Pauline Kalø Skovbørnehus
DENMARK IN 10 MONTHS
Even though I always knew that I will be going abroad after high school, it is so scary when it’s time to leave home and start into a new adventure…
After being abroad when I was 15 years old I told myself that I will do this again after school is finished. I made this decision in 10th grade so I had 3 more years to go and a huge amount of work to do until I could make my goal become reality. So graduation was over and I had my project: Kalo Skovbornehus. I would be working for 10 months in a forest kindergarten in Denmark, a bit northern of Aarhus. I was super excited and nervous, not just because I was leaving my family and my comfort zone behind but also haven’t heard anything about my host family – two weeks before I wanted to leave for Denmark! So you can imagine how relieved I was when I FINALLY got the contact information for my host family a week before my leave. With a big backpack and a huge suitcase I stepped onto the train to Aarhus and my thoughts were going wild: What was I doing? Why do I always choose to go away from home? Why couldn’t I just start studying like everybody else? I made myself so nervous that I didn’t even eat anything on my journey – it was crazy. That changed soon though. The first weeks after arriving in Folle (which has literally one street…soo small!) were difficult. I had to step out of my comfort zone and try my best to understand everything and get used to my new temporary home in Denmark. I had 3 small host siblings who were so sweet and I loved my workspace which made it easier to adapt. What I didn’t really thought about beforehand was that of course in a nursery (kids from age 1 to 3) none of the kids speak English nor German and that it is even more uncomfortable when you can’t communicate with children than if they were adults (haha). But this kindergarten is very special. I met the most amazing people and as soon as the kids got used to you (and you to them) they were so cute and you don’t want to leave. Each day they happily greeted me when I was coming thru the front door and it was the most heartwarming thing I had ever experienced. Besides the cutest children on earth, I had incredible colleagues. They treated me equal from the first day on even though I didn’t have any experience as a pedagogic. And one big “rule” I learnt from them is keeping calm. Seriously when 10-15 small kids run around and everybody wants something else you just have to keep calm and manage what you can. Not only my colleagues in the nursery were really nice but also the others from the kindergarten (it’s one big institution) accepted me and treated me so nicely. Beside me, two more volunteers were in the kindergarten. And soon I became best friends with one of them, a girl from Armenia. It was so interesting to talk to her and to explore the differences between our countries and personal opinions which (obviously) differed quite a lot. Talking was also a big part. Attending two trainings and meeting other amazing volunteers, I enjoyed talking about them with them, their reasons to come and what they want to do after this year is over. And since we had many different cultures, there are many different reasons to come and do an ESC. Beside the huge group of German-speaking people who were doing a gap year after high school, some others came to actually stay in Denmark and find a job afterwards or because they didn’t know what else to do and were traveling around before their ESC in Denmark. We are one big group of very different countries but the fun part is: we understood each other and had the most amazing time. The one thing we did have in common was the English language and the will to see something new and explore a new culture.
Of course there are some ups and downs that came with my year abroad. It was super frustrating when you can’t talk to the kids because you don’t speak Danish or when you want to open a bank
account which seems impossible for some reason or why the heck we need somebody to testify that I am me just to receive an online id! Being abroad showed me once more that it do is very confusing and it’s strange and sometimes you wish you had never done it. But I can tell you this: Once you do know the way to your friend, once the way to work with the bike is not as hard anymore, once you understand how to update your bus card and when you actually start to read and understand that strange language – it is THE BEST feeling ever. You learn so much. Mostly about yourself and after that about other amazing young people from around the world and then about a new culture, new people and at the end you feel sad to leave it all behind. But I also feel so proud because I believed in myself and I had the courage to do this. I just recommend this to anybody who wants to get out and do something totally different. I knew from the beginning on that I will never want to work in a kindergarten but I enjoyed doing it that couple months and I am grateful for all those memories I made and for all the people I met:)
And of course it was really nice to be able to do this though the European Union and not have to pay for it. It is a great chance young people get to do something like an exchange in times where it is more important than ever to get out and get together and understand each other and be a union! That would not have been possible without my two organizations which helped me to organize all of it. As I said, just be brave and see the world. There are so many amazing places filled with amazing people and maybe you’ll have the time of your life but you never know until you try.
2019/2020 Children and Youth the Danish Way: ESC11-2019-010