A Year (and a little bit)

Woah.  Hold on, guys.

I’ve had a lot of stuff going on in the past couple of months, and the “anniversary” of this little blog, and my adventures here in Scandinavia has completely slipped past me without warning!

Last night, as I was on my way home from Danish, I was just sitting there on the bus, and suddenly, my entire life just…hit me.  I’ve had several moments of this as I’ve passed through various life stages and changes.  When I was very little, I used to look at my sisters’ schoolbooks with awe, thinking that I couldn’t wait until I had a textbook three inches thick.  Then suddenly, it was ten years later, and I was flipping with purpose through my three-inch-thick literature textbook, scanning for quotes when I realized just how perfect my life was.

For me, at least, my life hardly ever seems “perfect.”  Day-to-day worries and stressors cloud my long-term vision, but every once in a while I have to take a step back and realize how completely ideal my current life is, and how wonderfully in line it is with how I imagined my life to be when I was 3 or 8 or 19.

I remembered back to three years ago (almost to the day!), when I was visiting Denmark for the first time.  Andreas and I were spending a weekend in Copenhagen, staying with his sister and her then-boyfriend (now husband).  We took the train there, and she herded us onto the metro, then later onto a bus or two and I clutched my backpack and thought to myself, “Wow.  She actually lives here, and she knows everything.”

I flashed forward to the present, and here I was, catching subsequent buses, just walking down the street like someone who belongs in Copenhagen, doing my Copenhagen stuff, and just living.  Here I am, married to Andreas (which I know for a fact was the thing that I wanted most back then during that first visit to Denmark because that’s when I started wishing it on all of my lost eyelashes), living together, seeing each other every single day.  Here I am, living in Denmark, with a real visa, speaking Danish, and getting mail from the hospital, for goodness’ sake!

I know I’ve been being a bit of a negative nancy recently, but it really helped me yesterday to realize that my life is, indeed, headed exactly in the direction I’ve wanted and imagined it to be.

Nothing like a little life-assessment on the bus ride home.


Language Woes

So, I never thought that I would even think this, but it ran through my head during Danish class the other day.  “Maybe it would’ve been better if I just hadn’t learned a word of Danish yet.”

Now, I know I’ve been posting about my language class a lot, but bear with me a little longer!  There’ll be some variety on the horizon, I promise.  But for now, you’ll hear a bit more about my Danish courses.

Because I’ve learned so much Danish already, I got to start at a higher level in my Danish classes.  The problem is that I’ve learned Danish pretty much like a child would learn it.  So, while I can speak fairly well and with little accent, I’ve never bothered to learn what the imperative verb form is or what the specific plural form of various nouns look like.

I was really looking forward to being “back in school” and learning things in a classroom setting.  I’ve always been good at and liked school.  But not only is the class a bit too easy and slow for me, it’s just really frustrating.  I’m behind on all this technical grammar stuff, and way ahead on vocabulary, listening and speaking skills, and reading.  Now that I’ve experienced learning a language the “natural” way, I can’t fathom how people can actually learn it in a classroom.  I speak Danish inexplicably better than I ever spoke Spanish, which I studied for seven years. I don’t know how I had so much patience for it when I was in school.

Now, the classes I’m in are leading up to the Danish Test 3 which is the “big test” for Danish.  Passing it basically means you officially speak Danish, and I’m definitely looking forward to the day I pass so that I have some sort of official papers stating that I can, indeed, speak Danish.  The test is only offered twice a year, in May and in November.  I talked with my teacher after class the other day and she said I might be on track to take it in May (although it’s a bit early according to how many weeks of classes I’m supposed to have left before I’m “ready”).  The problem is that I’m going to the US in May.  We would go earlier, but Andreas doesn’t get any vacation time until May, and we can’t go later for various reasons.  And the test is on my birthday.  Great.

