My host family is special to me because they are how I will remember my time in Denmark. A large part of my experience abroad has been centered around my host family. I have shared unique connections with each family member – watching football with my host dad, joking with my host mom, and hanging out with my host sisters and their friends.
Hi Brendan! Thanks for meeting with us! Tell us about yourself.
I am a junior at Elon University in North Carolina where I study statistics and biology. I grew up in Reading, Pennsylvania, and am studying here in Copenhagen with DIS this semester and living in a Homestay.
Tell us about your Homestay – who are they and what makes them special to you?
Currently, my Homestay consists of five people, including me, and two dogs. We live in a single family home in Store Valby.
My host dad, Per, is an IT manager for Toms and he travels a few times a month for work. He is very outgoing and loves to crack jokes with me. Upon arriving, we quickly bonded over football by watching many games and supporting Brondby. My host mom, Helle, is a social worker and works with children at a local school. My host mom and I will connect over the smallest of things from watching TV to preparing dinner. My host parents love to cycle and mountain bike in their free time on the weekends. They also enjoy opening a bottle of wine over a good conversation at dinner a few nights of the week.
In total, I have three host siblings named Christine (18), Cecilie, (24), and Andre (24). Unfortunately, I have not been able to meet Andre because he is studying in Singapore for the semester. Also, I was only able to spend a month with Cecilie because she left for Bali to be a dive master. Cecilie was a bartender at a local bar in Roskilde, so during the weekends I would visit her at work to grab a drink and talk. Christine is in her last year at gymnasium and she spends a lot of her free time with friends. In addition to my host siblings, I have another DIS student named Greg living with me. I became close with Greg because we used each other to adjust to our new surroundings and we have similar interests.
My host family is special to me because they are how I will remember my time in Denmark. A large part of my experience abroad has been centered around my host family. I have shared unique connections with each family member. I have had the chance to watch football with my host dad, joke with my host mom, hang around my host sisters and their friends, and travel to Croatia with Greg. The introductory email from my host mom was the first indication that I would have a special bond with my host family because all of the details matched exactly what I was looking for in a homestay.
Why did you choose to live with a homestay?
I chose to live in a homestay because I wanted to experience the everyday life of a Danish family. I really wanted to integrate myself into the Danish culture and to meet people who I couldn’t in America. Also, I really wanted to create lifelong relationships with some Danes and to have a place I could call home after the semester ended.
Another reason I chose to live in a homestay was to have a strong support network. One of my worries of going abroad was the transition period in the beginning. I wanted to surround myself with natives who knew the insider tips regarding public transportation, places to see, and the Danish culture. If I had any questions about how to get around Denmark, my homestay would always have the answers which made my transition abroad low stress. My host family provided stability because they had prior DIS students before, so they knew what I was experiencing and how to make sure I was comfortable as soon as possible.
What are your favorite day-to-day experiences you share with your host family members?
My favorite day-to-day experiences are eating dinner and watching TV with my host family. I love coming home after school to a relaxing dinner with my host family. During dinner, we can catch up on our day and take time to enjoy a home-cooked meal. After dinner, my host parents and sister will watch TV. Even though most of the shows are in Danish and I can’t understand them, I still love trying to figure out what’s going on by just watching. For some comedy shows, I ask my host family to translate the funny parts, so I can laugh along. Overall, I love being around my host family as much as possible while at home because I know the experience only lasts for a limited time, so I try to take full advantage of getting to know them better.
What is an experience you’ve had living with your homestay that you couldn’t have had if you hadn’t lived with them?
I have had the opportunity to learn more about the Danish social life from my host sisters. One night, I went to a bar with my host sisters and their friends and I got to socialize with a bunch of Danes. It was an awesome experience because I achieved my goal of trying to immerse myself into the Danish culture and meet as many Danes as possible. From that night on, I have spent more time with my host sister and her friends because I find it to be something unique that other DIS students can’t experience. I feel living a homestay makes it easier to break that foreigner barrier and to create special memories with other Danes.
What is an example of cultural insight that you have gained that your homestay has taught you?
I have found relaxing family dinners to be such a common theme within my homestay. Within the first couple of dinners, I realized that dinner time was not to be rushed in Danish culture. With my family back at home, family dinners were always an important element for us. The problem was that dinners tended to be brief because we had other events going on. However, on-the-go type of dinners are not prevalent in Danish culture.
Normally, my host family and I will spend about an hour eating and talking at the dinner table. The dinner table will be lit with candles and there will be music playing in the background. Especially on cold and dark days, the setting will be quite hygge and that is something different from the American culture. We use this time to enjoy life and to forget about the daily problems.
Tell us one thing you would recommend to a future homestay considering hosting about bonding with their student?
I would recommend that you offer different small activities that the student can choose to participate in or not. The first week can be difficult for the student with regards to making friends and settling in. My Homestay suggested that we go to a football game and a concert that I took advantage of, but my DIS host brother chose not to partake because he had other plans. If you provide options, then the student can decide for themselves and you will know more about the things they enjoy doing.