The normalities of life on exchange


In a couple of days time, on the 20th of February at 6:00 am, I will have been living in Denmark for exactly one month, and what a month it has been. The adrenaline has stopped kicking in every time I get on a train (or more so run to the station) and the routines have been set for the year ahead. Life in Denmark is normal, but normal here is very different to home, if it can even be called that.

After camp, language classes started properly on Monday afternoon. We learnt the basics of Danish, and everyone is doing well, building strong foundations with the help of Estelle, our teacher, from which I believe each of us will be speaking Danish by the end of the year. After our class, I was asked to present myself to Høje-Taastrup Rotary club at the weekly meeting. Thankfully, I made a good impression the club and apparently spoke rather well. All three of my host families came to the evening, giving a supportive smile and joining in the photos after the meeting. Tak to my host families for coming, it was lovely to see you all.

During the week, my class had a project to complete revolving around the career they want to do after school. As I was going to be starting the task late, and I could not understand the extensive outline written in Danish, I completed a different task throughout the week. This allowed me to go into Copenhagen and take photographs on Thursday. By the time I got into the city, I half heartedly took some pictures, discovering the very photogenic city is impossible to capture in a simply photograph. This experience taught me a few lessons which I think I can use for the rest of my exchange; wearing heels to walk for extended periods of time on cobblestone pathways is a bad idea, having a friend around to take silly pictures of is often more enjoyable than being alone, do not step onto the pathway at Amalienborg Palace as the guard with the funny hat will yell at you, and finally, you’re attitude towards an adventure changes everything. I had woken up not really wanting to go, already ruining my chances of having a good day by being lazy with the wrong attitude. This is something I hope to do less often whilst on exchange, but it will take some effort. Although it was not the best day, Copenhagen is still a wonderful place to visit.

On the 2nd of February, both Lene and Louise celebrated their birthdays, however we decided to hold a party on the 10th of February. (This was also Mum’s birthday, so happy birthday to her too xx) The preparations took most of the morning, with plenty of cooking and cleaning to be done. The Danish flag is used as a way to mark special occasions such as birthdays, so Lousie and I placed flags in the hedge out the front of our house, similar to how balloons might be placed on a letterbox. A small flag was also placed on the table, along with candles and flowers. Jan made two lagekage, which is a type of Danish layered cake, made with three thin chocolate cake layers filled with Nutella, banana, citrus marmalade, whipped cream and chocolate milk or Bailey’s. This is a family specialty that is used for birthdays in the Stevnsborg house, and tastes delicious. It was nice to meet some of my host family’s family and friends, and the celebrations didn’t finish until 1 am.

I am not one for Valentine’s Day, however, Jan bought tulips for Lene and I, saying no girl should be without flowers on Valentine’s Day. Mange tak Jan, you made my day.

Thursday afternoon was my first Danish tennis lesson at the local club in Taastrup. I have missed playing tennis after only a month, so being able to play once more was amazing. As the weather in Denmark is not very desirable nor suitable to play tennis, for most of the year I will be playing on an indoor court. This is a very new concept for me, and learning to play on a different court surface will be challenging but fun. 960 kroner later, I have proper shoes and am ready for a great year of tennis ahead.

On Friday, Lian, Ninette’s sister-in-law, hosted a dinner in celebration of Chinese New Year. This was not something I had expected to do in Denmark, but was a great experience and way to meet Ninette’s family. With a homemade, traditional Chinese meal and some extensive nerdy discussions, the evening was most enjoyable, even if I did slip down the stairs. Despite the freezing weather, Stig and Simon made sure we went to the shops to buy ice-cream to have with our brownies, completing the already wonderful night.

Another interesting cultural experience I have had was on Saturday evening with Matthew’s host family. His host grandparents were spending dinner with them, so as a special meal, we had deer that Mogens had hunted. I had not tried deer before, therefore I was glad I got to do so and it tasted really good. Tak to Matthew’s host family for having me.

On the 13th of February, Prince Henrik, husband of Queen Margrethe and consort of Denmark, passed away. This was a big event in Denmark and many Danes have payed their respects by laying flowers outside Amalienborg palace. Today my host parents and I visited the palace, seeing the many flowers dedicated to the late prince. Safe travels to heaven Prince Henrik. Whilst in Copenhagen, we also visited Fredrick’s Church and the Danish Museum of Art & Design. Possibly my new favourite place in Copenhagen, the museum was filled with everything to do with design in Denmark, from the 1700s to the present. I love Scandinavian design, and to see some of its most iconic pieces was inspirational and astonishing. The museum also has two exhibits currently on display; ‘I Am Black Velvet’ about Erik Mortensen’s Haute Couture and ‘Learning from Japan’ about the Japanese influences on Danish design. These were both very interesting and I hope to use these to inspire my own work. I can’t wait to visit the musuem again.

No matter how much I have done, there is always more to do. So, in a way, chaos is my new normal.

Venlig hilsen,



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