University of Wisconsin–Madison

DET GÅR GODT

Greeting friends and family!

I did it! I made it! I’m in Denmark. It doesn’t seem possibly, but I am in fact writing to you all from the desk in my bedroom! (As I’m writing this, a commercial on my spotify came on in Danish hehe.) Anyway, so I arrived this afternoon, which would be this morning in Wisco, so I’m sure you’re all shocked I’m writing this before bed. Anyway, so I got off the plane, had a quick orientation, bought some technological device for my phone, and BAM!, my host family came to get me!

Now why am I writing, what could possibly be so interesting on my first day, or my first half day (if you want to get technical)… WELL, my host mother, had asked me a while back if I would be up to going to a birthday party shortly after they came to get me at the airport. Days before the flight, I was so ready to go to a big Danish party… but after 10+ hours in airports and on airplanes, I was kind of ready for a shower and some cuddles with my new puppy (moose of a chocolate lab… my new Danish baby!) Anyways, we ended up going to this birthday party for my host mom’s dad. And once we started talking about going, I started to get excited. It would be myself and my roommate (another Wisconsinite), our host family (host mom, host dad, and two of their three daughters- more to come on the family in future posts), my host mom’s sister and her family, and her dad and step mom. A small intimate gathering, perfect post-plane company.

So we arrive in this little development, if you will, where there are apartment buildings sort of scattered around a central point. When we went in, I was shocked to notice that the hallways and stairwells were extremely homey. Each time you made a turn, there would be a burning lantern with some flowers in a pot, or a rack with shoes, or a little bench with throw pillows.

When we got up to his apartment, we were greeted by a pretty large family in a pretty small space. The apartment was set up for two, a nice size room serving as the living room and dining room, two bedrooms, and a pretty big kitchen. It was so homey. I couldn’t even handle it. Let me tell you, I would have moved in there right away if I could. I felt right at home. It had the less is more feel with still a feeling of being lived in, with photos on the walls, memories of trips to Spain, and other little trinkets and candles.

So I loved this apartment. That was the point. But what I really witnessed that made me feel the urge to write was the way the family functioned when they were all together. So upon our arrival, I noticed that my host mom’s sister had three boys (8ish, 4ish, and 2 (I know this age for sure because I asked how old the little one was that was making faces with me from under the dining room table))… Obviously I wasn’t in awe of the ages of these kids, but rather in their interactions with each other in relationship to their ages. According to my host mother, she and her daughters see her sister and her sons pretty much multiple times a week. And yet, with seeing each other so frequently, they all acted like they hadn’t seen each other in forever when we walked in the door. The girls were hugging and kissing their little cousins, the little cousins were jumping on, sitting on, (you name it) on their older cousins. And it struck me really funny. Throughout the night, each of the little boys would be playing with one of their iPads (yes they have them here) and at all times, one of the girls would be sharing a chair with them, telling them how to win whatever game they were playing.

While at first, I felt very out of place- seeing as everyone in this family made sure to interact with everyone else at least twice before the meal was served- I still felt very at home and like a part of what was going on -even though 75% of the time I had no idea what anyone was saying.

Towards the end of the meal, I made an alliance (if you will, sounds cooler than “friendship”) with my host mother’s step mom. She spoke very fluent English as she was previously an English teacher in Nigeria (also how cool is that?) and she was chatting me up like I was leaving the country tomorrow. She told me all about her trip to Spain with her husband and about the friends they met walking. She told me about girls she met while teaching English. My host mom chimed in at one point and giggled “Aaryn, you see, she has friends all over the world.” To which I said, “That’ll have to be a new goal of mine, to have friends all over the world.”

Her mom just laughed at me and said “you’re on your way there.”

So basically I had a very interesting experience only a few short hours after getting off the plane. I was thrown into the culture still in my plane clothes and salt-stained Wisconsin boots. BUT I had an incredible night. I was so interested in everything happening around me, in the interactions and the scenery, that I didn’t really notice I hadn’t slept at all in however many hours (unless you count lightly sleeping on the plane until your head falls forward and you fly awake…. I don’t).

Today, our host sister is taking my roommate and me into Copenhagen via bus to go see the city and where we will be for classes and what not. We also will be going to the grocery store, which I heard is quite the adventure! And after that we’re taking the dogs for a walk in the woods? Something like a wooded sports area?

I guess we’ll see!

Det går godt

(“It’s going well!”)

-Aaryn