Sunday, September 9, 2012

Getting Baptized

Last weekend was a bit of lazing about, doing shopping and cleaning.  Oh and homework.  Ah the life of a student.  I spent a good amount of time going through all the circulars to find the best shopping deals for my food of the week.  That took me a long time.  They have a surprising amount of grocery stores here.

 At my closest store, Kiwi, I found a packet of ramen soup so I thought I would give it a try.  It all looked normal from the outside but inside the pack was a different story.  There were three little packets inside.  One had the broth powder, another had chili powder and the third had a bit of oil.  I threw it all in and when I took a bite, I near to blew the top of my head off.  I thought that I was habituated to spices with using a lot of wasabi and being around a lot of Mexican food.  Ai ai ai, was I wrong.  I guess next time I will use less of the chili pack.

Salty licorice pipe.

I took another trip to Jysk that weekend and bought a couple of pillows.  Now that my new roommate is here, I was back to only one pillow and that was super uncomfortable for relaxing on the bed.  I don't have a couch to relax on you know.  I also bought a pack of 10 hangers as there were only 5 here in the apartment.  I was very proud of myself because I was really trying to use whatever Danish I had in order to get what I needed.  I also used to Danish to try to find an electrical chord for a sewing machine.  I actually found a sewing machine by the garbage but I need a chord in order to see if it even works as there wasn't one with it.  Wouldn't that be awesome if it did?

When I first got this apartment, I noticed that the shower head was super high.  It seemed like a giant must have lived here before me.  I didn't think anything more about it until my new roommate moved in.  I took a shower after she had used it and I realized that the shower head was now down to a normal height.  Doh!  I could have adjusted it all along but I guess with my American habits, it didn't occur to me that it was possible.

 Super thin chocolate to make breakfast sandwich with.

I got another new neighbor that last weekend too.  She was very nice and actually came over to me to chat.  She asked me in Danish if it was okay to come and say hi.  Of course I said yes but had to tell her that I wasn't able to communicate in Danish.  Just like most people here, she has a good command of English.  We talked for a long time.

After school on Monday, I went to turn in my boligstøtte.  We found out that there was a housing aid for people.   It took a group effort to figure out how it worked, where to get the papers, and how to fill them out but we did it.  I had my Norwegian roommate help me with the details of the paper.  As a Norwegian, she is able to read almost all of the Danish stuff and understand it.  Together we had to work out a couple of words using google.translate but in the end it was a success.  When I took it in, I had a couple of questions but it turned out that I didn't need that info.  The kind lady at the desk wrote something in Danish where the income lines were and then I was done.  Easy-peasy in the end.

Then I had to get something called a NEM ID.  This thing had stumped me since I first heard about it.  I couldn't quite grasp what it was or how it was used.  My first step was to go to the counter in the Kommune and tell them that I wanted one.  That was easy enough.  After awhile the lady came back and handed me a stack of papers and a couple of envelopes.  Inside the envelopes were all the ingredients.  I had another number in the letter.  In another envelope was my access code.  In the third envelope there was a paper that had a whole bunch of miscellaneous random number sets. 

 Rosie the Riveter in the Danish newspaper.

I was with my neighbor so he and I went back to the information desk and the lady there helped us get online to register our NEM ID.  It turns out that all those numbers are like an ever changing access code system.  You access your accounts with your name and regular password and then you get a new page with the first half of a code and you have to enter the second half of the code from your little card.  Each number set is good only once and the system knows which ones have been used.  It automatically sends you a new card of numbers when you run out of the first set.  I hope that all makes more sense to you than it did to me the first time I heard about it.

Here is a fact about Denmark that struck me as very strange the first time that I saw it.  In Denmark, you are allowed to drink outside anywhere.  There is no law against it. 

Here is the rule according to Wikipedia,
To buy alcohol (above 1.2% and below 16.5% ) in stores, one must be 16; but to be served alcohol at bars, restaurants and discos, the minimum is 18. For alcohol above 16.5%, the age is 18. There is no drinking age, only a purchase age, and an adult may buy alcohol for a minor. By tradition, youths are privately allowed to drink alcohol after their confirmation. If a shop or bar fails to ask for an ID card and is identified having sold alcohol to an underage, it is subject to fine. A national ID card, obtained in the local town hall, can serve as age verification. This card is rarely used though since a passport or moped-licence can sometimes be used.

You will also see people walking around with yellow jackets on during the evening and night when people are out drinking.  They are volunteer adults who make sure that people are okay or help them out if they are in trouble.  It is a truly awesome thing to have.

