have made the memories we will carry with us forever. It is the feeling we recieve, being there, that lets us know we are home. Home is only a word.

Do I miss home? No. I miss the people, the places, the things, that have all made me at home and gave me a feeling of comfort. Home can change. I will always have a place of 3,618 people to call home. But I am creating a new home, Denmark. I feel at home here. I feel happy and wanted. It isn't a mistake that I am here. It is where I am not a stranger and can think and love and be who I want to be. I believe that I am no longer living at a "home away from home", but that I am home. I have a second home where I have new friends and new memories. Although this home is new, it is permanently bound to me. It has found me and my heart has spoken.

Enough seriousness. I have now been with my temporary family for a week and everything has fallen into place. It may sound extremely cliché at the moment, but I feel "home". Hjalte is 15 and Aske is 12, so I am the "storbror" (big brother). Hjalte was kind of shy at first, but now has warmed up to me. We watch a TV show together and are working on an impossible puzzle. Aske is the typical little brother. He is a total "mama's boy" and likes hugs. He can be a little much sometimes, but I can handle it. They are both swimmers and they swim every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from August to June!!! That is A LOT of swimming! Kjeld, the dad, is an engineer abroad and is currently in Bangladesh and comes home every 3 months or more. I briefly met him. He was reserved, but nice. Gerda, the mom, is the self-described "boss of the house" and is always right. She is really energetic and comical. She was an exchange student in Virginia and so her English is far better than my previous family. It is so nice to be able to joke around with her and not always be serious. She is a teacher and teaches all different subjects. Every night, someone has to cook the meal. My night is Wednesday, so if anyone has any delicious recipes, please send them to me. I think I will be making Mac and Cheese for my first meal. I will let you know how it goes.

Although I am feeling at "home" here, they are only a temporary family. After I had been here for less than 18 hours, Gerda told me that I could stay longer. The "ad in the newspaper" has taken longer than expected to actually get in the newspaper. This way, it is easier for Judith, the chairperson for my AFS region, to find me a good host family without being stressed. So, I will stay here, hopefully, until Christmas. The only thing that kind of stinks though is that I now have a 45 minute train ride to school and back and I have to wake up at 5:55 a.m.!!! I guess somethings are bittersweet. ;)

I haven't really done anything remarkable this past week, just settled in. Today, Gerda and I went on a bike tour of Haslev. On our way, we meet one of her colleague's husbands. He invited us for tea later and so we continued our ride and ended at their house. I cannot remember their names, so I will call them colleague and colleague's husband. At first, Gerda and her colleague talked in the kitchen, so I talked to the colleague's husband. It was really intimidating, because he was really tall and spoke Jutland Danish. Jutland is the peninsula that is connected to Germany and yes, there IS a difference between normal Danish and "Jutland Danish"! We talked about a bunch of weird things...all in Danish. If I was stuck on a word or pronouced it wrong, I would just say it in English and colleague's husband would tell me in Danish. He was really patient and that is something I have realized about most Danes, they are very patient with people attempting to learn Danish. They realize how hard it is. After colleague's husband and I had talked for 10 minutes or so, we moved to the table and had tea. And yes, I drink tea now. We also had muffins and almond cookies that were very good. I had 5. The whole conversation was in Danish and I could follow it quite easily. Colleague and colleague's husband told me that my Danish was very good for being here for 3 months, but I still think it stinks. It was nice to hear though and they would smile and laugh everytime I stumbled on a word, which made me realize that they really do appreciate my attempts to learn this crazy langauge.

The weather the past 2 days has been rainy and cold. Also, it is now dark at 6:00 p.m. My train ride in the morning is almost completely in the dark too, so winter is certainly on its way. During winter, there are only 8 hours of daylight, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. That will be really strange. I am sure I will probably gain 10 pounds after Christmas is over! Oh well, AFS does stand for "Another Fat Student".

Andy E