Tuesday, December 13, 2011

New Beginnings

Hey all! Yes I know I haven't updated in a looooooong time, but what can I say, I conveniently found other things to do. You can all be mad at me when I get back. ;)

My Galla dress.
Friday, December 2nd, my school had their gallafest. A dance that is somewhat like prom with everyone getting all dressed up, only it's all three years. The entire month before we'd been learning this formal dance in gym called Lancier, well I was learning while everyone else was getting a refresher. The first time I heard the music for it I thought it was a joke, but it most definitely was not. We were in groups of four pairs, and it involves curtsying, bowing, and five different movements I suppose they could be called. It was a whole lot of fun once I got it down! 

This past Wednesday I changed host families! I was extremely sad. I loved my first host family a lot, I felt extremely comfortable living with them. Yet I couldn't help but be excited because my next host family (especially my second host mom) was extremely excited to host me! The Monday and Tuesday before I had off school. So I had plenty of time to pack. Wednesday evening when I said good bye, I'll admit, I cried. I told myself I wouldn't, mostly out of pride. Even though I was only moving a 5 minute walk away, it was still sad. It meant a third of my exchange was over, that I only have two host families left, that I've already been here over four months. It just all hit me at once. I mean normally around this time of year (or really the day after Thanksgiving). I'd start making countdowns to Christmas, New Years, and my birthday. But this year I find these countdowns depressing, and refrain as much as possible to thinking that Christmas Eve is in 11 days and that I'll be nineteen in only three weeks… Life just needs to slow down!!
Hello new host family! I'm coming to live with you...
Oh and all this stuff? Yea it's mine....
Anyways, once we got over to my new family's home, I had dried my tears and I was once again excited to go on this new adventure. We got all of my things out of my first family's car, and then me and my two host moms went to an Interwheel meeting.  It was a fun evening where I got to meet most of the Rotarian's wives and enjoy amazing  Christmas food!  Then on Saturday, we had a large family get together where I got to meet a lot of the host mom's family as well as my oldest host sister. Once again I ate way to much fantastic Christmas food, but it was a lot of fun.

Other than that life has been very normal…well as normal as it can be for an exchange student. Danish is starting to click a little bit, and my confidence for speaking has spiked just a tad. My goal is that by the end of January or middle of February I'll be speaking Danish as much as I possibly can.  School is still a bit boring. I'm better about trying first thing in the morning, but once it reaches after lunch time it's all I can do not to blatantly not pay attention. I can pick up random words depending on the teacher and the subject, but I'm really going to have to start trying now because after Christmas break I think a lot of my teachers expect me to start trying. It shall be interesting.

Buying Christmas presents has been very fun and challenging. Being a poor exchange students has its challenges! I can't go out and buy that 200 kroner perfume that my host mom likes and I have to make sure that the package home is under two kilos. I also now have the challenge of figuring out what to buy for a family I've only been with for a very short time, but I think I got it all figured out!! People here ask me what I want, and I always respond with, "I don't want anything." I can tell that's not the response they want. Today at the Rotary Christmas party my first host sister told me, "In Denmark we love giving gifts! Please don't take that joy away from us!!" We both got a good laugh, but I still had the same answer for her.

If you couldn't tell, I am loving Denmark!! It has definitely stole a part of my heart, and even though I miss my family I can already tell that leaving here is going to be difficult…

Vi ses!!
Kelsea Jo <3

Some Christmas things from my first host family...

Snow!! The Monday/Tuesday before I moved. Then it melted. ):

Almost every single family over here has a countdown candle, it's basically unheard of not to!!
 Fuzzy hygge socks! No holiday season is complete without them.

Julestjerner!! Which translates to Christmas stars. (:

Monday, October 24, 2011

I am an exchange student...

Yes, I know, it's been two months since my last post. Well I've tried thinking of what to talk about. When I started this blog I thought I'd always have something new and exciting I'd want to write about. I mean, I'm having all of this awesome experience that no one else back home has had. (Besides those other few that have gone on exchange.) But the thing is, this life I'm now living, is just that: Life. I wake up, I go to school, I eat three meals a day. The things I do everyday seem so exciting to all you back home, to me they seem like everyday life. And I love my life.