The little red girl sign continues her journey.  She is now but a shell of her former self.
On Tuesday, I had a meltdown in my Danish class and had to walk out.  The teacher was asking me a question and I had no clue what she was saying.  She repeated it a few times and asked it a different way etc.  I was like a deer in headlights.  I didn't know what she was saying or how to answer.  I didn't know how to say that I was stuck.  It was like I just froze, then melted and the tears began to arrive in my eyes.  I spun on my chair and walked out of the classroom without a word.  Out in the hall were a number of my colleagues and they tried to help me.  Then I totally burst into tears.  I tried to gather myself to head back into class and was getting there when the teacher came out.  She wanted to know what was happening and I tried to explain but just ended up worse off than before.  I got the ugly cry with all the hiccoughs and all.  My friends tried to intervene with the teacher for me, bless their hearts.  I was finally able to gather myself enough to go back into class.

When we were back in the classroom, the teacher opened it up to the whole class to find out how we were thinking and feeling.  The dam bursts.  Two more girls ended up starting to cry and everyone was able to get a chance to speak, in English, about what was stressing us out.  She explained that she was trying to get us prepared for having to observe a Danish class in six weeks and to go into a classroom and student teach in 4 months.  She also gave us a page of classroom questions in Danish to use.  She gave us permission to speak in English when we were hitting the wall and that was a big help.

I finally got a chance to talk with our International Coordinator on Thursday.   I was able to talk to her about a few major concerns and ask her a backlog of questions that I had.  She was so nice and welcoming.  I never felt in anyway like I was being a burden or that she didn't want to hear what I had to say.  She was well chosen for her job.  

Friday was the schools birthday so it was closed to classes for the day.  Instead we had a huge adventure to go on.  It started with a breakfast in the morning that we paid 5 kr for.  I was not expecting more for that price and so was pleasantly surprised with the breakfast sandwich, fruit and fruit juice.  Then we got on buses and were taken out to the far end of the lake.  From there we had to walk back to the school with our groups and a map.  All along the way, there were challenges for us to participate in.

5 kr. breakfast.   Yum yum.
On the bus to our adventure.
Playing a game called Kubb.
It was very similar to the games we played for our previous team building exercise.  This time though, there was alcohol involved.  There were mental challenges and physical.  We had three minutes to make the longest line possible out of clothes and bodies if they were nude, except panties for girls.  We had another one where the game was to go around in a circle counting but you had to say boom if the number included a 7, multiple of 7,  or the digits added up to 7.  If you got it wrong, you had a choice of taking off one piece of clothing or doing a beer bong.  Yikes.  I was ever so careful to not get it wrong.  I would have rather taken clothes off than do a beer bong but my prudish North American ways do not much like the clothing off option either.  Another game was to guess the ingredients in an obnoxious mixture in a shot glass.  I got the ingredient ginger right!  

Chain of clothes and human bodies.

Wagon of backpacks and alcohol.
What to do with the alcohol wagon when you have stairs.
The last stop on the route was a water slide they created in the park near the school.  Much fun was had there.  I had fun taking the pictures.  

A little food break on the way back.
Human sled on the water slide.
I am sure you guessed how it was going to end.
Then we went to the final final stop at the school.  We saw people getting undressed again.  Lord have mercy, what is it this time?  When a few people came around the corner we could see that they were wet.  I decided that whatever it was, that I would do it but I would do it with my clothes on.  I took off everything that I could but left on my pants and t-shirt.  I went to the guy holding out the blindfold and donned it.  I guess I have a big head because we almost couldn't get it attached.  Then off we went.
I was guided by hand through a mystery maze of ups and downs, jumps and crawls before finally being lead back outside again.  This is where it got tough!  I had to get down on my belly and crawl military style across two tarp lengths, I believe covered in what I believe was whipped cream.  Then I had to crawl across another section that was filled with noodles.  I had to belly crawl and roll onto my back and all.  I later found out that they took pictures of us at this point.  I haven't seen mine yet.  We also had to crawl through coffee and grounds.  I could smell what that one was.  Finally at the end of hit we were hit with a stream of ice cold water from a garden hose.  I can only presume that they were washing some of the gunk off of us.  

Oh, but that wasn't the end at all.   We next had to sit down with our legs stretched out in front of us and scoot forward.  You realize that you are on a decline and swoosh, down you go into a pool of ice cold soapy water.  I think that I jumped up and out as fast as a cat hitting water.  

Bath time.
It is over.  You take off your mask and you are officially baptized as a member of the school.  We each got a certificate with our new name on it.  Mine is Colleen Cougar.  Yes, I know.

It is official!
I then walked another 2 km. home in my dripping wet clothes.  Many people continued on drinking and partying after this until the wee hours of the morning but not me.   All in all, I walked somewhere around 14 km or 8 1/2 miles between 7:30 AM and 4 PM that day.

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