“Hjemme er hvor hjertet er”

“Home is where the heart is”

Welcome to week 4 of Ollerup. If I said I wasn’t tired I would be lying. I feel both mentally and physically exhausted. Week 3 was kind of a hard week for me. I am not sure if I am getting use to being here or not, during the week I have been like an elevator (constantly going up and down). This past week I just completely horrible and down on my luck. If something could go wrong, it felt like it would. I am not saying I or anyone should be happy 24/7 but being down sucks.

I am not sure how the other internationals feel but one minute I can be as happy as a kid who got candy or a baby with their favorite teddy but then out of nowhere it’s as if the heavens open up and pour the rain. I hear or see something and it reminds me of my family, friends, places, or even something in my past and it just brings down my mood. I can hide my feelings a lot of times but like a water bottle you’re filling up with water, it can only hold so much before it begins to overflow. I know there really isn’t much I can do about this besides constantly trying to distract myself with randomness  like games, friends, or other random things like that but is constantly trying to distract yourself a good thing? I really do not think it is, but yet, I am constantly doing that.

I am constantly distracting myself with those kinds of things. Because of this I may feel down some days (okay, so I can’t smile all the time, I’m sorry), I may say something random to make myself laugh (as I constantly jokingly say, if I don’t laugh I’ll cry 😛 ), I will take pictures (seeing my current friends smile, really does help, so as the danish say appelsin 😉 ), and maybe I’ll want my alone time to think. I know no matter how long I am here I will miss my home and friends, I mean like I said at the start “home is where the heart is”. Though I will miss them, I want to live it up my time here. I want to smile at folks to make them smile, I want to say god morgen solskin (good morning sunshine) because it confuses the danes, I want to meet new people and I want to build connections with people.

Life is a funny thing sometimes. I may miss everyone like crazy and feel down one minute but as I am writing this in the living room, I am smiling. I look around and see people having a good time (playing games, talking to each other, laughing). Each of the people I have met here has changed my life, each one molds me into a new/better person. I don’t think it’s just a coincidence on who a person meets. I think these people have been put into my life for a reason. I really appreciate them!

So, I know this wasn’t the most cheery post I have written but I feel like it needed to be said. I will always miss home and when I leave here I know I’ll miss it too. Like I said before, I’m not sure what else to do besides distract myself with games and friends but I thing this is a pretty good distraction 😉 Thanks again venner (friends)!


The Choices of Life

“Livet er et puslespil , hvor passer du ind?”

“Life is a puzzle, where do you fit in at?”

Life is full of choices. Every choice you make changes your life for the better or worse, whether big or small. When I wake up in the morning I try to tell myself “I’m going to have a good day”. By telling myself this, I hope to be put in a certain positive mindset. It’s a choice to say this to myself, like I said whether big or small, life is made up of choices. For example, I made a choice when I decided to apply here, getting accepted and still deciding to go, and actually going on a plane coming here. This was a big decision (choice) I made. In the time I have been here, I have made many choices and have seen others make choices.

Every day at food time, I make a choice to try to eat a healthy meal (though everything here is pretty much healthy compared to America) such as a salad. If you know me, I am not a big salad eater, so have eating all this green stuff is different for me. If you don’t believe me, ask my girlfriend, she’ll tell ya haha. I also try to taste the different kinds of food they have here. Today I had some sort of salmon or fish and yuck, I did NOT like it whatsoever. Other people around me had huge pieces and I had my small little piece which was more than enough for me. I have also tried many other foods served here which I have very much enjoyed and not so much enjoyed but I would have never known though if I didn’t try it. Try new things, who knows, you might find your new favorite meal 😉

This past weekend I had a really great day and an eh day. My Saturday was so lazy, a lot of my friends here went home and I just kind of felt blah and didn’t really want to do anything so I didn’t. That’s a really bad excuse by the way. Anyways I stayed in my room most of the day but did wash my clothes (you’re welcome everyone 😛 ) There were so many things I could have done that day, I could have been working on strengthening my weak ankles, went outside to enjoy the beautiful weather, or took a walk, but instead I stayed inside. Next time my friends go home, I will try to be more active and not lay in bed all day. I think by writing it maybe I’ll actually do it…. maybe

