Shannon læser til dagligt på Bradley University i Illionois. Hun er 22 år og bor hos en værtsfamilie i Glostrup. Hendes værtsforældre hedder Gert og Jannie, og de er værter for første gang. Det var da deres egne børn flyttede hjemmefra, at der blev plads til at kunne invitere en DIS-studerende indenfor.
Vi har taget en snak med Shannon for at høre lidt ind til hendes oplevelser i Danmark, og særligt om, hvordan det har været at bo hos en værtsfamilie.
# Tell us about your Homestay – who are they and what makes them special to you?
“My host family consists of two parents and two cats in Glostrup. Gert and Jannie have two adult children who live together in the city. With a quieter, emptier home, they said they missed having someone young around and chose to host to fill that space!
Both of my host parents are high up in their companies, so they work pretty long days, but like to come home and distance themselves from it. Jannie is the CFO of the DSB 7/11s and Gert is an IT Consultant. Gert is outgoing, talks quite a bit, and loves to poke fun at other people, while Jannie is calm and caring. Gert is in a rock band and a wine enthusiast who likes to break out a bottle when we BBQ outside or to celebrate the weekend. Jannie loves to hike and is planning to do a week-long trek of the Camino in Spain next year.
Their children, Nadja and Nicklas have been really welcoming as well. Nadja is a lawyer and Nicklas recently graduated with his Masters in Finance. They both studied abroad in Australia and have traveled enough to pass on a few helpful tips.
My host family is special to me because their personalities are a little opposite and make a really balanced home. They go out of their way to think of me and make sure I’m adapting well by leaving breakfast for me out on the table in the morning or letting me pick a birthday meal and letting me invite friends. Their goal is to make me feel at home, and it has been successful.”
What is the biggest cultural difference so far you have discovered between your Homestay here and your family back at home?
“I honestly don’t think I’ve noticed a “big” cultural difference yet. Maybe I came in with enough of an open mind that nothing has struck me as very different, but it seems we have much more in common than differences. I have noticed small differences regarding clothing and food. I knew to expect some of it, but it’s still been a little surprising to see them show up in conversation. For example, Jannie and I hiked 10 kilometers near the summerhouse and then met Gert for lunch in the town we ended our hike. Jannie wore normal clothing (black jeans) to hike simply because we would be dining in public at the end, so I joined her.
We’ve also discussed food culture and how strange some of my habits seem to them. For example, I bought peanut butter to make PB & Js for lunch at school and they were shocked I would eat jelly at lunch instead of breakfast and have a sandwich without meat or vegetables on it. I’ve been less surprised by their eating habits compared to mine. To prepare dinner, Jannie and Gert both cook, clean, and shop depending on who is home the earliest. I’ve even taken on a night each week to make dinner. They also have a rule that whoever cooks dinner, even if two people equally cook, does not have to clean up afterward, so duties are divided equally within the same meal.”
# What is something you or your hosts initiated in this first week together that was a good icebreaker to get to know each other?
One day after dinner, we settled down around my laptop and I showed them a few pictures from home. They included friends and family, a few photos of my college, and photos I took earlier in the month in the Rocky Mountains. That helped us realize that my host mom, Jannie, and I both really enjoy hiking and led to two hikes the next weekend while we were at the summerhouse. The visuals really helped break the small bit of language barrier we do still have and helped them get to know me and where I come from quickly.
It’s a tradition we kept when I or they came back from a trip in another country to share the experience visually.”
# What is your favorite small moment you’ve shared with your family so far?
“My favorite moment was not an activity or memory made, but a realization. It happened when I finally understood what hygge is. All students here and many other non-Danes have heard of it, but it is a little bit harder to comprehend because no English word truly compares. My family tried using “cozy” and “chilling” as translations, but hygge is meant more for situations with other people, and I tend to think of both cozy and chilling as more independent and quiet activities – maybe curled up in a blanket reading a book.”
That night, we had a grilled dinner outside at their summerhouse. I went on a hike with Jannie that morning to a bird preserve, bought some fresh apples, went into town for a beer, and met Jannie’s parents for some lemon cake and coffee. It was a really nice day and it ended with a great meal by candlelight in the chilly air and a really great conversation. I felt completely content with where I was and wasn’t thinking about any of the things I had to do the next day or anything other than the moment I was in. That was also when I looked around and felt like I was with family, not just “hosts.”
# What things do you appreciate that you wouldn’t necessarily have in other housing options?
“I love coming home to dinner, whether I’m cooking or my host parents are. It’s a great tradition to sit down and talk over dinner. Whether I have a lot of homework or not, I get to take a break from electronics, the stress of school, and other hectic parts of life to enjoy food and company each night.
I’ve also loved the chance to see what daily life in Denmark is like. I get the chance to accompany my host parents to family birthday parties, celebratory dinners, and even the mundane shopping trips. I’ve met more people like my host parents’ family and extended my network beyond other Americans and the DIS staff.”
Tak til Shannon for at dele sin historie med os. Har du også lyst til at blive værtsfamilie for en ung studerende fra USA, så læs mere og tilmeld dig her.