Home Sweet USA

I’m back in America!! It was a very long travel day though. We woke up at 5am Saturday morning (10pm Friday night Texas time) because neither one of us had started packing yet. Alice’s husband picked us up to take us to the airport at 7:30am. It was so sad to leave our little house! It really felt like home! When we were picked up from the airport a month ago it was dark, so we did not get to see much on the drive. This time, we got to enjoy the snow covered hills and beautiful forest areas! It was another sunny day too!

We flew from Billund, Denmark to Amsterdam. This flight was a little over an hour, almost enough time to make it through a whole movie. Then we had an hour and a half layover in Amsterdam. This airport is massive so we had to walk quite a ways to our new gate. Our next flight was from Amsterdam to Atlanta and took a little under 10 hours. I took a nap for about an hour and watched 4 more movies. Of course the short time I was asleep was when they passed out the main meal, so I missed that. Luckily I was awake when they came around handing out ice cream! We had a two hour layover in Atlanta, which was good because we had to go through customs and recheck our luggage. The last flight was from Atlanta to Dallas and was a little under 2 hours. I watched the 6th movie of the day. We landed around 8:30pm Saturday night Texas time (3:30am Sunday morning Denmark time). As much as I wish I was still in Denmark, it felt so good to be back in Texas.

One of my roommates picked me up from the airport and we went and got dinner. I was exhausted when we got home (I had been up for almost 24 hours at this point), but I stayed up talking with the roommates for a while! I went to bed around 10:30pm and woke up at 8am. Our flights seemed to work out really well because we didn’t experience jet lag when we got to Denmark and I don’t think I’m going to experience it here either!

In some ways it feels like forever since I have been in Fort Worth, but in other ways it feels like I never left. I’m happy to be home, but there will always be a small part of me that longs to be back in Denmark! I am so thankful for the experiences and memories and cannot wait to tell people more about my trip!

I originally created this blog thinking my TCU professors and my parents would be the only ones reading it, so I have been blown away at how many people have told me they have been following along! I am so excited so many people have been interested in how my trip was going and hope you all enjoyed my posts!

Tak og farvel (thank you and goodbye)!!

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Last Day at Kornmod

I can’t believe this month is over! So sad! I tried to take in as much as I possibly could today. There was snow on the ground and it was sunny, so the weather was perfect! The students were sad we were leaving, but we got to have some great last conversations with the older ones and playtime with the little ones!

For the first lesson we were with 10th grade. We had been with this class before, so we just asked if they had any new questions for us. After that, they split up into small groups and were given discussion sheets. These papers had a short article, some vocabulary words, and discussion questions. There was one on the topic of forgiveness and one on depression. We moved around between the groups and joined in on the discussions. We were enjoying these conversations so much that we lost track of time and were a little late to our next class!

For the second lesson we were with 8th grade. They just started a unit on wealth and poverty. Kathryn and I read an article out loud for them to give them a chance to hear us speak English and pronounce some of the new words. Then, they created definitions for the new vocabulary. We walked around the room and a student would read their definition to us or another student and we would have to try to guess what the word is. This is such a good way to give the students a chance to familiarize themselves with the words and meanings.

For the third lesson we were with 9th grade. They spent some time on Twitter, tweeting and replying to other tweets about what they have learned from their unit on social media. The teacher put the Twitter feed up on the big screen, so it was cool to be able to read what they were posting. Then, everyone was given a strip of paper with a question related to social media on it and we went around the room asking each other these questions.

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For the fourth lesson we were with another 9th grade. They are also still on the social media unit. The class had read another article about cyberbullying and were looking at some new vocabulary. We did pretty much the same activity we did with 8th grade earlier where the student says a definition and we guess the word.

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For the fifth lesson we were with 7th grade. This was a new class, so we did our presentations and answered questions. This group had some good questions that we had not heard before, such as “why do you want to be a teacher?” For the sixth lesson we were with 6th grade. This was a new class too, so we gave our presentations again. This was a very chatty class and they had a lot of questions, which is always fun!

For the seventh lesson we did not have a class. We spent some time saying goodbye to students and teachers, and then left with Jane. She had invited us over to her house for dinner for our last night there. First, we went to pick up one of her sons from Kindergarten. Their Kindergarten is more like our Pre-School over here. Her older son was going home with a friend for a birthday party. After we picked up her younger son, we went to their house. Her son was a little shy and it took him some time to warm up to us. He can understand some English, but does not really speak it. We still had so much fun playing with him though! We played on the swings in the backyard and then went to the “Tarzan swing” in the neighborhood. This swing was so much fun! You had to climb up a tree and then jump onto it. It was a little scary the first time, but then very relaxing. It was in a beautiful forested area and so you were surrounded by trees and snow and sun. I could have stayed there forever. We went back to the house and talked for a while with Jane and her husband and then had dinner. It felt so nice to be in a home with a family! It was the perfect way to end our last day in Denmark!

