Anna went on her SCCE student exchange program to Denmark for a year in January of 2019. Her story gives a wonderful idea of the adventures and emotions you can expect on your own student exchange journey! Enjoy.
What has been your favourite thing about exchange thus far?
My favourite part of my exchange is my host family. I was lucky enough to be placed in a family which who is perfect for me. I feel at home and love being surrounded by them, especially my Danish host sister. We are two peas in a pod and if you saw us hanging out together you would think we had known each other our whole lives. I’ve never had a sister and she makes me wish I grew up with one. So thankful to the people who were apart of the placement process because this is a dream come true.
Please tell us a story and explain the images you’ve decided to share.
The truth was I had never planned to go on an exchange. It wasn’t because I didn’t want to I just didn’t know if I could. However, Southern Cross Cultural Exchange made my dream a reality. In August of 2018 I was awarded the New Zealand Explore Dream, Discover Scholarship for a Year Program to Denmark in 2019. So, in January I board a plane to Denmark and here I am now. My exchange experience has been more than I ever dreamed it would be.
I’m placed in greater København with the best host family. My host family consists of my host father, host mother and their 15-year old daughter. We also have a 20-year old University exchange student from the US. My two sisters and I get on extremely well despite our age and cultural differences. I’ve never laughed so much, my lungs hurt. On Valentine’s we celebrated together by sharing three tubes of Ice Cream while watching a Rom-Com.
School is one of the special parts of an exchange. I get to spend my days hanging out with friends while being completely surrounded by another cultural and language. Here in Denmark, I’m enrolled in a Gymnasium program. It is different from what I’m used to. I get to study a boarder range of subjects compared to back home. It’s nice to try new subjects and get new perspectives on subjects I have already studied.
Since arriving in Denmark I have travelled throughout most of the country! I’ve visited Central København multiple times and explored most of the towns in the area. At the start of the month I travelled to a waterpark with the local Youth School and my host sister. I learnt how to Ice Skate and had an amazing time in the waterpark. Last weekend I travelled with my host family to Northern Denmark. We saw where the Baltic Sea meets the North Sea. We also visited a church, a lighthouse and a special beach as well as explored the Danish towns of Skagen, Viborg and Aarhus. I have learnt so much about this country which I call home.
This experience takes my breath away. I have made lifelong friends across the globe and learnt so much about myself. My independence and resilience have grown. My communication skills have developed and my confidence has grown too.
Do you have any tips or advice to offer future exchange students?
I have two big pieces of advice for future exchange students.
1. If you are going to a country where they speak another language make an effort to learn the language. I have studied the Danish language since August and it has made the integration process so much easier. Although I can’t speak much Danish I have been able to read 90% of written Danish since I got here and I can understand a fair amount of it too. It means I’m not completely reliant on translations or people. People also have a huge amount of respect for people who are making an effort with the local language.
2. Absorb the culture. You don’t go on exchange to live your life somewhere else. You go on exchange to live another life somewhere else. You want to fit in with their culture. Say yes to everything (that’s safe). The more time you spend living like a local the more you will understand the culture. It’ll make your experience more authentic.