2009-10 Outbound to
St. Johns, Florida
Bartram Trail HS
San Jose Rotary Club, District 6970, Florida
Kolding Rotary Club, District 1460, Denmark
August 9 Journal - "Across the fjord
all you see is the old-fashioned homes scattered across the hill. I
donít think I've seen one piece of scenery that resembles the US, and I
really enjoy that."
September 17 Journal - "My life here
has become normal. I wake up, catch two buses, go to school, talk to my
friends (I have friends! Yay!), come home, and do it all over again."
November 7 Journal - "Life in Denmark
is wonderful, and really different from my life in Florida. I am much
more independent here. I have to do things by myself, and make my own
January 3 Journal - "So far, this has
been the best experience of my life, and I hate knowing that I will have
to say goodbye to my new life in only 6 months."
February 23 Journal - "I have been
told by many people that it will be strange not having me here next
year, and that makes me both ecstatic and heart-broken, all at the same
July 11 Journal - "When I think back
on my year, I know that it was the best possible decision; another year
of American high school wouldnít even come close to the things I learned
Hej! Jeg hedder Morgan Milhollin!
According to WikiAnswers, I just said "Hello! My name is
Morgan Milhollin" in Danish. Yes, I know, you're all very impressed with my
skills. I am 15 years old, a sophomore at Bartram Trail High School, and I
will be spending my junior year in Denmark! I am a lucky outbound who got
one of their first choices, although I know that I would be happy anywhere.
I have to say that I couldn't be more excited about Denmark; I absolutely
adore the cold (I'm sure that sounds strange coming from a Floridian).
I live in a town just south of Jacksonville called Fruit
Cove with my dad, mom, and older brother. My oldest sister lives in West
Palm Beach, while my other sister goes to UCF. I must admit that I am a
proud Jaguars fan. I love to attend games and scream at the blind referees.
At school I am the historian of the French Club and a member of the Teenage
Republicans. After school I enjoy dancing, reading, repeatedly watching The
Office, driving to Sonic with the greatest friends in the world, attempting
to become a track star, and flexing my amateur photography skills.
When I first heard about the Rotary Exchange Program, I
never even thought about applying. I figured it would be an automatic "no"
from the parentals and completely out of reach for me. However, after
attending a meeting, I knew I wanted to apply. Considering my dream is to
travel around the world for National Geographic, this was a perfect way to
begin my future career.
At 15 years old, I can't say that I fully know myself yet,
considering I have lived in the same house in the same neighborhood with the
same neighbors for 13 years. I have been attending school with the same kids
since kindergarten (I've even had the same lunch lady). I believe that to
truly find yourself (as clichť as that may sound) you have to venture away
from everything you've ever known and try something new. Even though I know
that I will miss my friends and my family more than I could imagine, I know
100% that this trip is completely worth it.
August 9 Journal
I have been in Denmark for one week; it has felt like an
eternity and it has felt like a brief second, all at the same time. Itís
gorgeous here, and I still havenít gotten over the view. My city, Kolding,
is situated on the Kolding Fjord, and itís spectacular. Across the fjord all
you see is the old-fashioned homes scattered across the hill, and it looks
nothing like America. I donít think I have seen one piece of scenery that
resembles the United States, and I really enjoy that. Also, my city has a
castle. A CASTLE! That excited me to no end.
I suppose I should start at the beginning, in the airport.
I will admit that I cried when I said goodbye. More like wept, actually.
However, after getting to Detroit, I was fine. Although, as
Caitlin already informed you, on the flight to
Amsterdam we were stuck with a crying, kicking baby behind us, therefore we
got zero sleep. Arriving in Amsterdam was great though, mostly because I had
never been out of the country before. I almost died of happiness when the
customs agent stamped my passport.
