Sunday, August 26, 2012

Party after Party after Party

Wednesday was one of the longest days ever...and I didn't take any pictures.  Maybe I can pull a few from others.

We started the day with a couple of hours of our English class.  No I am not learning how to speak English!  Ha.  I am learning how to teach it as a second language.  During the middle of the class, at least half of us had to leave to go and hand in our paper work for our residency permit.  Oh man, many of us were terrified of this moment because we didn't have our EU health card.  I never got one because I thought I couldn't as I was living in the States.  Would this be the thing that would send some of us home?  Quiver.  Panic.  Smoke a cig.  Anything to get through the fear.

We entered the room and there was a lady sitting at the end of the long table with a line of students doing their papers.  We inched up one by one to see if we were going to jump this hurdle.  Finally, it was my turn.  I slid my papers across the table to her and smiled....a lot.  I asked her questions about the blanks in the form that I hadn't been sure of.  She took the paper and my little photo and looked at my school letter.  I asked her if we had everything covered.  She smiled and said yes.  That was it.  Done.  Finito.  No questions about insurance papers at all.  Yes!

After class we had another team building event.  They really really like team building events here.  The place we were going was off in a park that was a preserve.  We had arranged to share with those who had cars to get out there, which was great as many of us had neither cars nor bikes.  It was also one of those days where the weather was not going to stay the same from one minute to the next.

We arrived and got all our gear arranged, included raincoat.  I left my camera in the trunk of the car because I had no idea what we would be doing but I had been given the impression that it would be physical.  I could also see that it might be wet.  We arranged ourselves by group and listened to some intro, in Danish of course and then we were off on a course.  While we were on the course, we also had to create a song with choreography to be presented at the end.  Yikes!

Our first stop was a set up where we would go one by one to a box hiding a creation made of Duplo and we had to come back and, one brick per person, recreate it.  All the time, we had to be presenting ourselves as great cheerleaders showing team spirit.  We were then graded upon the task and the spirit.  We didn't do so well on the first one.

We then went the wrong way and had to double back for the next task.  In teams, we had to carry a balloon a distance not using our hands and then break it.  We were better at the yelling and screaming that was expected of us.

We had another task where we had to get our bodies through ropes that were intertwined between trees not using our hands and never using the same hole twice.  The challenge was to get a bike through also.  We did pretty good on that one.  While we were waiting for another group to clear so that we could do this task, it positively dumped rain on us.  I was so grateful that I had brought my raincoat.

Then there was one with a bucket that we had to fill with water from the lake but we could only use our hands, shoes, or hats.  We couldn't submerge the bucket.  Then we had to take it back to a circle and drag it out without spilling it and we couldn't enter a large circle around it delineated by another rope.  We managed it but they felt we broke a rule so we had to do a challenge.  Three people had to agree to jump in the water.  Three of our guys agreed to it.  Courageous!

We then had to climb a steep hill and head back to the starting area, play a game of people sized tic-tac-toe, running to throw down our markers and beat the others.  We had to all stand on a row of milk crates and move the crates in order to get to a building without our feet touching the ground.  We had to build and A out of logs so that one person could get on and then others guide it like stilts to walk.  We didn't do very well at that one.

Finally it was back to the start to present our songs and then get our grades.  Our team came in fourth.  That wasn't too bad.  I honestly can't say that I was totally into it.  I had to do a lot of faking it in terms of acting like I had spirit.  I did enjoy the tasks though.  They were very interesting.

After all of this we had a party at the Fredagscafeen for a celebration.  We drank and laughed.  Then there were more activities.  We all had to go outside all compete at yelling.  There were a couple of drinking games.  One of the games was to guess the songs that someone was humming while that had headphones on.  Seems like these games are just huge here.  I think we may be running into a bit of a cultural difference.  I suppose it is a way to train you to be communal.  I don't know.

