ROTARY YOUTH EXCHANGE FOR 2018
AN OPPORTUNITY OF A LIFETIME FOR YOUNG AUSTRALIANS CURRENTLY STUDYING YEAR 9 OR 10, TO STUDY ABROAD.APPLY NOW!
District 9685 Student Blog
Samual Squire is currently on exchange in Denmark - today he shares with us how his Danish language learning is going!
Arriving in Denmark
Once I arrived in Denmark I didn't really know much about the language. I knew some basic words and phrases and a few basic grammar rules. I also didn't really know how to pronounce most of the words I did know.
In the beginning
I started learning the language with my counselor when I got to Denmark and it was pretty helpful learning the important words like food (mad *mel), eat (spise *speese). I also started learning the alphabet and pronunciations, but it was really hard and I knew it would take a while. Also in the beginning it felt really daunting hearing others speaking the language so fast.
When I met my host family for the first time it was really exciting because they all seemed so eager to help me learn Danish. They said that after the first day it was almost only Danish, they started speaking to me in Danish and translating what they said into English. It was also really helpful learning numbers and weekdays, but I found watching TV or Netflix in Danish isn't as helpful as people said because it's hard to pay attention to the Danish, although it still helped a bit. The two phrases that have helped the most have been how to ask "how do I say _____ in Danish"/ hvordan siger man _____ på Dansk and "how do I say _____ in English" / hvordan siger man _____ på Engelsk. This has been so useful because I can ask anyone how to translate any word or phrase I can think of. From here all I have to do is think of a question in English ask to say it in Danish and repeat it. Or I can ask someone else to translate Danish into English.
After about 1 month, I had been to the intro camp, learned most greetings, I could understand what people were talking about half the time (not what they were saying), I could make really basic sentences and I could pronounce most of the Danish letters æ, ø, å.
I started going to the language school and talking almost purely in Danish with my host family. I could understand half of what people are saying not just what they are talking about, I could also say full sentences although it would be a direct translation so the grammar and meaning was often wrong, and I could pronounce all Danish sounds quite easily.
Now I am talking to my friends in Danish and I can talk to people I haven't met for a few sentences before they realise I'm not fluent, then they speak in English and it's quite insulting haha. I can understand most of what people say when they talk slowly and when they speak quickly (normally) I can understand about half of it. I'm now understanding the Danish grammar a lot better but I still need to work on it. Now the main issues are when people speak fast and I get mixed up with words, when the social translation doesn't make sense or when the direct translation doesn't make sense. For example "Jeg er en urn til Dansk" translates to "I am an eagle to Danish" but means I'm really good at Danish and if you said you slept in then I'm afraid you are saying you have died.
I'm really glad to have such a strong network in Denmark. My host family, Rotary host and sponsor clubs, language school, friends and other exchange students have all been really supportive of me learning Danish. Learning the language is really fun and people want to help you, it's funny when you begin and it gives you something to talk about. Also don't get the idea that they are just born able to make the sounds they do or they have grown special muscles in their mouth to make these strange Danish sounds, it just takes practice. Or just put a potato in your mouth and you will sound great!
Then February came I finally started the course, ready for 6 weeks of training every Tuesday night and Saturday morning. The Tuesday was the “dry” day, when you learn about resuscitation, defibrillation, first aid, signals and radio. (I won’t tell you about the training with the radio, because with my accent nobody could understand what I was saying, they were all laughing, how could I concentrate?) On the Saturday morning it was the “wet” training, yes we all got wet. We learned how to rescue someone with the tube rescue, the surfboard, first aid on the beach etc. During the course I was with a group of 18 people who became my friends. Our instructor said “An international group” in fact we had a girl from Russia, a dad and son from Denmark, some English, Switzerland and Brazil. And such a mixed age group because the youngest was 15 and the oldest was 65 maybe.
Last week, came the assessment days, Wednesday was the dry one, everything worked well for me except the radio which was kind of funny because my assessor had a very strong Australian accent and I could not understand what he was saying… anyway I figured it out by saying “Ok something sound English and over”.
Saturday morning was my wet assessment and of course something had to happen. All the assessment worked well, I did tube rescue, and an accident scenario everything was good. Until the surf board rescue when this guy broke his surfboard just in front of me! And he was kind of panicking but I could not do anything for him. Because of that, I lost my concentration just as a wave came, another one and again and again and I lost my board! At this time I was so upset I thought it was literally finished for me but my teacher saw me and reassured me by telling me I could do it again.