I canít really remember anything interesting about my next
two flights, all I remember is being tired. Unfortunately, when I arrived to
Billund Airport in Denmark, the Rotarian that picked me up informed me that
we were going straight from the Airport to Legoland (the amusement park made
completely out of Legos). Of course, I wasnít about to complain. Oh no! I am
a Rotary exchange student. I was taught to adapt to any situation. But I
will admit, I really did not want to go to Legoland. I hadnít slept in over
24 hours, and I was forced to march around a theme park for 4 more. I got
through it, though. I am still alive.
Anyways, I will move on to happier things. This past week
I have been living with my host counselor, and today is my first day with my
host family. I love them already! They are really nice people, and I
honestly am just relieved to be out of my counselorís house. I detest living
out of a suitcase. My host family consists of the parents, a 17-year-old
son, and a 14-year-old daughter. They also have a 16-year-old son, but he is
on exchange in Brazil. And I canít forget to mention the dog, Zojka. I
should probably move on to talking about the food. I love every piece of
food here! The ďRotary 15Ē is definitely going to catch up with me fast.
Even though I have only been here a week, I will try to make a list of some
of the differences in Denmark:
- Danes eat bread with everything. Breakfast, lunch,
and dinner. If you want a snack, you eat bread. But the bread is
delicious, so I donít mind.
- Danes also put anything and everything on their
bread. Chocolate, cheese, liverpasteÖ
- Danes do not have air conditioning. They open their
doors and windows instead.
- You do not acknowledge the person walking past you.
If you smile or wave they will stare at you like you are crazy.
- Drivers will stop for pedestrians, but they will not
stop for other drivers.
- People actually obey the traffic laws.
- Drinks donít come with ice.
- Everyone here smokes (which I found strange,
considering that they are so environmentally friendly)
- Every house either looks like it was built in the
1800ís, or it looks like itís from the future. It makes for very
- Having a Hyggeligt day = sitting around with
friends or family, eating and having a cozy good time. Hyggeligt
is a wonderful thing.
American exchange students in Amsterdam
In front of Koldinghus
Next to the fjord
In my Danish bedroom
September 17 Journal
Hej alle sammen!
So, I have been in Denmark for one month and 16 days. This
past month and 16 days have been incredible, terrifying, exhilarating,
heartbreaking, and heartwarming. The 2nd week I was here was one of the
hardest weeks I had ever had. That was when it really set in. That was when
I realized that I wouldnít see my family or friends for a whole year. I
realized that I would have to forget everything I am used to, and that I
wouldnít see Florida until the summer of 2010. No matter what anyone says,
it never really hits you until you get here. And it hit me like a big yellow
Luckily, I am past that now. After that awful week, things
improved tremendously. The next week was IntroCamp (A.K.A. the best week of
my life). IntroCamp was when all of the 150+ inbounds in Denmark met for a
week of Danish lessons, day trips, and all around bonding experiences. The
first day there I met my new best friends, Kayla and Lily - both from New
also met so many other people, from all over the World: Brazil, Venezuela,
Colombia, Canada, Taiwan, Mexico, etc... In between Danish lessons we went
to the city Viborg, and went in a really old, gorgeous church. We also
explored around Ňrhus (the second biggest city in Denmark), going to museums
and shopping. I made so many new friends that week; I donít even want to
think about next summer, when I have to say goodbye. Oh, and I failed to
mention that before going to the IntroCamp, I got to see
Agnete!! She was a Danish exchange
student to Florida last year that my family had the pleasure of hosting. I
missed her so much, and I was so excited to finally see her again.
Denmark in general is wonderful. Every day I get to look
out my window and see a sprawling field, and then look out the other window
and see Kolding Fjord. It still hits me sometimes that Iím in Europe (in a
good way though). My life here has become normal. I wake up, catch two
buses, go to school, talk to my friends (I have friends! Yay!), come home,
and do it all over again. Also, every Monday and Wednesday I take Danish
lessons in Kolding, and those really help me. Luckily there are 3 other
exchange students (from a different program) taking the same language class;
Itís nice having people around who understand how I am feeling. I love
Denmark, though. I really do. I canít thank Rotary enough for sending me
A small list of the differences in Denmark:
- Staring is accepted
- Denmark really is the happiest country in the World;
my host dad is constantly whistling.