There was big stump inside the bar with some nails in it in one corner.  I wondered what it was.  Eventually a group came over to it.  One person had nails in their hand.  They tapped them into the stump just far enough to stand up.  Then they got around the log with a hammer and started taking turns pounding their nail in.  Apparently the loser had to buy all other players a beer.  At one point, they tried to get me to play the game but I was having none of it.  Can you imagine me with no depth perception?  I would be the one buying the beers for sure.  It strikes me as a bit odd for a drinking game.   Nails, stump, hammer and drunks.  What could go wrong?   The German name for the game is hammerschlagen.

I went home a little earlier than most of the people.  I went in to tell my fellow apartment dwellers that I was going, so they wouldn't worry.  Two of the boys decided that they would walk me home.  They are so young but they are such gentlemen!  We trucked on up the 2km stretch to home, laughing and joking.  All of a sudden, every single street light went out.  What?  What is going on here?  It isn't an electricity outage.  There are houses with lights.  Guess what?  They turn their street lights off after a certain hour.  This was a week night and I now know that they go out at midnight.  And a bonus?  This was a moonless night.   There is a big long stretch up the hill that is not much of anything so ridiculously dark.  The guys were using their cell phones from time to time to light the way.  Once we got onto our street we also had to go through the section where the trees are like a canopy over the road.  You just about can't get any darker than that.

The school kindly didn't schedule our day to start until 3PM on Thursday.  I can only assume that they were pretty sure that we all would be useless that morning.  

After our class they had arranged a "hygge" for us for dinner.  We were to experience Danish hot dogs.   ????  I thought that hot dogs were American. Aren't they the all-American food?  Well I guess the trick to making it Danish is to make it a specific way.  So we had a lesson in how to do that.  Here goes.

One hot dog bun, slice it open.
Put a squeeze of mustard on the bun.
Place the hot dog on top.
Now squeeze ketchup over top.
Put a healthy dose of remoulade on top of that.
Here is where it gets tricky........and this is where there is a great debate going on.
Place crispy onion bits on.
Place pickle slices on.

These last two could be in either order and everyone is sure that it is their way.  I tried both ways.  I have decided that the most sensible way is to put the onion bits on first and then the pickles because then the onion bits don't fall out so easily.  Hah!  Debate finished.

Then we had dessert too.  We finally got to experience the essence of the word that they torment us foreigners with.  Rødgrød med fløde.
Foreigners Trying to Say It
It turns out that it is a dessert made with something that tastes and feels a lot like jam and has whipped cream on top.  It is pretty good but super sweet and rich.

All gone!

After we had finished our food and while we were having nice conversations with different people, they started up with the games again.  Again they were games to get to know people.  Sadly I wanted to run out the door but I couldn't.  It felt very much like we were being treated like grade school kids again.  I was quite perturbed when I was trying to explain my answer to the game question to my counterpart and the "leader" came down upon me because I hadn't stopped talking when she said to.  Well my partner hadn't understood what I said as her English is not at a high level.  Should I just leave her not comprehending?  I don't know if they are practicing their teacher skills or what but I don't want it to be on me when we are supposed to be having an adult get together.  Other than this is what a great night though.  Don't get me wrong.

Friday, we had class early in the morning but were done by noon.  We had received an email that our residency papers were available at the International office so we booked over there as soon as we were done.  The "Kommune" would be closed at 1PM and we needed to get over there to get registered for our area.  This is a necessary step here. 

On our way home we went to the føtex store as they had a sale on a clothes drying rack.  I also needed some breakfast stuff.  We all went together.  Surprise of surprised, it rained again on our way home.  The boys used my dryer rack as an umbrella!


 We had a little singing, playing and synth drumming before the party.

First ever American style peanut butter and banana sandwich.  He didn't want to at first but was a changed man after his first bite!

