Student: Julia Greco
Sponsoring Club: St. Catharines, Lakeshore
When I first got the letter from Rotary, saying that I would be going to Denmark, I'll admit that I was a little nervous! Denmark isn't one of the countries you normally hear about over here in Canada. I did a little research and found out that the Danes appreciated a lot of the things that I do, including delicious desserts, spending time at the beach, and not to mention an amazing music scene.
My three host families were some of the most generous people I'd ever met, they all lived on farms and introduced this city girl to a totally different way of living. I remember getting up bright and early every morning in the summer to go riding with my host sister Josephine.
Friends come easy in Denmark, the danes are a very open-minded, fun loving people. They are very forward, and say exactly what they feel. As long as you're outgoing and willing to try new things while laughing at yourself, people there will flock to you! The only thing that may get tiring is reminding your new friends to speak Danish with you. They get so excited to practice their English, that sometimes they forget you're trying to learn their langauge. The language is difficult, but don't let it get you down! I was speaking Danish after about four months. Keep it up and you'll be saying rødgrød med fløde in no time!
Rotary meetings were quite different from Rotary here in Canada. Our meetings were held in a small bed and breakfast, and sometimes at my counseller, Bjørn's home. Usually, there are only men in Rotary, and their wives join a seperate club called Inner Wheel. Guests at the meeting are usually local 'heros' and the most important part of the meeting is the meal! Offer to do a slideshow presentation about your country during the Rotary meeting! My club was delighted to learn about Canada. Also, during the last meeting of the year, I offered to present about my exchange, writing the entire presentation in Danish, they were so surprised that I learned to speak it.
My host families took me on some great trips, like visits to the viking musuems, culture nights in the city, and skiing excursions in Sweden. I enjoyed learning about the country's rich history, and seeing the natural landscapes that you'll never see anywhere else.
If you get a chance, ask about going to the Roskilde Festival - it's a one in a lifetime experience that words can't even describe.
When packing, make sure you bring appropriate gear for rainy days and outdoor exploration! Also, Danes (especially girls) tend to dress very well for school, don't be caught in sweatpants!
Finally, make sure to say thank you to your Rotary club, both at home and abroad. Be polite and respectful to your host family, and remember that family is a very important value in Denmark.