As much as I love living in a kollegium with over 500 students and events every single weekend, sometimes it is great to get away from the hustle and bustle of the semester by taking a trip to visit my Danish host parents. The DIS Visiting Host Program is a great program that assigns students who are not in a homestay with a Danish family to visit, so they can still experience Danish family life. My Danish host parents, Bille and Lene, live in a beautiful little town called Kvistgaard, which is near Helsingør. Helsingør is where Kronborg Castle, the famous castle where Shakespeare’s Hamlet couldn’t decide whether “to be or not to be” is located. Another DIS student, Sarah, and I were both assigned to be Bille and Lene’s host daughters for the semester. For our very first visit Bille, who drives a taxi part time during his retirement, picked us up in his car and brought us to their lovely home before taking us to visit the castle. From that first visit filled with great Danish food, warm laughter and sightseeing, I knew that spending time with Bille and Lene would be one of the highlights of my semester.
One of my favorite parts about visiting my host parents is the drive out to their house. Taking the long scenic route along the sound, where you can look across the water and see Sweden, takes almost 40 minutes. Bille knows how much I love the scenery and how enchanted I am by the swans on the lakes and coast along the way, so he always takes the scenic route and sometimes he even lets me drive. Since my first visit, I have had so many lovely experiences with my host parents. Bille is a painter, and one afternoon he invited me over for a painting lesson. He is a great teacher and surprisingly the end result was a lovely painting of lavender fields, the sea and a cloudy sky.
Lene works in advertising at Politiken, the biggest newspaper in Copenhagen, and her office is just around the corner form my classes at DIS. Some days I get to meet Lene for a wonderful lunch and to see what her work is like.
Bille and Lene are both very welcoming and generous, and they even let me bring friends to their house for lunch; now all of my friends have fallen just as in love with them as I have. Spending time with my host parents and listening to their stories of their two daughters (who are currently traveling, but I will get to meet them this summer) makes me feel like I have real family in Denmark. Spending an afternoon of conversation, jokes and treats with Bille and Lene always makes for a very hyygeligt (cozy) time, and I am so grateful for them!