Sunday, October 21, 2012

First Holiday Week "Efterårsferie"

On Thursday the 10th, I took my first Danish test in order to pass level 3.1.  I was cool as a cucumber about the whole thing, that is until I was standing outside the door waiting to go in.  We went in to the test in pairs although we didn't actually test together.  I guess they think that it gives you moral support to have someone that you know in there with you.  Or maybe it is just about not having only two people in a room with a closed door.  Who knows.  Anyway.  I went first.  I had to talk about some subject.  I ended up talking about "My Day" and I stumbled all over the place but I got through it somehow.  Then my partner did her subject.

 Then it was my turn again.  This time we had a picture that we were supposed to do something with but I didn't understand the directions so the examiner had my partner go first.  She did great and then it was back to me.  Now I knew what I was supposed to do.  I had to make all kinds of random questions about the picture and the examiner would give me some made up answer for each one.  I did okay but I felt like a simpleton compared to her.

After we were done the tester gave me some comments about paying attention to my pronunciation and working on something.  I started to immediately get teary eyed.  I felt so awful that I hadn't done better and I just didn't know where I could find too many more hours a day to work on my Danish.  I would have to have no fun time whatsoever.  So I had a big moment of feeling bad.  I made my way through it and moved on.  And I passed.  There is no grade.  You either pass or you don't.

Last Friday, we had a big football game with many different teams from the schools different classes.  It was all just for fun and each match was very short.  There were teams that came in some sort of costume to show they were a team.  One team came as chickens, another came in throw away painter coveralls that had grass in all the pockets.  It was a lot of fun and it was also super cold.

The chicken team

The grass in the pockets of coveralls team.

He doesn't want to start any problems, does he?

Football action shot!

I thought that I had dressed warmly enough but the wind felt like it was blowing off of the glaciers in the North.  My teeth were chattering like a pair of castanets.  I was wiggling my legs back and forth at the speed of light trying to stay warm but it wasn't working.  So I decided to buy a beer and let the alcohol warm me up.  Then I bought a second one to try and get a little warmer.  It did work a little bit.  But then I had to go pee so badly that it hurt and there wasn't a bathroom near the field.  There was no way that I would be able to walk two kilometers home so I decided to go across the street to use the one at Fredagscafeen.

Oh what a relief that was but then I ended up staying at Fredagscafeen for a while.  I learned a dice game that the Danes were playing.  It was a blast.  After that I headed home but I neglected to use the bathroom before going so by the time that I was half way up the hill, I was in trouble again.  I made it home but not before being in pain again.  Yikes.

I settled in for a nice quite rest of the evening, planning to go to bed at a normal time.  I heard a knocking on my door and went to see who it was.  It was one of my neighbors who came to invite me to join her and a couple of other people for a drink.  I thought about it for about three seconds and said okay.

We had a rip roaring evening being silly and having so much fun.  We played a funny smart phone game where you had to drink if you had done the thing that came up on the screen.  I knew that I would be in trouble so I made sure to take very tiny sips for every answer.   As soon as I felt like my consumption had gone beyond comfortable, I made my exit.  Fortunately for me, my apartment is half a building away.

And that was the beginning of my week off of school.  It is called "efterårsferie" and it was much needed.  I thought that my brain was going to pop and then a whole week off.  Does Colleen actually take a week off though?  Noooo.  I have a pile of Danish books to read and a small stack of movies in Danish to go through.  It was all about Danish all week for me.

A selection of reading and movies in Danish.

Well not totally.

I retaught myself how to knit and started on a scarf.  It took some work and a little bit of tearing the work apart and starting again but I got it started.  Thank goodness for youtube.  I was able to find videos that showed me how to cast on and how to do both the knit and purl stitch.  Awesome!

On Monday night the natives were restless around here.  It was decided that we must have a karaoke night that night.  Everyone gathered at a neighbors.  Eventually there were 7 of us in the tiny kitchen.  We had a laptop on with a couple of speakers plugged into it and we happily plugged away at various songs.  Some songs we tortured.  Some we did quite nicely on.  At first, I wasn't even going to go.  I was chickening out because I figured it would be all these songs that I had never heard of and also because I get super nervous about singing in front of people.  In the end, it was a blast though.

Then it was back to more Danish studies.

Finally on Friday, four of us decided that it was time to actually get out of Haderslev for a minute.  But we couldn't afford to go crazy as we all are living off of a finite amount of money and have to make it stretch as far as possible.  I, for one, am so jealous that the Danes get to have a stipend every month.  Even if it isn't a large sum of money, it is enough to know that you can make it to the next month and some more money will come.  I wish that they had a way to help foreigners who are going to school here with the intention of staying here and becoming part of the system, paying taxes and all.  I would be willing to sign a contract saying that I would stay here for x-number of years to make up for it.

Inside the courtyard of Koldinghus.

A mobile version of bowling.

Koldinghus palace chapel learning swordsmanship.

So we went to the nearest and next biggest town called Kolding.  It is a 30-45 minute bus ride away and it has a castle.  Yeah!  We all packed lunches so that we wouldn't have to pay for restaurant food.  The weather promised to be great.  It was supposed to go up to 16˚C which was crazy.  It had been around 11-12˚C just before that.

An interesting conjunction of modern lighting and ruins.

Old bicycle as part of the museum exhibits.

Beautiful staircase inside of the ruins of Koldinghus.

The castle is called "Koldinghus" and it was a total ruin at the end of the 19th C.  It has since been rebuilt but the cool thing is that they didn't try to hide the repairs.  The new parts are obviously new and you can still see the ruins.  It has been turned into a museum.  We were really lucky because there were special events for the holiday week with live performers playing the parts of the old medieval people

Actors playing the roles of the era.

Costume actor in the courtyard of Koldinghus.

