As much as I adore Copenhagen, I have found myself missing Fall in the US. The leaves changing color, the apple picking, the Halloween spirit, et cetera. So, when my visiting host family invited me to their annual Pumpkin Party, I immediately said yes.
I haven’t talked about the Visiting Host family on my blog before, but basically it’s a program available for DIS students who aren’t living in a Homestay. You’re paired with a local host, this can be a family, a retired couple, a single parent, or an individual with a tight-knit extended family. After getting matched, you take the initiative to meet up with them throughout the semester as frequently as you wish. It’s a great way to engage with the community and I cannot recommend it highly enough!
My visiting host family consists of two parents and their three daughters, and they have all made me feel so welcome. The family has hosted DIS students before and even before that they hosted a few American au pairs, the first of which introduced them to Halloween! Ever since then, they’ve had a Pumpkin Party every October where they invite their neighbors and friends over for an afternoon of spooky decorations, yummy food, great conversation, and, of course, pumpkin carving.
I got to their house around 2pm and was a little overwhelmed by all the new faces, but everyone was friendly, and my host sisters were great about including me in conversation and all the activities. The afternoon started with everyone eating “cake” (used in Denmark to describe all things sweet) at a long table. There were cinnamon rolls, filled pastries, brownies with licorice icing, and pumpkin bread rolls. Needless to say, I ate my fill and then some more.
After cake, the kids (well, teenagers and young 20-somethings like myself) went outside to carve pumpkins! Believe it or not, before today I hadn’t properly carved a pumpkin in two years (thanks college), so I had a blast scraping out the pumpkin guts and mapping out my design. Was it my best work? Probably not. But I had fun!
Some of the others got super fancy, though. For example, one of my host sisters carved Tigger from Winnie the Pooh and another carved two horses. Way above my skill level. When it got dark out, we placed candles in the pumpkins just like back in the US. Fun anecdote, I also taught my host family the word jack-o’-lantern!
From the pumpkin carving we saved the seeds and some of the meat. The seeds were immediately toasted and snacked upon, and the meat was used in the pumpkin soup that was served for dinner. Again, absolutely delicious and I ate until I physically couldn’t anymore. And my visiting host mom gave me leftovers! So guess what I’ll be having for dinner for the next few nights.
Dinner was followed by lots of conversation. I chatted with some of the adults about my experience in Denmark and their experiences abroad as well. I also played a game called Partners with the kids. It’s very similar to Sorry and I was able to pick it up pretty quickly with the help of my host sister. The game also involved minimal counting, and I was able to recognize the numbers in Danish, so a big shout out to my Danish language class!
I left for the night at 8:30 with a full belly and an even fuller heart. To be fully transparent, I have been feeling a little homesick lately. There are definitely some days when I crave the familiarity of the US and just want to give my friends a hug. As such, it was wonderful to experience an American tradition like pumpkin carving in Denmark. It felt like a little bit of home and reminded me of carving pumpkins with my own family. It was also a great way to meet new people and grow closer to my host family.
With that in mind, happy fall everyone! Go carve a pumpkin!
*Featured image: Mini pumpkins. Credit: Karalina S.