Triumphs and challenges; the opening chapter


Not every teenager can say they have left home to live on the other side of the world for a year, however I, among the 31 other ‘winter team’ exchange students in Denmark, can. I knew it would not be easy, there would be many challenges to face, but it has not been as hard as I was to believe. Day 15 into my year and it feels as though I have been here a lifetime (in a good way of course). From visiting Copenhagen at night to language camp and outdoor iceskating, nothing has been less than an adventure.

My first week started with my weekly language class and Rotary meeting. Although not much Danish was spoken, the language class provided an opportunity to meet the ‘oldies’ in our district. Seeing how happy and confident they all were greatly helped to silence the quiet pleas of my conscious to return to the familiar, instead showing how exchange changes a person for the better. That evening, I attended my first Rotary meeting with my sponsor club, Taastrup Rotary. Unfortunately, I could not understand any of the talks, but I was able to meet the members before my formal introduction (which is on the 5th of February). They were all accepting of me, understanding how it was a new experience for me and even congratulating me on staying awake for the entire meeting as I had only recently arrived. Mange tak to Taastrup Rotary for their generosity and warm welcome to the club.

After a few days of adjusting, walking down the street to H&M for clothes and sorting out practical things, on Thursday night my friend Matthew and I decided to go to Nyhavn in Copenhagen together. We got lost several times (ending up on the palace ‘driveway’ at one point), but it was a lovely way to explore our city. We eventually made it to Nyhavn, and sat on a bridge admiring the city, both agreeing we wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

Friday marked the beginning of my schooling at Taastrup Realskole. My class has only 14 people because Year 10 is an optional grade for all students in Denmark. My class are all very cool, and speak amazing English, although they often doubt their skills. It surprised me that in my first English class they analysed a poem, as this is a complex task, especially when not in your first language. School has a lot more relaxed atmosphere than at home, and for lunch we walked to the local kebab takeaway shop. I am very pleased I am going to this school and tak to Ninette and Kenneth for arranging my placement there.

Saturday was the annual birthday party for my Rotary club. This is a big event in the club, so to mark the special occasion, we all travelled down to Stevns Klint, a famous beach with chalk cliffs in the south of Zealand. We had a small tour of the area and the beach, it was too cold to stay outside for long, and then headed to the party. The food, music and fancy venue created the perfect atmosphere for a party, and congratulations to Ninette for receiving a Paul Harris fellow on the night. Happy birthday Taastrup Rotary Club!

Getting home at 12 the night before, it was non-stop action to get to Nørgaards Højskole for language/intro camp in the morning. The train ride did not go as planned, with an accident on the tracks causing us to catch a bus for the remainder of the train ride to Aarhus, but we eventually made it to Bjerringbro where the folk high school is located. The camp was a lot of fun, no matter how tired we all were by the end. We spent the day time in Danish classes and the evenings doing activities such as listening to a concert from a local band, melting plastic beads into art and singing Michael Jackson songs with one of the school’s music teachers. Tak to Anne our language teacher on her great work and patience when teaching Danish. As a special treat, on Thursday we visited Aarhus and the ARoS museum. Aarhus is the second largest city in Denmark and a cultural capital of Europe, home to the famous rainbow panorama onto of ARoS. The beautifully constructed museum represents the Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri and as a design student and fan of Dan Brown, this piece of architecture was phenomenal! My gang and I ate 33 kroner massive pizza slices and did outdoor ice-skating after visiting the museum, taking a walk through the centre of town. It is a lovely city. With a party to end the week, I know I was able to become close with the other exchange students in my winter team, and have found some great people to be with and support each other. I won’t forget room 6 or dancing in the choir hall with my friends scattered around the room.

The train on the way home presented the first large problem on the trip. We had missed our train from Aarhus to Copenhagen, and were unable to use our ticket to get onto the next available train. However, after some stressful quick thinking we worked out a way to get home we got new tickets and made our way back. Matthew, mate, you did well and without you we wouldn’t have made it home.

A full-on start to a full-on year, what better way to begin?

Venlig helson,


One Comment


Hi Mikaela! Great blog post. I have enjoyed hearing about your amazing time in Denmark so far and details on the language camp. Arki mentioned that the bad luck with the trains happpened to you guys on the way home. Your reflection on it reminded me of what one of the Mums said our briefing day that the best advice she had about her own exchange was the difference between a catastrophe and an adventure is your attitude. You sound like you have a great attitude to this adventure indeed. Kylie x


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