Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sølvbryllup --> Silver Wedding

In Denmark wedding anniversaries can be a big deal. The major wedding anniversaries that I know of are the silver and gold wedding. The silver wedding happens at the 25th year marker and the gold at the 50th year marker. Yesterday (and I suppose the early hours of today) I attended the party side of the silver wedding.

The silver wedding events are a week long thing. The night before the anniversary friends and family gather together to build an arch covered in greenery flowers and lights. Once complete they are transfered to the couple's home. Here the object is to set up the arch over the door front without them knowing. This however is just about impossible seeing as everyone knows the tradition and is expecting it. On the up side, this means a warm place for the freezing exchange student to stay and coffee once the arch has been rectified.

The morning of the wedding all friends and family gather at an early hour outside of the home to sing morning songs. This is suppose to wake them up. After the singing coffee and breakfast is served to all of the singers. Breakfast is the basic rolls with tradition morning topings such as cheese, chocolate, and other berry spreads.

The next free day (usually a saturday) the couple will have a formal party. Parties such as these are very much different from what happens in America. In America maybe there are two or three toasts and a buffet plus a live band and an open dance floor. No such luck here. We arrived at 17.00 and didn't end up finishing 'dinner' until probably 23.45 or so. We had an appatizer which was served individually, multiple toasts, then a buffet style entre. After the main meal there were more toasts and a few skits from the couple's children, siblings and other family memebers. There is a lot of pressure put of the couple's children because their form of entertainment has to be excelent. They are also expected to do a parody of a song in honor of their parents. Finially a buffet style dessert was served followed by the last of the toasts.

Another very differen thing is the singing. They sing all the time, though I was informed that this party didn't have nearly as much singing in it as normal. After dessert coffee was served and the area was cleared for dancing. The particular party I attended was a bit more religious if you will, so the dancing was folk dancing. Folk dancing... All I can say is that it is every teenager's worst nightmare, but let me tell you, it was sooo entertaining. After the dancing was over a finally song was sung for the couple and a 'get-out' meal was put out.

All in all, we didn't end up leaving until 02.00. It was a very fabulous and interesting event. There is a lot of tradition in this even that I don't think is as evident in America.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Sick Days

Maybe I'd spoken too soon or it's just the holidays letting me know they are here, but today I'm sick and it's the first time since I've arrived in Denmark. It's not a major sick, but it's the one where your body is weak, your nostrils are plugged, and you go from burning up to freezing cold in 5,9 seconds.

After eating breakfast and realizing there was no way I was going to school I asked for some meds. I've come to the general conclusion that Danes don't believe in meds - at all. Unless you are sick and dieing on the ground they don't have anything for you. Luckily I brought miniature supplies of the basics with me from the states. I fell back asleep for another six hours which was great becuase my night had been horrible. I got six hours of sleep in which time I woke up twice because I was so hot. Mind you, my window was even open and it isn't exactly a summers day here.

Needless to say, when you are sick, sometimes you just want to be home - currled up in your bed with your mom bringing you your 'sick food'. It's interesting to see what people like to have when they are sick. Everyone is different. For me, it's egg drop soup. Mom makes a killer egg drop soup whenever someones sick and boy, let me tell you, when I woke up that's all I wanted. In my attempt to make some I realized we had no eggs... That's just a little bit important. Switching tactics I decided on chicken noodle soup - no chicken... Imporvising, I came up with turkey noodle soup. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't mom's egg drop soup.

Sick days aren't horrible, but they are just that; sick days.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Killing Tommy 2008

Ah, Thanksgiving - the official entry into the holiday season. I just couldn't not have Thankgiving. The smell of pumpkin pie lingering in the air while other scents of turkey mingle. It doesn't seem like as important of a holiday when a person is at home, but away is another story. This year I celebrated this beloved holiday with 10 other people - five of them my family, four of them my danish friends from school, and one of them a fellow American (Kyle, seen in the picture with me above).

Though it was away from home, I have to say that it was one of the most memorable Thanksgiving days. The star of the dinner was a giant turkey named Tommy. When I say giant, I mean that 24 lbs. just fit in the oven. Accompaning the bird was the classic mashed potatos, green bean cassarole, stuffing, grandma's spinach artochoke cassarole, gravy, and jellied cranberrie sauce. Dessert was a fabulous pumpkin pie and the best chocolate burbon pecan pie in the history of pie.

