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Reflections on Rysensteen (Tabor's Exchange in Copenhagen)

smRecently Rick DaSilva ’89, Associate Director of the Center for International Students, along with faculty Wes and MacKenzie Chaput, Kelly and Nate Meleo ’95, and Bert Nascimento traveled to Copenhagen, Denmark with Tabor juniors and seniors for a week of home stays, site seeing, and classroom learning at Rysensteen Gymnasium.

Each day Rick prompted the students with questions about their visit to Denmark and here are some of their thoughts:

Q: What are you most nervous or anxious about? 

Charlotte Gebhard ’20 
I’m most excited about getting to know my homestay family and experiencing Denmark/Copenhagen with a native guide. I’m actually most nervous about the flying, since I’m really not a fan of planes. I’m also a little nervous that they’ll see me as a stereotypical “American” traveler, or that I will not mesh well with the Danish kids.

Maggie Adams ’19
I am definitely most excited about actually being put right into their culture. I feel like when they came here we kind of just dipped our toes in but now we will be completely submerged. I just want to see everything — I’ve never been outside of the US!

Justin Pernell ’19
I am most excited about meeting my host family, but I am also nervous about meeting my host family.

Q: What are your impressions of “family life” in Denmark? What's similar to what you know? What's different?

Nina Sasakawa ’20
My host student’s name is Maiken and she lives with her mom and a cat. They are very kind, welcoming, and loving. They make me feel like home and Maiken’s mom makes the best food♥ My stay has been amazing so far and I am excited for more. They both speak English so I have no trouble communicating with them. There’s always respect and love in the family which I think is one of their values.

Gabe McCollester ’ 19
Family life in Denmark has some notable differences than in mine. While the family is very tight-knit, there is a lot of independence. Silas can just leave and come home when he wants; he even has his own door to his room accessible from the hallway of the apartment building! That being said, he has a lot more responsibility, but he handles it well and seems more mature than other people his age with the liberties he has earlier than most in the U.S. The importance of a good family meal is one of the stronger similarities, and now that I can drive the increased parental trust and responsibilities are also similar.

Riley Suh ’20
My impressions of family life based off this experience is that eating together is important. Also, the parents lend a lot of freedom to Rasmus and Ida that they respect greatly. Amelia, another student, adds that the family is very loving, noting that the parents were holding hands when we walked around and they have good communication among themselves. The kids and parents often talk and make decisions together.

I think our family also values democratic socialism as Ryan said as we have talked about politics a few times. They are also appreciative of the culture and history of Denmark and other European countries they have lived in. They also don’t own a car(!) and are a great example of bicycle usage in Copenhagen.

Q: What impressions do you have about Danish history regarding the Viking lineage and background?

Gabe McCollester ’19
I did not have too many false impressions about the Vikings before this trip due to the thorough research I did with my Maritime History elective last year. However, I did learn a lot more in-depth information from the tour guide. For instance, I did not know that they would sink ships to block off entrances and had beacons to alert them of approaching enemy ships.

Jose Sulaiman ’20
Denmark has a long history of which its citizens are very proud of. The fact that this nation is so old is what has allowed them to develop in the way that they have, making them such a great country.

Cooper Carlson ’20
The Viking history is very cool and the ships are amazing. The one in this picture could hold 25 tons of cargo. I have a little Viking blood in me, so the visit was a lot of fun for me.

Q: “Travel is still the most intense mode of learning.” Do you agree or disagree?

Olivia O’Brien ’19
Traveling to Denmark will open our eyes to different cultures, customs, food, and language. It will be completely different than life at home and here at Tabor. Traveling puts us out of our comfort zones, enabling us to try new things and learn from those experiences.

Gabby Barresi ’19
I think travel broadens one’s perspective because you are submersed in a culture that may be unfamiliar to you. Experiential learning seems to be the most effective style of learning, and traveling exemplifies this principal perfectly. The sights, sounds, feelings and memories made while traveling contribute to the intensity of the knowledge that one can gain while abroad!

Eari Nakano ’20
While traveling may be intimidating, especially to regions that one is unfamiliar with, it may be the best way to learn more about other cultures and allows us to lean into discomfort. People can read and learn about other places, but nothing compares to the feeling of interacting with the people there, soaking in the language and customs; things that may be completely different from what we are used to seeing in our daily lives.

Overall, our Tabor students have formed many positive thoughts and impressions about their exchange abroad. We’re looking forward to more Danish students arriving at Tabor this coming fall. Ben Henriques-Forker ’20 sums it up well, “By visiting new places, the connections you make and things you do stick with travelers forever making these learning experiences so meaningful and enlightening.”

Be sure to enjoy this slideshow of photos!



Topics: Tabor Academy, Cultural exchange, International Learning, International Blog