Tuesday, May 15, 2012

SGY i Prag

On the 28th of March, only five days after returning from my Manchester trip, I found myself on a bus headed to Prague with about 50 other Støvring Gymnasium students.  The 12 hour bus ride, was nearly killer, but totally worth the 4 days we had in Prague! There was no one in my class with me on the trip, so for the first time in almost 8 months I was pushed way outside the comfort zone I didn't realize I had created here in Denmark. I knew a few people from my music class, and one of the other exchange students at my school was going, but other than that, I found myself branching out and meeting people that I would have otherwise never met. I loved getting to know them because we had something in common, music. And everyone knows that when you have something in common it becomes much easier to talk! Over the course of the 4 days I spoke so much Danish that it started to feel weird when I did speak English. It was one of the most incredible feelings in the world, and one that I definitely knew was a milestone for my exchange.

Even though as students we just wanted to have fun, the real reason we were there was for a music competition called YoungPrague. My school entered two groups, one choir and one folk band. Since I can't really sing, and I brought my clarinet with me to Denmark, I was apart of the folk band. There were many other groups in the competition from the United States, Serbia, Puerto Rico, Ireland, Russia, Britain, the Chzech Republic and Scotland. The choir ended up sounding really good, and I was really impressed! And our folk band didn't do too shabby if I do say so myself. My gymnasium is definitely full of some talented people… The weekend was full of events for the competition, that really were for us to get to know the other groups in the competition. We had an introduction night, where we all introduced ourselves and where we came from. We had a large parade through Pargue's city center, all of us chanting for our countries and carrying flags and signs!  At the very end we had an awards ceremony where our choir received bronze level and second place and the folk band received silver level and second place. Even though we of course would have liked to win, we were very pleased with ourselves and had a wonderful time, so we headed home with our heads held high.

Even though we were there for the competition, we still had plenty of time to see the city and take it all in. We got to visit several churches and I was absolutely blown away by the archetecture and the artwork inside them all. They were all just breathtaking. They also had their Easter market going on. So there were little huts lines along the walking streets that were selling all sorts of food and trinkets, and they were covered in bright ribbons and little chickens. It was absolutely adorable! But by the end of the weekend we were all exhausted from our long days running around Prague and almost everyone slept on the 12 hour bus ride home. I can't wait to go back on EuroTour!

Vi ses!
<3 Kelsea Jo

First time getting Starbucks in Prague, surprisingly they pronounced it right, despite the crazy spelling!

CREPES! Om nom nom.

Late night hot chocolate run with the girls!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

2c i Manchester

March started off quite slowly. My class was really looking forward to our  class study trip to Manchester, England, and so was I. Exchange has given me a bit of a travel itch and I was now ready to see some other parts of the world and this gave me a great opportunity to do so. We all got a class sweatshirt (that perfectly show cased Danish humour) and we wore them on the way over there which made it easier for everybody to find each other as we found out way through the Copenhagen and Manchester airports. Which were huge!

We started out by leaving our school at midnight  on Saturday the 17th (or Sunday the 18th, depending how you look at it) and after riding it for five hours we finally arrived at the airport. None of us got to sleep very much so we were all very tired and as we tried to sort through the confusion of checking in. Since two classes from my school were going to Manchester, there was about 55 of us to check in, check our bags, and get through security! Immediately after arriving at Manchester Airport we headed through customs. Now if you haven't travelled to a country that is apart of the EU, then you should know that when you go through customs you have a line for people coming from an EU country, and then there is a line for everyone else. So everyone headed over to the EU line while I headed through the other line all alone. Luckily they didn't really give me much trouble, the girl sitting there was training so she had to ask all the questions "Why are you traveling? How long are you staying?" but it was a little nerve wracking because for some reason she kept looking to the person next to her to approve my answers! I think the fact that I was an exchange student in Denmark traveling with my Danish class to England may have confused her a little….

