Living in a Homestay Q&A: Collin, University of Colorado at Boulder

From Littleton to Allerød

Rewind back to 2015, when Collin decided to live with a Homestay. Originally from Littleton, Colorado, he knew then that this would be the best way to understand the culture he was living in while abroad.

Today, he’s back in Copenhagen, interning at DIS.

With the experience now in perspective, we asked him a few questions about living with a local family and how licorice, hygge, and traditions came into play:

FA17_Homestay Campaign_Collin_16

DIS: Why did you choose to live in a Homestay during your semester?

Collin S.: I wanted to fully engage with the local culture.  By taking the leap of faith and choosing to live with a family, I believe that I got a lot more out of my experience abroad and got to see a lot more than I would have otherwise.

DIS: What was your favorite Danish tradition they introduced you too?

CS: I don’t know if I would necessarily call it a tradition, but I absolutely love flæskesteg.  I have never tried something like that until I came here, and when I went back to the States after my time abroad, I searched long and hard for a pork roast with the rind on it so that I could show my parents this dish. We had to special order it from a butcher, but we ended up cooking a flæskesteg for Christmas back in the states each year and I see it becoming a tradition in my family now.

DIS: What was an American or family tradition from your home that you brought to their family?

CS: My host family is unique in that my host mother is an American.  She moved here 25 or so years ago and lives a Danish lifestyle now, but the family still knows all of the American traditions so I could not surprise them with any of my American quirks or traditions.

“I wanted to fully engage in the local culture. By taking a leap of faith and choosing to live with a family, I believe that I got a lot more out of my experience abroad.”

DIS: What was one of your most memorable cross-cultural moment with your family?

CS: My first time eating salty licorice was probably the most memorable cross-cultural moment for me.  Before I came to Denmark, I had no idea that “salty” and “candy” would ever show up side by side. Throw licorice into the mix and I was completely out of my comfort zone. My host family thought that it was very humorous to watch my face as I tried to eat it for the first time, and I was shocked to see that, by the end of my stay as a student, I could actually tolerate the flavor!

DIS: Looking back, what do you miss most about that time?

CS: I miss hygge by the fireplace most of all.  Almost every day I would go home and do my homework in front of the fireplace with my host family’s cat Jokum by my side while it rained or snowed outside.  It was textbook hygge and I absolutely loved every minute of it.

DIS: You are back now post-graduation as an intern with DIS. How was your reunion with your family and have you kept up any old traditions with them?

CS: I am now living with my girlfriend quite far from Allerød, so I don’t get to see my family as much as I would like to, but I do keep in touch with them. Since I have been back, my family has come to visit from the States and they had the chance to meet my host family for the first time in person! It was a very fun time and they finally got to see where I was living while I was abroad.

DIS: Do you have any tips for future students about bonding and breaking the ice with their new host family?

CS: Be as open as possible. Your hosts want to learn about your culture as much as you want to learn about theirs.  I think it is important to realize that the host family/host student dynamic is a two-way street and that you need to be an open book to get the most out of your experience.

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