2012…whew!

2012 has been a big year for us for more reasons than I can say here.

A year ago, I was “celebrating” the new year alone in an almost-empty apartment in Waukegan, IL.  This year, I’m cozying up to my husband, in our first real place together, and waiting for the news that my newest niece has been born!  I probably won’t look back on 2012 with any great nostalgia for the most part.  It’s been a really rough year for me (which seems weird to say when I also pair it with the fact that I didn’t work a single day and pretty much all of my dreams came true by the end of it).  There’s a lot of stuff I had to get through and get over the past 12 months, but I think the biggest challenge was living in so many places.  So today, a recap of all the places I lived in 2012:

????????????????????????????Waukegan, IL.  I lived in Waukegan with Andreas after we were married, but he moved back to Denmark after three months, and I lived here by myself until just after the new year.  While living in Waukegan, I worked as a nanny for two different families (both with a baby boy) and often find myself reminiscing and missing them, but as far as the apartment itself goes, there are very few happy memories there.  It was in a rough part of town, smelled like cigarette smoke, and had a sticky carpet.  I was only too glad to move out.

Then I moved to:

Parents' houseA cookie house!  Just kidding…This was the cookie house I made last Christmas (my little sister made one, too!) when I moved in briefly with my parents.  That cup on the left side of the picture with the fruit on it gives me a pang of homesickness every time I see it.  All of the kids in the family got a cup (the girls with fruit and the boys with sailboats) when I was pretty little (maybe five).  We wrote our initials on the bottom with Sharpie and used them for the next…18 years or so (and counting!).  Anyway, the stay with my parents was pretty brief, and mostly consisted of me trying to pack and clean and get everything ready for my departure, but I count it because for that period of time, it was the only place I called home.

After a terrifying flight to Denmark, I lived:

????????????????????????????in Andreas’s student apartment!  (the bed on the floor is mine).  We only stayed here for a number of weeks as well, then packed, cleaned, and moved all of our things to:

Andreas's parentsAndreas’s parents’ house!  Where we played so, so many games of Settlers of Catan that we had to make up new ways to play (including, but not limited to: throwing our starting settlements onto the board while closing our eyes.)  We also did a lot of baking, and Andreas graduated with top grades!  Then we made our way to:

Sweden 1Sweden (’70’s edition)  I actually really loved this apartment.  It was really nicely decorated, super retro, and the place where Andreas and I finally got to live alone together again!  It was also the setting of our first Fast together, the place we lived when Andreas got the job we’ve been so thankful for ever since, where we dog-sat, and where I watched what seems like a million episodes of Project Runway with Swedish subtitles (and decided to finally bake lots of those things that I always thought I was too busy to bake!).  This place only lasted for two months before we moved to:

Sweden 2

 

the apartment next door!  This apartment was actually nicer (fewer things to dust, better-functioning kitchen, etc.) but by this time, I think the restlessness and depression was really starting to hit me.  I hadn’t been working in almost six months by the time we moved here, and now that Andreas was working full-time, it was tough to motivate myself to get out of the house, even on the summery days when the temperatures reached above a stunning sixty five degrees fahrenheit!  However, this was the place I started my running program, drank a lot of lemonade, and lounged on a sunchair on the balcony, so it wasn’t all bad.  But this apartment was only ours for three and a half months after which we moved in to:

bedroom afterAndreas’s sister’s apartment!  We were very grateful that we could move in here, and I was really glad to get to know my sister-in-law and my nephew a bit better, but the truth is that by this time, I was already weary of never having our own place, never knowing where we’d live next, and feeling out of place.  But this was the place we lived when I started attacking the library with zeal, knitting a lot again, and got the joyful news of my Danish residency permit!!! (After which we moved to….)

Denmark

DENMARK.  Boy was I glad to move here.  We’re still getting the apartment together, still missing some key things (like a television) but for the most part, it’s well on its way!  I’m grateful for everything I’ve learned the past year, and all the patience I’ve practiced (and practiced).  But I’m not sorry it’s over.  I’m looking forward to 2013 with so much hope and excitement, and even though I know I have more patience to practice (before I make friends, settle in, get a job, and really feel at home here), I know that I’ve got what it takes, and it will all come with time.

Happy New Year!!

 

 

 

 

 

Gingerbread House!

Kind of a lot has been happening around here recently!  We went to visit Andreas’s family for Christmas, saw the Hobbit (twice), and did another big IKEA trip which has resulted in our apartment already being much cozier (even though we haven’t put everything together yet).

