Copenhagen Apartment Search Part 1 (of God-knows-how-many)

When I first got news of my residence card in Denmark, we knew we’d need an apartment as quickly as possible.  We signed up immediately with Herlev Kommune, who can help with placing you if you want to switch apartments in or move to Herlev.  They don’t have a waiting list, but rather take customers according to need.  They took our application but we can’t be sure we’ll get anything soon, or even at all, considering after a few follow-up phone calls, we found out that they currently have more than 800 accepted applications.

After waiting a tentative few weeks to see if we would get a gold-mine of a letter from Herlev, we knew it was time to move on and start our own active search.  To be fair, I thought we should right away, but tried to be patient since Andreas wanted to wait.  Now, however, we’re both on board, and I’ve been browsing the Danish equivalent of Craigslist (although more official, as far as I can tell).  I sent out a few emails throughout the week, and we saw two apartments today, one which we decided not to pursue, and the other which we wanted, but didn’t get.

I know that apartment-hunting takes patience, and I can’t expect to magically get the ones we want, but it feels sometimes that our choices are few and far between, and I can’t help but feel completely disappointed that we didn’t get the apartment we checked out today (it had a washing machine!).  It was also located in a really quiet neighborhood, close to the train station and lots of shopping options, but I’m trying not to think about it too much.  I know that more opportunities will present themselves, and that it just wasn’t…meant to be, I guess.

I’m not, however, looking forward to starting over with the search, refreshing the “apartments” page every quarter of an hour.  We’re looking more into paying a subscription for one of the apartment-search sites, and hope that gives us more options.

Let’s just hope Part 2 of the search ends with fewer tears and a smidge of success.

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“Vacation”

I’ve been gone for a bit, and with good reason!  Now that I’m allowed in Denmark, we made the trip to go visit Andreas’s family for his dad’s birthday!  Rebekka took advantage of knowing her trip back would be free and came out to visit for the week.  I can get a bit anxious having guests and being rousted from my daily routine, but it was perfect.  We went out shopping, did a bit of baking and even managed to work on the game we’re making together.  While shopping, we solidified that we have opposite tastes in everything from men to dishtowels to whether or not we liked our owl candle-holders with open or closed eyes, and still manage to never argue about it.  It was altogether a great week, and it was really lovely to have the company.

I’m glad I’m finally at the point where I’m so comfortable with his sister that I don’t have to worry about anxiety, and I can just relax and enjoy myself.  We’ve definitely spent the most time together out of anyone in his family, so I’m probably the most comfortable around her (and his mom because she’s pretty much me, thirty years later) but I know the rest of the family is close behind.  I know I say it often, but I sometimes can’t get over how lucky and happy I am to have such a wonderful in-law family.  Being so far away from my own is difficult, but it’s funny how literally “at home” I feel at his parents’ cozy house and it really makes the distance easier.

The weekend was fantastic.  Andreas set up his parents’ new internet package and reinstalled his dad’s computer, and I think I mostly sat around.  Another of my sisters-in-law is pregnant and at the point where it’s definitely noticeable, but the belly is still a manageable (and super cute!) size.  I’m super looking forward to January and meeting the new baby (and hoping (and hoping) that we’ll be living in Copenhagen by then).  I’m also looking forward to just living nearby while the baby grows up, and getting to know her and her husband better.  As much as I’m interested in pregnancy (and babies!), want to study it, and read blogs and articles about it, no one close to me has ever been pregnant.  I mean that in both the emotional and very literal sense, since my sister has been pregnant twice, but both times in Malaysia, so I wasn’t really “witness” to it.  Seeing such a round pregnant belly on someone I actually knew *before* they were pregnant gave me a jolt and made it seem so real as silly as that sounds.  Now, if you can believe it, I’m more impatient than ever, but I know that our chance is just around the corner, so I’m working hard not to become  manic with baby fever.  The good news was I finally got to give them the things I’d been working on!

They were well-received, but Andreas was sad to see the owl go, so I’m going to see if I can make a mini-owl out of the leftover yarn I have just for him.  I’ve told him he can’t have one until we have a baby on the way, but I don’t think he can be bought, unfortunately…

The weekend was just what we’ve been needing.  Even just going to his parents’ house was a wonderful break from reality.  Now, I’m well aware that our reality isn’t that bad, but I just feel so insecure these days, feeling like I don’t belong here in Malmö anymore, but not having a place in Denmark, and not knowing when we’ll find one.  It was good to forget the stress for a while, and just enjoy being with each other and the family.  I even had a few tears swimming in my eyes as we pulled away from his parents’ house, ever-so-reluctant to come back to Sweden and our Swedish problems.

No good apartment-related news in the mail today, but I guess there’s always tomorrow….

A Day in the Life (with photos!)

