Feeling completely at home in Denmark | PostIndependent.com

Feeling completely at home in Denmark

Alida Eide
Special to the Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

Every morning I can see the ocean on my bike ride to school. This ride has become normal to me and the Danish culture has become completely normal to me. It’s weird to think that I wouldn’t bike to school one day, or to think that there’s inexpensive clothing or inexpensive things, period.

Even though everything has become normal, I still love experiencing new things around Denmark.

This past week, I spent the weekend with Ivar Ravn, my Rotary exchange counselor, and his family. Every exchange student has a counselor to make sure they have a great year.

We traveled to a town Jelling to view the Jelling Stone, which is said to be the “birth certificate” of Denmark. The stone’s carvings are written in Old Norse, a language used by the Scandinavian countries back when the Vikings were still claiming land. I couldn’t read the carvings on the rock, but it was still amazing to see something so historical.

Next we visited Esbjerg, a big town on the west coast of Jutland, apart of Denmark. It had many wonderful beaches, including one called Blue Water. Even though it wasn’t the warmest day of the year, it was still quite gorgeous.

Then we drove back to Ivar’s house to watch the world championships of handball. The Danes absolutely love handball.

Handball in Europe is not like the handball we know in the United States. It’s kind of like U.S. soccer, but it’s played indoors on a basketball court sized area.

Denmark was playing France for the championship. It was a very good match against France, and it even went in overtime.

Because Ivar was himself an exchange student with Rotary many years ago in Wisconsin, he decided to make this like a Super Bowl party. We had chips and dip, Coke floats and hamburgers. It was a great weekend to get to know his family better.

In the family where I am living now, I don’t have any siblings at home. I got to visit my host sister Louise at her college in Odense, Denmark.

Odense is known for the famous writer Hans Christian Anderson, who wrote “The Ugly Duckling” children’s story. I saw his house and a museum dedicated his life. It was another interesting piece of Danish history that I really wanted to see.

One thing Denmark is known for is its great government. Danes have six weeks of paid vacation every year and they even get to pick when. Almost the whole country had holiday last week. Every school has the same schedule for holiday and many parents asked for the time off.

This February holiday is normal for Danes to travel to the mountains for a week of skiing. Common places to go are Norway, Sweden, France, Switzerland and Austria.

I stayed in Denmark for this week, though. I had Sif Jensen, who was a Rotary exchange student in Glenwood Springs last year, visit me for a few days. I was so happy to see her once again.

We traveled to Aarhus and then to the border of Germany and Denmark to see a World War II prisoner camp. This was where the Nazis kept prisoners, before they were transferred to concentration camps in Germany.

We also saw a castle and a remarkable church with paintings dating back to 1530s. The week continued for us to see Ebletoft, a small town known for its summer houses and beautiful view on the ocean. We went there to see a huge ship known for being the world’s last “screw-propelled” steam frigate. It was used in the Second War of Schleswig in 1864.

To round off my holiday week, I went to see an art exhibit south of my town in Kolding. It was for a Danish fashion designer from the 1980s. It was amazing to see how fashion repeats itself. Some of the same styles are worn today here in Denmark.

Before I left Colorado, I never had another place to call my home. But Denmark has also become my home. This past month I reached the halfway mark through my exchange. Wow, time surely does fly by fast. It feels like just yesterday I was kissing my mom and dad goodbye at the Denver airport and embarking off to my new adventure across the world.

– Alida Eide is studying in Denmark as a Rotary exchange student.

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