I spent sixteen years of my life in the Detroit Lakes and Frazee area. I wouldn't say I had my myself thoroughly established there--I always intended to move away--but I would say that I had a life there. Yet, seven months ago, I flew away from all of that to a host family who I had Skyped with twice and a vague knowledge of fellow Rotary exchange students from Facebook.
I am assuming that a lot of my readers know the story of the Good Samaritan. I've always wondered what it means for me in my own life, but I hadn't really gotten a good idea until now. It turns out that this story, once a mystery to me when I was young, is now very applicable for the current state of the world. The story, which can be found in Luke 10:25-37, is a parable told by Jesus on how to inherit eternal life. A man is robbed, beaten, and left half-dead by robbers on his journey. A priest and a church figure walk by the man, but simply go to the other side of the road.
If you have ever read any of my articles before, you can probably tell that I am quite particular with how I phrase things. Now, in another country, I am learning that communication can be a bit more complicated when you are with people who aren't native speakers of English, despite the fact that most Danes speak perfect English. My Danish is now to the point where I can understand most of what people say in conversations, and have a normal conversation with someone if they speak a bit slower.
There are some experiences that give people stereotypes or affect how others view them. In the U.S., those lines were clearly defined to me. However, in this different culture, I have started to realize that it's less black and white and based more on other factors than society's standards.
I am used to a Christmas of snow activities, activities through my local church, and special time with just my parents on Christmas day. I love skiing, being involved with the church, and eating our family's traditional Christmas food. Now, though, is my time to tell you all about Dansk Jul.
We can't always control our circumstances, but we can always hope, and God will guide us down the right path if we let Him. It might turn out different than expected, and it's hard to see this through the chaos. Despite this, I am glad to see how it has worked in my life and excited to see where it brings me next.
One of the things I have learned about being on exchange is cultural identity. I have met people with all sorts of cultural identities and found out more about my own one. Right now, I represent my country anytime it is figured out that I am an exchange student. Despite representing my country, I definitely don't feel like the typical American, or like I really am a fair representative of my hometown.
On the day this is published, it will be two weeks since I woke up and found out that Donald Trump has been elected president of the United States. It's been quite an interesting time, especially since I am abroad in a socialist foreign country. As many of you know, I am what you would consider politically liberal, but even if you do not agree with my political views, I would encourage you to read through this article still, because I have a message of love for all.
There are some words in Danish that are untranslatable. For example, "sjov" or "sjovt" means both fun and funny. That can be confusing as fun and funny have different meanings in English. However, the hardest word to translate in Danish is most definitely "hygge".
If you have read any of my columns recently, you are probably aware of the fact that I am in Denmark, and will be here for a year. I now have a very unique perspective on religion as a Christian in a secular country. However, as I touched in my last column, Denmark is a country with many Christian practices. I have felt very at home here, even though I do miss my church.