Sunday, June 27, 2010

My Second Graduation

Since I last wrote I have been EXTREMELY busy! Last thursday, the 24th I finally saw my classmates! It was a Kodak moment if ever there was one.. Bjarke drove me over to where my classmates were decorating our lastbil - the truck we drive around for 2 days after Graduation - and before we even pulled into the lot my friends were running over smiling and shouting my name! And I couldn't get out of the car fast enough - damn seatbelt! To be honest, I was worried and nervous to see them, anxious and excited too! But nervous that things might be different or that I would stick out from the rest of the class... To my huge relief and comfort I slipped right back into the class, with my friends and it was like I never left! It feels unbelievable to be with them again, to see my pals and celebrate finishing school! They are SO relieved to be finished with their extremly stressful oral and written exams.. as I was when I finished in Alaska!

We had a party/dinner at the school Thursday night and I got to catch up with everyone! Then Friday morning at 10 am was dimission where my friends Graduated and Bjarke and I were their personal photographers! We cheered and hooted and then afterwards we went outside and in front of the school took a class picture, where despite a few teachers' protests about my being in the photo, my classmates grabbed me and insisted I was going to be IN the photo because I was IN the class. Horrah!

Then it was straight into the lastbil truck which was pimped out.. And thus we began our 2-day party by hooting and hollering all the way through Ringe! There are 27 students in the class, plus me, and we visited EVERY kid's house where we were greeted by parents and family. Solvej was up all night the night before making pizza rolls for us and setting up! And then when we did get to my house on Saturday I was greeted by my host brother Nikolai who I hadn't seen in a WHOLE year and it was fantastic! I was just hugging him to death... And because we have to go to 27 houses, we only stayed at each house for 25 minutes and then drove to the next.. What a blast! Friday night we slept at Sara's house in the "barn" and woke up Saturday and began to drive at 10 am... God we had SO much fun! I went home from Julia's house, where the party stopped Saturday, and was in bed by 8.30 pm I was so exhausted..

How incredible that I was lucky enough to celebrate my Danish class' graduation with them, and with my own student hat too... Thank you so much 3a fra MFG.. SHA LA LA LA LA! I also learned a great cheer that is now ingrained in my memory.. even when I sleep! "Der er kun en rigtig hue og den er rød! Der er kun en rigtig hue og den er rød! Man kan også få en blå en men det alt for let at få en.. der er kun en rigtig hue og den er RØD!"

Today I woke up pretty early.. we hung out at home and then Solvej's Dad Ove visited us all the way from Pandrup in the north of Jylland. It was so great to see him! Then Solvej, Bjarke and I went to visit Anizette and Florian and it was fantastic to see them too! Pablo lived with them for some time while we were exchangies, so I took some pictures of his old room that's being renovated, the pets and such.. He will be so jealous of me! Right Pablo?? :)

Having a blast and definitely keeping busy!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

BACK in Denmark

I’m sitting here in my old room in Ringe, Denmark and finally sitting down to blog! After nearly a whole year, I’m back visiting my Danish family, friends and class! Honestly, the reality that I am back didn’t strike me until I was in the car driving from the Copenhagen airport with Bjarke back home to Ringe.. and all of a sudden I thought “HOLY MOLY I AM HOME!”

When I left last June I knew I would come back this year. My class invited me to graduate with them from Midtfyns Gymnasium, and actually I will tomorrow! Knowing I would come back made leaving slightly more bearable. I am awestruck to be “home”... to be riding my bike around Ringe and taking the train, speaking Danish which shockingly enough is coming back to me, I do feel like a “retired” exchangie. I feel like I’ve slipped right back into my life in Denmark and I couldn’t have wished for anything more.