After we got home we got ready for a party here in the common room at our complex.  I went to the grocery store and got a couple of things and three of those Black Bird beers to bring with me.  The party didn't even start until 10PM and the person throwing the party had a bunch of his German friends coming.  One of them turned out to be from Santa Barbara of all places.  Too funny.  Good times were had by all, some more so than others!

Singing Happy Birthday in German and English!

Going full Danish with bare feet!

Saturday, I spent a lot of time trying to get a handle on our classwork and Blackboard.  I got a lot done.  I could have gone out again to another party last night but I just needed to rest so badly.  I feel like I have been running a marathon of late.

We found a grocery store that is only fifteen minutes walking rather than the others that are at least a half hour each way.  Hurray!  It has pretty good prices, for Danish stores anyway.

Today, has been mostly resting, organizing, and cleaning to be ready for the week to come.  It has rained bucket loads today too so it was much more desirable to stay home.  

Can you see the rain?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Oh So Busy

On Sunday, I was starting to feel a bit overwhelmed by this process.  Actually, I was starting to feel a lot overwhelmed.  I can't say as it was a surprise that it hit me as I knew that it was coming at some point.  There is no way around it.  No matter how prepared you are, you will hit periods of being emotionally overloaded.  I hit.  I am so lucky to have such a great bunch of fellow students who live with me in the same building here.  We can talk to each other when we are lost and confused or just feeling helpless against all the new information. 

It also isn't helping that I seem to be unable to get a good nights sleep lately.  I don't know if it is still a remnant of jet lag or if it is due to all the stressors and worry that are going on below the surface.  Is it just because I am in unfamiliar surroundings or perhaps it is everything added together.  I think that is it.

Another thing that is happening is that we keep on finding about all these additional expenses that we weren't expecting.  For example, we have a party that is for all of us and I guess kind of an intro for all the new students.  Each class will be developing a theme for their tables and dress.  The party is 160kr per person plus whatever costs for decorating and costumes.  We will get fed (albeit by a really great chef who runs our canteen) and have a band for a couple of hours.  Then we got our book list and that was another 1000+kr.  Of course books are to be expected but when you are earning no new income, every penny is incredibly precious. 

Next we were told that we needed to get a copy card for our class as well as a personal copy card.  On this issue, I was flummoxed.  The purpose of the class copy card is that our teacher will use it to make any copies that they plan on bringing in to our class.  I have never heard of such a thing.  Anywhere that I have gone to school or taught school, there was a budget for the teachers to use for copies that they needed to make for the class.  This is in Canada, America and France.  We have no idea if our teachers will make copies or how many.  Our tutors said that they had each contributed 100kr last year and they hadn't even come close to using it up and so suggested to our class that we do 50 kr each.   I worry about every penny that I have to spend but even worse are the kids coming from countries where their whole family has had to save up for their whole life in order to fund just one year's worth of expenses here.

Om Monday, we met in the schoolyard and were then escorted into the assembly hall for a welcome to all the new students for this year.  I got to truly feel what it was like to be an international student.  Everything was in Danish and I was totally lost.  They started the assembly with a couple of songs in Danish.  I don't have any idea what it was.   Perhaps one was the anthem?  I don't know.

Our department principle Ove Outzen

After our assembly, we went to our first English class.  This is the class for those who will become an English as a second language teacher.  We were all struck by one particular girl in our class.  She so didn't fit in.  In fact, I dubbed her Paris Hilton.  Her facial structure really kind of looked like Paris but she had short hair.  She was wearing a black sheath dress and a gigantic gold chain.  All class long she was on her phone texting.  When it came around to the discussion about our team building activity where we would be going out into nature to play games, she got such a look of distaste on her face.  She made snide comments about going out into the woods.  We were told that we would have to involve music in our learning and she got all huffy and said that she had signed up for English class not "music."  All the other student were looking shocked and muttering to each other.  We talked about her all the way home.  It turned out that the other English class had a misfit too.  Oh the gossip!

There is also a new chapter in the story of the red girl.

