The Denmarkian in Daneland

A record of my adventures in Scandinavia.

Host family!

I just got the email from Sue.

Yes. THE email!

I am going to be living with a family in Nibe, Aalborg.
Nibe is an old fishing town in North Jutland with a population of about 4,700. It is characterised by old houses, winding lanes and cobblestone squares.

I will have four host siblings - one brother, and three sisters ... and they also have a pet labrador!

I wondered quite a bit about whether I'd be placed in a folkeskole (primary school going from kindergarten to year 10) or a gymnasium (secondary school which goes on for 3 years). So it turns out I'll be in a gymnasium! :)

Heads up Hasseris Gym! I'm coming your way. ;)


New layout!

Okay, okay. I admit it.

I have been tinkering around with blog templates again.

However, this time I did not screw anything up!

I deserve a cookie and a pat on the back. :)

The only thing is it won't let me change anything apart from the name of 'Kategorier' (Categories). I'm trying to get rid of the unsightly numbers next to each tag. There is a little box which says '' which I unticked, but it's still like this [edit: resolved].

Oh well, I'll live.

Also, a few hours ago I received my Travelex cards in the mail, so it's all good now. :)
 ... although when I checked my Travelex account, I found that my last name had been spelt wrongly!

This post is starting to sound like a game of 'Kill the Duck,' except instead of a duck, it's my exchange.


New Travelex Cast Passport card.

In one of my previous posts I wrote about how there was an apparent mix up in the cards and SEA had given me the wrong one.

It turns out that I was right - I've been told to destroy my other cards and they're sending me new ones.

Apparently the issue was labelled 'oops - Travelex card mixup' by SEA!



Firstly, yes, I know I've already written twelve posts, including this one, before I have even landed on Danish soil.

Secondly, take it as a good thing. :)
It means I'd probably post up quite a lot when I'm actually over there!
Though I'm not sure whether the overexcitement really is needed.

However, it's sort of impossible not to feel excited about exchange! I shall just go with the flow - there isn't much use trying to quash the anticipation anyway. I'll just try not to write posts full of 'blah' (you know, the ones with heaps of words but no content) to save you some boredom.

I know, I'm a really nice person, right? ^^

Okay, so that this post doesn't turn into a 'blah post', I actually do have something to post here. Just read the title.

Twitter, yes.

Basically, I was bored and thought it would be a good idea to create a Twitter for my exchange.
I actually haven't created it yet ... but I have the window open right now.

It won't let me put /thedenmarkianindaneland as the URL. Bummer.

So I'm stuck with this one:

Add me!


Travelex Cash Passport card.

Everyone with SEA gets a Cash Passport card, which is a pin-protected, prepaid currency card useful for travelling overseas with, as you don't need any cash and all you need to do is load it up and go to an ATM to use it and have money in local currency.

To confirm that you've received the card, you're supposed to fax a sheet to a number that they give you, and they will activate your card.

So that's what I did earlier this week, and yesterday I decided to ring them and check whether they had activated my card yet because I didn't receive any notice about it.

It turns out that I had been given the wrong card (hence the the reason why the system kept saying that my birthday was incorrect and that it wasn't what they had on file!) so I emailed Sue about this.

Hopefully it should clear up soon, as I'm leaving in en måned og elleve dage!

One month and eleven days!

It's so soon ...



So today we had the pre-departure orientation and it was really great! We got to meet Nick ( the national director) and Sue, (the/(a?) program manager).

There were about 20 of us. I got there really early because of the train timetable, so I waited at the ground floor for a bit (one of the receptionists told me that Nick and Sue were having coffee). When they came out, Sue peered at me, like how people do when they kind of recognise someone but aren't sure if they are that person of not.

So I stood up and she immediately said, "Stella, right? You're going to Denmark aren't you? I thought I recognised you!" which really surprised me because I had never seen her before in my life - but I suppose she'd know because she, as I found out later, organises the departures to Japan and Scandinavia.

So Nick, Sue and I got onto the lift, Sue introducing me to Nick and Nick telling me how the receptionist was Danish. An awkward kind of silence followed.

Finally we reached the conference room, which was set out with the tables, with folders full of paper, a few postcards, a pen and exchange information labelled with names in front of each chair (everyone was grouped with others going to the same country), a few jugs of water and little bowls of Mentos', going around a big space in the middle where Nick and Sue talked. I quickly found my name, sat down and watched the others nervously walk into the room, as if unsure where they were meant to be.

