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A Life Abroad: My Experience as an Exchange Student

N-Foreigh-exch-storyBy Megan Grattan


It still amazes me that even after four months in Denmark, I am continuing to learn more and more about the people and culture here. It’s even crazier knowing that I will be back home in America in only two short months.

If four months of living here have taught me anything, it’s how much I appreciate America’s cheap goods. Everything in Denmark is outrageously expensive, especially for me, as an American. One U.S dollar is equivalent to six Danish crowns (kr). One of the best examples of the high prices would be considering a meal at McDonald’s. In the States, a meal costs somewhere between three and five dollars. Here, you would pay easily twice as much for the same food. For clothing, if you can find any shirt for under 100 kr, or about sixteen dollars, it’s considered very cheap!

Denmark’s expensive lifestyle doesn’t stop at just everyday items. Cars and houses are also taxed extremely heavily. Personally, I have only seen three pickup trucks here in Denmark, and their sizes came nowhere close to the average Ford-150. Because cars are so expensive, the average size of cars don’t come too much larger than a Ford Focus. Therefore, the roads are much more narrow.

Though the prices for clothes are simply outrageous, it amazes me that the majority of Danes love keeping up with the latest and most expensive clothing fashions, men and women both. If Danish students in gymnasium (high school) wore pajama pants to school, like in CSHS, it is almost unthinkable. Even wearing sweatpants in public is a bit taboo. I have not seen any girls here wear any other kind of pants that aren’t the “skinny” fit. Nobody wears flared jeans. It even seems to me that men here tend to put more time and effort into their fashion and appearance than women. A lot of young men in my school take the time to blow-dry and gel their hair every morning!

Though Denmark citizens pay so much money with heavy taxes each day, they are paying for health care and higher education at the same time. Anyone can go to the hospital or visit a doctor if they are sick or injured, and they don’t need to pay, thanks to their taxes payments. After high school, students go to college for “free,” since it is also paid for. Students and families don’t need to worry about the heavy college payments and debt, and Danes are just amazed when I describe the stress of how American students apply and pay for college costs!

Aside from these facts about Denmark, the realization hit me of just how little time I have left here. Sometimes it just doesn’t even seem real to me that I soon will be leaving this beautiful country. I’m excited to begin concluding my experience here with upcoming trips to Germany, Sweden, and another trip to Copenhagen, as well as finishing up the school year.




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