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More Snow!

Today was interesting. We had a lot of free time today because there weren’t many English classes we could be placed in.

For the first and second lessons we were with 9th grade. When we walked into the classroom, there was another teacher in there that told us the teacher they were supposed to have was sick today. He was teaching the class across the hall, so we were in charge. I was a little worried about having around 20 9th graders, but they were so well behaved. They knew what they were supposed to be working on and, for the most part, they did it. We let them know we could help them if they needed anything and then we just sat back until class was over.

For the third through fifth lessons, we did not have a class. We spent some more time walking around Silkeborg. We went to a coffee shop and stopped in a couple little shops. We made sure we were at the school for morning break and lunch break so we could spend more time playing with the kids! At one point, Kathryn was sitting with a bunch of little girls that were braiding her hair and hugging on her, while I was running around playing tag with a big group of little boys. After visiting so many different classes, we are starting to have more students run up to us and say hi and want to talk. I wish we could stay longer and build even stronger relationships with them! They all seem to be such great kids!

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For the sixth lesson, we were with 8th grade. It was another new class, so we gave our presentation and answered questions. After that, the teacher gave everyone a little piece of paper with a question on it. We walked around asking each other our questions and answering the other persons question. Then we would switch questions so we weren’t always asking the same one. They were simple questions like “what is your favorite animal” and “what is your favorite food” but it was interesting to hear all the different answers.

We did not have a class for seventh lesson either, so we headed home a little early. It was starting to drizzle so we biked quickly. We are finally starting to get the hang of biking through town!

It started snowing again tonight!! We spent some time playing in the snow and now we are making dinner and watching more snow fall!! One last taste of winter before it’s back to Fort Worth and 80*F! I am in shock that tomorrow is our last day here. I have no idea where the time went! I feel like we just got here! I miss home and my friends and family, but I’m so not ready to leave this wonderful place. It’s going to be hard, but I will definitely be back one day!

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Joy

Today was spectacular. Possibly my favorite day this whole trip. Today was full of joy and laughter!

For the first lesson we were with 7th grade. We gave our presentation and then answered some questions. This was the first time all month that we were talking to an older grade for the first time and we didn’t get a question about Trump! This first lesson flew by really quickly.

For the second lesson we were with 1st grade. We briefly introduced ourselves and then sang a song with them to get them to tell us their names. Since they are so young, their English is not that strong. Repetitive songs are an easy way to get them to participate and use English. They caught on and were able to sing along with us. It was so precious! Then we played a game with them to get them moving and using more vocabulary. We would say things such as “if you are wearing green, touch your toes” or “if you like pizza, rub your belly.” They loved it! We sang a couple more songs with them, like 10 little monkeys and head, shoulders, knees, and toes. I loved getting to spend time with the little ones again! When we were leaving, they all ran up to give us hugs and tell us they love us.

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For the third and fourth lesson we were with 3rd grade in art. We spent half the time telling them about ourselves and answering questions. Majority of the time they would ask the questions in Danish and the teacher would translate for us. They were a really fun group to talk with though! When we told them we are graduating in May, they got really excited and said we had to come back and teach at Kornmod after that! I wouldn’t be opposed… Then, they spent the rest of the time painting and coloring various animals for a project on Greenland.

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For the fifth and sixth lesson we were with 9th grade. Once again, we spent the first half of the time showing them our presentations and answering their great questions. My favorite with this class was, “What are the three most shocking differences you have noticed between Denmark and America?” I love it when their questions really make me think! After that, they spent some time reading an article and summarizing it. Some students pulled out a deck of Uno cards when they were done working!

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As we were walking from the 9th grade to our next class, we were attacked by some of the 1st graders we were with that morning! They chased us around in their “berg buddies.” There was about six of them so it was a little unfair and they were coming from every direction, but we loved getting to run around and play with them for a couple minutes!

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For the seventh lesson we were with 5th grade. What a way to end the day! We gave our presentation and then asked if they had any questions for us. They were very curious! They asked us if we could show them a horned frog, so we pulled up some pictures on Google. One of the pictures had one shooting blood from its eyes, which really intrigued the kids. We showed them a video of one shooting blood and they loved it! Then we taught them how to fold their fingers and say “go frogs!” We might have also taught them all to say y’all. After that, they wanted to see a video of American football. Naturally, we pulled up a TCU hype video. They loved this too! It was so much fun getting to share these new things with them and see how interested and excited they were!