Firstly we had to introduce ourselves to three or four people we didn't know (Name? School? Where are you going? Why do you want to go on exchange?). There was one other girl who was going to Denmark, and out of 20 people there were only two guys! From everyone I talked to they were either in year 9 or 10 - which quite surprised me since a lot of them looked about year 11 or 12!

After that, we went around in a circle, saying our names, school and destination again, and adding our expectations and concerns, which were written up on a piece of butchers paper.

[Laura wants to know exactly what happened in the presentation as I don't have too much on the content which we talked about, so I will write that at the end of this post.]

So anyway, after about an hour or two, there was morning tea. We filed out of the conference room and voila! Two trays of muffins and portuguese custard tarts had appeared which weren't there before, along with a few jugs of juice and the like. We all just mingled and talked for a bit (it was funny because there was a swimming pool right outside and people kept walking right through us in swimmers, giving us funny little looks, and trying to get to the door).

Sue thought that I had already gotten my host family, and that I was going to live in Copenhagen, and she was really surprised to hear that I didn't and so concluded she probably mixed me up with somebody.  Arghh I can't wait to find out about my host family!

I asked her what my itinerary might look like and she said I had to fly through Singapore, and then London where I will be switching terminals via shuttle bus (eep) and finally to Copenhagen with British Airways.

I freaked out when I heard that! Not much experience with planes ...

Afterwards we went back in and launched into another talk (everyone now seemed braver in regards to reaching forward and taking a Mentos - previously we'd all settled with taking a small sip of water). I found out that I need a lot more preparation, like activating and loading my card beforehand and everything. Does anyone know how to use B-Pay? :\

After an hour we had another break, in which we waited for our parents to come in for the last hour of the orientation to hear a summary of what we had talked about.


Okay, so this was what we covered:
- Expectations and concerns
- Program rules
- Culture shock
- Homesickness
- Support structure
- Getting along with your host family (e.g. chores, curfews, communication, host brothers and sisters, religion, etc.)
- Some case studies (there were worksheets)
- Communication with home/calling home
- Money (don't borrow or lend money to your host family either!)
- Insurance
- Transport
- Communication in the case of a language barrier (sign language is the way to go!)
- Student adjustment cycle

There might have been a few additional things, but those were the main points.

Hopefully that was helpful to you, Laura!


What a wonderful world.

'Hi Stella

I am really sorry I havent been back to you to confirm the departure date for you.  The 7thNovember is fine for you to go to Denmark and I am just finalizing the flight for you.  You will be leaving Denmark within the first week of February which is just under the 90 days you are allowed to stay in Denmark on a tourist visa.  Can you please confirm as soon as possible that these dates will be fine with you?  You will probably miss the first week of school back here so I hope this will be OK.  I am sure you could return a few days earlier if you like.

If you have a chance, can you please let me know today otherwise I will see you tomorrow at the orientation. 

Many thanks and best regards

Sue *******'

I love my life.


Host family gifts!

So on Sunday I decided to start buying things I'd need for exchange, so I had a lot of fun looking for host family gifts (I still need to get an adapter though).

I ended up getting six small koala plushies, two ultra cool Australia badges, two packs of Australia themed cards and a stationery set of Aboriginal patterns carved in wood. I'm thinking of getting more things, but this is what I have for now. I don't know if I should get a few tiny Australian flags or not - some exchangers give them out to people they meet and run out of them pretty quickly.

And guess what? Orientation is this Saturday! Yes!
Plus, I'm planning to eat out at Pepper Lunch afterwards, so be jealous. (:

En måned og to-og-tyve dage.
One month and twenty two days.

Now to end with some entertaining exchange student themed material.


