Sunday, November 25, 2012

Teaching Practice and Cold Weather

We had our first week of practice in the schools.  It was a week for observation primarily.  In so many ways, it is just the same but in many others it is so different.  The schools are obviously much smaller than where I taught in Los Angeles.  Instead of having almost 2,000 students we have 600.  That makes a world of difference.  When it is time to change periods, the students stay in their classroom and the teachers do the moving.  There are some good points to this.  It makes the hallways far less crowded and safer.  It also encourages ownership in their classroom so that they have less incentive to destroy things.  The negative for me is that I don't get to have a space that I can decorate.  That has always been a dream of mine.  I know.  Strange dream.  But I would love to be able to create a teaching space that oozes color and pictures and information as well as the concept of "hyggelig" which is a Danish word that means something close to cosy, but not exactly.

I have to go 5 kilometers to school.  That is 3 miles to you Americans out there.  I was using my bike. Half of the trip is not too bad as it is downhill but then the other half goes up the other side and therefore not quite so amusing.  Over the week of doing 10 kilometers a day, I was getting positively worn out.  Half way through the week, I went out to the bike first thing in the morning and found the tire to be flatter than flat.  Yikes.  I didn't have time to walk to school.  It takes 30 minutes by bike and an hour by foot.  I wouldn't make it.  That was not acceptable.  Fortunately for me, my roommate has a bike too and she didn't need it that day and allowed me to borrow it.  I tried to find a new tube for the tire at the Kvickly but they didn't have my size in stock.  That was three weeks ago and they still don't have my size.  It is labelled on the shelf so they do have them sometimes.  Hopefully, I will have one by January when I have to do this again for 4 weeks.

The same week, we also went apartment hunting.  The first place was quite nice with great light but not the best layout in the world.  The price was right so it was doable.  We also had a friend tell us about an apartment in her building and we had an appointment to see it the following day.  We went in and looked around and immediately agreed that it was the one.  It is really quite lovely.  It won't be as lovely when we move in for some time as we have next to nothing in terms of furniture.  But that is okay because slowly but surely we will be able to build up something.  I will post some pictures of it after we move in but that won't be until the weekend of the 19th/20th of January.

Oh, and something you should know about here is that when you rent an apartment, they expect to have a 3 month deposit.  This is the norm and it is very unusual to find anything else.  But that is a huge chunk of money.  You also pay a monthly charge to the landlord for the heat and water.  If you use more, you have to pay the additional amount at the one year mark.  If you have used less than the estimate, then you get a return.  On top of that, you have to pay for electricity as a separate bill.  I don't really understand why heat and electricity are different as they look like they run on hot water.  Usually hot water is heated by electricity.

Fun photoshoot at UCSyd in the old gymnasium

Over the last little while, I have been doing a couple of haircuts to help out.  Payment is chocolate.  Haha.  It is quite interesting to do it.  I wouldn't want it to be my way of making a living but you do what you do when you are a student.  I also did another photo shoot for a group who wanted to make a picture as a gift.  They even went and got some animal costumes to use.  We had an absolute blast.

We found a great deal on meat up here at Kiwi.  It was a special that they had just for the weekdays from 6 PM to 10 PM.  But of course, you had to be there pretty quick or it would be gone for the day.  So I ran over there and got 2 packages of ground beef for only 10kr each.  That is just under $2US.  Oh happy day!  Sometimes it is the little things that make your day.

We had a special field trip in our Danish class this week.  We went to a little town called Hoptrup to a school that was performing a musical called Emma.  They have a type of school here that is called an "efterskole."  Here is how wikipedia explains it.

The Efterskole (directly translated "afterschool") is a unique Danish independent residential school where students from the ages of 14 to 18 can choose to spend one, two or three years to finish their primary education. Presently some 28.500 students attend one of the app. 260 schools throughout Denmark. The schools are open to students from abroad.

The Hoptrup efterskole specializes in music, dance and theater thus this production.  They did a really good job of it for their age.  I just wish that I could have understood more of it.  It was super hard.  I did get some of the words so that made me feel good.  The stage was quite interesting.  It had an elevated walkway running across the back and ramping down to the front.  Underneath one section of it was the orchestra so you could see them there with colored lights on them during the production.  There were elements in the piece that would have been totally surprising if I had been in the USA.  There was an over the top campy gay character with the tightest of tights on.  "Bjernee."  Another scene had a couple of the main girl characters doing a lesbian scene where they were getting partially undressed and then kissing.  It was an odd experience to see from this age group coming from my background.   I was okay with it.  Why not?  They were or they wouldn't have presented it.  Good for them!

The Danish way is to do things in groups so we have study groups and teaching practice groups.  Our class assignments are mostly done with these groups.  It is a very weird experience for me and is taking some getting used to.  We are starting work on our first real group assignment and I feel quite lost within it.  I can't even imagine how you write a paper as a group but we will get it done somehow.  I was told about a cool web application called PiratePad where you can all be on your own computers and writing a paper together at the same time.  So we are going to try it out.  More learning curves.

Yesterday, I went on a little adventure into town and met up with a classmate.  We went to a couple of these little tiny handcraft markets.  They were so adorable with all their handcrafted items, a lot of knitted articles.  Knitting is a big thing here.  I have even started to do it again.  I had to reteach myself by using YouTube videos.  While we wondered around the two markets looking at things, we had a chance to talk to many Danish people and practice the language.  Everyone was so welcoming and curious about us.  I also took my camera and was taking pictures.  They asked me if I was there for the newspaper.  Smile.

All handmade articles at the market

My first taste of Danish æbleskiver.  Yum!