Awww.  She has been knocked down now.  She, apparently, didn't stand a chance.

I love this view when I am almost home.

On Tuesday, we had a guided walk around Haderslev by a historian.  He is a retired history teacher so knew every detail about the town.  It was truly the way to see it.  It took us through area that I had not yet discovered and explained some of those that I had.   One of the places that he took us was to the old church in the center of town.  I had already found that as you know but he was able to give us further information about it.  At one point he had us sit down in the chairs to explain a few things to us.  All of a sudden the huge church organ started playing.   The organist was practicing for a performance later on. So he had this very haunting and powerful music behind his speech.  It just became beyond hysterical to us all and we were starting to fall off of our chairs laughing and so was he.  He started playing to the music and throwing his arms up in the air along with his speech.  It was so crazy.  I think we all had tears in our eyes from laughter when we left.

 This guy has his Danish Hot Dog stand on the pedestrian street everyday near the library.  Today, we saw him pulling his cart down the street to his location.  The dolly that he is pulling it with is motorized but it was still weird seeing this.  And it was a good ways until his location.  He was right on the street with the cars.

 A hemaphrodite statue made by a local artist.

A pottery museum in a medieval building.

I love this!  Want it!

 I will catch you up with more of my week tomorrow. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Second Day of School

 Viking bread!

Off we all went again down the hill to school but this time we had to go to a different place in the morning for our language class.  It didn't take  but a couple of minutes longer.  I was a silly girl and forgot to write down the exact address but one of our tribe said that he had seen it before.  So once we found the street the school was on, we just kept walking until he said that he saw it.

Upon arriving at the school we knew we were in the right place because there was a gaggle of other students standing in front of the building.   They said that the door was unlocked but they didn't know where to go inside and there were no signs.  I took it upon myself to venture in and look for a human being that could tell us what us up.  I saw a woman in a room talking on the phone and another group of people in a different room who looked busy so I went back to the lady on the phone and stood at her door waiting until she was done to ask.  She looked like she was having a great conversation but she didn't seem interested in finding out why I was standing at her door.  I continued to wait.  At last, another gentleman came around the corner and he asked if we were the students from the school.  I grabbed the others and we headed up to a third floor classroom.

It took a bit to get us all settled in because there were more people than chairs and space.  They tried to open the folding wall to the next room but it would only go part way but we brought more chairs in to get all seated.  Then they took us out two at a time to see what our Danish levels were in order to place us in our classes.  I am sure that you might be able to guess that I was in the first beginner class.  I didn't even have to do a test.  Yeah!

There are a total of 6 level to being considered proficient.  We have to be able to pass level 5 by next year in order to be able to be instructed in Danish next year.  It is a real challenge but it is doable.  We have two full days of Danish classes and two half days of Danish.

After our instructor got us settled in she soon switched to Danish.  Egads!  She would ask a question in Danish and then try to get an answer.  It was quite hilarious but we have a great class and there was a lot of participation.  Anyone who has been a teacher knows how hard it is to teach when you have a class that isn't willing to join in the fun and games.

I believe this is a fire extinguisher.

After that class we walked back to the university for our pedagogy class.  I am amazed by the technology in use here.  We had what they called a "smart board" in both the language class and in this one.  In the language class, the teacher was writing on the board with a magic pen and erasing with a magic erasor.  She would flip the page with the forward arrow.   Apparently, you can keep the pages and then students can go onto the website and look at the pages that were on the blackboard.

School hallway.

We were shown how to hook up to "Blackboard" which is a way to have all of your classes, assignments, school info etc. personalized at at your fingertips on the internet.  I was able to look up my book list on there and see notes from our teachers.  It is a remarkable system.  I can totally visualize being able to use my computer as an interactive device with the "smartboard" being able to show a picture or article regarding something that I am talking about in class.  I don't know how many of the classrooms are set up with this is the children's schools but I hope it is most of them!

