One tradition that I found particularly fun is having a kagemand for birthday parties and screaming when you cut off its head!
Colleen fra Pennsylvania læste to semestre hos DIS i 2015/2016, hvor hun boede hos en værtsfamilie på Frederiksberg. Det var et år, hvor hun takket være sin værtsfamilie lærte en masse om Danmark og de traditioner, der er ikke findes i USA. For eksempel er Colleen stadig fascineret af den danske kagemand, der får skåret halsen over til fødselsdage.
Why did you choose to live with a homestay during your semester?
My home university actually required that I live in a homestay, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I really wanted the opportunity to be immersed in the people and culture of the city I was studying abroad in, and I was certainly able to get that by living in a homestay with DIS.
What was your favorite Danish tradition they introduced you to?
I have many answers for this question – it is hard to choose a favorite. One tradition that I found particularly fun is having a kagemand (literally, a “cake man” – a pastry shaped like a person decorated with licorice, marzipan, and gummies) for birthday parties and screaming when you cut off its head!
What was an American or family tradition from your home that you brought to their family?
Thanksgiving. I had never spent Thanksgiving away from home before, and I was so grateful to have had such a great experience celebrating with my host family. We had a full Thanksgiving meal, complete with Turkey, potatoes and gravy (brown sauce, if you prefer), and cranberry sauce.
What was one of your most memorable cross-cultural moments with your family?
My host family actually visited the US after my stay in Copenhagen. It was really fun to see them experience my neck of the woods, so to speak, after living in theirs. I really enjoyed seeing our cultures weave in and out of each other as we experienced different places together.
You are back now post-graduation as an intern with DIS – how was your reunion with your family and have you kept up any old traditions with them?
It was a great reunion! Upon being with them again, it was like I had never left (except that my host sister was much taller than when I had last seen her!). We have definitely kept up with some old traditions and started some new ones as well.
Do you have any tips for future new hosts about getting the ball rolling on bonding/breaking the ice with their new student?
I found that having open communication can go such a long way! Getting to know your student and welcoming them into your family right away will set things up for a great semester. Different things also work for different people, so don’t be afraid to experiment with new ideas to break the ice with your student.
For example, I had a young host sister who spoke very little English when I first arrived. A couple of weeks into my stay, I remember my host mom made up a game for us where I had a stack of sticky notes, each with a word in Danish for the names of various household items; my host sister had the same but in English. We then ran around the house labeling the items and helping each other with the opposite language, with many giggles along the way. Once we were finished, we kept the sticky notes up for a couple of weeks so both of us could learn some new words and remember the laughs from our little game. It was a great spontaneous bonding activity!
Hør Colleen fortælle meget mere i interviewet her, hvor hun bliver interviewet af Jenni, der også er tidligere studerende.