Sunday on the other hand, was an amazing day! I woke up, wide awake, and it just felt like a better day than the day before. I ate a fruit breakfast and some pancakes and then I watched Men and Black III and then later went off to take random pictures while walking around the school. One of these days I’ll post all these pictures on Facebook. After refreshments (around 2:30ish) I went to play volleyball with some really funny and great people. We were awful at playing but we had the best of time laughing and making fun of each other about how bad we were. After the fun game a few of us went out swimming and played even more volleyball but in the pool. We did all of this until supper that night. It was a busy Sunday but it was definitely a good kind of busy. It was a choice I made to go out with friends Sunday and be lazy Saturday, I may be happy or not happy with how the days went but it was my decision.

Every time you decide to walk left instead of right, every time you decide to try the salmon instead of just saying “ew that’s disgusting I would never try that”, you made a choice. I have made many choices thus far while being here and I know there are going to be a ton more (good and bad) but with each choice, I grow. When deciding to do anything, remember, you’re making a choice, so think wisely. 😉

DSCN0941 Me and my friends during Volleyball!


“Folk er skøre”

“People are crazy”

Hey y’all, I hope everyone is doing well this Friday morning, evening, or even Saturday depending on your time zone. I have spoken with so many people these past (quick) two weeks I have met people from so many different countries and different backgrounds. It seems so crazy how many people are so different or even the same as on how I was raised. Someone told me today that I had an accent and haha honestly I thought that was so cool, because I feel like I’m usually the one saying something about an accent. Hearing it from someone else was kind of nice 🙂 Anyways, this blog is about the people I have met and just the differences I have already encountered.

Gilligan’s Island is is an American sitcom about seven people who set sail on what is scheduled to be a three-hour tour but end up shipwrecked and stuck on an Island. This is a show that honestly I could turn on a TV in the U.S. anytime and watch but yet if I mentioned it here I would get puzzled looks or even if I sung a country song about skydiving and riding a bull I would get an even more puzzled look. I know this should be expected because it’s “an American sitcom” but still kind of strange how something so common in one place is something totally new to someone else. It shows me that this is such a big world that is so different but unique. I love learning new things about a place or seeing the curiosity in a face when I say something new to them. It’s fun to see that face on someone else beside my own when I hear a danish phrase or something haha.

What makes a person a person is their personality and the way they see life. Overall, there have been some really great people here. There is one person here in particular who can smile at someone and instantly make a person smile for no reason but just because they smiled. A person who can make the world smile when they are feeling down is a really great person. Sadly, I witnessed and felt the opposite yesterday when I saw them down. I really couldn’t do anything which is so hard because when I meet someone who I consider to be a friend, I want to help. I should know this already but I guess everyone can’t be happy all the time though.

Another person I have met is also a person who can make a person smile. They are so funny, for example when we go to an assembly or something they will roll their eyes or tell it like it is. We had a 15 min assembly yesterday and afterwards they were like well they could have went quicker (she them summarizes the assembly in thirty seconds haha). They are also in a super intense class. I was able to be a part of their class Wednesday when they had to teach the class and wowzers was it intense. They led us in a running and jumping phrase and they were smiling the whole time. I was pouring with sweat and they were just smiling away and telling us to keep going. I have so much respect for a person who can constantly keep going (and smile the whole time) and I think a lot of other people would also agree! I appreciate them and happy to call them a friend.

Finally I’ll mention one more person. This person has been to Ollerup before and seems to be wise. They were helping me teach a person this past week how to do something and it was very funny to say the least. The person says they did not need any help but me and them know they did 😉 They seem like a person who will help a person with anything they needed. For example they are constantly trying to help me with Danish (exactly how it’s said and believe me I speak TN not Danish so it’s definitely an adventure) and to teach me other random new things. They are funny, sweet, kind, and thoughtful person. Plus I think they know who they are because they’ve constantly asked me to be in a blog haha 😛

In a world where you can be anything be yourself. As I said at the beginning, “People are crazy”, but that’s them. Plus, honestly I think if they were any different they’d be pretty boring, and so maybe a little crazy is good sometimes. Until next y’all

DSCN0806Just a few of my friends I’ve made here, really nice people

First Day

“Tilbage til skole”

“Back to school”

Hey everyone, so today was officially my first day of school since the first week was an intro week. Ollerup is an interesting place, it’s full of these super athletic people who are able to do incredible things and who sing all the time. It’s actually pretty neat just watching the things they can do and a little intimidating. I was in rhythmical gymnastics Friday and one of the instructors told us that your body is an incredible thing, the mind may say “no, I don’t want to do anymore, I’m so tired” but the body is actually able to do so much. So think about this the next time you’re feeling tired and don’t think you can continue, at least try to go one more step and then since you made that one go another. Push yourself to the limit. I know I’ve always had a problem with this and still do, but this is one of those things I will be working on this semester.