So now that I've got that deep thinking out, it' time for some more. There's this really cool post going around all the exchange students, and I thought I would share it with you:

I am an exchange student. How do you know what is a dream if you never accomplished one? How do you know what is an adventure if you never took part in one? How do you know what is anguish if you never said goodbye to your family and friends with your eyes full of tears? How do you know what is being desperate, if you never arrived in a place alone and could not understand a word of what everyone else was saying? How do you know what is diversity if you never lived under the same roof with people from all over the world? How do you know what is tolerance, if you never had to get used to something different even if you didn’t like it? How do you know what is autonomy, if you never had the chance to decide something by yourself? How do you know what it means to grow up, if you never stopped being a child to start a new course? How do you know what is to be helpless, if you never wanted to hug someone and had a computer screen to prevent you from doing it? How do you know what is distance, if you never, looking at a map, said "I am so far away."? How do you know what is a language, if you never had to learn one to make friends? How do you know what is patriotism, if you never shouted "I love my country!" holding a flag in your hands? How do you know what is the true reality, if you never had the chance to see a lot of them to make one? How do you know what is an opportunity, if you never caught one? How do you know what is pride, if you never experienced it for yourself at realizing how much you have accomplished? How do you know what is to seize the day, if you never saw the time running so fast? How do you know what is a friend, if the circumstances never showed you the true ones? How do you know what is a family, if you never had one that supported you unconditionally? How do you know what are borders, if you never crossed yours, to see what there was on the other side? How do you know what is imagination, if you never thought about the moment when you would go back home? How do you know the world, if you have never been an exchange student?

Every time I read this I want to dance and cry and smile and scream and wave the American flag in the air! It's so true and really what I think exchange is all about. Sure there are lots of people  in the world who spend lots of money traveling everywhere, but I've never realized before that you can't truly experience a new place/country unless you uproot your entire life and live there for at least a year. I think every exchange student, past, present, and future, would agree with me...


I guess while I'm at this totally random and disorganized post, I guess it's only fair that I tell you a little of what I've been up to.

This past week was efterårsferie!! A long time ago kids were given this week of school in order to go help harvest. Well the tradition stuck and even though we don't all go harvest, we still get the week off of school. I started off on the Friday right before going shopping in Aalborg with two girls from my class. It was great! I love spending time with my classmates. Saturday. I finally got to watch my host brother play badminton. Boy is he good, he was definitely holding back when we were playing in the back garden a month or two ago. My host mom (Lene), host sister (Mia) and I also went into Aarhus where we went to the ARoS museum. Sunday. My host parents, host sister and I went on a little hike through the words where I confronted my fear of heights and climbed this wobbly tower:

Monday. Mia, Lene, mormor, and I went shopping. (Well they went shopping, I went looking). And one of my classmates helped me dye my hair! Tuesday. I rode a horse!! Wednesday. Was a great day for relaxing. Thursday. My host family and I spent a good part of the day at Randers Regnskov. It was this fantastic indoor rain forest! There were three different domes representing Asia, South America and Africa. I saw lots of turtles and took lots of pictures of them! Friday-Sunday. Lene and I went to her parents sommerhus (summer house). It was very....hygge! There was no internet. It was in the middle of forest. They had a fireplace perfect for curling up in front of with a good book. It was the perfect get away right before coming back to school today!!

Hope that was enough to wet your appetite for the next month or so!

Vi ses!
Kelsea Jo <3

Here are some pictures from my week --

Package from home!! (:

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Two weeks and counting...

So I know it's been a super duper long time since I've posted last, and honestly I've kinda been putting it off! Soooo much has happened in the last two months. I had my goodbye party, I flew internationally for the first time, I arrived in Denmark, I've started school, and started my new life here. I'll try to remember every awesome detail for you though!

The Friday before I left, I had my goodbye party, it was so much fun and extremely sad at the same time! We ate lots of food, played frisbee and had a fire. It was great to just relax and talk, not necessarily just about exchange but other things too.

