Hej, Hello, Hola, Ola, and Sveiki! | PostIndependent.com

Hej, Hello, Hola, Ola, and Sveiki!

Alida Eide
Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

Hej, Hello, Hola, Ola, and Sveiki. Hellos from all the over the world were exchanged at a week-long camp with 200 Rotary Exchange students in Denmark for the 2010/2011 school year.

Being with them really made me realize that no matter where a person is from, they are very proud of their country and culture. We all loved telling what it is like in our home country – elaborating about our homes, friends and what we like do in our free time. I made quite a few good friends that live close to me here in Denmark. During camp we had a day where we went to a town called Bjerringbro to have a cozy time with our new friends. We also went the town of Viborg for a day out and to Århus where we saw the sights and visited a museum named Aros.

Aside from hanging out with the other exchange students, we had Danish classes about six hours a day. After a great week with everyone, it was back to school. I am getting the hang of it now and continue to improve my Danish with the help of a tutor one day a week. In the past month I have celebrated three birthdays – my current host dad, host mom and one of my host brothers.

In Denmark birthdays are very big. On each birthday, my family and I woke the birthday person by singing the Danish happy birthday song. Later in the morning, brunch is usually made for at least 10 people, which include various family members, and it lasts 3 hours or more!

The day of my host father’s birthday, we went to the ocean and had some ice cream. I even got to see the ferry boat that I will take to my third host family. My host mother likes to call it my Danish big yellow school bus. On the drive home we went up on a hill where you could see my entire town. It is also known as the place where the last hanging in Denmark happened, as well as where there was a German army post during World War I.

I have done and seen a few things that are totally different than you might see in Glenwood Springs. The first thing was a fashion “Cat Walk”. The town of Horsens hosted the longest “Cat Walk” in Denmark. It was a collection of the new fall fashions from all the shops in the area. It was about a half-mile long!

The biggest difference in the styles here, is that there is no such thing a flare leg on jeans; everyone wears “skinny” jeans. Leggings are worn with everything: shorts, skirts, and dresses. It amazes me how girls ride their bikes to school all dressed up. It is not uncommon to see someone riding their bike in five-inch heels.

Bikes are the main mode of transportation here so it makes sense to bike to school in what you’re wearing for the day. In Denmark every student rides their bike to school, whether it is sunny or raining. I have personally come home a few days looking like a drowned rat.

I have now started making friends with the kids in my class. They invited to me to a pre-party before a school party on Sept. 10. The school party was called “Put Fest,” it is a celebration to welcome the freshman to the school. Freshmen are known as Puts or Putters. The Puts had dinner and hung out with friends before the older kids came to the dance. It was a very different from what I am used to back in the states.

U.S. girls normally have a party before homecoming or prom and just have dinner, get dressed up and take photos. But in Denmark they play games, eat and dance. There is nothing calm or quiet about a Danish pre-party.

After a great time with my classmates we were off to my school for the dance. I had no idea what to expect. It turns out to be a lot like a high school’s homecoming dance, but ends at 1 a.m. Afterwards everyone goes into town to a discotek for teens to continue partying for some time.

I was so tired the next morning from the Put Fest, but that day was also 9/11. It was really interesting to see the Danish view of what happened that day. After listening to how they saw what happened, I told them how it really was and how it continues to be each anniversary. So far it has been one of the hardest days of being away from home, because I love my country and 9/11 stands for so much.

I had a hard time even eating breakfast because on the TV everything was being shown about 9/11. My host parents realized how I was feeling and decided it would be a day to put the American flag all around the house. It felt really good to see the American flag everywhere in my house. It made me feel like I had a bit of home here in Denmark. My time has been wonderful here, but I can’t forget the small town of Glenwood Springs. It has really starting hitting me that I am actually here in Europe.

I have gotten home sick at times, where I just want to go and lie in my bed back home and see the mountains in my backyard – though I know this is only a stage in my exchange. All of my Rotary Exchange student friends have the same feeling about their home and missing it, no matter if it is the U.S., Brazil or India. Another thing we agreed on is that if were given the opportunity to go home right now we wouldn’t. We all want to show ourselves that we are strong and want to see so much more of Denmark and Europe. There is so much more that we all have yet to experience during our year in Denmark and can’t wait to see what adventure is ahead.

– Alida Eide is currently studying abroad as part of the Rotary Exchange program.

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