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Student from Denmark adapts to US culture

By Staff | Oct 5, 2014

The summer after high school graduation is typically reserved for finding a new hobby, doing some traveling or spending time with friends before heading off to college or work.

Laura Forup, of Jgerspris, Denmark, decided to spend an extra year in high school instead.

“I’m actually done with high school and the next thing would be college,” Forup admits. “But I’ve always wanted to go to America to learn a new culture, to see how people live and do different things. And to be surprised.”

The 16-year-old finished her final year of high school 10th grade in Denmark last spring.

“We start at zero in school and go until 10th grade, or 11th grade in America,”?Forup explains.

Forup is one of five foreign exchange students attending Blue Earth Area High School as a junior this year.

She left her mother, father and 14-year-old sister in Denmark, for the time being, so she could experience the different cultures and traditions of the United States while she had the opportunity.

Forup is living in Blue Earth with her host family, Bill and Karrie Eckles and their children, Landon and Faith.

With nearly a year left in Blue Earth, she has been finding plenty of activities to keep herself busy.

“I’m not home that much,”?she said with a laugh. “Volleyball took up a lot of time. It was fun to try something different. I played handball at home but I wish volleyball were more common in Denmark because it’s fun. Hard, but fun.”

With the winter sports season just around the corner, Forup is hoping to try out for basketball.

“I’m thinking of trying basketball,” she says. “I’ve talked to a lot of the girls who play, so I think it will be fun, social-wise.”

Though the Denmark native is keeping plenty busy this fall, it isn’t all fun and games; she still has to maintain at least a C average in each class.

“A lot of people say that exchange students think it is easy to go to school here; they say the classes are easy and you get straight As and stuff, but I don’t think so,” Forup says.

“I never thought the school system would be so different. I’m used to sitting in one classroom and having the teachers come to me.”

It is also commonplace in Denmark to have extended breaks between classes, but Forup learned quickly that is not the case at BEAHS.

“I?was so out of breath the first couple of weeks,” she says. “I?was late to my classes and I couldn’t open my locker. But now it’s better way better.”

Not only are the long breaks between classes a convenience she misses, but so is the public transportation that Denmark offers.

“Me and my friends would take the bus, then the train, and then the metro and then we were in Copenhagen. We would go to Copenhagen a lot for concerts or to go shopping,”?Forup says. “It was easier there to get around whenever I wanted even though I was not able to drive.”

Unfortunately, Forup will be unable to drive in the United States unless she passes the Driver’s Education class, a venture she isn’t sure she wants to pursue.

“I?can’t drive with an American license when I go back to Denmark, so I don’t think I will take it,” Forup says.

Luckily, there are plenty of other activities that Forup would like to try while she is in the United States.

So far, she has traveled up north to spend time with her host family at their cabin. While there, she tried jet skiing for the first time.

She has also experienced the hustle and bustle of the Mall of America in Bloomington.

“That was cool, that was insane,”?Forup exclaimed. “I?think we made it through the first floor and it took all day.”

Many people would agree that to get a taste of American culture, the Mall of America would be the place to go. However, prior to her trip to the United States, Forup had some experience with the culture.

“Music is a very big thing in Denmark,”?she explains. “American music is basically the only thing we listen to all of those pop artists.”

As for upcoming trips and adventures, the Eckles will be taking Forup to the Florida Keys when the weather gets colder.

“You basically just live your life and invite them to come along for the ride to do what you do,”?Bill Eckles says.

Forup is also looking forward to the holiday season in America. Danes do not put much emphasis on the holidays not the way many?American families do.

“Thanksgiving, we don’t have that, and Halloween is something we don’t do a lot for in Denmark,” Forup says. “I’m really excited for American Christmas.”

With an assortment of new experiences planned for the coming months, Forup is just happy to be fitting in and making friends in the United States.

“I?like that the people are so open and friendly to me,” Forup says with a smile. “That would be a lot different in Denmark if you were new. I feel like every group I’ve tried to be a part of has opened up. I?think people are very nice here.”