Miss you guys!! ):

The following week was crazy! Of course the procrastinator in my put of major packing until just a few days before I left. Saturday I finally made a list, Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday I started piling things into the living room, and Thursday I was finally packing bags! I finished packing around 9 o'clock that night, which was much earlier than I expected. I sat on the floor with my bags and breathed a sigh of relief, knowing I could start relaxing, that the craziness was over! Sleeping that night was basically impossible; my nerves were finally starting to catch up with me.

The morning of my flight was the weirdest thing ever. My family went out for breakfast and it was the most normal thing in the world. It was weird knowing the next time they at breakfast I wouldn't be there. The hour drive to Sea-Tac was really quiet, it seemed to go by in 5 minutes. I got all checked in at the airport and sat with my parents for about an hour. Saying goodbye to my family was probably the hardest thing I've done on this trip so far. I saw my Dad cry for the fourth time in my life. Just thinking about it right now makes me get a bit homesick... When I finally got to my gate, I was surprised to find two other exchange students from Alaska going to Denmark! This really helped the wait go by really fast as we talked and talked and talked and talked. My flight boarded at 11:45, but we ended up sitting on the runway for almost an hour and didn't take off till nearly 1. The nine hour flight was not very fun. The food wasn't good, I was shmooshed between two people, but I think I collectively slept for about 4 hours. The airport in Amsterdam was huge! In order to get through to my next flight, I had to go through security...AGAIN! Which was just overall kind of annoying, not really that big of deal I suppose. I had a 3 hour layover, so I took the opportunity to freshen up. The flight to Aalborg, while only an hour, seemed to take FOREVER! But I finally arrived. (:

Second host family, me, first host family (minus Emil).

I arrived in Aalborg at 1:35 in the afternoon, which was an amazing time of 4:35 am back home! Needless to say I went to bed at 8:30 that night and slept for a solid 14 hours. The spent following week I walking around Støvring with my host sister, getting the lay of the land. I went shopping in Aalborg with my host sister and a friend of hers. I went and visited a viking museum with my host family, and saw some viking graves. (Super creepy...) Tried some Danish candy, including salty licorice! Which is quite yummy if I do say so myself...

I met with the school rektor (principal) on the Friday before school started and got to tour the school. The first thing I noticed was how clean and well taken care of everything is. There isn't gum all over the ground outside, chairs aren't half broken, the students actually take care of their school! So by the time Tuesday rolled around, I was so excited to start and meet my class. If you haven't talked to me already, you need to know, I LOVE THE DANISH SCHOOL SYSTEM! Even though we move from classroom to classroom, we still stay with the same classmates all day. My class was so welcoming and nice. At first I was a bit confused as to why no one was really speaking to me, but as time went on, I found out it was because they were worried about their English not being "good enough." I keep telling them not to worry and that I can understand them just fine. (: My host sister is in the same class as me, so she translates every now and then so I can kinda understand what's going on. Getting used to having my schedule change every day, is going to take some getting used to.

So, if you couldn't tell, I'm doing super duper well! I love it here and I know I'm going to have the best year of my life. I can't wait to see what else is in store for me...

Vi ses!
Kelsea Jo <3

Monday, July 11, 2011

It's finally starting to feel real...

Up until this point, going to Denmark has felt like a far away dream. Up until this point my conversations followed the routine "I'm going to be an exchange student!" "Really? Where?" "Denmark!!" "Where in Denmark? When do you leave? What school will you go to? Who will you live with?" and it always ended with me saying, "I don't know." Well last Tuesday, that all changed when my district received my guarantee forms. Since I was on vacation, my district youth exchange chair was amazing enough to scan them all and e-mail them to me. It's no longer a dream.

In my previous post I let everyone know I'm going to district 1440. Now I know I'm being hosted by the Rebild Rotary Club. Rebild is a neat county that actually holds the the largest 4th of July celebration outside of the United States! How cool is that??? I'll be living in Støvring, Denmark, a small town of about 7,000 people. I've had a chance to e-mail back and forth with my first host family. I'll have a host sister about a year younger than me and a host brother who's just a few months older than my own brother!! (And of course I can't forget about my host cat, Sofus!)  They seem absolutely amazing and I really think I'm going to enjoy my time with them. My family lives about a 3 minute walk away from the school (Støvring Gymnasium) both my host sister and I will be attending. They told me that the school actually focuses on music quite a bit! I'm absolutely ecstatic about that, it couldn't be a better fit!!

