College–what was it good for?

The title, though it sounds cynical, is actual genuine.  I’m coming to the close of my first year in the “real world” and I’ve been recently thinking a lot about how much of what I learned in college has really stuck with me for the year.

Let’s start with my “general education” classes that were supposed to give me a well-rounded backdrop for my degree. One requirement was that I had to take four science classes, which I thought was a bit much.  The biology class I took was basically what I’d already learned in high school.  However, I spent the hours in the enormous auditorium classroom doing dictionary.com’s crossword puzzle of the day so…I probably ended up increasing my brain power more in that class than I did in environmental science during which a classmate and I had a running list of all the Beatles’ songs we could remember.  However, the nutrition class I got into was definitely helpful in providing me with concrete facts to present to people who tell me that I’m going to die because I’m a vegetarian.  The rest of the gen-eds I took didn’t do much for me.  I took “humanities” one and two and never even learned what “humanities” are.  I did, however, learn how to pronounce the word “baroque” so…maybe it was worth it after all.

It’s fun to talk about all the things I didn’t learn in college, and everything that I’ve definitely left behind in those halls, but there are things that I’ve taken with me from Wisconsin to Illinois, to Denmark to Sweden.  I took a seminar class called “Culture of Food” my freshman year (which is also when I became a vegetarian).  It stuck with me through a couple years later, when they offered it as a higher-level class which I took instead of an upper-level Spanish class I needed for my minor (oh well), and after loving that one twice as much, I had the opportunity to be a TA for the freshman level class again.  Considering that most of the classes I took, I would have gladly never taken, voluntarily participating in the same class  three times is proof enough that it was one of the most amazing classes I took in college.  I was obviously interested in food enough to take the class in the first place, but afterwards, I think about food almost every moment of the day.  I think about the food industry, I think about food prices, varieties, food movements (organic, the slow food movement, vegetarian and vegan diets, etc.).  I think about all things food.  Everything I’ve learned in that class, I use on an almost daily basis.  This awakening of a passion in me alone might’ve made college “worth it” but there was something more.

It wasn’t until my senior year, when I was almost “over” college that we had a new professor join the English department.  I took an intermediate-level creative writing class, for my major, and when I walked into that classroom, the first thing our professor told us that it was going to be an all-poetry class, which was greeted by silent groans (yes, there is such a thing as a silent groan).  At this point, I was mostly done with my English major, and had been a bit discouraged about it.  I had taken an advanced writing class that was focused on short stories and you know what?  I am not very good at writing short stories.  It made me wonder if I really liked writing at all, if I should’ve majored in Biology (or crossword puzzles).  Having an all-poetry class made me realize that Ido like writing, I’m just no good at short stories for adults.  My professor made me realize that I have a love for words.  I may not have a love for characters or plots, but goodness gracious do I love words.  I love metaphors and the mouthfeel of poetry.  To me, poetry is somewhere between a song and delicious food.  I love being able to ponder over commas, shuffle lines and stanzas.  To me, it’s a bit like knitting, but with words and pages in lieu of yarn and needles.   After the intermediate class, I took advanced poetry workshop, where a group of about 12 of us met with our professor for three hours every Thursday.  We ended up writing a chapbook, which is just a small collection of correlating poetry, and I feel more proud of this than my bachelor’s degree.  This little collection was worth all of the classes I sat through because I had to sit through them.  It was worth any professor that made my blood boil. It was worth any wasted hours, or projects I deemed pointless.

I think some of the most important things I learned in college, I didn’t learn during my classes (and no, I didn’t learn them during crazy parties either).  I learned how good it could feel to not procrastinate.  Balancing two jobs and school helped me learn what I wanted to do most in my limited free time.  I learned to put the things I care the most about first, and take some failures in stride.  I learned what my passions are, and how wonderful it feels to pursue them.

The four years I spent on my bachelor’s degree were definitely “worth it” for me personally.  I experienced so much growth, but I’m still not convinced that my actual degree is an appropriate reward for the work I put into it.  It’s a very good thing I got so much else out of my college experience, otherwise I feel like I would be one disappointed alumnus.

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Escaping America

In my early-morning wandering of the internet, I stumbled upon this semi-facetious article concerning how little support our president has from some Americans.  He ends the article urging idiots to flee the country.  The article was harsher than I’ll ever be, but it got me thinking a bit.

