Sunday, September 2, 2012

First Real Week of School

I have to get up every day at 6:45, leave the house at 7:30 in order to be in class by 8:15.   That means that I need to be asleep by 10:45 each night in order to get 8 hours a night.  Not so easy.  I don't know how long it has been that I have gone to bed around midnight every night.  You would think that having to adjust my body to a new time zone that I could also have done that at the same time but it didn't work.  I went almost immediately to sleeping at midnight.  I have no explanation for it. 

Most days we have only a half an hour for lunch and on two of those days we have to walk to another location during our lunchtime to get to our Danish classes.  We are trudging along with our backpacks on and sandwiches in our hands and mouths.  Not exactly relaxed eating. 

Monday was my first real Danish class.  I felt like such a dunce.  It felt like I had cotton batting in my ears.  Being an adult unable to communicate even in the simplest ways sucks!

Gas here is the equivalent of $8.70 US per US gallon.  It took me a little bit to figure that out.  The American gallon is smaller than the British gallon so one cannot do a standard calculation for both.  You have to be a math wizard.  :)

Tuesday we had Danish class from 8:15 in the morning until 1:45 in the afternoon with a couple of breaks and 1/2 hour lunch.  The morning wasn't too bad.  We have an instruction for the morning that I really feel works for me.  But then in the afternoon we have a different instructor.  He is a very nice guy but....  First of all he talks so quietly, I have a hard time hearing him at all.  I certainly can't hear how he is using his mouth to form the Danish sounds.  Secondly, he switches over to instructing in Danish after very little instruction in Danish.  I can appreciate that this is a method of teaching language but he doesn't speak in simple baby sentences with words that I am familiar with.  I am not really familiar with any words at that point.  No lie, I almost cried before we got out of class.  I just couldn't follow anything at all.  I looked around the room and it seemed like some people were getting it but not me.

Some of the students had been given a piece of construction paper to fold and make a name plate for class.  I hadn't been given one as they had run out.  Some people made theirs out of regular school paper.  I chose instead to use my Universal Studios name badge.  It amused me to no end.

After class, I went for a little walk by myself to have a little photography time.  Then I went to the grocery store and saw one of my fellow classmates in there.  We talked for awhile and then I thought that maybe I could check at the Kommune (town hall) to see if they had my CPR number yet. That is like your social security number.  I looked at my watch and I had 5 minutes to get there.  They close on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at 3PM.  Yes that is correct.  Thursday they stay open until 5PM! But then on Friday they close at 1PM.  Who gets these kind of hours?  I sped walked over there and made it before the doors were closed.  My number was ready!  But I still have to wait until the end of this week to get the physical card.  I can't do many next steps until I get this thing, for example, get a bank account. 

In front of the Kommune there is dog parking.  No really!

 Now that I have a CPR number, I have access to medical care and this is the picture of the building that houses my doctor's office.  I had walked around town, as you know, many times.  I thought it was odd that I never saw a label for a doctor's office.  This building is on the main street I walk on into town and have passed it many times.  Would you have guessed doctor?

The people here in town always call the pedestrian street the "walking street."  I believe that if you do a literal translation of the word gågade that you come away with just the, walking street.  Language is so interesting.  This sign also says that driving is permitted.  Isn't that the opposite of pedestrian zone?

Wednesday, we had a class on comparing education in different countries.  It was quite interesting especially when they were talking about what it was like in Denmark.  Apparently, the classes tend to be quite chaotic so this will be interesting to see in person.  I believe that by the end of this semester we will have a week of observation in a classroom.

The Danish system of teaching is based on the principles of co-operation more than anything else.  They are not getting the highest scores in knowledge level per age group but the interesting thing is that regardless of not having the best scores, they have a very sound economy and good working conditions. 

In my English class on that day, we had to make presentations in groups of three.  The topic was a lesson plan.  Our group went first and my turn came after the other two.  I have to admit that it felt quite good and I felt very comfortable being up there in front of the class.  It seemed like a natural place to be.  I went right back into being a teacher.

Thursday, I had a meltdown and it seemed like everyone else in the group of Internationals here had one too.  It was like my brain just lit up with the tilt sign flashing on and off.  Nothing was making any sense in any language at all.  One of my classmates was trying to explain to me what the NemID was.  It sounded like utter gibberish.  Perhaps it was due to another full day of Danish class?

Meet my Danish class.

 Friday, we went back to our English class for the morning segment.  It was a hot mess.  Our teacher doesn't seem to have any skills as a teacher.  She starting talking and referring to some material or other but she didn't clue us in to what it was and so we were all scrambling to find the info.  She finally deigned to tell us but showed us so quickly that we couldn't follow her.  I asked her to do it one more time and she got all huffy saying that she would show it one more time but that was it!  Then she started to tell us about some theory or other but she didn't give us any lead or explanation of what it was she was about to tell us.  I was sitting there with my computer open on a fresh document page all ready to take my notes.  I couldn't do it.  I wasn't able to keep up with what she was saying and I couldn't even grasp what she was talking about.  My English is at a very high level and there is only one other native English speaker in the class.  She couldn't get it either.  That means that all those who were second language speakers had no chance at all.   The end result of her having lost the class was that they were all on facebook talking to each other and complaining about the teacher.  I later found out that this was universal amongst our year and that the previous year they had complained about her, yet, she was back again.

I had noticed in a previous class with her that she had written herself a sheet of paper which I had presumed to be her notes about what she wanted to cover.  What I realized after watching her reading it was that they were not actually notes as I know it.  It was a written piece that she just simply read to us. 

During class, she referred to an article that we were supposed to have read and we told her that we were unable to find it or access it.  She showed us how to do it but we had to explain to her that our student version of Blackboard didn't give us the same access.  She tried it a couple of times.  In the end, she did it another way and left it at that.   The class was ending to I went to make sure that her new link was working and of course, found that it didn't.  I walked up to the front of the class with my computer to let her know.  She just rudely blew me off saying that she had something she had to do.  I watched her and it was to take her video out of the machine.  I was so furious that I just packed up and headed out of there.  I couldn't have spoken one polite word to her at that point so it was best that I leave.  Apparently, almost having a PhD. doesn't make you a good teacher.

I got a new roommate on Thursday.  She is in the Erasmus program so she is here for six months to learn.  She is from Norway.  She is so lucky because Norwegian is close enough to Danish that she can pretty much understand everything.

In Danish class, I got a USB stick with a computer program for interactive Danish.  I was so excited to get home and try it out.  It won't work on my MAC.  Great!  Hopefully they have a MAC version.  If not, I am going to ask them to give me access to the online version.

Friday night was a humdinger.  Everyone let loose there stress of the week.  Many who didn't have the afternoon Danish class started much earlier with there partying.  We joined another International group at their house to start off.  They had made some concoction that I dubbed the witches brew.  It was like a random mixture of booze that just tasted awful to me.  A few people liked it though.  After that we all walked over the the University bar and had a great time.  When I walked home at just after midnight, the street lights were still on so I guess they leave them on later for the weekend events.

The witches brew was not quite finished off yet.

This is an advertisement for new bartenders for the University bar.  Hmmm.

This one seems a little cheaper at $8.45/US gal.

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