By Samiksha Subrahmanya, Hosted in Denmark
“One of the biggest differences between me and most of the other AFS students is that while I am here as an exchange student, I represent two countries: India, which is my nationality and home country, and Thailand, where I was born and have grown up my entire life. Duly so, making the decision to travel, study, and live in Denmark and adding another country to my identity was truly one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
I think my favorite thing about identifying with more than one country is being able to compare my life in Denmark to what I know from back home. I grew up with the familiarities taught to me by my Indian family while also absorbing the culture and habits of Thailand from my friends and surroundings. Additionally, one of the most amusing things I noticed was that I’ve actually become more in tune with my Indian/Thai identity while I’ve been here in Denmark, because back home it’s something you grow up with and don’t always need to pay attention to, but when you’re in a completely new setting, it’s everything that defines you.
It’s been extremely fun to be constantly discovering new things about Danish culture, especially by my host siblings and friends at school. Sometimes it’s the small but somehow significant details, like how Danes prefer less saturated colors like gray and black and white in their wardrobes, especially when I realized my closet was full of reds and pinks and blues.
(Photo Above: My host father and I, along with the family dog, Sif)
One major difference, on the other hand, is party culture. Danish school parties are an entire world away from anything I could have experienced back home. I’ll never get over how much fun it is to dance for hours underneath the shimmery disco ball, surrounded by your friends and two hundred other tipsy teenagers, and then even your feet get sore in your heels, you still don’t ever want to stop. There are dozens of other huge differences I’ve also noticed, but those would take forever to list.
I’ve also been enjoying the cultural exchange between my host family and me. They teach me how to perfect my Danish pronunciation, and I teach them a few phrases in my language for fun. They introduce to me traditional Danish food, and I introduce to them traditional Thai and Indian food. They help me adjust to living here, and I tell them interesting things about my life back home.
Throughout the three months I’ve been here, I’ve been tremendously happy, and I don’t think I could ever regret making the decision to travel with AFS to Denmark.
I’m super thankful for the loving family and friends I have here, and though I miss my home and family back in Thailand, I’m very eager to spend the next few months here in Denmark, continuing to learn and grow.”