Anyways, like I was saying today was the first official day. I had dance this morning from 8:30 in the morning until 11:30ish (talk about pushing your limits). As one of my friends here at Ollerup says about the amount of sweat on all of us, “My fat just won’t stop crying, it’s such a crybaby” haha. We had our teacher for the first time since he was doing a concert last week. He’s specialty is modern and jazz and trust me when I say modern I mean fall to the floor, get up, whoops back down again, contract, release back to the floor haha. He’s a really funny and talented guy though and I trust that I am going to learn so much from him and everyone else who teaches the class. We are going to have teachers who have their own specialties such as hip-hop and house. The person who is teaching the class those, I saw yesterday who was at auditions for a dance company she was the instructor. I’m super excited! The people in the class are all so friendly, they help one another, laugh along with you (sometimes at you 😛 ), and just really try their best. I really admire that kind of attitude.

The next two classes I had were more lecture based. One of the classes I believe is going to be a lot of fun, while the other uh…. Well we’ll just see about that one goes… The lecture classes today lasted from 1 p.m. until about 5:30, big difference between moving from 3 hours and sitting for about 4 hours (we have a small break) listening to things you’re trying to understand. I know that I’ll learn it as the semester goes along but it’s so hard at the beginning when you’re listening but all you’re hearing/understanding is how the teachers on Charlie brown talks.

Now I am sitting at a nice little quiet spot. Sometimes just sitting on some rocks and watching a lone duck in a pond is nice. This is a place that I go to just breathe for a little while. It’s a really relaxing place, I feel like I could fall asleep haha. The duck minds it’s on business and the frogs sometimes puts on a little hopping show, hopping from one lily pad to another and then in the water. I don’t know how long I can just sit here before the weather gets too bad though. It’s super windy here thus making it kind of cold so if you come to Denmark expect the wind because apparently it’s normal.

Overall, it’s been a pretty good little day. Let’s see how the rest of the semester goes. God nat y’all.


First Week

“Ja, jeg er stadig i live , bare øm”

Yes, I am still alive, just sore.

Hey everyone, sorry it’s been a week. My goal has been to try to blog as much as I could but Ollerup has definitely been a busy place. To be honest my first day here was not the best. When I arrived I saw all these people in groups, smiling, laughing, and appearing that they knew each other for years. I felt like an outsider since I came to a place that, yes they can speak English, but also a language I far from understood. I didn’t think they would, but they could pretty say anything they wanted about me and I not understanding. It kind of reminded me of Berea and the international students there. I  never realized how they truly felt until I was around people talking a foreign language and in a foreign country. Most of the international students are nice and have amazing students about their country. A lot of them speak Spanish so honestly it’s kind of hard to understand them as much as the Danes. But still my advice to everyone who meets international people: be nice, make them feel welcomed, and learn about them and their country. 

Most of my first day was staying quiet, trying not to bother anyone and just not be in the way. Like I said, I felt unbelonged. As the days progressed it really didn’t get much better until I went to my first dance class. Dance is a way that a person can talk with their body and not have to speak a word. We had a substitute this week so I still don’t know how my actual teacher will be like but the sub was great. We played lots of games and did a little ballet. The games were name games and does anyone know how hard it is to say Danish names haha Hmm, kind of VERY hard! The class has made me feel a lot better though and gave me my confidence I needed. I have been meeting some really great people here and I continue to do so.

This week has been a introduction week so every class I’ve been in has been mostly introduction and getting to know one another. They have had a lot of hygge time which means creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people. I have played games I’ve never played and haven’t exercised this much in a while! Like I said before, I’m alive but sore haha. The food here has been um… super healthy here compared to U.S.A. Lots of salads here, but it has actually been really good 🙂 Overall this week has been like an elevator with it’s ups and downs but I’m doing well.

