The second week of March I went to Rome, Italy with my class for our “study tour.” We were given an assignment to do while we were there — my group was given politics, which happened to be quite interesting with all the recent buzz over Silvio Berlusconi, (a former Italian premiere on trial for sex-related charges).
Aside from the work we had to do, we went sight-seeing and saw some of the most beautiful works of art in the world, such as the Colosseum, the Vatican and the Trevi fountain.
Although Italy was a beautiful place, the poverty was something that couldn’t be ignored. There were homeless people everywhere, begging for money on every street corner and trying to sell us everything.
I was almost pick-pocketed on the subway by a young girl no older than 13 years. I happened to look down at the right moment and took her hand out of my purse.
The hotel staff also stole from our rooms — a girl from my class had a gold necklace stolen and I had my iPod stolen.
Apart from those minor bumps in the road, it was a wonderful week of bonding with my Danish classmates, and relaxing in the hot sun. But it was soon time to return to freezing cold Denmark. Luckily, I had only about a week before I would be jetting off to the south again.
This time my destination was Barcelona, Spain. Me and four other exchange students went to visit one of the girl’s sisters, who is doing an university exchange there.
We had only four days so we jam-packed them with sight-seeing and eating at the best restaurants in the city. We also went to a big fruit market and sampled all kinds of exotic fruits grown right there in Spain. Bright-coloured, ripe and juicy, they all tasted so amazing.
It was a surreal feeling. Here I was, a 16-year-old Canadian girl taking a vacation in Spain from my life in Denmark. Dipping my toes in the warm ocean, laying in the soft white sand while the hot sun was beating down on me — it was then I decided I must be one of the luckiest people in the world.
On the plane back to home base, I realized how much Denmark feels like home for me after those two vacations.
I looked forward to the familiar sounds of waves crashing in my city’s harbour, seeing the two bridges in the horizon connecting my city to another island, the smell of salt water in the air and the beautiful sound of Danish, which I’m now able to understand and speak.
It made me think back to the beginning, when Denmark seemed like such a strange and foreign place. Now it’s just home.
Alicia Serré is a Rotary Youth Exchange student from Sudbury who is spending the year in Denmark. This column will appear every six weeks during her trip.
Posted by Vivian Scinto