Update from Malia Smith at Herlufsholm in Denmark!

I arrived in Denmark a couple of weeks ago and now I feel I’ve adjusted to life here. I could have never imagined that such rich tradition, history, and culture is packed into this tiny country. But, the biggest impact I’ve had is the Danish sense of calmness and appreciation for “living in the moment.”

As I am sitting on the bus on the way to school watching the bright orange sun rise, I am given the time to reflect upon my experience thus far. I look out to the fields of tiny white flowers peeking through the grass, wild Christmas trees, and beautiful lakes. The scenery of Denmark accompanied by chirping birds and the scent of the morning air gives a sense of serenity and peace. Maybe this is one of the reasons, but I find that most Danish people are very relaxed and don’t get stressed easily. In fact, I realized, I haven’t truly lived in the moment until I got here.

The school schedule is unpredictable; however, students and teachers don’t complain. Without prior notice, teachers cancel classes or change our schedule, giving a sense of life constantly changing. There is no chaos, rather everyone just accepts it as normal and quickly adjusts their life accordingly. Another feature of this school is that lunches are very long. They last for about an hour, allowing for time to talk and hang out in a very relaxed atmosphere. The teachers don’t allow for cell phones while in the lunch room, so the students really interact with each other. Some people even take walks in the forests to get some fresh air.

Also, the teachers don’t give out much homework. Even then, many students don’t finish their homework in time because they know if they miss the deadline, the teachers would accommodate. So, the students are not stressed about finishing homework. In fact, they are not concerned about achieving good grades. This could be due to the school system in which you get a second chance if your grades are not as good as others. All of these may be factors to a stress-free, calm, and more enjoyable student life.

Being in this relaxed environment, I find myself at peace. This is what makes exchange so interesting. Here, I can hit a pause button on my daily Athenian routine and get to experience a completely new culture and lifestyle. I am living a life I have not experienced at Athenian. I think I can get used to this, at least for a while.