After all I got it! I’m an official Rescue Life Saver and now almost ready for my first patrol! And I am so glad I did it and achieved it because it was not that easy but I got it! It’s a personal achievement! Moreover I learned so many things which are very useful and even on a resume back home it is always good to have a course like this. And I met more people with who I had so much fun. Thanks again to my club to have given me this huge opportunity, I am so lucky!
Lucie Buyse of France is being hosted by the Rotary Club of Belrose
Having only arrived in Sweden three weeks ago this Sunday, I have many first impressions that are changing as I experience more of Sweden and learn more about the country that I am now calling home for a year.
Well the most predictable first impression would definitely be the snow and the cold weather. The day I arrived it was -5 degrees Celsius, coming from Australian heat of 30 degrees it was a massive shock to experience weather so cold not to mention seeing snow for the very first time. My host parents met me at the airport at 6am greeting me with a hug that was very much needed after 24hrs of flying to the other side of the world. We the made our way over a bridge and into Sweden (Malmö). Arriving at there warm home I then made my way to have a shower, which was much needed. Unpacking the suitcase was my next mission.
My first day at school came a lot sooner then I thought, I started on the Tuesday 19th of January. My school here is very big and confusing, the only class I understand is English but that’s okay because my Swedish is coming along slowly but well, I can count to 20 so I guess that is a good start. Lunch at school is free which I love! Not having to make your lunch everyday for school is change that I very much like and is a big difference. The biggest shock for me at school was the freedom and trust the school gives their students, for example you can leave school whenever you like as long as you make it to your lessons in time, so in your breaks you can leave and get your lunch from burger king if you like, instead of having what the school provides.
Many exciting things will be happening for me in the next couple of months. I am visiting Stockholm this weekend, I Then go off to language camp with the other exchange students, this will be held in Sundsvall from the 8th of February until the 14th. I will then travel to Austria to go skiing for the first time with my host family and there friends in late February. We are the planning to see Billy Eliot the stage play with my host parents and my host mums, mum in March. In April i will be heading up north to Kiruna for an exchange trip to visit the ice hotel and hopefully see the Northern Lights, i am also planning to go on Euro Tour from the 28th of June until the 14th of july, we will be visiting 9 countries, I'm so excited.
I have also attended a European Handball game with other exchange students with I very much enjoyed. I also went to a fundraiser with my host family that was raising money for cancer, we enjoyed a very delicious dinner followed by some amazing entertainment and a lottery draw where I won a free dental appointment. I also met my host brother that night who is lovely.
This is all I have to tell you at this point in time, but I am sure there will be many more exciting things to share with you in the next couple of months. I miss everyone back at home in Australia, I'm thinking of you all everyday.
My exchange started 7 months ago and I honestly believe that I have never discovered that many things in my whole life. Although, ‘discover’ has a lot of different meanings and we experienced them all as an exchange student. Most of the times, these discoveries are incredible, but sometimes it’s not the case and they are the ones that teach us the most.
Exchange is about facing the outside world on your own without being lonely. Exchange enables us to truly understand who we are as a person but as well, as a member of a group.
From a personal point of view, exchange has taught me that there is no shame in being yourself as it’s the only way I was able to make true friends that I hope will stay in my life for a very long time. I also understood more about my relationships with the people that have always been in my life such as my family and my friends. Indeed, the distance makes us see more clearly who really matters to us.
To continue, my biggest revelation was not about Australia but about France. I saw all those things about my home country that had never occurred to me before. Therefore, I have learned what the flaws in French people are but I am now, more proud, and also more aware of my luck, than ever to be French.
In a less personal way, exchange has made me discovered a new country which is full of surprise. I had to learn a new language and to force myself out of my comfort zone to see all those wonderful things that made me fall in love with Australia. Some days were and still are hard but each of them are completely worth it. I have now an Australian life which is full of new people and new places. I have made friends with people from school and with the other exchange students, I have four new families that have accepted me as one of their own. All these people made me understand that being home is not a place but it’s a feeling that is far from being unique.
Exchange is something that does not work if you are not a 100% committed to it but having these people and places in my life is the most rewarding feeling that I have ever experienced. It’s the feeling of true happiness.
Exchange is also a roller coaster. Indeed, it’s a yearlong feeling of complete joy followed by real sadness. Not every day is going to be a dream, as the routine comes by, and you always feel even a tiny bit homesick. Although, it has been the best 7 months of my life and I have never ever regretted my decision to leave everything to discover an incredible country which is Australia.