Ethan fik to værtsfamilier, eller gjorde han?

Da Ethan fra North Carolina landede i København, var hans værtsfamilie på ferie i USA (pudsigt nok). Derfor boede han den første uge hos familien Christiansen længere nede af vejen. Da familien Foss kom hjem fra ferie, flyttede Ethan ind hos dem men beholdt den tætte kontakt med familien Christiansen. Læs hans beretning om 4 begivenhedsrige måneder sammen med to familier, som blev fulgt op med bryllup i Malaga.

›› Hør mere om, hvordan man bliver værtsfamilie hos DIS

I entered Copenhagen as a stranger to everything Danish, and left Copenhagen being a part of two amazing and wonderful families.

I wanted to live in a homestay because not only would it help to immerse me in Danish culture, but also would help me to feel like I had a place to call home in a new, unfamiliar environment. I would have a family that I could become a part of, and a little part of Denmark that I could slice out to be where I belonged.

When I landed in Copenhagen, I could hardly wait to meet the Christiansens. There were two girls who would be staying with the Christiansens the full semester, and I met one of them, Kelly, shortly after my arrival to head to the Christiansen’s home. Their daughter Anne-Sofie had come back from vacation early to meet us, and once we met her we were on our way home (or to my 1-week home). Later that day the rest of the family arrived, along with Maddie, the other girl staying with them, and quickly realized how close we would all become.

That first night, we sat at the dinner table for hours, which was something that almost never happened back home. We began getting to know each other and discussing various interesting topics. From the get go, I felt so welcomed and loved, even though I had only just gotten to know them.

That first week seemed to go by in a flash. Before I knew it, it was time for me to move in with my official host family, the Fosses. They were just as welcoming and engaging as the Christiansens, but it felt hard at first to become close with them the same way I had with the Christiansens that previous week. Even after I left, the Christiansens still made me feel like I was included in their family. They invited me over quite often, we went out to eat together, and made other plans together, even though I was no longer living with them. Slowly but surely I began to realize that moving in with the Fosses was a blessing, since it gave me two amazing families to be a part of instead of just one.

In addition to these two families, choosing a homestay gave me access to a homestay network. I assumed the purpose of this network was to help bridge the gap that many homestay students faced compared to students in other housing options, by giving the homestay students a way to connect with others who lived close by. This network ended up being just as fantastic as the homestays themselves.

During that first week, I coincidentally met and became friends with a good amount of people who were also in our Hellerup homestay network. Then, after that first week we had a get together for both the students and the host families to meet each other. We all quickly became quite close from there onwards. We would hang out at each other’s houses, grab food in between classes, go out together on the weekends (and Tuesday nights), travel together, and we even had a Secret Santa during the last few weeks. I’m still close with quite a few of these friends, and still cannot believe how it all came together to enrich both my homestay and overall DIS experience.

I was able to have so many cool experiences thanks to staying with the Fosses. I got to go with them to family events. I began to learn bits and phrases of Danish from hearing it so frequently. I learned a ton about the state of affairs in both Denmark and in Europe that I had no idea of before. I got to walk their dog in a beautiful park right behind the house (which I found to be quite fun even though my host brother Valdemar didn’t think so). I got to go on a hunting retreat with them and a few other families in Jylland for a weekend, and ate venison for the first time (along with some amazing pastries). I got to learn how to play squash with my host brothers, even though they would constantly destroy me.

The little things that you would do with your family that you wouldn’t think twice about gave me such a sense of comfort that I never imagined would be possible halfway around the world.

I think the most telling example of this was for Thanksgiving. Obviously, with Thanksgiving being an American tradition, I wasn’t really sure what to expect while in Denmark. My host mom Diana asked me about it and if I’d like to do something for it. She had found out that the Marriott Hotel served Thanksgiving Dinner and was able to make reservations not just for our family, but for the Christiansens as well. It was truly a night where I realized all that I had to be thankful for, and having both of my host families there made me feel like I was celebrating Thanksgiving back home.

Fast forward to my time to depart, and dealing with all the emotional goodbyes. Some time prior I had dropped Diana off at the train station, since she had to leave before I did. We had a tearful goodbye, and I knew then that it would be the first of many. On Friday night I had an excellent dinner with the Christiansens and stayed for hours talking and reminiscing. That Saturday night my host brother was having a party with his class. At first I spent the night just drinking wine and watching tv with Toke, my host father, but eventually got pulled into the party. I ended up unexpectedly becoming the center of attention and had quite a fun final night before my flight the next morning. As it turned out, my host mom was able to make it back and see me off, leading to a second emotional goodbye.

The little things that you would do with your family that you wouldn’t think twice about gave me a sense of comfort that I never imagined would be possible halfway around the world.

That following summer I received a wedding invitation. It was to the Christiansen’s wedding. Low and behold my astonishment that I was actually invited to their wedding (along with Kelly and Maddie of course). I knew that this was a once in a lifetime chance not only to attend the wedding, but to show that the bonds I had formed with these families wasn’t just something that lasted for a few months. Unfortunately, Kelly wasn’t able to come due to school, but Maddie and I were able to make it work with our schedules.

I asked the Fosses if it would be alright if we stayed there for a few days. They were happy to have us, and had enough space for us both. When Diana was there to pick us up at the airport, it was hard to believe that we had ever left. Everything seemed to click back into place in an instant (despite me staying in a different room this time).

We spent a few days in Copenhagen reminiscing, going to our favorite places to eat, and visiting some of our favorite sights. We were fortunate to be there on a Wednesday to go to the Saint Peter’s Street Bakery for their unforgettable cinnamon roll (kanelsnegle? I think that’s the word) deal. We had a few excellent dinners with the Fosses, including a fantastic paella dinner the night before we left for Spain. We realized just how much we had missed this city and our host families, and longed to return to those.

We boarded an early flight to Malaga, and from there drove to Marbella. The Christiansens were thrilled to have us there. We also caught up with old family friends we had met during our DIS semester, as well making new ones. The wedding itself was an absolute blast, from the stylish Danes, to the excellent food, to people jumping in the pool in their nice clothes, and so much more.

We bid our farewells to the Christiansens at the reception late Saturday night before flying back to Copenhagen. We spent that day again with the Fosses, resting and talking about the wedding, before flying back home.

My trip back to my beloved Denmark had come to an end, and with it my week-long trip down memory lane. However, I had proven to myself that the bonds and feelings that I had formed during my semester abroad were strong enough to persist, despite the passage of time. I was still a part of the Foss’ and Christensen’s families, whether I was living with them or not. I still had a place that I could call home in Denmark, and people there who cared for me. I truly don’t know anything else I could have wished for when I picked a homestay that hadn’t come true.

Ethan, DIS alum


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One thought

  1. What a great story, Ethan! Good for you – and for your two Danish families 🙂

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