It wasn't quite like home (though Kyle insisted it tasted just like his mom's Thanksgiving), it was great. Good food, good company, and a good time. The only things really missing was the parade and the game. Kyle managed to get the parade from last year but all of the performances were missing. We came to the realization that the parade is actually quite boring. No one really watches it. The parade is normally only on for background while you peel potatoes and cube bread. The game.... Well, there was a game on at 7, but it wasn't quite the same. A game's a game you say, but the Thankgiving day game is something special whether you realize it or not.

The meal was great and the company better. Heck, we even had four continously repeating Christmas songs in the background becuase that was all that we had. It is officially now the holiday season. I think I might buy myself a mini Christmas tree for my desk...

Friday, November 21, 2008

Den Første Sne -> The First Snow

The radiator is on 4 as the winter weather outside threatens to freeze us all. Inside we are safe, but once outside we are subjecte to the white blanket. I'm happy now that I have my winter coat. I wrap myself up in a jumper and scraf then button up my coat.

Outside isn't the winter wonderland we think we will see. No, today the roofs are white instead of their usual red and black. Sleep cars are covered in a white blanket and others are running around with theirs as a cape. The grass of some yards have a light dusting of the cold stuff. The trees that cling to their foliage now shamelessly shead theirs to the hard ground.

Today was the first snow of the season. I was under the strict impression that it didn't snow here, but reminense of last nights events can been seen melting away in the shinning sun.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Holiday Season

We are exactly 34 days from Christmas - the holiday were families gather around the lighted fir tree and spread yule time cheer. Smells of cookies baking in the oven swirl through the air and sprinkles of red and green are everyewhere. I have been doing a lot of thinking about the holidays. It seems that between 31. oct and 2. jan a lot of important holidays get shoved in. Between the fired turkey and honey baked ham something happens - you can't see it, but rather feel it. We all know it - the feeling that puts an extra spring in our step and some carols in our mind.

This time now the city has been placing giant (somewhere between 15 and 25 feet) fir trees around and beautiful garlins with lights between buildings. It would be a lie to say that I didn't miss my family a little. The holidays are thoes times when you usually want nothing more than to curl up with the ones you love while sharing a hot cup of cocoa and reading The Night Before Christmas.

But the best way to cope is to find things to look forward too and, well, I'm looking forward to the holidays! As days go by, I don't think we really stop and realise that never ever again will that day happen again. As long as some form of human existense is around, today will never happen again, nor will yesterday or tomorrow. So why waste the day? Why not make today or tomorrow something to remember? Well, that's what I'm trying to do. But, back to the holiday excitement.

There are two main things I'm super excited for. One is having the 2008 Christmas in Denmark. From what I've read, they go all out. It's a holiday they love and celebrate all of the wintery December month. The second thing I'm excited for is Saai, my Thai friend. This Christmas is her first Christmas. I can't denie that there is something special about that. When we walk to language school together we sing Christmas songs and I try to teach her new ones like the twelve days of christmas. For most Americans, Christmas is something you grow up with. You wake up at 6 a.m. to see all of the gifts Santy left for you and to see if he at the cookies and milk you left out and the teeth marks in the carrots from the reindeer.

The holidays are a time of giving and caring - were friends and family come together to appreciate each other and what each person means to the other. To have the opprotunity to spend it here and to teach another our holiday is an opprotunity I wouldn't miss.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Second Attempt

Today marks 12 days since my self inflicted exile. The week seems still, a distant past, but I've decided for a second attempt.

Now why in all that is good would you want to plunge into another week of hell? It's such a good question. So good, infact, that my answer seems to be not enough. My experiment left me in shambles by friday and I really did feel just like quiting. But you know the age old saying: What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger. And that's just what that week did. I'm dwelling on that week more than I would like to, but it is important. As Kyle's dad said (AFS exchange student's dad) it's "...yet another of a long series of self-discoveries." (quote can be viewed under comments from previous post).

