Bad Days and Good Days

Bad Days and Good Days

During exchange you’re always bound to have either great days or days that leave you at the end of the day feeling empty inside. This is normal for every person regardless of where they are. We all have been at our worst and we have the ability to bounce back and get out of bed the next morning.

It’s alright to have a shitty day once in a while. We’re only human and sometimes things just don’t go as planned. At the end of the day it’s all up to you to try to be positive or to let it disrupt your happiness beyond belief. I am one to believe everything happens for a reason and that reason can be good sometimes. For example: your significant other left you but maybe the next person you find will be better for you or maybe you’ll find that you’re happier alone. Or you lost your job but the next one you find may be one that you are so happy doing that you do it for the rest of your life.

I wrote one thing this week for my future self when I was feeling down and very stressed: “It’s always up to me on days like these and any other day to look back and say that I can make it through all this and to get out of bed the next morning and keep going. It’s up to me to decide that halfway around the world I can either not let anything stop me or I can just throw in the towel and give in. I have an absolutely amazing opportunity to be here and I shall not waste it.” I was stressed this week because I feel bad for not being able to participate much in school and because my Danish is coming along very slowly and for both of those reasons I feel extremely left out of a lot of things going on.

No matter how bad it gets and no matter how often you just want to stay in bed you can make it through any day and make what you want out of it.Remember to take time to do the things that make you happiest.

Readers should not worry about me for I am happy and have already gotten through my share of bad days for the time being.

The Happiest Country In The World

The Happiest Country In The World

Denmark has been named the world’s happiest country for a few years in a row now. From my standpoint everything here seems extremely well-functioning, including leadership within the government, education, and having the freedom to choose your own career path. People tolerate and get along with each other.

Although taxes take a huge toll on everyone who lives here, there are many benefits provided by the government. No one needs to find health insurance to pay for when they break a leg or need surgery, and all public schooling including university is free. In that way, tax is also a very good thing. How much you pay to the government depends on how much you make and is set up to reduce the gap between socioeconomic classes.

Family is also a very important factor within this culture that adds to its happiness. People here, no matter how much work they have or plans they make to go out with friends, always make time for family every day. I have seen this with my host family. Every dinner we have together, everyone just takes time to talk to each other even after the meal is over and it can last a couple hours.

Everyone I have met is also extremely tolerant of each other. I have not heard anyone make any rude comments or nasty remarks. People try to embrace the fact that we are all only human and that we should focus on how much we are alike rather than how much we differ. They curse like sailors but are very accepting of everyone.

All in all I am one to believe that this is the happiest country in the world for the reasons stated above. No country I have been to has been able to compare to the characteristics of this one.

Differences in School

Differences in School

This week I have been thinking about how different the normal school day and teaching is in Denmark compared to the United States. The biggest difference is the amount of responsibility and independence students are given in each country, and how the day is structured.

In the United States students are given a schedule of roughly seven classes that each last about forty to sixty minutes in between which they have three to five minutes breaks to rush to their lockers and find their next classroom.  It’s very stressful until you get into a routine. Many students do not act as if they want to be there and do not do a lot of the work but must stay there for the full school day unless stated otherwise. Some people even compare it to being in a prison.

Schools in Denmark are run more like a college. You are required to look up what classroom you meet in the next morning and throughout the rest of the day. Most of the time you stay in the same classroom and you have the same classmates throughout the entire day. Classes last an hour and a half each with ten minute breaks halfway through. There is no set schedule for each day so it’s normal to get out of school at different times no matter what day of the week it is. Classes can also be canceled throughout the day and when that happens you may do whatever you want with that time whether it is go downtown to get something to eat or simply go home to take a nap. As long as you’re back in time for your next class it is fine.

I have gone through the United States’ school system long enough to understand it and become accustomed to it. I still have yet to get used to going to a Danish school although I am starting to develop a routine. Between the two, and even though it seems less organized I prefer the Danish school system since it gives me more of an independent feeling.

Human Nature

Human Nature

This week I attended a language camp for all the exchange students in Denmark who are going through the Rotary Youth Exchange program. This included 200 teenagers from dozens of countries around the globe. We all had our similarities though and strive for independence. Our time together only reinforced our reasons for being so far from home.

With all of us having so much in common this led to a lot of very deep conversations that included things we missed about home, problems that consistently occur in our lives, and human values that are both good and bad. This led me to think very hard about what we as humans do to ourselves.

Greed has clouded our train of thought and we no longer care what we do as long as we get whatever expensive car or new piece of technology. We as humans constantly become materialistic and sometimes value little things that don’t matter more than we value our own lives or others. Not everyone values an object or money more than a human life but we all have or will be greedy at some point in our lives. I too have done this, I enjoy wasting my money on fancy watches I don’t need and don’t spend enough time realizing what good I could be doing.

We idolize people who distract us from our real problems but who are also too unintelligent and full of greed to recognize that we even have any. We fight over whose god is better when we should accept and realize that we are all equal. Between people we all have our differences but at the end of the day that’s what we have that makes us human.

