Notes from Abroad by Tabatha Pilon in Denmark – Which Week Number do you go on Vacation? October 27, 2011

CFN – In Denmark, one of the things that they do is count the weeks. It’s pretty normal for someone to say, for example, “do you have any plans in week 45?”. It’s hard to keep track of what week we’re currently in, let alone what week it will be on the first of December. That’s one of the things that most people here just seem to know. One of the most important weeks of the year, or maybe just in my opinion, is week 42. Week 42 is also referred to as: “efterårsferie” which translates to “Autumn Break”.  Everyone is out of school for this week, and a lot of adults book the week off of work in order to go and have a vacation!
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Much like most people I know here in Danmark, my parents had booked the week off of work, and away we went on a mini vacation for the week.   We travelled north, about 2 hours away from my city, Aarhus, which is relatively close in Danish terms.   I wasn’t sure what I was expecting as we began our journey, all I was told was that we were heading to our “summer house” or as we call it in Danish, “Sommerhuset”.
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I must admit that when I thought about it, I pictured it like how a typical cottage is: made of logs; old looking inside; well water; but it really wasn’t like that at all. It was just a regular house that was a lot smaller than my family’s regular house. It even had some things that were a lot more new than in our regular house, like the dishwasher, and cupboards. All in all, the house was really nice and cozy. Or, as we would say in Danmark “hyggelig”.
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It was a nice and relaxing week and it was such a relief to not have to go to school, despite the fact that I still don’t really do anything in school, just attempting to understand what still sadly sounds like gibberish to me.  From my second day here in Danmark, I have been going to school; so since the 8th of August! I think I deserved the break!
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Granted, the first five weeks were at a language school.  For the entire week, we spent time together as a family: sitting; talking; watching tv; going for walks by the sea; and going shopping in the (albeit small) surrounding towns.
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 As we were in the car driving to the Zoo, I realized that while I am here in Danmark, it is kind of like I am a little child. Since arriving, I have done many things that I have never done before; I require nap times thanks to my exhausted brain from all the daily learning that I do; and I do a lot of child-like things, like going to the Zoo…and going to Build-A-Bear.   But I must say, I absolutely love being similar to a kid all over again. Except for the requirement of naps. I really dislike taking naps, so I just end up being tired all the time.
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As well as that, I am like a child as I (slowly) learn this language.   Each day I learn new words; new sentences; new structural rules. Each and every day I feel like I am going through a huge improvement, slowly growing up as each week passes by. As I stared out the car window on the way to the zoo and thought all of this through, I realized that I wouldn’t change this for anything else in the world. I don’t even remember the person that I was when I lived in Canada. I’m slowly seeing that person fade into the background as I continue on in my journey, and all I know is that this change is one for the better.
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One of the things that have not changed about me, though, is my love of long car rides. Or, perhaps I should rephrase that: my love of being able to think about a lot of things for the duration of trips, whether they be by bus, train, or car, I always enjoy being able to sit contently and think about anything and everything.  I think that one of the things that the efterårsferie has made me realize is how much I just sometimes forget that I come from Canada.
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There are times when I feel so at home here, that for that moment, I forget that this is temporary; that by week 28 of next year, I will be back in Canada, preparing to begin working through grade 12, and applying for universities and going back to the real world. Perhaps this may not be widely known to the world, but Danmark is actually considered to be the “Fairy Tale” country due to the stories by Danish author, Hans Christian Andersen (The Little Mermaid; Ugly Duckling; Thumbelina; etc) and I think that there is no better country to begin my new life, as this is the country to bring out my inner child and also the country that I have the privilege to call home.
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Tabatha Pilon is a 17 year old student from Cornwall Ontario spending a year in Denmark.   She will be writing to us  each week or as her “gymnasium” schedule allows.  If you have questions for her or would like to sponsor her column email us at info@cornwallfreenews.com
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