- The school throws parties for the students (itís
- People donít get offended by anything here. (For
example, when we had to dress up in costume for our class picture, two
guys dressed as Naziís.)
- Subway would be considered very unhealthy to these
- People drive like maniacs, but are surprisingly very
skilled at it.
- They are unfathomably prompt.
- Kids actually pay attention in class and listen to
their teacher (shocking, I know).
- The ďBreaking NewsĒ in Denmark wouldnít even make it
into the newspaper in America.
- If you come to Denmark, you had better love bread,
potatoes, tomatoes, chocolate, and licorice.
- Everyone can speak at least a little bit of English,
except for bus drivers. Sometimes I have to play charades in order for
them to understand me.
Tusind tak Rotary! Vi ses.
November 7 Journal
To begin, I would like to thank Rotary so much for giving me this
opportunity. I couldnít be happier in Denmark, and Rotary earns all of the
credit for that.
Iíve done a lot since the last time I wrote, starting with
my trip to Copenhagen (KÝbenhavn for the Danes). One of my friends from
school invited me to stay with her for 4 days in the capital, and I was
pretty excited. I had never been (except for when I flew in), and the first
thing we did when we got off the train was shop. Copenhagen has an extremely
long shopping street, and I did some pretty nice damage to my credit card
that day (sorry Dad). The next two days were spent sightseeing; even though
my friend had been there multiple times, she didnít mind taking me to all of
the tourist attractions. I saw the Little Mermaid, went on a boat tour of
Nyhavn, walked to the top of RundetŚrn (Round Tower), and went to
Amalienborg Palace. On the last day I was there, I met up with a few other
exchange students for an afternoon of hygge. I really do consider the other
exchange students to be my family.
A few weeks after Copenhagen, I went to a Rotary weekend
in Holbśk with all of the 200 other exchange students in Denmark. It was a
costume party in celebration of Halloween, and people got really into
dressing up. Some of the costumes had me rolling on the floor from laughter.
That was one of the best weekends I have had here, and I am always sad to
say goodbye to the exchange students.
When it comes to school, Iím a pretty big fan. Even though
it starts a little too early for my taste, I really like being there with my
classmates. In two days I have to give a presentation on the welfare and
health care system in America for my society class. Iím a little nervous,
but I think that all those Rotary presentations I did made me ready for it.
Luckily the teacher doesnít mind if I do it in English.
As for my Danish, itís coming along a little slowly. I can
understand almost everything, and I can read a lot of it, but speaking it is
really difficult. My American accent is so heavy, and I just get confused
with the sentence structure. But the Danes really love when I speak Danish,
so I try as much as possible.
Life in Denmark is wonderful, and really different from my
life in Florida. I am much more independent here. I have to do things by
myself, and I have to make my own decisions. Itís definitely an opportunity
to grow up. The idea of leaving seems ridiculous, but considering that these
last 3 months flew by, I know that I will be back in Florida soon, which
means I need to take every opportunity I get here. I know that this is the
experience of a lifetime, and that in the end I will have become a better
person, and a stronger person. I will have done and seen more than most kids
my age, and my view on the world will be permanently changed. Again, all the
praise goes to Rotary, Al Kalter, Jody Davis, and everyone else who made
At the top of
exchange students in Copenhagen
Gabby and me at
the Rotary Halloween party
January 3 Journal
Hej alle, godt nyt Śr!
Hey everyone, happy New Year! Today, I have been in
Denmark for 5 months and 1 day, and the fact that it is already 2010 blows
my mind. Also, I figured that instead of having my journal be askew and
messy, I should organize it into sections (the Danish way).