Our first assignment in class involved a bag of six pieces of Lego.  Well we are in Denmark.   We had to make a duck out of these 6 pieces in 30 or 60 seconds.  We were asked to look around and see if the ducks were all the same and of course they weren't.  Well there were two that were almost alike.  Then the teachers asked us to explain what this meant.  What was the lesson in the exercise?  Next we were given a bigger box of Legos each and we had to pick out our 15 favorite pieces and then close the box.  We were now told that we need to make a creature out of them.  I looked down at my pile and was stumped.  I had picked all of these little pieces of accessories and a couple of skeleton men.  I had not chosen any building blocks.  I managed in the allotted time to at least get them all stuck together as long as I left it laying down.  Now we were asked to name it and tell its story to each other.  It was quite funny really.

New game.  Build a picture of yourself as a teacher out of the blocks.

That's me!  After describing our creations to each other we had to, in our groups, build a perfect teacher together and explain all the pieces.  A couple of groups made some truly incredible ones that included a whole little world along with the teacher.

Later that night, a bunch of us who live in the same place, out in the middle of nowhere, found a way to entertain ourselves.  I don't even remember what started it but one guy and I ended up being the entertainment committee for the others and basically put on a show.  We were improving stories and just being totally silly.  We were all laughing so hard that our faces and tummies hurt by the end.  

Saturday, I got a Facebook message from another student who was going out to celebrate her birthday so I gathered up the crowd here to come along.  There was live music playing on Torvet square at 9 o'clock and that was where we were headed.  I got a chance to meet and talk with one of the quieter students who lives here on the walk down the hill.  She is just the sweetest girl but very quiet and shy.  I was glad that we could get her to join in.

Students from town and country together.

All the tables and chairs were already filled up at the square so we stood there for a bit chatting and watching.
An assortment of footwear.  :)

The band.

Twilight in the square.

We got a little antsy and walked around to the other side and then to a bar.  They were selling 10 beers for 150kr.  That is $25US and that was a good deal!  We sat at the tables and just hung out getting to know each other better for awhile.

 Cafe Franz Kafka

Beer taps.

My first Danish beer.   Tasted like regular American beer.

We took off back to the square and I noticed that a couple of people had beers in their hands.   Hey wait a minute!  This is so wrong.  You are going to get arrested.  Nope!  You can walk around on the street with alcohol.  No brown bag necessary.  I got a group together to  go back and buy another 10 beers as that was a good way to go.  We then went back to the band. 

I am now starting to see some really drunk people weaving down the street.  One guy stops to talk to me.  There must be a sign on my face somewhere because this always happens.  He was able to speak English and turned out to be entertaining to talk to so no problem.  One of the other students came over to me and one point to make sure that I was all right.  That was sweet of her.  

He had some coupon for something and wanted us to all come over to that bar with him so off we went.  It was a very down to earth bar with only Danes in it.  He bought us a local beer called Black Bird.  The brewery is right here in town and opened in 1865.

We had the one with the black label and it was definitely better that the Carlsberg.   I think that a trip to the brewery might be in the making.  Maybe they have tours.  
At midnight when it was officially the birthday, the folks in the bar put on birthdays songs for us and she opened a present.  She received a Lego lunchbox!  How cool is that.  

The guy is one of the patrons and he put the flag on her lunchbox.

We then watched a very interesting game on the pool table that was completely unknown to me.  In the center of the pool table there stood 5 pins.  There were two white balls and one red ball.  I just looked on Wikipedia and found this.

Danish billiards or Keglebillard, sometimes called Danish five-pin billiards, is the traditional cue sport of Denmark, and the game remains predominantly played in that country.[1] It makes use of a 5 × 10 ft (approximately 1.5 × 3 m) six-pocket table, three billiard balls, and five pins (skittles), which are considerably larger than those used in the internationally standardized (originally Italian) game of five-pin billiards.

