Dixon in Denmark: Ella's 12-month exchange

17-year-old Ella Dixon with her Danish pasty and passport in hand.
17-year-old Ella Dixon with her Danish pasty and passport in hand.

"Not long now!" Ella Dixon beamed.

Just four more days until the 17-year old embarks on a year-long European exchange in Denmark.

After holidaying abroad for three months with her family, Ella well and truly caught the travel bug.

She returned to Port Augusta and immediately began researching student exchanges, stumbling across the Rotary Youth Exchange program.

While she's thrilled with the opportunity to learn Danish, Denmark wasn't at the top of her list.

"It was Sweden, Germany and Japan. Germany and Japan ended up being off the table because they don't exchange to Japan any more and other girls were dead set on the idea of Germany, so they gave me the other Nordic countries to choose from," she said.

"In the end I just put my hands up and said 'Just pick one for me!'," I figured anywhere would be good.

"Now that I have talked to my host family, I think it's the right choice and I think I'm going to really enjoy it."

Since learning of her destination in August, Ella has been working hard to brush up on her language skills.

"I am probably going to get over there and they will tell me it's not good at all!" she laughed.

"But I can introduce myself and say I'm a rotary exchange student. I have a basic understanding and I can read a little bit because it's similar in a way to English, but I'm nowhere near where I want to be.

"I just really want to be able to hold a conversation with someone, or my host parents while in over there, to the point I don't have to rely on English to get me through a sentence. That will be a really big achievement for me."

Ella will attend school and plans to fully immerse herself in the community, researching dance schools in the local area.

She will stay with a host family for the 12-month duration, but her own family is still getting used to the idea of her absence.

"Mum wants me to message her every day and she's told me I need to post a photo every day even if it's boring," Ella joked.

"But she's very excited and wishes she could come with me."

After nearly a year of planning and preparation, Ella will fly out on January 17, arriving in Denmark soon-after to begin her trip of a lifetime.