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After school, Alice, one of our coordinators, gave us a tour of VIA University, where she teaches. It is a big university, but this campus only has the Education and Nursing students. The campus was very empty because there are no classes this week. They have the week off to work on some big papers they had to write. The campus was so beautiful though! It sits right on a little lake and the classrooms have big windows so you can see it all.

Next, Alice drove us up to Himmelbjerget, which means sky mountain. This is one of the highest points in Denmark with an elevation of 482 ft! It was a beautiful view overlooking Silkeborg and the lake.

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After our long and exhausting hike up the mountain (LOL), we headed to Alice’s house for some fastelavnsboller and tea. It was so nice to sit with her and her husband and just relax and share stories!

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Today was such a great day filled with so many different age groups! We also got to explore something new in this precious town. Who knew I could fall even more in love with Silkeborg?!

Typical Tuesday

Today was another day of jumping from class to class. The 45 minute lessons go by so quickly! Some teachers try to get a class for two back-to-back lessons when creating the schedule so that they have more time for each lesson. I would definitely do the same. I feel like by the time everyone is in the class and ready to begin, at least 10 minutes have already gone by. One thing this school does to help speed transitions along is that instead of having students move rooms for each class, they stay in the same room all day and the teachers move rooms. I like this for the students because it gives them a room and desk that they get to have all day, which makes it easier for them to keep track of their stuff. However, as a teacher, I think it would be difficult to not have your own classroom to keep your tools and materials in.

For the first and second lesson we were with a 6th grade class we had not been with before. We spend the whole hour and a half introducing ourselves, giving our presentation, and answering questions. When the teacher told us he wanted us to talk the whole time, we were a little worried. Our presentations usually last around 30 minutes. Kathryn and I have been joking about how we have heard each others presentations so many times that we could give them word for word. The time ended up going by quickly though. We drew out our presentations some and added more details and some stories. They also had some good questions that took us a while to answer.

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We were with the 7th grade class we made scones with two weeks ago for the third lesson. The last time we were with them. We only briefly introduced ourselves, so this time the teacher asked us to do our whole presentation. After that, she split the class into two groups. Half went to another room with Kathryn and half stayed with me. We got to talk about anything and ended up having a lot of good conversations! I had a very chatty group which made it easier. One of the boys told me about a band he is in with some friends and the song they are writing about. The girls talked to me about Justin Bieber, One Direction, Gossip Girl, and Channing Tatum. They also told me all about how they always hold hands and dance and sing around the Christmas tree on December 24th. That is the day they really celebrate Christmas and open presents, instead of on the 25th. For the fourth lesson we did not have a class so we ended up staying with the 7th graders we had just been with. They still had so many great questions, so their teacher decided to let us continue talking, even though they were supposed to be working on a German lesson.

We were with an 8th grade class we had not been with yet for the fifth lesson. We gave our presentations and then answered questions again. We got the typical questions about Trump, guns, and Danish food, but then got some new ones too. One student asked us about the strangest thing we have noticed about Danes. This caught us off guard and we really had to think about it. I wouldn’t say it is “strange,” just different, but we have definitely noticed a difference in how people act when walking around town. We are so used to saying hi to strangers, petting every dog we see, and having people hold the door open for us. None of that is normal in Denmark. We were also told that our accents are “really awesome” so that was pretty great!

Sixth and seventh lesson we were with two different 9th grades. They were both still working on their social media lesson. They read a few more articles about cyberbullying from their packets and Kathryn and I helped them with reading and some vocabulary.

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We biked home and our afternoon looked the same as yesterday. Nap, dinner, and The Bachelor. I think I’m getting a little too used to this routine. Going home and back to 3rd grade should be interesting!

Back to School!

It felt so good to be back at Kornmod today! I’m definitely going to miss this school! The first two weeks we were here were “academic days.” Instead of switching classes throughout the day, the students would spend all day with one teacher. This gave them the chance to work on bigger projects that require more than their 45 minute lessons on normal days. So today there were seven lessons.

For the first lesson, we were with 8th grade. We started out by all talking about what we did over the holiday break. A lot of students go to other countries like Austria, Germany, or France to go skiing! They thought is was funny how much Kathryn and I traveled. We got several remarks about how Americans come and hop from country to country so quickly when they are in Europe! After that, we talked about poverty and wealth with some small groups.

