by Magnus Sigaard, AFS International Exchange Student
Throughout my 21 years of life, I have travelled to a lot of places and visited a lot of countries – mostly inside Europe, Middle East, Africa and America. My first time in Asia was moving alone to the Philippines as an exchange student here at Foundation University. Definitely, this is a decision in my life that I will never regret. Never have I experienced a place and a group of people so special and so different from where I come from than the Philippines and the Filipinos – they do not worry much, I mean it in a good way.
“Do you want to taste this avocado ice cream?,” Ma’am Charlotte Cariño, Dean of College of Business Administration, asked me. In Denmark, my home country, we do not usually use avocado in desserts – but rather as part of a salad or as topping on brown bread. Therefore, I was a bit skeptical but I came here to try and see new things, so of course I tried the ice cream. It was a worthwhile experience for me – though, not one I liked so much, sorry. It was my first day at Foundation University and I was welcomed by the college deans and other staff with lunch full of food and drinks.
I ate with a fork and a spoon – something I have never tried before, as we always use fork and knife in Denmark. By being invited to lunch, I experienced already on my first day of school how welcoming, hospitable and friendly the Filipinos are – something I came to experience a lot more the following three months. Especially in the College of Business Administration office where I worked during the semester break, I was always offered coffee, snacks and there were a bunch of nice people who are interested to talk with me and my country. At the same time, they taught me a lot about the Filipino culture, traditions and the language.
Apparently, my first three months in Dumaguete were well-planned as with the interesting events that I was able to experience; Buglasan Festival, University Intramurals, Kasadyaan Festival and different barangay fiestas among others. All events were very festive and were very special for me, as I have not experienced events like these in Denmark before.
A common thing during these events, which I liked, was the way students, teachers and staff worked together in order to execute the events in a great way. Unlike the average Dane, the average Filipino definitely knows how to sing, dance and make a great show – and just like the average Dane, the average Filipino also knows how to make a day, evening or night with other people enjoyable and funny.
During my first three months in Dumaguete, I have experienced so much, met so many people and tried things I would never have tried in my home country – now I look forward to the three more months full of exciting matters, interesting people and a lot more of new experiences that I will never forget.