We went for a walk around a little bit of the town after we were done with the castle and had had our lunches.  We found a very cool park that was built for kids and some great old 16th C. buildings.

Copper clad house in Kolding.

One of the miniature golf stations at the Lejeparken.

Kids playing on the carts at Lejeparken.

The cart course at Lejeparken.

A tree full of pacifiers at Lejeparken.  I would love to know the story that goes with this.

A very odd bike in Kolding.

Kolding house from 1589.

Kolding house from 1589.

More great views in Kolding.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Art and Greek Food

Working on their boat.
Jensine, Haderslev

I decided that I really want to do something a little different last weekend so I went on a walk to a art museum in town.  It turned out to be super tiny but being right on the water, it was very picturesque.   There were people out working on their boat just in front of the museum.  On the other side was a great apartment building that has spectacular views of the waterway.

Kunsthuset, Haderslev, Art museum

Kunsthuset, Haderslev, art museum

It took me a minute to find the building as it was so tiny.  There were two large rooms on the lower level with an assortment of old pictures that were of different views around Haderslev.  A lot were just so so but many had great views of streets as they were a long time ago.  Another was actually one of the finest examples of stitchery that I have seen.  It was like embroidery but the thread looked as small as that with which you would do regular sewing.

View from the window

Johann II. (Schleswig-Holstein-Hadersleben)

Stitchery art

After I was done with looking around the main floor, I climbed up the stairs to see what might be there.  I found what appeared to be an atelier and when I went around a corner, I found that there was actually a class working on a still life project.  I became nervous thinking that I shouldn't be up there.  Someone began to say something to me and I was totally lost as to what exactly they were trying to tell me.  I told them that I couldn't understand.  Then the instructor came over to me to chat.  He had a lovely large smile on his face so I relaxed a bit.

He chatted with me for awhile.  His name is Adam Gabriel and he has taught there for quite sometimes as well as being an artist in Denmark.  He even offered that I could come out and see his place.  Turns out that he speaks French as well as he came from Guadaloupe Island.  I had a great time talking to him.

Haderslev fjord

This week was what is called "Net Week."  That is because we have internet students that only come in every so often.  When they come though, our whole schedule changes.  The problem is that our Danish classes are not up for changes and we have to go to Danish above all else.  So, on these weeks we ended up missing out on some things.  But this week we got something special instead.  We got Monday morning off of school!

Kayakers on Haderslev fjord

In the afternoon, we had Danish.  Following that there was a reception at a new Greek restaurant in town.  They served a buffet of their food ans served alcohol, all for free.  Another student and I went.  I thought that others were coming too but after waiting a bit, outside we realized that they weren't coming.

There were many people from town who had come.  We found a place to sit after getting our classes of red wine.  Eventually the food came out to the buffet table and then we went and got our sampling.  I wasn't expecting that much in terms of quantity but this was a full meal.  I took the smallest size portions that I could so that I would be able to taste everything and I barely had room on my plate to accomplish it.

After we went back to our table, another man came and joined us there.  He was very nice, and we got to practice our Danish/Danglish with him.  Then he left to go back to work.

Not long after, two of the night watchmen that I have mentioned in a previous post came in full costume.  They pounded their staffs on the floor and commenced singing a song.  Then they came to join us at our table.  I remembered their faces from the other night.  They remembered me too. So we got another chance to use our Danish.

Wednesday, I went to another meeting of our student council and struggled to understand what was going on.  I was happy that I was able to now pull out more words from the conversation but I still wasn't getting the gist of it for the most part.  I did get one section though and was able to contribute my thoughts.  I had to speak in English though.  I was asked if I would like to be the Vice President.  I asked them if they thought it was okay that I didn't know that much Danish yet and they said that that was alright so I said, "Why not."

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Bicycle Bicycle Race

I have a bicycle now so I am officially Danish, even though I can't speak the language.  It doesn't matter because I have a bike.  It has a little ding ding bell and a basket on the front that I decorated with flowers so that I would know mine from the ranks of bicycles.

 I took it with me to school today and then after classes, I went grocery shopping.  I had a bag full in my basket and a ton of weight in my back pack.  Then I rode/walked it up the hill to home.  I made it part way and then had to get off.  I had almost waited too long because my legs almost gave out when I got off.  I am definitely not used to bike riding anymore.

My lovely new bicycle.  She needs a name.
It seems that a bit of Danish is sinking in.  Actually, it seems to be happening at a faster rate than I expected, honestly.  I suppose that with 15 hrs a week of class and then all the homework, something is bound to happen.  I have been writing letters is Danish for assignments and I can actually do it.  It isn't perfect but it is readable.

Current weather: rain off and on and temperatures from 8˚C (46˚F) to 14˚C (57˚F).  I am most certainly not in Los Angeles anymore!

I remember the first time that I was sitting at home and heard what sounded like gun fire.  It went on and on for quite awhile.  I ran all kinds of scenarios through my head trying to figure out what it could possibly be.  I have a wooded area across the road and I am in the country so I thought that maybe it could be hunters but I couldn't imagine what they would be hunting as there is no wildlife here to speak of.  I even wondered if there was a slaughter house nearby.  I finally figured it out.  It is the military practicing.  We have a military base here in town and I have noticed that there are a lot of their vehicles that go down a road that is nearby and that the road turns in the direction of somewhere behind the woods.

This week there was a new machine, to me, used in the yard maintenance.  It was so loud that I had to look out my window to see what was going on.  I found the gardener pushing around this large machine.  After he made his second pass down the sidewalk with it, I realized that it was a machine to do the sweeping.  I can see the reason for it as we have a lot of sidewalk here that would take a long time to clean with an old-fashioned broom.  I think it is noisier than a leaf blower though.  He was wearing hearing protection while doing it.

A most serious broom.