09 January, 2015

Driving with Old Men and a Sluggish New Year

Viking Man tows Monkey through the Christmas snow
Yesterday I gave two old men a ride. It was uncomfortably silent except for brief directions given by one man and repeated by the other. The route was random and meandering. I felt tense and overly warm. When we reached our final destination, I turned off the car and sat quietly. The man in the front seat looked at me.

'Margie, du får et kørekort,' he said. I didn't need to wait for the translator in order to understand that I had just passed my driving test! 

It's a good way to start the new year which has otherwise been chugging along in a pathetic effort to take off. I guess the Monkey didn't get the memo about making resolutions to sleep through the night or to get herself dressed and make her own breakfast. 

What point of Danish culture should I explore next, now that my driving adventure is over? 

22 December, 2014

Bad Choices and Juleafslutning

Strange weather these days
On Friday morning, not only did I decide not to wear my ski pants, I decided not to pack the ski pants. 

Whatever was I thinking. 

I was thinking that just once I wanted to show up at school without looking like I was dressed for an Arctic expedition. I was thinking that since it was our Christmas party (juleafslutning), I could try to look a little bit nice. I could avoid hat hair by not wearing my hat. I could carry my leather purse instead of my ancient Jansport. I could wear a little mascara. 

These were all bad choices

'Bedraggled raccoon in wet jeans' will probably call up an accurate mental picture of how I looked sitting in the Sprogcentret Christmas service in Holstebro Church. Sogginess aside, it was a lovely service. Sprogcentret students nearly filled the church--there must have been several hundred of us.

Back at the school, I stood against the radiator. We played a gift exchange game and ate pebernødder and brunkager and drank coffee. I dried out and warmed up. Then we carpooled over to the music school for a short orchestra concert by the young people. 

I caught a rain and hail free window in which to ride home.

29 November, 2014

I Can't Escape Black Friday, and the Gloom Settles In

My winter coziness
A week or so ago I went out to Bilka to do some shopping and was horrified to see large posters advertising Black Friday sales. Black Friday. In Denmark. It wasn't just contained to Bilka either. It was everywhere. It has actually become an event here. The black cloud of American retail greed and consumer excess has invaded the peaceful gloom of Scandinavian winter. They could at least have the decency to import Thanksgiving Thursday as well, don't you think?

Speaking of gloom, the sun is currently rising after 8am and setting before 4pm. If it's cloudy, the daylight hours are even shorter. The Danish way of coping is to light lots of candles and create coziness in a variety of ways. I am attempting to do this by decorating for Christmas, playing Christmas music, and baking.

And so life chugs along. Happy Holidays to all.

26 October, 2014

Day of Tests and Police Stations

When I got to school last Monday, my teacher popped into the hallway to ask if I wanted to take the modultest at noon that day. I had planned to take it by the end of October, but I did not feel particularly prepared at that exact moment. After my heart rate returned to normal, I decided that I could probably stumble through it, and why not just get it over with?

It was actually a bit anti-climactic, the test. Out of five pre-prepared topics, I randomly selected to speak about just one. Next, I looked at a picture and asked questions about it for one minute. Both segments went well, so just like that, I moved to module two, no panic necessary.

After class, I had to go to the police station to apply for a re-entry permit for our upcoming trip to New York as I had not yet received my residence card. While I waited for my number to be called, I absently read the declaration of consent on the form I had filled out. The warm feelings from having just passed my modultest cooled slightly on reading that I had consented to 'letting the relevant authorities make enquiries about my entirely private affairs'. Private affairs, sure, but the entirely private ones? Anyway, my residence card came in the post yesterday, so now it's irrelevant.

Then after that, I went to another branch of the police to take my driving theory test. Out of seven students, four of us were taking it for the first time, one for the second, and two for the third. All of us were nervous. The test evaluator called us up one by one to take our forms and check our ID. I also had to give him my temporary driving permit.

'I have to keep this if you don't pass, you know,' he said pointedly. I nodded solemnly. 'But never mind, you'll pass.'

The knot in my stomach persisted through all twenty-five questions. Afterwards in the waiting area, we discussed some of the ambiguities of the test. The more I thought about it, the worse I felt. I needed twenty correct answers to pass.

The evaluator returned with our tests. He winked as he delivered mine, my little paper driving permit sticking out of the top. Yes! Those of us who passed exchanged oddly enthusiastic hugs of relief for people who hardly knew each other. We commiserated with those who had not passed. One sweet little woman had failed for the third time. 'I think I'm getting worse,' she said, looking crestfallen.

Next on my to-do list: pass the practical driving test, and get through module two.