Posted on Jul 09, 2019
Please give a warm welcome to Karenna Chen – just back from a year in Denmark!
Karenna was in Copenhagen, an old European city with tight, cobblestone streets, the capital of Denmark.  While old, it is still a very modern city with modern conveniences. Denmark has been designated one of the happiest countries in the world, and the combination of city, nature, joy and urban life was very appealing to Karenna. 
The first thing she saw when she landed was the windmills and she was welcomed by a giant sign and 100 Danish flags by her host families.  She knew this was the place for her!  Karenna was also welcomed by a Danish birthday party – cakes in the shapes of men – you cut off the head first, and everyone screams!
Karenna's first activity was an Intro Camp and lots of "touristing".  She discovered Danes are not as impressed by the Little Mermaid statue as we North Americans are!  The photo op was a quick run from the car and then back in and on to the next thing.
Karenna went to a ‘music profile’ school, what we would call an arts school – with lots of practice rooms and instruments.  They really encourage learning through experience. She rode her bike to school every day, and even took it on the train, which is par for the course in Denmark.
It’s a challenge to get used to living without your own parents and with hosts.  Her 3 families were all awesome.  They were all families whose own children were doing exchanges.  That's the way it is in Denmark.  About 30 other exchange students were in Copenhagen – this was very helpful, especially in the beginning when being on exchange can be very challenging.  Karenna said she now has friends in all corners of the world.
Christmas was one of Karenna's highlights.  It starts around mid-October and lasts till the middle of January!  There is not much for Hallowe’en, so they start early.  There are 100s of traditions, including extensive Christmas food……  Karenna also got to go to Sweden and see how they do Christmas there.
Being part of a Choir – was a huge part of Krenna's exchange experience.  She did A LOT of singing there – it was special to focus more on the arts, than on traditional studies.  And there were performances a number of times. Karenna also  loves baking, so she learned a lot of traditional Danish baking and shared some Canadian favourites like butter tarts and Nanaimo bars.  She also commented that the Danes were a bit tough to warm up to, but once she did, they became great friends.
There were trips around Europe including a trip to Barcelona with her class.  A week in Dresden with the choir.  Legoland!  Then a 3 week trip around Europe at the end:  Berlin, Prague….. so many places.   Winter bathing was quite the experience!  Karenna came to love it and did it often (hard no from your editor!).  The down side - is was very hard to leave her families when it was time to switch – especially the first family, because they have to help you so much with everything when you are getting settled.
10 months went by in a flash – but Karenna took every opportunity she could:  horseback riding, rowing, choir, Opera, Tivoli Gardens, handball and football matches (2 national sports of Denmark), searching out new experiences and the city itself.  Karenna is very grateful.
Tusind Tak – Thank you SO much.  This would not have been possible without Rotary!
Elizabeth Cohoe – How much of the language did you know before you went?  Karenna -Very little.  They speak mostly English there, so it wasn’t that tough.  Rotary helped by giving weekly Danish lessons.  I have a pretty good handle on the language now.
President, Ana Sutherland thanked Karenna for her presentation and commented on all the pins, etc. on her jacket.  Karenna was presented with thank you ‘butter tarts’, rather than bread!  Karenna brought a banner from her host Rotary club!  Karenna is a wonderful young woman, and we could not have made a better selection for Rotary Exchange.