Fiona Murton spent the last year in Denmark, arriving in a town of 400 called Hjern.  She had to take a train and a bust to school and most people didn't speak English.  She liked the area because it had a strong sense of community but at first she was nervous about the language barrier and not knowing anyone.  But visits to the local farmers' market and starting school introduced her to many great people and she made friends quickly.
She enjoyed several trips to Copenhagen - with her host mother she saw the sights and shopped; with a relative, an architect, she was introduced to the many aspects of the buildings in the city - and to London (they gave her a ticket for her birthday and she stayed with the family's daughter.
The family hosted a Thanksgiving, which is not a Dutch festival, so she enjoyed the thoughtfulness.
She did think about what her friends back home were doing, signing up for university and moving on without her but she felt the experience and strong friendships were at least equally valuable.
Christmas is important to Danes and they celebrate with many traditions - songs, dancing around the tree, flags everywhere, risking fire with candles on the trees, etc.
She went to Germany for New Year's and saw cathedrals and fireworks everywhere and then there was a class trip to London and finally a quick tour through several countries to experience different cultures and food.
She thanked all of Rotary and especially those who worked on the YX program.
Sarah Douglas went to Northern Italy and found she was homesick for maybe two days.  She enjoyed it all so much but found there was too much to see - the people, the language, and the nature of the area were all beautiful.  She admired the way of life.
Things are small - cars, roads and groceries and each area is different with different cultures and dialects.  Her town was small and on a lake but her family liked to hit the road so they traveled around the area a lot.  The mother was a teacher who helped with her language and the father told her he didn't speak it to encourage her because he did.
With her second family she gained a brother her own age and met lots of friends taking part in activities, the choir and volunteering at a free trade store.  By the time she joined the third family they all knew each other already.
She felt they had a strong impulse to see 'the beauty in doing nothing' - they enjoyed their meals and their hours off.  She feels she is more outgoing now, that she's gained some problem solving skills, that she's less stressed about things.
She also enjoyed a 10 city tour and the introduction to so much.  She is grateful for the program and the opportunity.