So, nothing is happening on the apartment-finding front, but I’m trying my best to be optimistic about it!  Being optimistic about it means that I’m assuming we’ll soon be leaving here (though to be completely honest there’s a nagging black demon tugging on my amygdala and whispering that it’ll probably be months before we get a place to live).  Anyway, seeing as I have a (hopefully) short time left here in Sweden, I wanted to remember what daily life is like.  When I’m crazed with school and babies, I want to be able to remember “ohhh that’s what having free time was like…I wonder why I was so angsty about it…” So, without further ado: my Wednesday.

Now, I didn’t have the idea for this “day in the life of” post until mid-morning, so I don’t have pictures for the first part.  Fortunately for you, the day started with me going on the rainiest, coldest run and I came back red-faced from exertion and windburn, literally dripping all over the entrance and all the way into the shower, so it’s really a blessing that I didn’t take pictures of that.  Afterwards, I cleaned up what was left from knitting night the day before, and since before/after pictures are one of my favorite things, I went a little crazy with them…

Sometimes these before-and-afters help a lot to ease the discouragement that is keeping house.  I feel often like I do the same things over and over.  Every week I wash clothes, towels, sheets, blankets, un-do the bed, re-do the bed, vacuum, meal-plan, grocery-shop…and then there are the things I do every day (or multiple times a day) make food, clean up after food, prep for next day’s food etc.  It can be irritating at least, disheartening at its worst.  However, there’s always a reward.  Today’s in the form of cheesecake and knitting:


I usually sit a bit and watch a few programs on TV while I knit and/or choose to wander around the internet.  Today I managed to finish up my most recent project, a little cotton cardigan for my newest niece!

It ended up a lot bigger than I anticipated.  She’s less than a month old now, but I was knitting it to fit her when she’s about a year.  Turns out, it’ll probably fit her older sister seeing as…

I was going to make her older sister a matching shrug, but I think this one might be more appropriate for her, and I’ll make a tinier one for the baby…we’ll see.

After having been so productive (*snort*) I played around online and went through all the backlogs of this:

while enjoying my lunch:

This is where I become slightly ashamed of exactly how easy my life can be.  After lunch, I debated for a while whether to take a nap…or read my book.  Take a nap…….orrrrr….

Turns out I needn’t have worried my lady-of-leisure head over such a question because I ended up falling asleep while reading my book.  Gettin’ everything done.

Luckily, I had enough time after waking up to

before I went to go pick up Andreas!

When we got home, I made dinner, and promptly forgot about taking pictures of my day, so there are only two left!  One of dinner in-progress:

We spent a lot of the rest of the evening on IKEA.dk and IKEA.se comparing prices in Sweden and Denmark, and getting really, really excited for the big move.

Before bed, I read Harry Potter out loud (in Danish) to Andreas as usual.  We were almost done with the second book at 10:15 (Andreas’s bedtime is 10 PM) but decided that we couldn’t sleep without finishing it, and stayed up late reading about Harry’s adventure in the Chamber of Secrets.  We’re now one hundred pages into the third book, and I’m hoping that by the time we finish it, we’ll have found an apartment!  Pleasepleaseplease!

In other news, my sister-in-law Rebekka is coming for an impromtu visit this whole week, and then on Friday we’re going to my in-laws house to celebrate my father-in-law’s birthday!  I’mlooking forward to the time spent with family.  I miss Andreas’s family more and more when I’m away from them.  Today I talked to Rebekka for an hour over Skype (all in Danish!) and then later called his mom to ask her if I could borrow some of her knitting needles.  I know it doesn’t sound like much, but with my anxiety (especially over the phone, especially in Danish) it was a huge step for me to call her by myself, speak in Danish the whole time, and I was not nervous at all!

Progress!  Woohoo!

Now for a short aside:  Once when my sisters were cleaning their room, every time they got something accomplished, they would say “progress!  whoohoo!”  Now, every time I think of the progress I’m making, their voices ring in my head.

And So It (sorta) Begins

So it’s been neary a week since we received our wonderful news!  Our fabuous news!  The news I have been dreaming about getting for literally years.  I’m allowed in Denmark.

Throughout the day, after we got the news, we’d find ourselves just looking at each other and saying “we got it!”  I was finally going to start my real life in Denmark!  I could get a job, go to school, have a bank account!  It was glorious!  But it was also…the same.  The Tuesday after we’d gone to the immigration office was the same as the Tuesday before we’d gone. I watched Seventh Heaven at 11:20, and made tortellini soup.  Everything we’d dreamed about could finally come to fruition, but quite honestly, life is going on as before until we find an apartment.

And just let me tell you that finding an apartment in Copenhagen is no joke.  I’ve been scrolling through listings on various sites, only to have Andreas come home from work and tell me that the site I am looking at was widely discredited and had lots of fake postings to fill the void between the far-too-few genuine ones.

