Sophie Lahey: from Denmark to Carroll
During the 2014-2015 school year senior Sophie Lahey took the opportunity to spend the duration of 11 months in Denmark to be an exchange student at a Danish school.
Through an exchange booth at the Indiana University- Purdue University Fort Wayne cultural fair, Lahey was introduced to the idea of studying abroad. Months after the fair was over, the exchange program workers called Lahey and offered her the chance to go to Denmark in a study-abroad program called Rotary Youth Exchange.
As the program was not a Carroll High School sponsored exchange, Lahey had to give up a whole year of credits to participate her junior year. When she came home, she had to attend many summer classes to recover those lost credits.
With the help of the Dave Hefner Exchange Fund, an organization that specializes in helping students afford studying abroad, Lahey was able to cover the cost of approximately half the flight fees and transportation. The program was entirely voluntary and the transportation fees were the only costs she was responsible for.
Coming back to Carroll after her time in Denmark, Lahey noticed glaring differences between Carroll and her school in Denmark. The Danish school had been much more liberal, and it took a little time getting re-accustomed to Carroll’s more strict policies.
Lahey was given the chance to stay with three different host families during her stay, which gave her a better understanding of their cultural and language. During her stay there she not only strove to embrace their culture, but tried to be a good representative of her own.
“I think it’s not only important not only to learn about different cultures, but also to be ambassador for your country,” Lahey said. “Many people have bad stereotypes of the United States, but it can be corrected if you act as a good ambassador.”
Lahey did not get to choose her area of study while in Denmark; the participating school selected it for her. The school chose Sports and Biology. She did get graded for the classes she attended while there. While she passed all of her classes, their credits didn’t pass over to Carroll.
Communicating with the Danish locals was not a problem for Lahey. Her Danish classmates had begun learning English from early on in their education, and they were eager to practice their English with her. The only problem she encountered was learning Danish for herself. In the end, she became comfortable with the language.
“I came back fluent [in Danish],” Lahey said. “I think I lost a lot. I can still understand it if I hear it or watch TV, but its definitely a little harder to speak.”
Lahey hopes to go back to Denmark in the future, maybe to a University, because she wishes to connect with the people who became like family that she had to leave behind. She also wants to promote Rotary Youth Exchange for people who are her age to encourage others to go for the chance to get a better view of different cultures.
“I think [my stay in Denmark] sort of expanded my view,” Lahey said.” “[It] made me realize how big of a world this is and it’s also helped me problem solve a lot, because I had to problem solve a lot in Denmark. I think that definitely carries over into high school.”