Sarah Richer studerede på DIS i efteråret 2017, hvor hun boede hos en værtsfamilie i Skovlunde. Selvom hun var langt væk fra sine vante rammer på St Lawrence University, så fandt hun et hjem hos sin danske værtsfamilie. Vi har interviewet Sarah for at blive klogere på, hvad der var med til at skabe et ”home away from home” for hende.
A homestay just feels like home. I’ve been telling everyone it is nice to have an actual home to go back to at the end of a long day. (Plus, I know I will always have a good meal and coffee waiting for me!)
Tell us about your homestay – who are they and what makes them special to you?
My homestay consists of a mother, Mette, a father, Jesper, and three children. The children are Emma, 14 years old, Peter, 10 years old, and Christian, 5 years old. While I do have a mother and father at home, I do not have any younger siblings, so that makes this homestay even more special and unique for me. My sisters at home are significantly older, so I basically grew up as an only child.
It is very interesting for me to see how the siblings interact with each other at this age. It helps me better understand a Danish family dynamic. The children are special to me because in a sense, I get to be their big sister, which is something I am not used to. They ask me questions and try to connect with me on topics such as school and activities. I have never had anyone in a family sense look up to me because I am the youngest.
I also find the relationship with my host parents special. My host mom, Mette, is like my mom back in the States. We talk about how our days went and how much work we have to do. We also tend to indulge on coffee and chocolate together, which in my opinion is a highlight of living there. My host dad, Jesper, travels for work, but I have enjoyed a number of meals with him. He is in charge of the grill, just like my dad at home, so he reminds me of the dad in that way. He also tends to crack a lot of bad dad jokes, which my dad at home is a pro at. This homestay is so special to me because it feels like I am at home, with the parents having similar traits to my parents, but also a completely new experience of being an older sister. It is like the best of both worlds in my opinion.
Why did you choose homestay?
To be honest, I didn’t chose a homestay. My school chose it for me as a requirement to study abroad in Copenhagen. So, since I didn’t have a chose, I have not even looked at the other options for living in Copenhagen. I know of them only from other people in my classes living in Living & Learning Communities or Residential Communities. After hearing their stories, I am glad my university “stuck” me in a homestay because I feel as though it is the best option that fits my personality and way of living I am used to. My university at home does know its students well, I must say.
Since I knew already I was going to live in homestay, I began to worry all summer. I was nervous about how the host family would like me and how I would like them. I was worried about finding my way around and having to get up early to catch a train. After actually meeting the family at airport all of these worries disappeared because they made sure I was comfortable. A homestay just feels like home. I’ve been telling everyone it is nice to have an actual home to go back to at the end of a long day. (Plus, I know I will always have a good meal and coffee waiting for me!)
What is the biggest cultural difference so far you have discovered between your homestay here and your family back at home?
Honestly, dessert. My family back home has dessert after every meal. We will have dinner then ice cream or cookies or something of that nature. Here, they have dinner and that’s it. I guess I never realized dessert after the meal was such an American thing. At my homestay, we will have cookies mid-afternoon or Flødeboller, something my parents would never let me do because it might “spoil my dinner”. It is such a treat to have dessert here that it makes me appreciate it so much more.
While there have been other culture differences, such as specific words used for what, public transportation, biking everywhere or even not saying please and thank you so much, I have to say having dessert first was one of the biggest culture differences I had to get used to.
What is something you or your hosts initiated in this first week together that was a good icebreaker to get to know each other?
When asked this question one thing comes to mind. It happened on the first full day I was in Copenhagen. After Saturday being a day from the devil with missing two flights and being stuck in a traffic jam, my homestay understood and let me sleep in on Sunday. At brunch I was greeted with Nutella and bread, oh and coffee of course. They then took me into Copenhagen to show me where DIS was and where the opening ceremony was, so I wouldn’t be lost. This was such a nice thing for the them to do. It made me feel so much more comfortable with them and the city.
After this, I expected to go home, but instead they took me to Nyhavn to see the buildings a meet another homestay family and student. We all got ice cream together and watched the Iron Man Marathon that was going that day. We all talked, but refused to stop eating the ice cream the was melting on our faces, ultimately making us all look ridiculous, but ridiculous together. Ice cream was the icebreaker.
What is your favorite small moment you’ve shared with your family so far?
The small moment that comes to mind happened on the first Friday I was here. I was planning to go out with some friends, but after dinner I felt too tired to really bike anywhere. My host sister, Emma, looked so happy that I wasn’t leaving. She told me that every Friday and sometime Saturdays they have a movie night with “Friday Candy” because that’s the only time they get to have candy really. So, she picked out candies for me to try, some good, some that I think I will leave in Denmark. After experimenting with candy flavors, the entire family sat down to watch ‘Home Alone’. How can you not bond with the people around you while watching a classic like ‘Home Alone’? It was nice for Christian (5 years old) and myself to be able to bond due to the language barrier. We both understood someone getting hit on the head is funny. We also were able to speak about our countries traditions while watching this movie. It was a nice way to come together after everyone had a long week and bond a little.
Tell us one thing you would recommend to a future student considering choosing a homestay?
One thing I would recommend would be just do it. Live in a homestay. It has honestly been the best experience so far. It is a way to truly emerge yourself in Danish culture by living with the Danes. They know best, so they are full of advice.
It is so nice to come home to people and not an empty apartment room or another American student. You go home to a family if you live in a homestay. As much as I enjoy touring Copenhagen, eating at all the great spots the city has to offer, and attending classes at DIS, I look forward to going home to my homestay the most to share the weird thing that happened to me on the train with my host parents, hear about what new English word my host brother learned at school, cook with my host sister and to see how many Legos my youngest host brother has spilled on the floor. So, my recommendation is to forget your worries about a homestay family and just live in a homestay.
Tak til Sarah for at dele sin historie med os!
Høre Sarah og Mylea fortælle om Jul og Thanksgiving sammen med deres værtsfamilier:
Vil du også være værtsfamilie? Vi søger flere familier til næste semester
Hvis du ønsker at åbne dit hjem for en ung amerikansk studerende, som Sarah, så søger vi netop nu værtsfamilier til næste semester.