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A Life Abroad: My Experience as an Exchange Student

This is part of a series of articles from Megan Grattan, a junior from Cedar Springs High School, and currently a foreign exchange student in Denmark.

 

Megan Grattan (third from left) and her new friends in Denmark.

Megan Grattan (third from left) and her new friends in Denmark.

My stay in Denmark seems to get better each day. I am surprised every day by just how amazing this place is. After a confusing period of culture shock, I am involving myself with friends and family more than ever, and I hardly have time to think about home anymore!

The weather here is very similar to Michigan’s. We get decent amounts of snow, but it is less than in Michigan. Denmark shares Michigan’s most beloved quality of constantly changing weather. My least favorite part about the weather here is the wind. It is windy almost every day here! When the temperature is 30 degrees Fahrenheit, it feels like only 20. It is very important to bundle up with a scarf, mittens and a hat almost every day in the winter here.

School in Denmark is very different than in the United States. I am currently taking Chemistry, Biology, Spanish, Danish, English, History, Art, and two PE classes in school. Thankfully, I don’t need to stress too much over my classes, since I don’t need any credits to transfer back to CSHS next year. Students here use laptops in almost every class during the day. Sure, we’ll use our laptops to take notes during lectures, but most of the hours are spent on Facebook.

School is also very different socially. Sure, you have the different cliques and groups, like any American high school. However, I found it very strange that boys and girls don’t usually interact with one another in school, unless they are dating or are very good friends. During lunch, the girls will sit with other girls, and boys with boys.

The days in school are scheduled similar to college classes. Each day is different; some days might be longer or shorter than others, and classes could be canceled at anytime. If classes are canceled in the morning, you can sleep in and come to school later. If the afternoon classes are canceled, you can go home early. Because students have each class usually two, maybe three, times per week, we have a very long time to complete assignments, around three weeks or so. Because of this, we don’t get homework very often!

I enjoy my English class the most. Not just because it is taught in English but because the students learn a lot about the United States and I am asked questions frequently about the language or culture. However, what is surprising to me is that when kids are taught about the “American Dream,” only New York City is used to describe it. It’s a shame that Danish kids don’t learn about what the majority of our country is really like in the average, middle-class lifestyle, like where I come from. The kids here have trouble understanding that not everyone wants to aim for living in a city like New York!

Overall, everything is going great. I am learning Danish constantly, and I just love it. I can’t wait to see what the next few months have in store for me as I continue my stay in Denmark.

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