We had a blast last night!  

Thursday, August 16, 2012

School Begins

On my last day before school, I went for a walk into town again.  I took my neighbor and her grandmother to see Haderslev.  There is a huge sports center on the way down the hill and this is one of the signs.  For some reason this just cracks me up.  The imagery that comes to my head when I see it is a bunch of ponies getting down on the dance floor with colored lights flashing all around them.

Then we start noticing messages chalked onto the sidewalk heading towards the sports center.  some of them were simply the distance to go written down but then one was a skull sketched out.  I took a photo of this one to see what they were saying.

You are about to make a huge mistake.

Other than picking up my key from the university, I really hadn't gone onto the campus and explored but my neighbor's grandma wanted to see where her granddaughter would be going to school so I took them down the street where the main administration building was.  It was interesting to see it again.  There were quite a few more cars there.  I guess the staff was gearing up for orientation for us.  The building right after the administration building had a curious sign up on the wall.


I took them through a short cut into town under the train tracks.  And as we were coming down the tiny street back to the main drag, I found my second house in bad condition.  The first was the burnt out one that I saw the other day.  This one had broken windows, boarded up doors, and a disheveled yard.

I don't think this is really in Haderslev.  It's the Twilight Zone.

The other day, I saw a bit of a physical dispute.  I was kind of shocked to see it.  And it was only a very short distance from the police station.  I am sure that if the police looked out their windows they would have seen it.  A couple of men came flying out the main door and were in each others faces.  They started to shove, then split apart, then came back together again to continue shoving.  I stopped to watch.  Of course, I did.  After the third time coming together they parted for good without taking an actually punch at each other.

This is where it happened.  An arcade of some sort.

Inside of the old church in the middle of town.

Oh yeah.  On the way down the hill to town, I saw the little red girl sign had been knocked over into the grass so i picked it up and shoved it back into the ground.  I thought that this was a good thing.  then when we were going home, we again passed the sign.  My neighbor said that it looked funny, like the little girl was giving the finger.  I looked more closely.  Sure enough it was.  Someone had broken off the fingers other than the middle one.  Sheesh.

Today was our first day of school.  It is mostly and orientation week and also a chance to start to get to know each other.  We arranged last night to all get together and take the walk to school together.  I was apparently the 3D GPS for the group.  Haha.  I got everyone to stop here at the corner where we turn off to school and got their picture under the Danish flag!

We had a great morning of getting to know what was going to happen for the next little while.  We played some communication games to get to know each other and break the ice a little bit.  It was actually kind of fun.  I had to hide my face a few times because I was actually getting tears in my eyes.  I think that I am feeling like this is the totally right thing for me to be doing and that I will find myself in the right job in the right place.  My gut was telling me so.

Not too long after we got to school, it began to rain.  I had looked at the weather report in the morning to see how I should dress and it had said that it might spit a bit but nothing to worry about.  Well, that was my interpretation. 

You might have seen this one my blog.  Torsdag was today and it indicates one drop and 2mm of rain.  Oh how it lied.  It rained and rained and rained.

We had our lunch break and I went to the canteen to see how their food was.  You have to try everything once anyway.  I plan on taking my lunch most of the time just like always.  

This was the service!  It was in actually dishes and beautifully presented.  There were a number of choices including salmon.  I was in heaven.  This was a wonderful looking meal.  We had real dishes to eat off of too.  You can see my plate, real cutlery and glass.  The food was beyond excellent.  I had been worried for awhile about what kind of food might be typical here.  My closest and only reference was the smorgesbord at Ikea.  Not so stellar.  I may actually have to treat myself here every so often.  

I was given a buddy to help me get comfortable with the system and life in Denmark.  I finally got to meet her face to face today and she gave me permission to post her picture on my blog.  Meet the lovely Miss Mona.  She is great!

Tomorrow, I will see what the language lab will be like this year.  I am excited.