Now, the actual reason that I left the states was because I fell in love with a Dane, married him, and actually want to live with him, but the fact remains that we could have lived in the states.  Once we were married, we could’ve applied for a greencard, most likely gotten one, and gotten Andreas a fine job in America.  We could’ve lived there happily, had our family, and gotten old and wrinkly.  People often ask me why we’re not living in the states.  Why we chose to live in Denmark (especially since the road to eventually living there has been rocky).

The most basic answer to this is: our babies.  While we live here, it doesn’t matter if Andreas is laid off.  It wouldn’t matter if he was disabled, or I was disabled, or if we both had very menial jobs for our entire lives.  Our children would have healthcare.  They would be able to go to the dentist every year.  They’d be able to get a good education without heaping debt on their heads.  Andreas does have a good job, and chances are, we could have taken care of everything our family would need, and then some. But I still feel better living in a place where everyone else is also taken care of.  Where Andreas will pay higher taxes, if he gets a higher-paying job.

I feel like we could trust ourselves to “give back,” and make sure we never got too rich, and always helped those less fortunate.  But sometimes, it’s hard to know exactly how to do that, and honestly, I don’t trust everyone to do the same (How could I, when the gap between the rich and the poor is so wide and sparsely populated?).

One big reason, besides security, that I moved to Europe is because I agree here.  Things make more sense here.  We should take care of one another, and give everyone an equal chance.  Isn’t it a bit funny that here, in the most “atheistic” country is where I see some of the most “Christian” values?

The US could be a great country.  It is, in many ways.  But the need for change is enormous.  The best thing about the states is that it is allowed to push for change.  It’s not easy, by any means, but it’s allowed.  It’s sad that in a country that could be so progressive, people who want security, fairness, and equality feel the need to “escape.”

Another sad part?  That I was always too lazy, and too chicken, to ever invoke any of the change I always wanted in my community.  But maybe I could have if I didn’t have to work a couple of jobs while going to school full-time just so that I could have things to eat.  (Just kidding, I’ll always be a chicken).

Rants and Ravings on Valentine’s Day

During my daily over-browsing of Facebook, I’ve noticed today that I’ve read more negative posts concerning Valentine’s Day than positive ones.  Now, given the big hoopla that everyone makes over Valentine’s Day (both those celebrating it, and those vehemently NOT celebrating it) I guess I should have expected this, but I really didn’t.

Valentine’s Day has never been a big deal for me, except in elementary school where I got to decorate a Kleenex box and everyone attached candy to their Valentines.  The best part was when we all got to mill around and deliver them (my love of sorting has not dimmed since then).

Anyway, I was thinking (surprising, right?) and I don’t see why Valentine’s Day is a big deal.  Originally it’s some celebration of a saint who got eaten by a lion or something, and over the years it’s been commercialized and made into a day where we’re supposed to buy things for the one we love.  But that does not change the fact that it IS a holiday (it’s on the calendar after all).  The thing I’m going to say next would probably spark a lot of controversy if anyone really read this blog, but as it’s mostly just my sisters (hi sisters!) I’m not too worried about it.  So here it is: I don’t think Valentine’s Day has been all that much more commercialized and over-celebrated than Christmas! So there!  Christmas is a celebration that Jesus was born (and it’s not even celebrated in the right season!).  So why do we feel compelled to buy gifts, eat lots of food, and have parties?  Because that’s what you do on a holiday.  So why shouldn’t we do it on Valentine’s Day, too?  Personally, I feel like Valentine’s day was created to nudge us all out of our depressed mid-winter rut, and I appreciate it as just that.  Anyone who hates Valentine’s day for its over-commercialization should also be required to hate Christmas for the same reason and not do anything except sit with his family and think about Jesus as a baby (hmm, that doesn’t sound so bad.  I’ll bet Jesus was an awfully cute baby.)

For the record, I didn’t feel any different about Valentine’s day when I was single.

And now to the present!  This is Andreas’s and my first Valentine’s Day together, and in celebration, he came on a walk to the neighborhood Netto with me (and without complaining), we bought chocolate (mine!) and chips (his!) and we’re going to watch a movie (his choice).  Perfect.  And to be honest, I don’t really care whether it’s Valentine’s Day or not, but it’s nice to have an excuse to do something special and fun and cuddly.

So for anyone who’s reading this, Happy Valentine’s Day!  I’d share if I could 🙂

An Extra Big (Swedish) Hazelnut Chocolate Bar

Baby Fever

I’ve spent most of today in bed with a serious bout of baby fever.

