Four months ago I moved in with total strangers. Not only had I never met them before, they were of an entirely different cultural background. Their primary language was different, and the kids did not speak any English. Of course they had their own images of the United States, given our immense cultural influence, but I knew very little of Denmark. Other than biking and wind power I did not have a clue, and it’s not exactly like those things give someone an insider view into the average Dane.
I remember I was a little worried during the first week because I met Lauren’s host family before my own and they were very cool. They lived close to the city and had two older brothers, 18 and 23. I had preferenced older siblings and of course would have rather been close to the city where I could quickly bike to school. On the other hand, my family had two young children who spoke no English and they lived about as far away as you could while still being in the Copenhagen region.
It turns out living in Koge was not so bad, and by the time I had spent another couple of hours with Lauren’s parents I knew I was much better off already. Four months have passed now and I no longer consider my host family strangers. Actually, I don’t really even consider them my host family. To me they are simply family. Everyone would get confused if I referred to them as family though, so I think I will just call them my “Danish Family.” I like the sound of that…it is so much more meaningful and personal than “Host Family” and it creates that distinction so people are not confused. And I think it makes me sound classy…I have family across the globe
Living with a host family is truly the way to experience a new country. A whole different side of life lies beyond DIS and the kollegiums. Even a Danish roommate could not fill the void of engagement created by staying with a family. I learned about everything from food and tradition to politics and taxes. Students are never really in the “real world,” and it is such an amazing experience to learn what the real world is like in Denmark compared to the U.S. I saw what worries they had and what things they enjoyed. I learned how families interact and what traditions they celebrate. I spent most of my time in Denmark either with my host family or with a few good friends, and I am so happy with the way I spent my time. By the time I left we were playing “Settler’s” almost every night (I did win eventually), and I was getting along with the kids incredibly well.
I’m not sure what more to say that has not been said in my other posts. The point is that my Danish family was fantastic and they really made my stay a real joy. It’s only been a week since I left and I am already thinking about when I next visit. Of all my time spent in Denmark, my Danish family is without a doubt among the top three best things about my trip. If not for my luck in finding amazing friends my Danish family would take the top spot. I suppose that sometimes, when two parts of a whole are so incredibly important that you cannot imagine the whole without either one of the parts, ties are inevitable. Usually ties are boring, but I think in this case it is the best thing that could have happened to me.