Finally, last night we had our first party, kind of a welcome to the school, you survived your first week 😉 The whole school helped set it up, we had music, dance floor, really good food, and a lot of hygge time. There are a few people here who have been extra nice and have really made me feel welcome as a part of the family. I’m not the biggest party animal but their were a few folks who asked me to join in their groups and I had really good talks with them.

Each and everyone has their stories and I have been so happy to hear them so far. They open a new world before your eyes which is so cool. Overall this school has been good, healthy food, and a lot of fitness. Who knows, maybe when I come back I’ll be fit like a Dane haha I’m not when I’ll get to post again  but I will try my best to keep everyone updated :).

11885074_863525947035404_7479441471382626676_nThe international students this year at Ollerup.

The Danish Family

“Ost i dansk gør ikke dig til at smil. se ost :(”

“Cheese in Danish does not make you smile. See cheese :(”

Hello again, I hope everyone is having a good weekend. It’s crazy how as I am typing this it is only 3 p.m. back at home but it’s 9 p.m. here. I’m still trying to get use to this time difference, kind of makes it awkward, since for example I’ll be up at 7 or 8 a.m. but it’s too late back at home to talk to anyone or see updates on facebook (except those weird post you see when people can’t sleep). Anyways…. school is starting tomorrow morning, kind of nervous (as usual), but these past few days have been pretty good. Like I said in my last post, I have been staying with one of my dance mentor’s family. There is a father, mother, and son. They are one funny and caring family! I don’t understand them a lot of times when they are speaking Danish but I still can’t help from laughing or smiling while being around them

So the son is 16 years old, and honestly, he is like any normal teenager. He plays on the computer, watches the show Arrow, listens to music, and not impressed by much haha. Interesting fact, the shows here in Denmark are in whatever country it came from original language but with Danish subtitles. For example the show Arrow is all in English, with Danish subtitles, they don’t dub the shows like they do in the U.S.. Also, he is about to start a Boarding School tomorrow, so today the family packed and made sure everything was ready for his next journey. This actually makes me feel a little better since we are both starting a school at the same time. Sure, I know they are different schools and different kinds of schools but he had to pack a lot of stuff too and he is leaving his house (almost like leaving for college, but to compare it to the U.S. it’s actually the 10th grade). He seems like a very bright kid and knows English pretty well, so I am sure he is going to do great!

Next is the mother. She is, like many mothers, very caring and thoughtful. Like I said, her son is leaving tomorrow and before I left today to leave them alone so they have time to pack, I watched her help her son put labels on everything he is bringing pretty much. And when I got back, everything was packed (and labeled I’m guessing), so he is ready to go. This reminded me of me and mom, the day before I had to leave, packing everything we could think of. I know when me and mom packed it was definitely hard work, so it’s definitely a lot of work to get prepared! She is also a teacher who teaches adults who have came back to school after a long period of time. I could see her being one too, because she has also helped me and takes her time to help me. For example, last night, she was playing some sort of Danish game where you have to find words within a certain letter list. Almost every time without skipping a beat she would tell me the word in English and help me spell it out if the word went away before I could type it out. This had to have slowed her down, but she didn’t care, she was helping me anyways. Also today, she showed me a map of Denmark and explained the borders and where we were, where I will be tomorrow, her son, my mentor, and the distances between them all. Seriously, so kind and helpful I am very thankful, it eases the mind a little.

Finally the dad. He is a hoot, he cracks me up. That is where the Danish phrase I used at the beginning came from. He is an engineer and seems to be very smart. He picked me up from the airport Thursday morning (after my luggage was delayed! and didn’t complain). Took me to his home, told me straight up to be straight forward and if I wanted something to say it, don’t be shy. He took me around the island, explained in detail about the different places, took me to their local zoo (which had the coolest animals ever), fed me (he can cook very well!), and like the mother just been helpful overall. So I met him and the mother in the states before where they taught my class salsa. Since I have been here, every dinner has had salsa (the dip, not the dance 😉 ) And he says that every time haha. He also speaks Spanish a lot, so it’s so funny because out of nowhere he’ll say something like Vamonos or some other random Spanish phrase, so random haha.