Bjarke and Solvej are fantastic, as usual! And taking such good care of me… Bjarke is currently sitting downstairs singing some Danish song with gusto! I’ve seen a few of my classmates (Stinna, Katja, Anders and Nick) but I know they are studying extremely hard this past week for the final exams and I don’t want to be a distraction.. We will celebrate when they’re all done tomorrow and I really can’t wait! The class bought me a Danish student hue/hat and it has all the flags on it, because I am an international student! TUSINDE TAK THANK YOU THANK YOU class for my hat! It is so beautiful.. And I am extremely grateful. More than anything I’m super excited to see everyone hopefully tonight at the school party, or tomorrow at commencement (dimission på dansk). After dimission, the class drives in a big truck honking and screaming and celebrating! They drive to every student’s house from the class where they have about 25 parties! That takes about 2 days! So I really can’t wait to celebrate being done with school, with all my Danish pals J

I have been in Denmark for 6 whole days now and I have been relaxing! I spent a day with Lea, whose family I spent Christmas with while I was on exchange. It was so relaxing to hang out with her and her sister Rie and their family.. They have a gorgeous garden and house and I feel so comfortable with them. Bjarke and I drove to Århus yesterday morning to pick up a cage and a Degu for the two little Degus we bought last Saturday. Degus are a kind of chinchilla, or just in the same family, and we saw them at the pet store and just had to buy them! I was allowed to name them and Solvej and I finally came up with two names for the little critters today : Chester and Iggy ! Here’s a picture of the little dudes..

Yesterday was Sankt Hans in Denmark! For those of you who followed my blog when I was on exchange, you remember that Sankt Hans marks the midsummer and it is celebrated by a huge bonfire and burning a scarecrow witch ( ). I went and spent the day with Gorm and Marianne and their two daughters Helene and Andrea, who remember me from when I babysat as an exchangie. I had a blast with them! Marianne and I picked the girls up from school and they took me around and introduced me to all their friends who gapped at me with open mouths and wide eyes! Probably thinking I’m some kind of foreign alien who speaks another language! Well I guess I am! Haha.. The kids were so cute!

We jumped on the trampoline, me and the girls, and had a picnic and ate dinner.. Marianne and I talked for hours! She went abroad to Indonesia and Australia when she was younger and has really great stories! We just click and never seem to run out of things to talk about.. And Gorm, Marianne and the girls and I went down the harbor a 5-minute walk from their house to watch the witch burn and sing songs and meet all the neighbors. Det var bare hyggeligt! Thank you SO much Gorm & Marianne for having me, and welcoming me to spend Sankt Hans with you! Then I took the train home from Odense, where Gorm works at the hospital, this morning. I missed taking the train and watching the country fly past my window. I did not miss the $8.50 20-minute ride. It’s so expensive without a wild card, which I had as an exchangie and cuts the price in half.

I also met Andrea from Costa Rica who I met through my blog while I was on exchange. She was planning on coming to Denmark and as we talked more we found out she was going to be on Fyn! And she actually ended up having my first host mom, Maria as a contact person. Denmark is SO small! It was fantastic meeting Andrea and spending the day with her, her host family and mom who is visiting from Costa Rica. Thanks for letting me tag along for the day Andrea!

I apologize for not blogging while I was going through culture shock/readjustment at home in Alaska. I guess I’m all talk and no walk! But I will summarize this past year and give some advice to the AFS students from this year in Denmark heading home next week:

Like I’ve said, I’m so extremely lucky to have a supportive family and encouraging and patient friends! Listening to constant stories about “Denmark this.. Denmark that” gets old, but they kept their mouths shut and nodded and smiled and sometimes that’s what I needed most. After the initial excitement from getting home wore off, I swear I cried for two weeks and occasionally still do because I miss my life here in Denmark. I miss my exchange student friends who made my AFS experience as phenomenal as it was! And returning is amazing, but strange without them here. I can’t just pick up the phone and meet them in Odense in 10 minutes. That’s hard to bear.. especially when we are already losing touch after only a year. I HAVE to make time to write to them, even if it’s just a “hey how are you?” every week. Losing touch is so painful.. and I refuse to just let everyone be! I will become the annoying girl from Alaska who needs a weekly update from across the globe!

My advice for those of you going home: Don’t be afraid talk about Denmark! But keep in mind people want the short & sweet of your experience : you had an unforgettable experience, you miss Denmark, but you’re happy to be home. When most peoplet ask how your year was, that’s what they're anxious to hear. Your family, and those friends who really care DO want to hear about it.. and talking through it helps you readjust to life at home.

Gosh I’m sorry for the GINORMOUS blog.. I have a lot to make up!

I’ll keep you posted. Francine

(Just read First Comes Love, Then Comes Malaria by Eve Brown-Waite .. by far the best book I’ve read all year!)