After we all made it though we took the train closer to the center of Manchester and closer to where we were supposed to stay. After dropping off our bags at the hostel, we went for a walk around the city for a couple of hours. It was very exciting (and I may have been having a little bit of a mild freak out) but we were really tired after the long journey so most of us wanted to go back to the youth hostel and sleep. But instead sleeping we had for our first dinner in England together at this wonderful Indian restaurant before finally making our way back to the hostel and crashing into bed.  After that the week went by much too quickly! We were treated to a English breakfast every morning by the hostel. It was the traditional English breakfast with eggs, bacon, fried tomatoes, potatoes, mushrooms, and beans, but not a lot of us dared eating the beans. While we were there visited Caritas, a worldwide organization that helps the homeless in the community become functioning again, they help young mothers so they don't lose their children, and then help in foster care and adoption. We also visited the Manchester University campus and spoke with a few students. Many of my classmates were curious as to how the students felt about having to pay for their university, since here in Denmark they don't pay for university. On our own time we visited Arndale, a huge shopping center with over 200 stores. Mia (my first host sister ) and I enjoyed some Taco Bell for the first time in 8 months!  It was nice to be back in a country where the prices on things made a bit more sense. It was nice not having to pay the equivalent of 4 US dollars for a 20 oz bottle of soda! Of course while I was there I took advantage that there were Starbucks (almost) everywhere. It was great to drink a white mocha, white chocolate americano, and vanilla bean frap again!

Sadly our time in England had to come to a close. We all thought that it went much to quickly, but at the same time we were all ready to go home and sleep in our own beds and drink some normal tasting tap water. The trip home seemed to drag on as we moved from train to plane to train to bus, with lots of waiting in between!  But finally we made it home at about 7:30 the next Friday and I fell into bed sleeping for a solid 11 hours before waking up again.

Vi ses!
<3 Kelsea Jo

Just before we headed back home.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Six Months and Counting

Fastelavn boller!

February 6th was a huge milestone because it marked my sixth month here in Denmark! It was a huge revelation to realize I have spent half a year in this amazing country, and it also made me quite sad because it reminded me now that I only have about 5 months left in Denmark. I made a vow to myself to live it up even more than I already have! February also marked the Danish tradition of Fastelavn. The best way I can describe this holiday is a happy Halloween. Little kids dress up in costumes and come around singing for candy and money. There is also a usually a piñata that is made out of a barrel filled with candy. Back when the tradition first started in the beginning of the 1800s they actually used to put a cat inside! Poor kitty...

Fastelavn fest at school. (:

This past week my school had winter holiday. The week was well spent relaxing, hanging out with my host family and friends, and getting a head start on the next weeks homework. Yesterday (Sunday) we had a welcome meeting in my district for the Winter 2012 team, my newbies! There are only ten of them, compared to the 35 of us that arrived back in August but it was fun talking to them and realizing that was us not to long ago. They were incredibly sweet though and I can't wait to go on EuroTour with them!

This is inbounds (S11 and W12), outbounds for '12-'13, some rebounds, host families, club counselors, club presidents, and district chairs. We have about 45 exchange students in 1440!!

Now that I'm back to school, my class is really looking forward to our upcoming trip to Manchester, England.  We'll leave early in the morning on March 18th, and then return late on 23rd. It should be a fun five days. I promised I'd help translate for them if I have to, since they translated a lot for me in the beginning. Soon after I return from Manchester, I leave on the 28th for Prague. My school choir and band is participating at a competition there! We're going to take a bus…so it should be interesting. We'll return on the 1st of April  ready to start Påskeferie (Easter/Spring Holiday)!

I'm pretty sure I'm missing something! But I think I got most of it. (:
I hope you have a great next month! I'll probably post again in April on Manchester and Prague.

Vi ses!
♥  Kelsea Jo

A Long Overdue "Hej" til 2012!!

New Years Eve

Okay sooo my other January post, yeeeea didn't happen. So I'll just post it at the end of February!

My new years eve was a great night! At exactly 6:00 in the evening, I sat down with my host family and watched the Queen's speech. Luckily, there were subtitles so that I could understand a least a little bit of it due to her speaking an older more proper form of Danish. Afterwards we sat down to dinner, I ate very quickly because I had a party that night at a friends house. By nine o'clock we were all assembled at my friends house, just a small group of us but it was definitely the best New Years ever. Just a bit before midnight we all stood on either a chair on the couch. That's right, the Danes have this awesome tradition where they jump into the New Year. So beware to friends and family back home, if you celebrate the New Year with me anytime in the future, I will force this amazingly awesome tradition upon you! After it struck midnight and our jump into what is now 2012, we all hugged one another, wishing one another a "Godt
nytår!" and then danced a few more hours until we were to exhausted to do so!