One of the handcrafter Christmas markets with tables full of goodies like knitting. 

This morning, I woke up around 9:30 and when I opened my eyes, I thought that it was still really early in the morning due to how little light there was.  We are back to rain, rain and rain again.  Even the lights on the sides of our building thought that it was still night.  When I looked out at 10:30 AM, they were still on and I believe that they are light sensitive.  I went to the grocery store at about 4 and when I came back out, it was obviously getting dark.  The wind was blowing so hard and so cold that it was difficult walking too.  As of now, the sun comes up at 8:15 AM and goes down at 4:02 PM.  Feels like being back to my childhood.  And according to the forecast, we sill bee possibly seeing -5˚C in a week.  That is 23˚F.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Lost Chocolate to J-Dag

First day that I had to wear my down coat.  Frost on everything and it wasn't even November yet. 
Autumn holiday sale: slaughter your own chicken. Now don't get all PETA on me people. This is real life. 

Sometimes the world is a great place to be.  One day, I went to Kiwi to get my groceries.  When I got home, I realized that I didn't have my chocolate.  Not good.  I searched through everything and everywhere three times and then realized that I must have left it at the store.  So I grabbed my receipt and rode my bike back over there.  Oh, but first I looked up the word for forget because I had forgotten how to say that.  I got to the store and told the cashier what had happened and she pulled the bar from her till area.  I guess that whoever noticed it after I left was kind enough to say something rather than just take it.  Back home, I would have expected the bar to be long gone.  Points for Denmark.

This is an ad for fresh reindeer and kangaroo. Again, don't go PETA. I think it is cool and one day when I can afford, I will try them.  I heard that reindeer is good.

Here is what you say for "trick or treat." "Slik eller ballade" which is candy or trouble!
Last weekend, there was an event for new people in town.  I guess they do this twice a year where they bring people to the town hall.  First you get a little historical tour of the town and when you get back, the mayor gives a certificate of welcome to everyone who comes.  After that, there is a little tasting of some local food.  We had some rugbrød (rye bread) with pølse (lunch meats) of different kinds and øl (beer) that was made in Haderslev.  It was great fun.  After the meal we were taken on a touring bus throughout the kommune (region).

This was a tour guide Kim Bjerminggaard. He was a great presentation and it turns out that he is a teacher. Surprise. 

Here is the borgmester Jens Christian Gjesing. He gave me my certificate. Nice gentleman. 

On our tour, I finally saw where the hospital is.

We stopped at Grams Natural History Museum. This is a marker that says it is 10 million years ago. 

Our tour bus.  Sønderjyske Turistfart.  Smiling.

It was horribly muddy so the driver put out a doormat for us to wipe our feet on before reentering the bus. 

Over the last week, I have made three presentations, two using this modern teacher tool called a "smart board."  It is an awesome tool.  You have a giant screen that is hooked up to the computer and responds to your touch on the screen.  The program has a lot of cool things that you can do with it including linking to something on the web.  So you can imagine how great that makes it for teaching when you realize that the students don't understand a word, you can hook a picture to the lesson or a video from the internet.  My presentations were in Danish.  I did one of Karen Blixen, the Danish author of "Out of Africa" and one about Aarhus, a Danish city.

Karen Blixens photo taken by Richard Avedon

Front page of my Aarhus presentation.
On Tuesday, we had an "International Day" and we were asked to give a presentation about our countries.  We put out slides together into one presentation and then each did a little talk about our country.  We then made fun of all the stereotypes about ourselves.  I did Canada, of course, and I wore every piece of winter gear that I had.  It was a lot of fun.

Canadian stereotype slide.

Wednesday, we were taken to the area's school resource center.  We were shown around the facility including the back room where they have all these great boxes full of projects.  We found one that was a dildo box.  I thought that perhaps they had a different definition of the word so I opened it in order to see.  Definitely dildos.  Sex education.  Clearly.  I also found some large hanging canvas bags and looked inside.  They were full of large scale poster board copies of various artwork.  That was very awesome.

There are three of us that are planning on moving into a place together in January when this student housing is no longer available to us.  We had previously gone to ask various places about finding something and they said to come back in November so that is what we did on Thursday after Danish class.  We have an appointment to see one on Tuesday and we have another one to see that a fellow classmate hooked us up with.  They are both in the central town area so we would get rid of the 2 km each way walk.  Woot!

This Friday was J-day.  This is the day when the Christmas beer comes out.  Christmas is "Jule" in Danish.  So I had to go out, didn't I?  And I did.  I haven't done so in awhile so I was due anyway.  I went to Fredagscaféen and had a great time trying the beer out, perhaps a little too good of a time.  I didn't take into consideration that the red labelled one was a 7.6 percent and got just a little too drunk.  Oh well.  It was a very fun night in the end anyway.

Christmas beer.  Watch out for that red one. It is a doozy.
My roommate went to home to Norway for our Autumn holiday and when she came back she brought a few of her favorite things and let me try them.

Brown cheese from Norway.

The label of the cheese.  It is quite salty but good.

Norwegian chocolate.
 One of the other students in the housing here gave me a few things to try from her home country of Hungary.  I have tried the chocolate bar.  I was scared because I was told that it was chocolate covered cheese curd.  Today, I had the courage to try it and it was awesome.  I even found a song about it and posted it on my Facebook page.  Another one of the Hungarians who lives here was floored when he saw the song on my Facebook page because he knows the band quite well.  Life is so odd sometimes.

This is a Hungarian beer that was given to me as well to try but it will have to wait for another day as I have already had too much beer this weekend.

100 Folk Celsius-Túró Rudi -click on this link and you can hear the song about this chocolate bar.

Have a great week!