The school system in Denmark is completely different than
the American system. Kids here graduate at 15 from efterskole, and
after that they can either get a job, or choose to attend a secondary
school. The secondary school closest to a High School is a Gymnasium, which
is the school I go to. My school, Kolding Gymnasium, starts at the un-Godly
hour of 8:05 in the morning, and ends either at 2 or 3:30 in the afternoon,
depending on the day. My classes are different every day, and if the teacher
doesnít show up, the class is canceled. I like school here because you are
given a lot more freedom and responsibility than at American high school. If
you want to text during class, go right ahead; if you have to use the
facilities during class, it is fine to just get up and walk out. Also, the
lack of dress code and police officers shocked me a little bit as well.
The individual food eaten here is not very different from
the US; itís mostly the way itís eaten. For example, the Danish frokost
(or lunch). Basically, you have all the main ingredients to make a normal
lunch: meat, potatoes, and vegetables. However, instead of eating them
individually, you take everything and pile it on top of a piece of
rugbrÝd (dark Danish bread). This puzzled me GREATLY the first time I
had lunch here. Now, I am used to eating everything on bread; I even kind of
like it now. Look at me, Iím adapting.
I moved to my 2nd host family in November, and it consists
of my host parents and their 5 children. My new home is much closer to the
school than my last house (itís also closer to the mall, so thatís a plus).
The family itself, however, is what I consider a learning experience.
Exchange consists of ups and downs; Iím just figuring out how to make even
the worst downs turn into ups.
En Sjov Liste (A Fun List)
- Face piercings are not considered taboo in DenmarkÖ
- Neither is having bright pink hair.
- Public transportation is faaantastic.
- Dinner is not complete unless there are candles.
- A small gasp is how you will be acknowledged. Very
confusing the first time it happens.
- Exchange students will become your family.
- You will sleep when youíre dead.
- The weight gain is no joke; so far its 10 pounds and
- When youíre told to be ready at 6, they really mean
- Danes sing everywhere.
- Traveling to Germany or Sweden is no big deal to
- Big Brother is everywhere in Denmark.
- Nudity is considered normal, therefore the TV censors
- After showering, one must wipe down the faucets and
walls so as not to leave water spots.
- According to the Danes, there is no bad weather, only
bad clothing (however, I beg to differ).
- At first, Danish teenagers appear to be cold and
distant, but if you give them a little while to open up, they will be
your friends for life.
Unfortunately, after celebrating the New Year, I realized
that I will be going home this year. So far, this has been the best
experience of my life, and I hate knowing that I will have to say goodbye to
my new life in only 6 months. However, Iím going to make the best of it for
now, and Iíll be sure to document the rest of my exchange for yíall Rotary
Florida! Vi ses snart!
February 23 Journal
I have gone through multiple stages over the last 6
months: overwhelmed, depressed, angst-ridden, happy, and completely in love.
At the moment I am standing firmly in the last stage, blissfully married to
the Danish culture. I love eating warm rundstykker in the morning,
listening to the ever-popular techno music, actually dressing nice,
experiencing real independence; I love overhearing a Danish conversation and
knowing exactly what they are talking about. My class is wonderful, and I
really feel like a part of the school. I have been told by many people that
it will be strange not having me here next year, and that makes me both
ecstatic and heart-broken, all at the same time.
Another thing I love: moving. I love moving. I love saying
the word; it just sort of rolls out of your mouth. Last Thursday I got to
experience the joy of moving; of packing up all your things and walking out
the door, knowing that you will never have to see that long, white, ominous
hallway ever again. My new house is out in the country, about 3 miles
outside of Kolding. I live in a very old and very large farmhouse, with a
million different rooms. My host parents have 4 daughters, two of which are
married and moved away. The others are 19 and 17, and are two of the
sweetest girls I have ever met. The family is so warm and welcoming, and
they bake incredible bread (so thatís a plus).