Chocolate!! (:
We started school back up again on Wednesday the 4th, and then my birthday was the next day! At 6:10 in the morning, my host family came in singing the traditional Danish birthday song. It was a great way to start my day. We then ate breakfast together, which we don't normally do on weekdays, so it was really nice. Here in Denmark it's tradition for you to bring the cake. So I brought cupcakes with "American" frosting, as my class calls it. They loved it and many people asked for more then one. What can I say? Danes love cake! Then on the 6th of January I had the 3 girls from my music class and one of the other exchange students at my school come over for hot chocolate and buns. It was great getting to know them better and we made plans to hang out again! On the 20th of January I had the girls in my class over to help celebrate my birthday. It was fantastic! The girls in my class helped me realize how much they really do love having me in their class. They pooled their money to buy me a picture frame and then we took a picture of us all that night, so I can put that picture in the frame to help remember them all by! They also bought me lots chocolate, knowing my addiction to the wonderful concoction that is European chocolate, along with a few other small very meaningful gifts.

I have just decided that I'll make a separate short post about February or else this one would be way to long!

Vi ses snart!
♥  Kelsea Jo

Monday, January 09, 2012

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

A lot has happened since I moved in with my second host family a month ago. I've come to realize I really enjoy living with my second family. Even though it's a different pace of life in Denmark, I like to think I've already found my place in their rhythm of school, work, afterschool activities, and weekend life.

Christmas was definitely different from back home in the states. On the 23rd we had "lille juleaften" which isn't really celebrated in anyway, it's really just day with a name. In my host family however, that's the day we go and chop down our Christmas tree during the day and then decorate it after dinner.  I think it turned out pretty well.

The 24th "Juleaften" is the big day here in Denmark. I woke up at 9ish and has a normal breakfast with my family. Then at about 11 I went and spend some time with my first host family. It was nice to be able to see and talk with them for the first time since I had left. My first host Mom, Lene, taught me how to make these awesome Christmas stars and I was quite proud of myself for doing it with almost no help. At about one I went back home and  had a light lunch. For the rest of the afternoon we cooked, and hung around the house. Finally at 6:30 we sat down for dinner. Our meal consisted of duck, flæskesteg (a type of pork roast with a crunchy top), brown potatoes, rød kål (a sweet red cabbage), potatoes with brown sauce, potato chips, and I'm almost positive I'm missing a few things. After dinner we cleaned up and put the presents under the tree. Then we sat down to the traditional Christmas desert of risalamande which is made out of rice pudding mixed with whipped cream, and almonds. Then it's served cold usually with a cherry sauce on top. (I personally think if you don't eat it when the cherry sauce It doesn't taste as good.)  Usually in risalamande there is a whole almond, and if you find it you get a prize! Well since we had so much risalamande plus some isalamande (the ice cream version of risalamande) we hid three whole almonds. And after three servings and having it been my fourth time having it I finally found the almond (well one of them)! Probably one of my proudest moments here so far!!

Finally at around 8:30, we went into the living room to open presents! Yet of course in true Danish fashion we held hands while singing, walking, and running around the tree and through part of the house. At nine we finally sat down to open presents.  My host family has a tradition of everyone opening one present at a time. So someone got a present and then once it was open, they got up and found a present for someone else, trying to keep it so everyone got to open presents evenly. I was absolutely delighted at the presents I received. Everyone kept in mind that I'd have to get everything home at the end of the year. So I got many small meaningful things and a few practical things as well! I received two Pandora bracelets (one of the things on my list that I wanted to buy before I left Denmark) so I was able to go and trade one in for two charms. I got two spinning rings, another thing on my list. Plus gloves, a new scarf, and a hat, (because I'm always commenting on how cold it is here), and quite a few other things as well. We finally all head to bed around midnight with everyone in extremely high spirits.

Walking and singing around the tree. (:

The 25th, "1. Juledag" or "First Christmas Day," was spent with my host Dad's side of the family. We spent a good part of the afternoon eating and talking. There were about 20 of us, and I could not for the life of me remember everyone's names!  The 26th, "2. Juledag" or "Second Christmas Day," was a day of relaxing and a well needed break from the heavy Christmas food.  During both of these days, no mail is delivered and most of the shops are closed. Though some of the shops (mainly supermarkets) are open on 2. Juledag.

All in all I had a really good Christmas! Though I love my family's Christmas traditions back home, there are definitely some of the traditions here are I'd love to take back home…even though I lit my hair on fire. (That's a story for another time!) And since this post ended up a lot longer than I expected, I promise to update about New Year's Eve and my birthday within the next week or so.

Vi ses!
Kelsea Jo <3