For the second and third lesson, we were with 7th grade. Once again, we all talked about our breaks. Then, I got to give out the letters my 3rd graders back in Fort Worth had written! The 7th graders agreed to write them back! They enjoyed reading the letters and laughed at some of the questions like “do you know what tacos are?” It was fun getting to read what the students wrote back. My 3rd graders will be so excited to receive these!

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For the fourth lesson we were with 10th grade. It was the first time we had been with this class so we spend the whole time giving our presentations about who we are and where we live and then answering questions. This group was very curious about our opinions of guns and school shootings.

The fifth lesson, right after lunch, we didn’t have a class to be with. Since most of their lessons are taught in Danish, they have been moving us around based on when there are English classes. For this time period, there were no teachers that were teaching in English, so we just hung out in the teachers lounge.

The sixth and seventh lessons were spent with 9th grade. They were still talking about social media and cyber bullying. They reviewed some vocabulary and articles they went over before the break and then read some new stories. At one point, they also had a student give a brief presentation on alcohol. I’m not entirely sure, but from what I understood each student gives a presentation about a topic of their choice at some point throughout the semester. It has been very interesting to hear about all the differences between America and Denmark involving alcohol. They start drinking at a much younger age and places are much less strict about checking IDs when selling alcohol. My favorite quote from the presentation was, “People with blue eyes can drink more than people with other colored eyes…so I’m a better drinker than a lot of people.”

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It was a good day back at school, but slightly difficult to get back in that routine. I got home and passed out for 4 hours! Now we are watching the Bachelor and enjoying some delicious ice cream!!

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Barcelona with a bit of Berlin

Made it back to our cozy home in Silkeborg! The last week has been filled with amazing adventures, new places, and unforgettable experiences! That said, I’m glad to be back. Staying in hostels has been quite the experience, and I’m glad to be back in a real house!

I think I’ve said this about every city I’ve visited, but I’m in love with Barcelona!! Such a beautiful city!! We got in really late Wednesday night, so we didn’t really get to see the city until Thursday. We woke up and found a breakfast cafe with delicious sangria and breakfast sandwiches. After that, we headed to the Gothic Quarter. This was an open area with a beautiful church and a little market where people had set up tables of stuff to sell. There were people playing live music and blowing huge bubbles and it was such a fun atmosphere! We walked around here for a while enjoying the culture and people watching while soaking up the sun! Next, we headed to La Segrada Familia. This is a massive, stunning basilica. It was under construction but still an amazing sight!

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Friday morning, we headed out to a smaller town on the outskirts of Barcelona called El Masnou and spent the morning at Alta Alella Vineyard. What a beautiful place! It was up on a hill overlooking the ocean. The vines were not blooming because it’s winter, but it was still pretty. I loved seeing and hearing about their winery and the wine making process. Since the vines are so close to the ocean, their wines have a small salty influence from the ocean winds which I thought was really interesting!

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After our tour, we went down to El Masnou Beach. Sooo beautiful!!! Between the sunshine and the waves and sand and the city in the distance, I could have stayed there forever!

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When we got back, we met up with some other TCU friends and had some delicious Mexican food then went to Park Güell. We met up with even more TCU friends there!! It was fun to see everyone and hear about their teaching experiences so far! Park Güell had the most spectacular view of the city too!!

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That night we went to Ice Barcelona. It was a small room where everything was made of ice and Star Wars themed! The walls, the bar, the characters, and couches! It was -13*C. Thankfully they gave us big jackets, but we still didn’t last too long in there!

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Saturday we wondered around the park by the Arc de Triumf. This was another big, open area with a fun atmosphere! After walking around for a while, we found a bench to sit on and enjoy the last little bit of sunlight before we got on a plane! We watched the kids chase after bubbles and listened to people play music! We also enjoyed some delicious churros! It was the perfect way to end our trip to Barcelona!

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We flew from Barcelona to Berlin and then had a 14 hour layover. We landed around 7:30 and were pretty exhausted, but we wanted to get out and see a little bit of Berlin at least! We went and grabbed dinner and then walked to the Brandenburg Gate. It was so beautiful all lit up at night! We soaked in the view for a little while then decided to head back to the airport.

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The plan was to find a place at the airport to curl up and get some rest but that didn’t work for me. I think I’ve slept about 3 hours in the last 36 hours. This morning we flew to Copenhagen then had a 4 hour train ride back to Silkeborg. Like I said, I’m very happy to be back home! Now to get some rest and be ready for our last week at Kornmod!