The little flag with the "A" is Støvring. The red "X" is Copenhagen.

Here are the only pictures I could find of my school. My host family said they might be able to send me one!
So I finally can give my friends an actual answer when we have that conversation. I actually have an answer. It's not a dream anymore. There are actually people in Denmark who look forward to me coming now, and that just makes me want to fly over there tomorrow even more!

Where do I go from here? Well right now I'm waiting to receive my guarantee forms from my district. As soon as they come, I'll get my visa application sent off to the consulate in New York and then I'll buy my plane tickets. Everyone who said it starts happening fast is right. I found out that Denmark wants me there on the 6th or 7th of August. I have two weeks left at my job and four weeks total till I leave for Denmark. Oh my goodness!! My emotions range everywhere from excited to nervous to happy to sad. I love it.

Indtil næste gang mine venner!
Kelsea Jo

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


So two weeks ago, I found out my district!! Finally!!! I'll be going to district 1440. 

As you can see, it's in northern Denmark. If you look on a globe you will see, I'll be really near to both Norway and Sweden. Since then I filled out my information to their online database. Hopefully I'll have access to that soon so I can start finding out more information!! I'm starting to get a wee bit nervous, but I know it will all work out in the long run...

Indtil næste gang mine venner!
Kelsea Jo

Sunday, April 03, 2011

The Adventure Begins

I thought I would go ahead and take my first post to answer some questions that have come up since August from friends and family.

Why do you want to go abroad?
I guess I always answer this question with a question: why not? Why not take the opportunity to live in another country and learn about their ways? I’m already ahead in school, so why not take a year, just for me? Just to learn and have fun for my benefit. It seems to me like the opportunity of a life time. I get to go to Denmark for 10-11 months, live with three different families, go to school, and learn to live in a totally different way than I’m used to. May sound crazy to you, but sounds like fun to me!!

Why gap year?
Honestly, this was a recent idea for me. I had never thought of going on exchange until this past summer, and by that time my only option was gap year. Honestly though, I’m very happy I’m doing a gap year exchange. I’m already done with high school, so I don’t have to worry about credits or coming back and finishing up high school. I’ll most likely be in the second year of gymnasium, so I’ll actually be almost the exact same age as the kids in my class. If I had gone my Junior or Senior year, I would have been a year or two younger.

Why Denmark?
One of my main reasons for picking Denmark was I wanted a country that was different. I didn’t want to come back and say, “I went to Denmark.” And then have other people say, “Oh I’ve been there too!” I wanted to go somewhere different, a place that wasn’t in the news all the time. When I came back I wanted to be able to educate people about the place I went to. On top of that, I’ve always loved the Scandinavian countries. They’re so pretty and have a very rich history.

Will you miss me?
Of course I’ll miss all of my friends and family! I mean most of us are leaving for college anyways, but you guys will come back for Christmas and Spring Break. I won’t!!

What's the time difference?
Denmark is GMT +1 or 9 hours ahead of PST.

Will you go to school? Won’t that be boring and just feel like a 5th year of high school?
Of course! I will most likely go to the second year of gymnasium which is almost equivalent to senior year of high school here. I don’t think it will feel like a fifth year of high school because since I am in running start, I am already used to adapting to different teaching styles and I don’t really feel like I’m in high school anyways. Plus I will probably be spending more time trying to figure out what their saying more than being upset I have to do homework.

Where will you live?
I will live with 3 host families. I’ll get to live with each family for about 3-4 months.

What language do they speak?
They speak Dansk (Danish) and English is the primary second language.

Do you speak Danish?
No I do not. I know a few basics, and hope to pick up a little bit before I leave. But I will go basically not knowing the language and hope to be fluent by the time I return home.

That’s about it for now I think. I will definitely answer some more when I get them; I just really wanted to get my first post up! Today was the day I officially found out I am going to Denmark. I cannot wait to continue on this adventure…

Indtil næste gang mine venner!
Kelsea Jo <3