This is the first in a series of articles from Megan Grattan, a junior from Cedar Springs High School, and currently a foreign exchange student in Denmark.
My name is Megan Grattan, daughter of Kevin and Karen Grattan and resident of Cedar Springs for over fifteen years. I grew up here, the only place I’ve ever known to be home. This year I am a junior at CSHS. I am a member of our Athletic Leadership Council, National Honors Society, and varsity volleyball team.
From the beginning of my freshman year, I wanted something different out of my high school career. Until I met some foreign exchange students that year, I didn’t even know it was possible to do a cultural exchange program in high school. Their stories and experiences they shared with me were my inspiration to pursue a crazy dream. I wanted, more than anything, to be an exchange student. I wanted to experience something new every day, to never know what’s going to happen, and to learn a new language and way of life.
After a year and a half of paperwork, e-mails, and more paperwork, I am currently living in Aalborg, Denmark. It is the fourth-largest city in Denmark, and it is just beautiful. I chose this country because of how much Danish heritage I’ve learned about, while the entire country is smaller than the state of Michigan. Though the country is small, it holds so much patriotism. Danish flags and colors are shown everywhere, and I just love it!
Living in a city has been nothing short of a complicated, confusing adjustment. Aalborg is nothing like Cedar Springs. I have learned how to use a public bus to get into town (which I have never done before), and to walk to a convenience store for things I need. I even walk to school every day. While adjusting to a six-hour time difference from home, I had to get used to darkness setting in only around 4:00 p.m.
Christmas in Denmark has been absolutely incredible. Downtown Aalborg has endless shops along streets for foot-traffic only, all decorated in lights and wreaths throughout the season. By far, the greatest thing about my Danish Christmas was the food. Christmas Eve and the three Christmas days are all filled with food! My family and I had several dinners that consisted of pork, duck, potatoes, gravy, rugbrød (a common type of bread), and much more. The rice pudding, or, ris ala mande, for dessert was one of my favorites. It is a delicious rice pudding that is drizzled with a warm cherry sauce. One of my favorite Christmas treats was definitely æbleskiver, which are pancake-like balls that are dipped in sugars and jam.
I have lived here for only a few weeks, but to my family and me, it feels like it has been much longer. The culture shock has been overwhelming, yet I am loving every minute I spend here in Denmark. I cannot wait to see what the next month has in store for me, while I learn more about this amazing country and its people. Anyone is welcome to look at my blog at grattan10.blogspot.com for more about Denmark!