On Sunday, November 24th, I was given the opportunity to speak at the American Chamber of Commerce in Denmark’s Annual Thanksgiving Dinner. DIS chooses one student every fall to talk about their experiences in Denmark at this event. This year, I was asked to speak on behalf of DIS. I was honored to be given this opportunity to share what I’m learning while abroad and the event was so lovely and SO American! Here is a copy of my reflections/ speech. A huge thank you to both DIS Copenhagen and the American Chamber of Commerce for giving me this opportunity!
“Thankfulness has been at the heart of my study abroad experience from the very beginning. From a generous DIS scholarship to being with the most wonderful Danish family, I’ve been overwhelmed with gratitude that I get to be here and share in the Danish way of life. I remember not being sure of what exactly immersion in Danish culture would entail— I thought, surely it must not be so different from American culture. Sure enough, as soon as I landed, my host family offered me a pickled herring open-faced sandwich for lunch. From that point on, the surprises kept coming. Why do people bike so aggressively? What is handball? Will I ever be able to pronounce rødgrød med fløde? How many cinnamon rolls is too many for one day?
These rich cultural points can prove to be overwhelming, confusing, comical, and delightful. As an American, it might be easy to think that the way things are back home is better. I miss being loud, giant grocery stores, being able to use a measurement system that makes no sense, wearing color, and all I’ve been craving for the last 3 months is Chipotle. But, I’ve once again found myself just feeling thankful that I get to have these experiences and feel the emotions they bring. Our cultural differences keep me on my toes, trying to fit in. Living abroad, there’s never a dull moment.
Because of my constant contact with cultural differences in my daily life abroad, this is something I’ve come to appreciate even more about the United States— the way our nation fosters diversity and has become this mix of different cultures. Even in my classes and friend groups at DIS, we all have very different backgrounds but we bond over being different. Just like my friend group here, a nation is stronger when it embraces diversity and difference because we learn from one another. My life is so much richer now that I have dipped my toes into the Danish way of life. My perspective has broadened; I’m constantly growing. When cultures meet, wonderful things happen, something the American Chamber of Commerce knows well and promotes with its work here in Denmark.
Because of this, I’m grateful not only for this experience, but for the time and place I stand in now. A time where I, an American, the daughter of a Costa Rican immigrant, can stand here in Denmark and deliver a speech for Thanksgiving. A time when I can teach my 11-year-old Danish brother Spanish while also strengthening his English while he helps me with my Danish homework. We’re living in a time when this meeting of peoples, language, and culture is more prominent and widespread than ever before. I can’t help but reflect on how lucky we all are to not only have the careers and experiences we have, but to be born in a time and place where all of this crazy cultural contact is possible.
So, I want to thank all of you for being part of this experience with me and for being here, in this time and place, with me. I want to thank DIS and the American Chamber of Commerce for the work they do to make more of these intercultural exchanges possible for more people. May we be ever aware of the blessings we get to be a part of and the ways we are able to learn from one another. May we keep growing as our perspectives broaden. And may we all remain grateful for the ways of life we get to share in. Happy Thanksgiving.”