Good alliteration in the title, right? Thanks, I tried.
So. I have one month left in Copenhagen, give or take, and I’ve yet to focus in on and talk about arguably the largest and most consistent part of my Denmark experience. It’s where I start and end the days, where I do most of my work, and where I eat nearly all of my dinners each night. *drumroll* It’s…my homestay! Yes, you knew it from the title. Yes, I will still be dramatic.
I will admit, I didn’t originally ask to be in a homestay – it was my second choice on the housing application. I wasn’t opposed to the idea, but I wasn’t clamoring at the opportunity.
But boy, am I glad that DIS apparently knew me better than I knew myself.
Preferences for housing will definitely differ from person to person. For context, I am a homebody who doesn’t go out too much (or at least never really feels the need to go out) and often needs some alone time to recharge. I love having creature comforts. I love good food.
So, how does a homestay fit best for me with all that?
Initially, I was scared that being in a homestay would mean I wouldn’t meet other DIS students. Not only is DIS good about introducing homestay students in the same general area (my Hellerup network girls became my rocks in those first few weeks!) but eventually you become friends with the people in your classes anyway.
At my homestay, I get a home-cooked meal every night (and because my host mom is an amazing cook, it’s always AMAZING). I have a lovely (albeit blind and old) Shiba Inu named Miko who will wander into my room to lick my leg. I have a home, one that’s separate from my classes and, with both pros and cons, from DIS students and culture. I get to have lots of intricate discussions about the difference between the USA and Denmark, and I get to introduce my host parents to US television, figures of speech, and strange foods.
But more important than the home itself is the family I’ve gained. My host mom and I will sit around her computer to watch Denmark’s version of the Great Bake-Off. I got to go with them to their summer house on Bornholm back in October, and I sit and laugh with my host sister for hours whenever she’s home visiting from college. During the Christmas season, we’re all going to see the Snow Queen ballet at Tivoli and celebrating their yearly Christmas party with glogg. I’ve slowly but surely integrated into the routine of this family, and with that comes a love and appreciation that I am so so grateful for.
Each night we’ll sit around the dinner table and talk about our days, the world around us, and any questions any of us have for the other’s culture. We’ve discussed pretty much everything, finding the small intricate differences between the US and Denmark – but also finding the small little similarities. (Did you know Denmark also has the Angel Trees – where you buy a personal Christmas gift for a child in need – in their malls?)
They know all about (and even met one of!) my best friends from Vassar. They know everything about my family, my life before Denmark, my personality. Especially after living alone for the entire summer before coming here, having a caring and attentive family to come home to made the entire transition, and has made the entire experience, so much better and so much easier.
There’s no housing option that’s better than others, and living in a homestay can have its own struggles (like the one time my key broke while my host parents were in Aarhus), but I’m happy with my housing experience.
Here’s me and Miko as an extra gift.
*Header Image is from my family’s summer house on Bornholm!*