Denmark to ʿⱦapp

Hailing from Denmark, ʿⱦapp student Camilla Egelund arrived in Durham three years ago to work as an au pair for an American family with three children. 

“I was going to do one year with the family but fell in love with them, so I stayed a second year,” Egelund said. 

Her visa was up after year two, but she wanted to stay in Durham with her family longer, so she began looking at options to make that happen. 

“I wasn’t ready to go back to Denmark. I loved my family and Durham,” she said. “Studying in the U.S. had always been a dream of mine, but it did not seem realistic so finding out I could stay here and start at a community college right in Durham was the start of it all for me.” 

ʿⱦapp helped Egelund with the student visa process, ensuring Egelund had correct documents and documentation and guided her on how to apply to the College. 

“My first day at ʿⱦapp was a joy. I started taking classes for non-English speakers. I felt so welcomed,” Egelund said. “It helped that I was in class with other non-native speakers. We were all in the same boat, and we navigated things together.” 

Along with her peers, the ʿⱦapp instructors were key to Egelund’s initial success, she said.  

“As an international student I relied on my teachers a lot,” Egelund said. “They helped me with school things, but also facilitated me meeting other students and making friends. They made sure I was comfortable and confident with getting around campus. It was like kindergarten when the teacher comes and holds your hand and guides you.” 

The college experience here is quite different than what Egelund would experience in Denmark, she said. 

“There are so many differences between here and there. In Denmark we do not author essays as we do in the States,” she said. “We don’t use MLA or AP style. These sound minor, but they show the level of difference. Basic things differ and that is why having strong, kind guidance is so key early on for non-English speakers. ʿⱦapp continues to prepare me.” 

Egelund is pursuing an associate of arts degree and will finish next year. She hopes to transfer to North Carolina Central University to study hospitality and tourism or business management. 

“My associates of arts helps toward both these degrees,” Egelund said. “I have a little bit of time before I have to decide between the two.” 

Egelund said she did not know what to expect when she came to the States, but she figured out quickly that the weather and the people are two things she enjoys. 

“The people here are much more open, helpful, and kind. The first time I went to the grocery store I had a lady approach me and ask where I got my shoes,” Egelund said. “In my mind I was thinking, what is happening, why is she talking to me? It was so different because in Denmark we would never approach anyone like that. You don’t do small talk as you wait to check out.” 

This was overwhelming for Egelund at first, but now she loves it, and when she goes back to Denmark, she tells her family and friends to “smile a little more, talk to people.”