So what really made you want another week of hell? Well, my friends actually. I was sitting at lunch today and one of the girls said "Vi snakker dansk til hende." (We speak danish to her.). What was most interesting is that she is, of the three girls I hang out with most, one of the ones who tends to ignore me. I think she is the most uncomfortable with her english so it makes sense that she would want to speak danish. We made an agreement during thoes 15 minutes of eating - "Hvis jeg snakker dansk til jer, må I snakker meget langsom til dig." (If I speak danish to y'all, y'all must speak very lowly to me.)

Do you think your danish is improving? Honestly?, I can't tell. My best answer is that I know more than I did when I left and thank god for that. I'm continually saying that it's hard and frustrating and that is because it really is. When people talk to me they have to speak slowly and pronounce properly. Even then I have to be given a moment or two to register what they have said, saying it over again in my head so I can comprehend the meaning. Sometimes words are so close that I think they say something different or a word has another meaning so I'm confused. There are times when you use animal and times when you use expensive. It all depends on context because in truth they are the exact same word. Walking down the street I have to remind myself that it is an animal hospital not an expensive hospital even though I'm sure it actually is. The learning process of this crazy language is 1) reading 2)writing, and lastly 3) speaking.

Do you have any expectations for this up-and-coming impending day of doom? Well sure. My biggest goal is to handle the isolation better. The only way to fix it is to talk and then I will only talk in danish. I think I learned a lot from the previous week. It has made me stronger in some ways. I understand what it means when people say you have to fight for what you want - really fight for it. Now it's my time to apply that.

When is D-Day? 6. June 1944 at 06.30 hours. Oh, wait... 17. nov 2008 at 00.00 hours. (my attempt at some humor - laugh with me, not at me)

Wish me luck!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Kun Dansk --> Only Danish

For the past eight days I launched myself into the impending torture of kidding myself into thinking that for the next three weeks and possible month I was going to speak Danish and Danish only. Kun Dansk. Boy was I wrong. Day one was interesting, tiring and fun to say the least. The trill of pointing and making vigorous motions this way and that to try to convey my un-mutterable thoughts. I truly felt like a complete mute. The day past and new ones began. My frustration levels topped charts and exceeded limits. I couldn’t say what I wanted to say and by the time I had figured out how to say what I wanted to say I had completely forgot the conversation all together. My sentences were short and not so sweet. My thoughts raged in my head, just begging to be said.

Needless to say I broke down. Not being able to say anything and having not a single clue what people were saying to me was crushing - a blow to the gut. Humans were ment to be socialable creatures, even the most secluded ones. The depression sank in and never in my life have I ever wanted to just curl up in a cave and stare into nothingness for eternity. Sounds bad doesn’t it? 13½ hours of sleep later and I can’t believe that was my week. I can’t believe it even happened and that that was me; so distant and lost, fighting for nothing.

Being an exchange student in Denmark and probably any other cold-region country is extremely hard. The people are naturally colder towards foreigners and treat us like just any other person. Well that’s what we wanted, right?, just to be treated like every other person and not to be so different. It’s not quite the same though. It only means that you truly have to fight for what you want: fight to be heard, to be included, to seriously, no shit, take the initiative to do something. When all you want to do is hovel in your room with a box of Special K, you have to make yourself get up and do something, anything. No one wants to be the girl eating lunch along and quietly because her morals say don't intrupt the people talking around her especially when she probably won't even understand anyway.

I tend to think now that the only way to go is the busy way: life in the fast lane. This and that, here and there. It distracts the mind, keeps the body moving. And then somewhere along that fast lane we pass by the dark exits and meander our way towards the light. Each person’s dark exits and lights are different, but I the end we all make it to the understanding and happiness that is meant to be reached in this upside down and backwards world we shoved ourselves into.

The life of an exchange student is filled with thrills and spills. It’s not for the faint at heart or the wimpy bimbos on Third Street. No, we exchange students are made of this tough skin that lets us do the thing called survive in some of the most hostile seeming places on this earth.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Den Først November....

I dag er den først november. I dag, vil jeg snakker engelsk ikke mere. I day og til den 31. Juni, vil jeg snakker dansk. Det vil være meget hård, men det vil lære mig dansk. Jeg håber, vil jeg lære dansk hurtigt! Og, måske, vil I lærer også en lille dansk.