  1. You ask for some type of food/snack/drink to be care packaged to you as your X-mas present.
  2. When you have problems understanding people in your native language because you instinctively assume they're speaking your host language and listen for words in that language.
  3. Back home, you watch lame documentaries on the History channel in the hopes of seeing your host country or hearing your host language.
  4. Back home, you have a hard time walking off the sidewalks (and always scan for dog poop if you do).
  5. You have at least five stories you could never tell your parents.
  6. You ever got out of punishment of being yelled at, or gotten out of school work because you didn't understand the language or pretended that you didn't.
  7. You at least miss 2 months of school because of traveling or just because of that 'I don't feel like going today...'
  8. You can sing all the Top 20 songs from your exchange year...even a year later....
  9. You buy everything in sight with the name of the country you went to visit so when you go back people are bound to ask you about it.
  10. You're so used to another culture and language that your home country is a distant memory.
  11. You can trick people at American parties into thinking you're from wherever you went on exchange.
  12. Getting yelled at doesn't bother you because they just sound so funny getting all worked up in a foreign language.
  13. You wait all week for your school's one English magazine (TIME) to arrive in the library.
  14. People believe you when you say that back in America your house has 10 TVs and you eat hamburgers 3 times a day.
  15. You get to be the mascot of your rotary club.
  16. You make references to your exchange casually all the time, because sometimes you'll find someone who actually cares.
  17. You want to kill your classmates in your foreign language class back home, because they're not as good as you are - but of course you secretly like it that way.
  18. You get letters and emails in a language that no one else can read.
  19. You've ever eaten anything called 'masonja', only to later discover it is actually caterpillar stew.
  20. You've ever attempted to fit all your worldly possessions into 2 suitcases and a carry on. (And have succeeded, more than once!)
  21. You cringe at the mention of 'baggage weight limit'.
  22. You have 20 siblings and 8 parents.
  23. You can describe in perfect detail every symptom of traveler's flu, but still travel anyways.
  24. You can swear in 20 languages but only speak 2 or 3 fluently.
  25. The only reason you have for wanting to go to a country at first is 'the guys/girls are really hot' or 'I hear the food is wonderful' or you don't even have a reason.
  26. You're living or have lived in a country that most people can't identify on a map, or in a city that nobody you know besides you has ever heard of... ... and you recommend it as a vacation spot to all your friends. ... and when you get home, you're automatic friends with anyone who has even heard of it.
  27. You crave food that would make most people where you're living go 'ughh....' (Whether you're abroad or back 'home')
  28. You have a supply of some food that you're hoarding because you can't get it wherever you are.
  29. The best gift someone could possibly get you is a can of Mt. Dew / a jar of peanut butter / tortilla chips and salsa, American style / marshmallows
  30. You watch really stupid television shows late at night (like Jerry Springer and curling competitions) and you stay up late to do so, just because they're in English.
  31. Your excuse to watch really stupid programs (like Jerry Springer and curling competitions) is that they're subtitled/dubbed and thus it's all about learning more of the language, right?
  32. Your family calls you by the name of your hair color, because it is natural and not found in the country you're in.
  33. You have been in the country long enough that when you see a 'foreigner' you laugh and shake your head - but you never help, just watch.
  34. When you get together with other students, the only stories you tell are the ones that rotary does not need to hear.
  35. It becomes habit to introduce yourself by saying 'I am from (country) and my name is (name)
  36. It's a shocker to actually have clean clothes for once in your life, because you don't do your own laundry back home.
  37. When rotary calls your house your first thought is OK for once it wasn't me.
  38. You look forward to the Rotary meetings for the food, but dread going for all the boredom that will follow.
  39. Every day is a new adventure and you don't consider it a day unless something worthy of story telling happens.
  40. Water in unopened bottles is your best friend.
  41. (For the guys) the nearest restroom is exactly where you're walking.
  42. You read books you've never heard of and would never dream of reading if you were back home because they are the only English books in your city.
  43. You 'talk' to your pets when you phone home.
  44. You find the things that were strange to you when you first arrived so normal that you now think the equivalent back home is strange.
  45. You become really good friends with people you barely spoke to back home because they e-mail you more than the people you considered your 'good' friends.
  46. You can't imagine what life will be like without all the wonderful things you have experienced and friends you have made in your new country.
  47. You speak the wrong language every time you open your mouth for the first few days you are back home after the first few days of speaking the wrong language, you speak your own language with a strange accent.
  48. You can't remember the words for things so you make them up, and everyone understands exactly what you mean, or thinks that your word is cooler than the real word.
  49. People mistake you for a local until you speak (sometimes even after).
  50. You help tourists because you know where the nearest bank is, how much it costs to mail a letter, how to use the pay phone, what bus to take, local customs, etc.
  51. You can't walk through a public place (e.g. train station) without seeing someone you know.
  52. Major tourist attractions no longer faze you (e.g. you go to the Grande Place because there's an ATM there).
  53. You can understand things in languages you've never studied
  54. You no longer know where home is.
  55. You think blazers with tons of pins are way cool, although everybody laughs at them.
  56. While other, non-exchange people are amazed by how many pins you have, you insist that you have very few and won't be satisfied till you've at least doubled the number.
  57. Your eyes are constantly scanning for more pins to buy, and when you can't buy any more you make them out of bottlecaps and transit cards.
  58. You have dreamt in the native language of the country your in, and had no clue what in the world happened, let alone what was said.
  59. You get offended when people try to speak to you in your native language.
  60. You find that speaking in your native language becomes strangely difficult and you forget words that you have known almost your whole life.
  61. You can't pass a pastanesi/patisserie/bakery without getting something, or at the very least pressing your nose up against the window.
  62. You've got friends on more than two continents.
  63. You can legitimately argue with yourself in 2+ languages.
  64. You have actually done this.
  65. You worship a hand written letter that went 'snail mail'
  66. You have a license plate hanging off a wonderful blue blazer.
  67. You have a phobia that if someone were to spontaneously explode in their blazer all would perish nearby due to the pins.
  68. The first words you learned were the 'bad' ones
  69. You go to school only to do nothing
  70. You worship Pepto Bismol (South American exchangers you know what I am talking about)
  71. You have Pepto Bismol in tablets, gel caps and liquid.
  72. You take all three at once to give it a kick.
  73. You begin to talk to the animals in the house or just random objects
  74. When you walk down the street, everyone stares at your 2nd head.
  75. You begin to think like you're 4 again, because you have no language.
  76. You begin to feel like you're 4 again, because everyone just leads you from place to place and you never know what's going on.
  77. When you call home your family is convinced you are getting stupid because you can't speak your own language.
  78. You have trouble explaining to your host family why you celebrate certain holidays in your country.
  79. You can't say your host family's phone number in your native language, only in your host country's language.
  80. You forget your home address (in your home country).
  81. You worship chocolate chip cookies freshly baked from the oven.
  82. It's normal to you to see a man walking a cow down your street.
  83. You can pick a tourist out of the crowd because they're dressed so weirdly... and you don't consider yourself one of them.
  84. You have eaten animals you once considered pets.
  85. 'Good job! I understood you!' is a compliment.
  86. You and your native friends talk about and mock English speakers right in front of them, and then the tourists get all charmed that they are listening to 'real' people from that country.
  87. You are reading this list and find it hilarious, though people around you reading it say 'I don't get it. 