We sent an application in last week to the municipality in which Andreas works, hoping that they’ll be able to find us something (they often help people relocate if they work there, etc.) but I don’t really fully understand what it actually is (if it’s a private thing, or a government thing, etc.)  The thing is, I’m a bit lost.  I don’t really know how things are done over here.  Nothing’s going to change or move forward until we have the apartment (I don’t actually get the actual permit until I move there, right now I have a paper that says I will get a permit), and I’m not so sure it’s going to be all that soon.

Regardless, it’s nice to know that in the near future we’ll be moving, but we both admitted last week to a feeling of let-down as daily life continued even after our tremendous news.

So that’s sort of still where I am.  The change coming up is big and not just a little scary, so I’m nervous but also tremendously excited.  Or rather, I will be when we find a place to live.  Any tips or leads are welcome.

Meanwhile, I’m hosting what will probably be the last knitting group I host here, so the next few days are baking-days.  I can’t say much about the days following that one, though I do hope that I will soon be occupied with coming up with creative ways to use the food in our pantry instead of buying any more, locating the packaging tape in the store, and figuring out the cheapest way to move our junk from here to Denmark.

100th Post!

I’ve been in a bit of a blogging lull recently.  To tell the silly truth, it’s because I was coming up on my 100th post, and wanted to do something special for it, and couldn’t decide what to do!  But I’ve learned that if you procrastinate long enough, your 100th blog post will basically write itself!

In my last post, I wrote about a letter we’d gotten from the Danish immigration office asking me to come to the service center with my passport (something you’re supposed to do when you hand in your application, but we mailed ours).  Since I didn’t have a Swedish permit yet (it’s still under consideration, six months later), I didn’t think I should go over the border.  We made several calls and no one really seemed to know what we should do, however, Andreas’s helpful forum came to our rescue again, and we were advised to just go, so we planned to go on Monday (yesterday).

The weekend was fantastic.  I had just recovered from being sick, we got to babysit a one-year-old on Saturday morning (best morning!) and we went out for leisurely shoe and grocery shopping on Sunday, and then remembered that we have a ping-pong table in the basement, and played for hours!   We kept our minds off of the following day, trying not to hope, fearing for the worst, and preparing for the mediocre.

Sunday night I got one of the worst nights of sleep.  I woke up what seemed like every few minutes, and when I woke up at 4:48 am I was just relieved that it was close enough to the time my alarm was supposed to go off that I could finally just get up.  I had enough time to get dressed, and even put on some makeup (which I mostly only do when I’m nervous or excited).  I made sure to pee before I left (which is priority #1, if you know me) and we left on time!  We took the train which was kind of fun for me still (although I’m sure I’ll get over it soon enough), and when we got to our stop, we had to walk about twenty minutes to get to the service center, so we arrived at about 7 am.

Here’s where the trouble started.   Andreas swore that it opened at 8, and that they let people in to wait half an hour early (at 7:30), but it turns out it doesn’t open until 8:30 and we can’t get in until 8.  Now it wasn’t freezing out, and I wouldn’t have minded if I didn’t suddenly have to pee.  That glass of orange juice I had chugged before I left suddenly sounded like a terrible idea.  Over the next hour, I progressed from being uncomfortable, to having to pee so badly that I had to sit on the steps and breathe through the pain.  However, I am proud to say that I made it through to 8:00 and left Andreas to take a number while I ran (literally) to the nearest bathroom.

Now, that was probably too much information, but the point is that after I finally (finally) got to pee, I felt so good, that I was prepared for anything.  If they scolded me for coming to Denmark without a visa, so be it.  At least I wasn’t bursting with orange juice.  We got number 11, so we didn’t have to wait long, which was fortunate as Andreas and I discovered that we have very different ways of expressing nervousness.  He likes to talk.  I like to not talk.

When our number was called, I showed the woman my letter and my passport and she rifled through some papers behind her, pulled out a packet, and gave it to me.  For a moment I thought I’d forgotten how to read, but soon a cautious smile spread across my face.  “Udlændingstyrelsen giver dig opholdskort efter EU-reglerne”  It was a yes.

So I got my biometrics taken, and we left, Andreas taking the bus to work, and me hopping a train back to Sweden (and losing my phone on the way…)

I don’t remember the last time I felt this giddy, this comfortable, this excited, and nervous in the best sort of way.  As soon as we can find an apartment in Copenhagen (not particularly easy) we’ll move, and I will get my card, start my integration process, improve my Danish, apply for jobs…start a REAL LIFE.

As excited as I am I’m also nervous of course, as is expected with any life change, but it’s finally in a good way, and I’m so excited.  I’m also enjoying these last leisurely weeks before we have to deal with paperwork and the business of moving, buying furniture, kitchen stuff, etc. of which we have basically nothing.  I can enjoy my time here now that an end is in sight, and I’m treasuring the friendships I managed to make in my six months of living here.  I’m looking forward to the next chapter, and hoping I’ll be able to find new friends (ones I can keep!) and stay in touch with the old.

Copenhagen, here I come!  Now I really will be an American Hermit Crab in Denmark!

So in the end, I’m glad I held off on my 100th post…worth it.