But for now, I’ll focus on the gingerbread house!  Guys, it was amazing.  Andreas was pretty sick over the majority of our visit to his parents, so his sister and I did most of the work for the houses.  I forgot how much I miss doing math when I used the pythagorean theorem to figure out how tall to make my house-peaks.  His sister and I made a small house each which was really fun, but I unfortunately didn’t get nice pictures of hers as it wasn’t finished in the morning when I did mine in the sunlight.  She was much more extensive with the landscape, making a pool, a doghouse, and what I think might’ve been a birdbath.  But anyway, with no further ado, mine and Andreas’s Gingerbread House!

The front garden (notice the wreath above the door, and Andreas's professional decorating skills on the roof)

The front garden (notice the wreath above the door, and Andreas’s professional decorating skills on the roof)

The mailbox with a package in it!

The mailbox with a package in it!

Our snowman (with his broom) and the snow-covered tree

Our snowman (with his broom) and the snow-covered tree

I think we were getting a little tired by the time we got to the back.

I think we were getting a little tired by the time we got to the back.

Andreas's handiwork again.  I was skeptical when it was just the big candies, but when he added the M&Ms, it all came alive!

Andreas’s handiwork again. I was skeptical when it was just the big candies, but when he added the M&Ms, it all came alive!

GH side 2

This was my side to decorate. I don’t know if I’ve ever done a gingerbread house without a log pile (usually in the states I use Tootsie Rolls, but these turned out even better!)

Andreas and I worked surprisingly well together to decorate our house.  He made sure the foundation was sturdy (which is where my main gingerbread house problems all begin) and it turns out we both really like to add tiny details to our sweet little house.  Andreas has already proclaimed that it’s a Christmas activity we’ll definitely be doing in the future with the kids, and it sure helped make Christmas a little more Christmassy!

 

 

 

 

Oh, hey there.

So I’ve been neglecting a little bit here.  It’s probably mostly because I’m lazy, and that every time I am sitting down at my computer all comfy, and think “hey! I could write that blog I’ve been wanting to write now!” my camera with the pictures I want to share is not within an arm’s reach.

It’s getting dark super early these days, and getting light late.  I’m going through a bit of a slow patch after all the excitement of moving and Thanksgiving and before all the excitement of Christmas with the in-laws, starting Danish classes, and my planned trip to Sweden with a friend from college.  Right now, the days are short (made shorter by the fact that I can’t seem to heave my butt out of bed before 10 am most days) and Andreas is working late to make a little extra cash, and I’ve been feeling significantly “meh.”  But it’s nothing that won’t change in a week or so, and I really don’t mind the slow pace of life right now.

Oh!  And those Danish classes I was speaking of are now all lined up!  I got an offer yesterday to choose a classtime, chose it, and was registered right away, so I officially start January 7th.  I’m starting in the fourth module (out of five) which is pretty high.  I’m excited and nervous at the same time.  I’m glad that I get to skip 36 weeks of classes (hey! Learning Danish on my own did pay off!) but also nervous that they’ve put me at way too high of a level.  I’ve never been the worst in my class at anything, and I’m afraid that’s where this is headed, but I’ll keep everyone updated.  I’m also disappointed because the only classes they had available were night classes which means I’ll still be alone at home all day, and have to go to class when Andreas gets home from work, and that I only have two, two-and-a-half-hour classes per week instead of the four, three-hour classes I would have if I was in daytime.  Hopefully after I finish this module I can move to a day class (or  better yet, have a job that means I can’t move to the day class!)  Overall, I’m just glad that things are getting started, and I’m anxious to really learn Danish (as opposed to soaking it up, I guess).

I recently made my favorite Christmassy cookies, Chocolate Crinkles, but seeing as the camera is far away, that post will have to wait.  Surprisingly, I still have almost half of them left. What’s happening to me?!

I hope everyone is having as relaxing a pre-Holiday season as I am (although hopefully a little less lonely and bored) and has exciting things to forward to!

Christmas!

Christmas is around the corner, guys, and I’m excited.  I honestly don’t think I’ve been this excited for Christmas since I had the Christmas Concert to look forward to in elementary school.  This probably has something to do with the way that the Danes approach Christmas.

Now, we don’t have a TV (haha, I like saying that in a hoity-toity voice in my head, but really, we don’t have a TV because we didn’t buy one yet.) so I haven’t seen any of the Christmas commercials, and we haven’t really been to any mall or shopping area, so I haven’t really noticed that aspect of Christmas (the buying lots of things aspect).  But as far as I’ve noticed during previous Christmases in Denmark, it’s not all-consuming like it can be in the states.  They don’t have crazy ridiculous sales (which is a slight bummer for a couple trying to furnish and decorate their apartment at Copenhagen prices), or anything akin to Black Friday.