- From a Rotary site.


001] Before waiting to see if anyone understood what you meant, you start acting it out.

002] You think 100 pounds to pack up your entire life is plenty of space.

003] You don't have preferences anymore, especially when it comes to food. Nothing tastes familiar, thats for sure.

004] You spend a lot of time smiling, nodding, and pretending you understand what's going on.

005] You classify "doing your homework" as translating half of it. And that alone took three hours.

006] When your grandma asks you what you've been learning, you tell her something general, instead of "how to open beer bottles with a 50 cent coin."

007] You sometimes use the excuse "Sorry, I don't understand" to avoid answering a question....even if you do.

008] They offer cocktails at the back-to-school party.

009] You want to hug the people who attempt to speak your native language to you.

010] You've called every person who says "hi" to you your friend... because you don't really have any yet.

011] You'll read anything in your native language just to have something to read...even packaging labels.

012] You've got on the bus and had the driver say "you don't want to be on this bus" because you got on the same bus the night before and it was wrong then, too.

013] You sometimes walk around the school during breaks to act like you're doing something, because you don't see anyone you recognize and don't want to stand there awkwardly.

014] You know the answer to a question in a class but don't raise your hand because you don't want people to expect to much from you.

015] You're better than your teacher in your foreign language class.

016] You are a master of pantomime and circumlocution and still can't have a conversation.

017] You actually think the language barrier is a good thing when it comes to things like lying to your host parents.

018] You've ever mispronounced something in your native language (for example, names of products, TV shows, companies) because you know the others will understand it better if you say it with an accent.

019] You've tried so many different foods due entirely to the fact that you cannot understand the person asking you what you want so you just nod your head, say "yes", and hope to god it tastes half-decent.

020] You've tried to order something in your host country's language only to be answered in English because you did it so badly.

021] You've gotten annoyed with said people that automatically answer you in English when you try to speak to them in their language.

022] After you come back everybody tells you that you have a weird accent.

023] Your dreams are bilingual.