Iím sure you would all like to hear about the things that
I do here, but they have become so normal to me, I really donít know if you
would care. Basically, I go to school, hang out with friends, go shopping,
eat, go to the gym (future outbounds, I recommend joining one; those Rotary
pounds sneak up on you), have family time, and (of course) brag about
Normally, I would make a list stating the differences
between Denmark and America, but I no longer notice them really. Instead, I
think that I will help out the future outbounds headed for Denmark (whom I
am incredibly jealous of), and make a list of the things that might surprise
and/or shock them. So this is for you future-Scandinavian exchange students!
- You will eat bread everyday, 2-3 times a day. After
the first week (when you get tired of eating bread for lunch) do not ask
to have something different, they will look at you funny and tell you
that there is nothing else to eat.
- After gym class, if you choose to shower, you will
have to do it with everyone. There are no walls or dividers in the
showers. I hope youíre comfy with your body!
- It is very fashionable for girls to wear leggings
with long, skin-tight tank tops and call that an outfit. Yes, it does
show off every line, wrinkle, and roll on their body, but itís just how
they do it.
- You will see many people tuck their pants into very
- Donít be surprised if alcohol is served at your
school. Velkommen til Danmark!
- Donít get scared when an adult gasps quickly while
youíre talking. A quick gasp is how they acknowledge you.
- Danish people pronounce ďvĒ like ďwĒ. For example, I
live in Jacksonwille, not Jacksonville.
- You have to be 18 in Denmark to drive, so if you do
have your license, you will be very popular. (Not that you will drive of
course, just the fact that you have the ability to drive. Remember those
- If you want an automatic door to open, you will have
to practically press your nose against the door. Except for the train
doors, those you actually WILL have to press your nose against.
- Ask your Rotary Counselor to invest in a DSB Wild
Card for you. It makes traveling the country by train so much cheaper.
- When you go into a grocery store, you will be trapped
inside. The only way to get out is to buy something, or to press a
button that opens a small gate, allowing you to leave.
- Also, at supermarkets, they donít bag groceries for
you. You will have to bring your own bags or carry everything.
- They will stare at you. EVERYONE! Your classmates,
your family, random people on the street, etcÖ itís very normal to stare
- When you first meet your classmates, you will assume
that they have no personality. You will assume that Danes are the
coldest and most distant people you have ever met. But I promise you,
they will open up to you, and you will discover that they are the
sweetest and most caring people on Earth.
Vśrsgo! And donít forget, have fun. It really is the
best time of your life, and it will pass by quicker than you can
Amazing package from Jamie Patterson
With some girls
July 11 Journal
Hello RYE Florida, itís been a while. Sorry about the wait.
I leave Denmark in 3 days, and itís indescribably
frightening. I am already preparing myself for the first breaths I take as I
step out of Jacksonville International Airport; I have been told that I
wonít be able to breathe. I am attempting to ready myself for the shock of
driving through town again, and it only recently slapped me hard in the face
that I have to go back.
Iím not angry that I have to go back. Iíve had a great
year, and I always knew it would end. Iím not going to go into a depression
when I get home, or hate everyone and everything. Iíve met so many people,
and made so many memories. When I think back on my year, I know that it was
the best possible decision, and that another year of American high school
wouldnít even come close to the things I learned on exchange. However, Iíve
accepted that itís over; that I have to go back. Do I feel like Iíve just
left? Yes. Do I feel heartbroken when I think about the people Iíll probably
never see again? Yes. Am I thankful for the time I had? Absolutely.
Tomorrow I will be saying goodbye to the other exchange
students that I've become close to. That will break me for a little while.
There is nothing and no one I will miss more than the exchange students I
met here; weíre already planning a reunion.
To end this last journal entry, I will just say thank you
in Danish. In all the possible ways you can say it.
Tak. Tusind Tak. Mange Tak. Tak for Det. Tak Skal Du Har.
Tak for I Morgen. Tak for I Dag. Tak for I Ňr. Tak for I GŚr. Selv Tak. Tak
Theresienstadt Concentration Camp
John Lennon Wall
The group in Venice