Overall this family has been pretty great. I don’t know if all Danes are like them, but if they are, I think this might be a pretty good year. I hope so at least!


Taking Flight

“Hej mit navn er Zane McKinney og Velkommen til min blog”

Hello my name is Zane McKinney and Welcome to my blog. Let me tell you a little about myself first. I am 23 years old and from Tennessee. I just graduated from Oliver Springs High School in 2011, Berea College in Ky in 2015, and I am now having the opportunity to study in Denmark for pretty much a year. I will be attending a school called Ollerup (http://www.ollerup.dk/?id=57) where my focus will be in Dance. Ollerup is a non-formal education so it is not a masters program or anything but more of an experience I guess. This is my first time traveling abroad (or even flying) and let me tell you something, being nervous is probably an understatement. Because this is my first time really traveling and seeing the world, I thought I would try to start a little blog and maybe help others who are thinking of studying or just want to hear about my adventures I might have.

So my first blog post I decided to call “Taking Flight”. Like I said previously this was my first time flying and well since you’re reading this I guess I survived ;). I flew out of the Knoxville airport and into Washington D.C. and then to Denmark. While at Knoxville, the airport people began talking over the intercom and honestly it sounded like one of those bid auctions where they talk fast and because I could only understand maybe a word or two of what they were actually saying. Because of this and because I was already nervous enough about missing my flight (even though I was at the gate and could have just followed the leader) I asked the person beside me. This woman, I asked for help, was originally from Africa and was returning there because her mother had just passed away. She was very kind though and asked me all kinds of questions about why I was going to Denmark. After I explained everything I knew, she was so excited for me and told me to always follow your dreams, don’t let anyone/thing stop me, and that she couldn’t wait to see me on America’s got Talent (I’m actually glad she didn’t say Dancing with the Stars, everyone does haha). After we talked for a bit, she told me that she was boarding the same plane and that I could follow her since it was my first time flying. A person I’ve never met before helped me, I didn’t catch her name but I’ll never forget her and her advice.

Once I landed in D.C. I had to rush because I knew my flight was only an hour once I landed. I waited in line to the customer service desk to try to get a ticket because Knoxville couldn’t give me one for D.C. and while waiting I see all these people talking to the employees and after talking clicking the “bad service” button they had on the counter…. Luckily I didn’t have the bad one, they told me exactly where to go and off I went. Just so y’all know, D.C. has a huge airport compared to Knoxville! I had to take a train just to get to where I needed to go. Once there, I has to wait to get a ticket, they said 15-20 min wait, which by this time I only had about 40 mins left (kind of crazy because I didn’t want to be stuck there). They finally call off names to pick up tickets, (Billy smith, John Doe, Cheng Wong, Some name I can’t pronounce….) none of them were me…. Well they began doing pre-flight entrances for people with kids, I’m sweating bullets right now, asking where’s my ticket, what do I do? They finally said “oh I guess we missed your name” As soon as I got my ticket, I was able to board to plane and oh like the airport, the planes were huge!!! Once on the plane, I put my carry-on on top and sat down. The plane had touch screen TVs in every seat to play games, watch movies, listen to music, and even cameras to see in front and below the plane, pretty cool! My seat buddy was a guy who said he was from Maryland (though he didn’t look or sound like a person from there, oh well, wasn’t going to ask) anyways, like the women in Knoxville he asked about why I was going and all that jazz. He also gave me advice, like the woman, and his advice was to always be positive, be kind, and give someone a smile. He said, “if you’re waiting in traffic and you have someone who can drive with you then you have two choices. 1. Get out of the car and go to whoever is slowing traffic down and help them or 2. Get over it, but don’t complain about it”. 5 minutes later, he was out like a light, he could fall asleep easier than anyone I have ever seen haha. The woman sitting in front of me keep leaning her seat back more and more, so the flight wasn’t the best but the flight crew feed us supper and breakfast, so it wasn’t that bad I guess :). 8 hours and some mins later, I was finally in Denmark, where my luggage was delayed….. guess I got the whole flying experience :P.

Now I am in Denmark and will be staying with one of my old Dance mentors parent’s house until school begins. I guess we’ll  see how this whole adventure turns out together, so stay turned 😉