I was really looking forward to Danish classes also just as a way to connect with other people, and have some sort of social contact.  It is that for me, and I’ve really enjoyed talking with the people in my class during the break, before and after class, and even during our little Danish “conversation” times, but I don’t even know if that’s worth it.  The class is two nights a week, and since Andreas and I have been so busy, and are hosting an unusual amount of visitors, those two evenings a week that I lose with him are actually a lot of our time together.

It’s only my fourth class this evening, and I’m already not looking forward to going.

At least I’m not nervous…

Danish Class: First Impressions

Yesterday evening, I attended my first Danish class.  After I wrote my post yesterday, I spent most of the day waiting for the nerves to kick in.  Oddly enough, they never did.  I caught my buses, and got there early.  The only time I felt anxious was the five or ten minutes before our classroom opened up, when I was standing around in the hallway, unsure of what the pre-class protocol is.

Now, when I was really little, I was obsessed with playing school.  We had an assortment of textbooks in our house, ranging from a health book written in 1952 to a couple of algebra books.  I remember pretending I had mountains of homework before I even started kindergarten: practicing copying the letters out of my thick Winnie-the-Pooh book (because any book over an inch thick was also considered a textbook).  When I started first grade, I was excited.  I was finally out of kindergarten.  I’d be getting a desk to put my school supplies in, instead of sitting at a table, and I figured I would be getting homework.  And I did.  The first time I got homework, I couldn’t wait to get started on it.  I had my after-school snack and then sat down at the table with my older siblings and a sharpened pencil.  The homework took me less than five minutes to finish.  I felt let-down.  My sisters were just getting started on their reading, writing, math, etc. and I was already done.  I felt jipped.

I felt the same way yesterday on my way home.  I’m really excited to be in Danish class, but I was a bit disappointed at how easy the class is.  I was nervous about being behind, but I didn’t even think about the fact that the class might be too easy.  I really like my teacher, and the practice in speaking is really great, but it’s not any more helpful than speaking with Andreas and his family is.  I’m hoping maybe it will get more challenging as the class progresses, but in the meantime, it takes a lot to not be bored.

I also had forgotten how it felt to be in a class that was a little too easy for me.  I feel like I’m suffering from Hermione Granger syndrome.  I try to choose carefully which questions I answer, and I always wait around for other people to chime in first, but I already felt like I was a know-it-all (although I don’t think I come off that way.)

Nevertheless, it’s nice to get out of the house and meet a few people, and maybe after this module, it’ll get a little more advanced.

Danish Classes!

So today is a big day for me!  I’m starting Danish classes tonight!

I wanted to get into a daytime class, but the one at my level was full, so I have to leave soon after Andreas gets home from work, and don’t come back until after 10.  After I get used to it, it probably won’t be a big deal, but especially today, I wish I could just “get it over with.”  Fortunately my anxiety is surprisingly less than I expected, so I’m hoping it holds out through the day, and I’ll try to start my next knitting project to distract myself further.

I, of course, have the standard anxieties about being in the wrong level, not knowing as much as the other students, and sounding ridiculous when I speak Danish, but luckily, I’ve had lots of practice with that last one!  I also expected to feel really anxious about meeting new people, and the prospect of probably having to work and speak in groups (my least favorite thing about any type of class ever) but I am surprisingly calm.  Maybe because I’ve been feeling sick, and I’m more anxious about feeling like I’m going to throw up in the middle of class than I am about talking to people, but also possibly because I’m really ready.  I got used to having a certain amount of social contact in Sweden.  We knew our neighbors and would say hello and chat when we ran into them.  I had my weekly knitting group to go to (which I miss desperately) and I would occasionally see these people around town.  There’s something really comforting about running into people you know “around town.”   Something that makes you feel like you belong.

Since moving to Copenhagen, I’ve met just about no one.  Lately, it’s started to take a toll on me, and I’ve been feeling really lonely.  Usually, I treasure alone time (and I still do) but I think I may have “filled my tank” and maybe I’m actually ready to meet and speak to people who aren’t Andreas or…..Andreas.

Wish me luck!