“There are two things we talk about in København: bread and rain. Good bread can fix a bad day, and lots of rain can ruin a good day.”— Host Dad John.
Allow me to introduce you to my host family, people that I have only hinted at this far. My host dad’s name is John and my host mom’s name is Dorthe. They have two kids, Freja (age 10), and Felix (age 8). John works for the Danish equivalent of Google and Dorthe works for a medication production/pharmaceutical company. They have both shown themselves to be the most generous people I have ever met.
In addition to opening their home and providing me with a fully furnished room, they have opened their kitchen (a dangerous game because of much I can eat), their family, and their lives to me. They now refer to themselves as a family of five, and if that wasn’t incredible enough, they have given me a key for this stay as well as when I return to Copenhagen to visit in the future! They joke that it’s too late, I’m stuck with their family now!
They also are absolute characters. Dorthe is a woman after my own mom’s heart. She is sweet, kind, and insists on doing my laundry for me and making sure that my bed is comfortable enough. Yesterday, I asked if they had tape to cover a blinking a night in my room at night, and she spent ten minutes creating a paper box to block the light at night. Her favorite English word is “Fantastic!” She is truly wonderful.
John is a frat bro turned house husband in the most loving way possible. He loves to eat candy and drink Carlsberg beer or Faxe-Kondi (soda that tastes like Sprite but is 3 times sweeter) or saftevand (translates to “juice water” and is basically kool-aid with twice the sugar). I brought American candy for the kids but John ended up devouring most of it. And somehow he stays thinner than me. That said, I will be the first to say that he is the most doting father in Denmark. He cooks each night in the kitchen, and his project this summer has been teaching Felix to cook as well. He spends evenings working on homework with the kids or running with me and the dog.
John and Dorthe speak perfect English, while the kids only speak Danish and are starting to learn English in school. I think they find both me and English to be quite intimidating, so I have downloaded both Google Conversations and Duolingo to learn Danish as quickly as possible. My goal is to bridge the language barrier as soon as I can. At this point, I can only say “Jaeg er en mand” or “I am a man”.
There are a couple of things they have taught me already. Any bakery in Copenhagen can make exquisite bread (brød) because if they can’t, they’ll close for sure. You want it to be firm (but not too hard), airy (but not too many holes), and heavy (but not too heavy). Apparently, John can lift up a loaf of bread and tell you whether it will be good or not. It all looks like bread to me. They have also explained that Danish talk about the weather. ALL. THE. TIME. Specifically, whether it will rain that day. And I can validate this claim. In the morning, John gives a weather report to the family, which dictates what everyone will wear. In the last couple of days, sunny days have turned gloomy and the clouds have opened up instantly. Thankfully, I was inside when it happened, but I don’t look forward to commuting on a rainy day.
There are also a couple of things they have taught me simply by participating in the family. Any topic is on the table during dinner. Dorthe asked me on day two what I thought of gay marriage, as the gay pride parade had occurred the previous day in Copenhagen. I was flabbergasted, as topics like this are typically off the table with new people. I’m still trying to process some of the other differences that are less apparent, but will keep logging them as I go!
Because John and Dorthe are so generous with their time, money, and home, I have integrated into the family incredibly smoothly. They are the most accomodating and have made my transition from America to Copenhagen relatively seamless. I will admit that the homesickness has start to set in, but with each moment, I look to the amazing things happening that day and hope to continue to remain grateful for this amazing opportunity!