024] Sometimes it takes you about 5 minutes to remember a word in your native language that you were going to use.

025] You automatically use words in a foreign language that you cant even translate but they just seem to fit the context.

026] You watch television shows and movies that you know in your native language, just to understand it for once.

027] You begin to enjoy foods that you had previously despised at home.

028] You've gotten out of a punishment or being yelled at because you didn't understand the language, or at least pretended you didn't.

029] It becomes a habit to introduce yourself by saying: "I am from (country) and my name is (name)."

030] You've gotten upset because someone assumed you wanted to do something...and then were told you were asked if you wanted too, and you said yes!

031] You've said something like 'oh yes' or 'not thanks' only to have everyone laugh because your answer made no sense compared to the question.

032] You actually got a high five when you understood what someone said to you.

033] You're never sure if someone's being your friend, flirting, seducing you, or sexually harassing you.

034] While you're having a nice conversation with your Gastopa and Oma, your host sister is making out on the same couch. Then her and her boyfriend are always sure to announce when they are going to take a bath together.

035] You're not sure whether it's a children's book or porn.

036] You get a little scared before starting a sentence with big words in it in another language.

037] You have been put in a one or more classes with the fifth graders, because you're supposed to understand more there.

038] You are always counting the time difference between where you are and home.

039] You always forget the time difference when you call a friend or family member back home.....sorry for waking you up at 4am mom.

040] You do something wrong and people look at you weird, your excuse is "That's how we do it in my country" even if it isn't.

041] You have gone in to greet someone with a shake of hands and find yourself being pulled into an awkward hug/double kiss on the cheek or the other way around.

042] You carry a dictionary and a camera in your bag.

043] You get so used to broken English you finish people's sentences even though no one else can understand them.

044] You get into arguments with the foreign language teacher (English) over how to pronounce something.

045] You try to speak in the native language and everyone immediately knows "You're not from around here".

046] You can get into the strictest clubs with your ID from you host country, because most people get confused and just let you get in.

047] You know every cuss word in your host language, but still cant conjugate into past or future tense.

048] Peoples stares don't bother you anymore.

049] You're ready to drink anytime of the day.

050] You have mastered the arts of deception and sneakery.

051] You've spent more than one night getting drunk with your host parents.

052] Everyone thinks your playing the tough guy when you say you haven't called your mom yet and don't miss her too much.

053] A conversation is going fine, before it suddenly get stuck on some word or phrase which makes you completely forget what you were talking about.

054] You buy clothes in your country so you don't look so much like a foreigner.

- From the Facebook group 'You Know You've Been an Exchange Student If ... '


Exchanges, exchanges a long way from home,
We're highly obnoxious so leave us alone,
We drink when we're thirsty,
We drink when we're dry,
We drink till we're motherless and then we get high.

We are exchanges, exchange,
We live it up we do,
So pass some more 'Tequila 2.'
If the ocean was whisky and I was a duck,
I'd swim to the bottom and drink my way up.
But the ocean isn't whisky and I'm not a duck,
So let's go to Munich and have a good fuck.

Host brothers, host sisters, we love them a lot.
As a matter of fact it can get pretty hot.
We like to give kisses, we like to give hits.
But too many kisses get us in deep shit.
Someday we'll be doctors, someday engineers,
But right at this moment we're into our beers.
No drinking, no driving, no grass,
These AFS rules are a pain in the ass.
We like to eat chocolate, we like to eat cake,
We like to eat ice-cream and gain lots of weight.
Our butts may be fat and our thighs may grow.
But give us a chance and we'll give you a blow.
We're disorganized, we're fucked in the head.
We Just hope one day we don't drink ourselves dead.
We like to drink whiskey, we like to drink wine.
So give us a chance and we'll do 69.
We like to have parties , we may be there last,
But that doesn't matter cause we drink really fast.
At the end of the night we smell like a skunk,
But that doesn't matter,
because we're probably drunk.
Exchanges like us, we sometimes do wrong
But give us a chance and we'll sing you a song.
The songs that we sing, we think they're a hit,
But to tell you the truth
they're a big load of shit.

- An AFS song


Add another two weeks.

I just called SEA to see when I would come back from exchange, and they told me that they moved all the Denmark departures to the 18th-20th! So that means I have to wait another two weeks and do the School Certificate exams. The problem is that I have already notified the school that I will be on exchange and so would be unable to do it ...