"What is Dubbo?" That was the first question 24-year-old Maria Goltermann had when she found out she would be visiting Australia from Denmark. Maria has 12 weeks to learn all she can about Dubbo, its visitor offerings and the Australian lifestyle.

The Local Life

So… I’ve been so lucky to be able to stay with a local family here in Dubbo. As a part of my NGSE rotary exchange program, I am staying with a Rotarian family.

Although this is not my first time staying with a host family, I was still nervous. I mean, Australians and Danes don’t seem that different, but there will still be cultural differences that I may not have been aware of, and families always have a different way of doing things.

However, my host family has been the kindest! I’ve been staying with them for a week, but I feel like I’ve known them for years. They have let me borrow a car from them whilst I’m here, so that I have the freedom to go wherever I like.

Staying with them has already given me a taste of what Life in Dubbo can be like. Kangaroos on the lawn, dinner at pubs, driving in the left side of the road and rugby on weekends. Does it get any more Australian? I know there is a lot more to the lifestyle, but these are things that you don’t see in most European countries.

Another thing my host family has introduced me to is, Vege-mite, Tim Tam and lamb. Some better than others I must say, and lamb is a whole different story.

So, of course people in Denmark eat lamb, however, my family doesn’t! I kind of figured that, that wouldn’t fit in well in Australia. Well, the family is giving me a hard time about it and maybe one day they will convince me, but I think, just for now I’ll stick to Tim Tams. And Vege-Mite……. Let me put it this way, I won’t be the first in line for that again.  

Anyway… Although I may find it hard to get use to some of the food (most of it is really good!), Australia has only been great to me! Every day I get amazed about how friendly and helpful Australians are. Everything is still very new to me, but people around me just make me feel so comfortable and welcomed. I must say, you Aussies keep impressing me!

Rotary has already done so much for me, not only have they given me the opportunity to experience the Australian culture and helped me with my internship at the council, but all the Rotarians that I have been in contact with, are always looking out for me, both back in Denmark and here in Australia, which I believe is very important in the process of trying to fit in in a new place. 

Experiencing the countryside

As I have only been here for a little over a week, I haven’t had much time to experience what the countryside is like, outside of Dubbo, so I’m really looking forward to experiencing that.

However, I did go to watch the Cockatoos play against the Brumbies in Bathurst this past weekend and later Australia vs. England (which we of course is not going to talk about). Rugby is really becoming on of my favourite sports, I’m starting to know the rules and I’m really enjoying watching it!

The trip to Bathurst also gave me a little bit of an idea of how different distances are here compared to Denmark. Driving for 2.5 hours on way is not a problem for me, as I like driving. But you guys call that within your region! – If I drive for 2.5 hours from my city back home I would be way past the German border. And for people living in the country here, that’s nothing!

Yesterday I was so lucky to come along to a meeting in Warren, which allowed me to experience the Wetla

nds, this somehow reminded me of my trips to the Everglades in Florida. It was amazing! I’m happy there aren’t any snakes this time of the year though, as I’m not sure I would have been ready to meet them all by myself out there. Usually I’m not a bird watcher, but I really enjoyed looking at all the beautiful birds they had in the Wetlands on the other hand.

Well well, I need to get back to work - looking forward to the weekend here in Dubbo – I hope the sun will be shining J (apology to any who may like the rain!)  

New Wallabies fan 

Meeting in Warren 

The wetlands were beautiful

G’day mates! Easier written than said…

With just one week in Australia this is one of the stereotypical expressions that I have learned is actually being used in Australia. My accent still has some improving to do, so I’ll stay away from Aussie slang for now. 

My name is Maria Goltermann, I’m 24 years old and I’m from the country of the Vikings - Denmark! I’ve heard from a couple of locals here in Dubbo, that with a height of 1.78 m., my blonde hair and blue eyes, I certainly scream Scandinavian. However, that’s not the only thing I have in common with my ancestors. I have the deepest passion for travelling and exploring the world. And that’s how I ended up here in Dubbo on a NGSE Rotary Exchange program! 

I've noticed Dubbo has a thing for rhinos! I believe it's related to the rhino conservation programs run by Taronga Western Plains Zoo.

Where do I come from? 

My part of the world

6 quick facts about my home country- Denmark:

  1. Part of Scandinavia in northern Europe.
  2. Population of 5.6 million. 
  3. Known to be the happiest people in the world  
  4. Home of LEGO, Maersk, Carlsberg, B&O, Bestseller etc.
  5. Popular royal family (especially our crown prince, Frederik and crown princess, Australian Mary) 
  6. Denmark is 14,407 km from Australia.

Coming from a “high standard of living” country it was very important for me to get an education, to be able to get a job in Denmark, as I probably wouldn’t be able to travel for the rest of my life…

So that’s what I did, and on June 10th 2016, I graduated from University of Aarhus with a bachelor degree in Marketing and Management communication. As this will most likely not be enough to secure me a job within this fields, I will be going back to Denmark to do a master degree in Corporate Communication in September.

The family

I was born in a small town in western Denmark, where I lived until I was 8. This was the age where I started to get a taste of experiencing other cultures, as I moved to Greece with my parents, my big sister Julie (25) and my little brother Frederik (17) for 6 months. After these 6 months we came back to our small town, but 3 years later we moved to Portugal, where we lived for 2.5 years. As we came back to Denmark, we decided to move to a bigger city in eastern Jutland (the main part of Denmark). And this is where I started my own trips around the world. I  lived in Jacksonville FL. USA and Miami FL. USA, 3 years apart, doing an high school year exchange and a language school year. Recently, I have been to Singapore doing a study abroad semester as a part of my bachelor degree.

My family is well travelled, my father spends most of his time working in different countries, my sister (Julie, 25) is currently located in Costa Rica doing a few months of summer school after finishing a semester abroad in Canada. My brother came back from a High School year exchange in the U.S. last year.

This is me and my family, including our puppy, Frida. My sister is missing, she's in Costa Rica when this picture was taken.

…and now I am to be found in Dubbo, Australia! A city not many people had heard of back home, but certainly will know all about when I get back.

Why am I here? 

Two years ago I was at my grandparents’ house talking to my grandfather about the big world, and I mentioned to him how I really wanted to go to Australia, as I had always found, what I had heard about the Australian lifestyle, very fascinating. Within 10 min. my grandfather had explained to me how this was definitely something I should do and how we could make this happen. Being the big travel enthusiast that I am, I was ready to jump on the next plane!  however… I had a degree to finish and not to speak of my already planned stay in Singapore, before this dream could really be realized.

Coming home from Singapore in December 2015, I was ready to make this Aussie experience happen! With only a few months left of uni, I sent off my NGSE program application to Rotary and crossed my fingers somebody would take me in as an intern.

After, what had felt like 10 years of waiting, I got a mail from Rotary in Denmark, saying they had an internship offer from Western Plains Regional Council for me. At first I was thrilled! Then I thought to myself, "What is Dubbo?"

After a ton of research, I decided that I couldn’t have asked for a better place to be located, to experience "The Real Australia".

So here I am, 3 months later, at Western Plains Regional Council in Dubbo, overwhelmed and excited at the same time. I have been placed in the marketing department, where I will be working with different people on different projects, as well as documenting my stay through this blog, which I hope you guys will follow.

The Council was, apart from the host family I’m staying with, my first impression of Dubbo, and I must say, I have never been to a place that has made me feel so welcomed from the moment I stepped through the door. I’m very thrilled to be a part of this team and to get to know the city even better!

Bring it on Dubbo!

The Dubbo weather hasn't been quite what I expected during my first five days here, but I'm loving it!

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