We have lost our way and our values have been lost. It is human nature to feel so that is what we should do. The things we should value and treasure most are love, respect, unity, and peace. If we cannot value those things then what is the use of even calling ourselves human?

Missing Home

Travel is always a great thing, you get to learn more about about the backyard we call our Earth’s overall culture. But eventually everyone hits something that makes them lose motivation to keep trying to travel and that is called being homesick. Homesickness is extremely common for most people and you could be gone for two days or two years to feel this way.

I have traveled a lot in my lifetime and have experienced massive amounts of homesickness doing so. It’s hard to pick yourself out of it and when you can’t you feel empty inside and just want to lie in bed all day and think about home.

My first week in Denmark was my hardest so far. I didn’t know anyone and had not much I could do to occupy myself. I found myself waking up and getting ready for the day to just go back to sleeping in the mornings. I would message people back home but it was difficult because of the time difference. The memory of my parents crying at the airport weighed me down more than a sack of bricks would.

It’s all very hard to deal with but you always just need to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and go have fun. Homesickness goes away when you have something to do, whether it’s a walk around town or a party that lasted all night its best to keep yourself occupied. I am better now because of this. I have friends who are great and am becoming closer with my host family. Nothing can ever bring down your happiness, it all depends on your attitude, so remember to smile once in a while.

Danish Social Norms

Danish Social Norms

This week in Denmark I finally started school which is probably the first time I remember looking forward to school. It has also helped me embrace and immerse myself in the country’s culture. School is difficult but I have made a few friends to help me with it and help me improve my Danish skills.

The people my age here can be very friendly and rambunctious, just as my friends back home which felt welcoming. Adults here are very relaxed on parenting to the point where their teenage children openly talk in front of them about how they got drunk that weekend or when they were with friends. I suppose the legal drinking age, which is sixteen for drinks consisting of lower amounts of alcohol, is something that does play into that and does make it much more socially acceptable than what I am used to. As well as a large percentage of teenagers smoke cigarettes and people seem not to mind at all.

The communication that some people have between each other is both scary and hilarious. I saw a teacher the other day flip off a student who was blocking his car. A lot of people say the word fuck quite often as well. I thought I was a loose cannon with my swearing before I came here but they use language like that about three times the amount that I do.

Besides the occasional cigarette butt they do a much better job of keeping the streets and sidewalks clean than the U.S. ever has. I love the architecture of all the old buildings, it never fails to amaze me.

I am still absolutely loving this entire country and am so very happy.

5 Things About Denmark I Have Learned So Far

5 Things About Denmark I Have Learned So Far

This was my first week in Denmark and so far things are going well. It wasn’t too easy at first but now I am starting to get into somewhat of a routine. There is so much here that is yet to be discovered and I am very excited to do so but here’s a list of what I do know so far.

#1 Danish Is Quite Difficult

I walked off that plane on Sunday thinking that I knew enough Danish to at least hold a very short conversation. I know basic phrases and I thought that I would understand at least 10% of what people said in a conversation. I have no idea what anyone here is saying at all. My current host family speaks in Danish during meals and it just goes in one ear and out the other for me and I am always embarrassed when someone asks me something in Danish and I have to tell them that I can’t speak Danish well at all. I will be taking lessons in school to help improve it but I am so lucky most of this population speaks English otherwise I would be screwed.

#2 The Scenery Is Much different than what I’m Used To

My hometown in the United States is 2700 feet(or 832 meters) above sea level along with many mountains in every direction you look. Here I am right next to the ocean and I did not think anywhere could be as flat as this. It’s all gorgeous here but I continuously look out at the distance and think I am dreaming because of the lack of mountains or hills or any difference in elevation.

#3 The Fashion Is So Simple

Normally what I wear in the U.S. would be some slightly tight jeans, a pair of vans, and a t shirt or bro tank with a unique design on it. And my current haircut consists of long hair coming from the top of my head that just barely touches the bottom of my nose along with all other sides of my hair being shaved down. While I was touring my school wearing a bright blue hoodie to match my Captain America shirt I noticed that I didn’t just stick out like a sore thumb, but looked like a hot pink sheep among a large flock of white sheep. People my age had simple plain shirts that at most had a few stripes on them with their hair either contained or cut short. My only response to that is that I foresee a shopping trip in my near future along with possibly a haircut.

#4 Interest In U.S. Politics

I can understand the interest in the current presidential race going on in my home country because it may affect our relations with other countries. I am glad that I cannot participate in it because of my age because I don’t care for Clinton or Trump. I assumed people would be asking about other topics such as guns or the lack of healthcare and college paid for by the government, and it is not too late for people to ask about those topics. So far I have only been asked a couple times about the presidential candidates and I think that I will try to memorize an answer for every time I must answer that question.

#5 The Area And Convenience Of How Close Things Are

Back home I had to drive everywhere, nothing was a simple walk away unless you want to sweat for an hour in the hot sun. Here there’s everything just a short distance away and I love it. Every household only needs one car because most of the time people can bike or walk anywhere they need to.

Everything here is going well and I love it, I am sure this exchange will be everything I want it to be.