To Denmark and back

Freshman and her family take part in international exchange program



TRAVELING TO NEW PLACES | Noa Liv Dyhr and freshman Karina Hartley pose for a picture with other exchange students in Denmark. “It was my rst time in America, and I love it over there,” Dyhr said. “We were also in the Village in Grosse Pointe Parks/Farms and it was like a cute little city. It totally looked like something from a movie.”

By Michal Ruprecht, Editor-at-Large

When students vacation in foreign countries, many stay in hotels, away from the culture and daily life. However, freshman Karina Hartley chose to spend two and a half weeks getting an authentic taste of culture when she lived with a Danish family this past summer.

Hartley participated in Interchange, which is part of Children’s International Summer Villages, and this was not her first experience with the program. She went to Milan, Italy during the summer of 2015.

The program’s goal is for young adults to experience different cultures and foster peace through friendships. To accomplish this, 12 students from two countries are paired up and spend two and a half weeks in each other’s hometown.

Hartley stayed in Horbelev on Falster Island, her exchange partner Noa Liv Dyhr’s hometown, while Dyhr vacationed in Grosse Pointe. After Hartley’s previous trip with CISV, she said she was acclimated to Denmark quickly.

“I wasn’t surprised by any differences there, and I was ready to adjust to the differences, and I think that I’ve definitely become more worldly through traveling,” Harley said. “The landscape was pretty familiar, and I knew what was going to happen, so I didn’t have to worry about anything.”

Since her first experience was positive, Hartley said she wanted to learn about more cultures. Because her parents worked for the Detroit Free Press and traveled frequently, Hartley started vacationing at a young age. Although she is used to foreign countries, she said the Danish way of life was different.

MAKING FRIENDS | Freshman Karina Hartley and the other exhachange students pose for a picture on a beach in Denmark.
“I think it’s a lot safer (in Denmark) and not only that but I’ve considered studying there because the college is free and it’s welcoming to all people,” Hartley said. “In Denmark you can walk in the middle of the street at midnight and be perfectly ne but in America it really isn’t that way.”

“The main thing I noticed different culturally was table manners. And so they had a special way of … thanking the parents,” Hartley said. “They have a word in Danish that doesn’t translate to English, which is ‘hygge.’ And it means like the feeling you get of spending time with other people, so I think they really value family time and spending time with their friends.”

During Hartley’s time in Denmark, she spent time with Dyhr’s family and the other exchange groups, explored Falster Island, participated in a medieval festival and went to Helsingborg, Sweden via ferry for a weekend. While in Michigan, Dyhr roamed through Somerset Mall and Detroit, and she also spent time in Chicago.

Overall, Dyhr said that she enjoyed her time in America and would like to return. She added that leaving her family was difficult since this was her first time participating in CISV.

“It was kind of hard sometimes, but it was a really good experience and it also made me stronger as person,” Dyhr said via email. “You learn more about life and how you wanna live it, and what we should be better to do and not do. You also get to know so much more about this planet and world we are living in.”

Hartley’s mom, Margaret Trimer-Hartley, agrees with Dyhr. She said trips abroad help Hartley understand the world and important issues.

“She knows that no country is perfect, but traveling as she has gives her a much better understanding of what is true and what is political posturing in some of the national debates here at home,” Trimer-Hartley said via email. “The more we travel, the more we learn, grow and understand one another. The more we learn, grow and understand one another, the more hope we have for a peaceful, prosperous world.”

Although Interchange is for students 14 and under, Hartley and Dyhr said they’d like to participate in a similar program next summer.

SAYING GOODBYE | Noa Liv Dyhr and Karina Hartley hug one another in the Detroit airport before Liv leaves for Denmark.

Because of Dyhr and Hartley’s positive experiences, Trimer-Hartley added that international travel opened their minds to diversity.

“We are curious about our world, adventuresome, and we care deeply about social and environmental issues. Traveling is one of the best ways to satisfy our need to understand the world,” she said. “I do not believe we can tell students they have to compete globally if they have never set foot outside their neighborhoods.”

In the future, Dyhr and Hartley said they hope to travel independently to continue learning about other cultures. Hartley added that she considered studying in Denmark because of the welcoming environment and their free, high-quality education system.

“It’s good for everybody, especially at a young age to become more culturally aware so they can understand things that they see on the news and what’s happening around the world, and maybe they can feel more sympathetic or empathetic to other countries,” Hartley said. “I just like to get to experience places around the world and see how other people live, and I think it really helps me learn and grow.”