There’s also not a big religious debate about neutralizing Christmas and calling it The Holidays or calling it Christmas and leaving out a bunch of other traditions.  Basically, Christmas here is a time for the famous Danish “hygge.”  A time to put candles in the windows, decorate with white, sparkly, and red things, and huddle up with warm drinks and people you love as you watch the sun set at 2 pm.  I like that.  I have always been drawn towards Christmas, but felt like I couldn’t really celebrate because we weren’t even Christian.  Here, it doesn’t matter.  Most people don’t follow a religion, but Christmas is still a big deal.  It’s very much a cultural holiday now, and one I am definitely willing to participate in.  Once I get me some candlesticks and red yarn…

One for the Blog

Today, I did something.

I took the level placement test for my Danish classes!  I don’t think I’ll start until early January (if they even have room for me then) but I’m on the road!  I’m applied and everything!  Unfortunately, I can’t tell you how I did because the tester didn’t, and I was too scared to ask.  Scared that either 1) they wouldn’t tell me or 2) they would, and I would be disappointed.  So I guess it’ll just have to be a surprise when I get called in to start classes!  She said I was pretty good, so I’m not particularly worried about starting at the bottom, so I’m okay with the “surprise factor” for now.  I’ll just try not to think about it too much and get my curiosity a-stirring.

But that’s not really the part I wanted to talk about.

i was really nervous about this.  Like, really super belly-dropping nervous.  Of course I was nervous to be “evaluated” and to have to talk to a stranger in Danish (while being nervous) but mostly I was nervous about the journey there.  I’m a big fan of public transport, don’t get me wrong, but I’m still not comfortable using it here in Copenhagen.  I decided on a route last night that would take me onto two busses I’ve ridden before, and I figured that was that.  I would be golden!

Well, I got on the first bus just fine, using my handy-dandy blue-spot travel card.  You can use this all over Denmark and just have to check in and out on the blue spots when you start and end a trip.  Anyway, the first bus and the bus transfer went surprisingly well.  I was able to find where the other bus stopped and it came and I got on it and everything!  But things went downhill from there.  Apparently there has been some sort of adjustment to the route and it went to a certain station and just…..turned around.  And started going back.  And I started panicking!  I asked the bus driver if he didn’t stop at the stop that I needed, and he just said “No, I turned around.” So I got off at the next possible stop (a good three quarters of a mile from where I had to be in 9 minutes!).  So, I hesitated for a second realizing that I could have just stayed on the bus, and gone home and done it again tomorrow OR I could make a run for it.

Good thing I started running this summer because otherwise I don’t think I would’ve made it!  As it was, I made it with 2 minutes to spare and was shown into the room with four or five other women, completely breathless and red in the face.  Whoohoo!

Officially

People tend to use the word “officially” in the same way they use the word “literally”… mostly incorrectly.  Now, I’m not complaining, I do the same thing all the time.  It snowed: winter is officially here!  Christmas music on the radio?  Winter is officially here!  I literally cannot wait for Christmas!

Today I officially started my language class process!  Granted, I only made an inquiry, and got information on when I could come in for a test, but to me, it’s starting because it’s farther than I’ve gotten before!  I suppose it’ll really get started once I actually take the test, but let’s just say I’m on the path to appease me.  It actually took a while to muster up the courage to make the phone call, even after I decided not to do it in Danish.  Honestly, I probably could have without any problems, but as far as speaking Danish for official business over the phone…I’m not quite there yet.  Tomorrow (or the day after) I’ll see where I officially am after I take my placement test!  I wouldn’t be particularly nervous about it except that it’s not just a written test.  It’s a short bit of writing (which I’m not particularly good at yet, especially in the spelling department) and then a conversation with someone who evaluates you.  As far as having conversations in Danish, I do pretty well!  But when it comes to having a conversation with a stranger, for the purpose of being evaluated, I’m probably going to be awful, so I’m not hoping for a particularly high placement.  The higher the placement the better, in my eyes, since I’ll be able to get through the course more quickly, and who doesn’t want that?

The course has 5 “modules” the first four of which take 6 weeks each and the fifth which takes 18-24 weeks.  Then I can take the official test and speak Danish.  Officially.  However, there’s also a sixth module which you take if you’re looking to go into higher education in Denmark.  Which I probably am, so I’m probably going to have to take that one as well.  This is good and bad news.  Good news because it means I’ll be ready for school when I finally get to go, and bad because I’m pretty sure it means putting my midwifery dreams on hold for a while, while I spruce up my language skills.  So, here’s hoping that I get into a pretty high level, so I don’t have to wait too long to start helping bring babies into the world!