Okay, so I don’t actually have to be in bed for this.  But I might as well be, seeing as how useless I’ve been because of it.  The worst part is that I have nothing to do!  I have nothing of importance to do to distract me from how terribly I want a baby.  (Yes.  I know I’m 22, and I know I’m an idiot).  In a valiant effort to stave off baby pangs, I decided to start a new knitting project, a complicated hat!  So I set about Ravelry to try to find a new pattern.  All I found were patterns for adorable baby hats with pictures of adorable babies wearing said adorable hats.  Cruel world.

Even as I write this, and my husband laughs at me as he reads over my shoulder, I know how silly I’m being.  I know that if I have to wait a couple years for a baby, it’s far from “the world’s end” as Andreas puts it.  I know plenty of people have to wait plenty more years than I have, and I know how lucky I am.  But dammit, I still want a baby, and I still want it now.

I even considered making a long list of entries like “do ten push-ups” and “wash your face twice” and making myself do one thing on the list each time I think about babies.  Drastic, I know.  But it’s like…what if you suddenly really wanted to eat pizza.  And what if you KNEW you could have pizza next month, but until then you had nothing to do but think about a melty, gooey piece of pizza with a thick, chewy crust, tangy sauce and molten cheese.

I’m beginning to feel again like I don’t have anything to contribute.  I don’t have (and can’t get) a job here yet, and since we’ve been staying with my in-laws, I can’t exactly busy myself with homemaking.  And to boot, I feel like I’m trying to keep up this blog and have nothing interesting to report.  And at the same time, I know, in the back of my mind, that moving across the ocean to start my life over here is one of the most interesting things I’ll do in my whole life and I can’t seem to stop thinking about how boring it seems to be.

A baby would definitely spice things up.  Haha.  Just kidding.  *sigh*

Superbowl…Monday

So.

I have never watched a Superbowl game before.  In fact, I have never watched a whole football game before (although apparently I did try to watch part of one with my roommate when I was a freshman).  But it somehow made sense to me that the first whole football game I watch be after I have left the states, so my husband Andreas (who also has never watched football) and I decided to sit down with some snacks and watch it.  Kickoff was at 12:30 am, and snacks consisted of a piece of bread with ham salad, a carrot, an apple, and an orange.  Bring on the football!

During the course of the game, we tried valiantly to figure out what was actually going on, but as it got closer and closer to morning, our commentary (which I was, of course, transcribing as it happened) got sillier and sillier, ranging from
Andreas: Timeout…what’s a timeout?
to
Andreas: Hi, I’m Brady, I’m made of bread.

First, we had to choose a team to cheer for:
Zeta: We have to pick someone to cheer for.   It’s the New York Giants against the Patriots
Andreas: Hmmm
Zeta: How about the Giants…because they’re…Giant!  And also, I’m an ex-patriot.  So we shouldn’t cheer for them.

Then we had to try to figure out how it worked:

Andreas: I think they have two points now.
Zeta: Two points?  We can’t have two points.  I thought you get seven points for a touchdown.
Andreas: What’s a touchdown?

Andreas: They had 12 men on the field?  Are they only supposed to have eleven?
Zeta: Yes…yes, that’s the right number.  I just saw that today in the picture with the Indian babies.

Andreas: What is this start here? They start by kicking it?
Zeta: Yeah, that’s called the kickoff
Andreas: And how does that work?
Zeta: They kick it…

Zeta: Maybe touchdowns are worth more or less, depending on how many downs it took them to get there.  wouldn’t that make sense?
Andreas: Are you just guessing now?
Zeta: Yup.

Zeta: They have three points, why do they have three points?
Andreas: I think they kicked one over.
Zeta: See…I don’t get…why…when do they do that?

Then I had to explain to him some of the less critical aspects of the game:

Zeta: Oh, and then they dance.
Andreas: Every time?
Zeta: Yeah.
Andreas: Why?
Zeta: I don’t know…
Andreas: I wouldn’t dance.

Andreas: What’s with those things they have, hanging out of their pants?
Zeta: I think they’re sweat towels.
Andreas: What, so they can take a towel out of their crotch to wipe their forehead?

Zeta: Look, he’s fat, too! Look!
Andreas: Oh my God, he’s fat.
Zeta: See, there are certain players that can be fat, because they’re just supposed to be like…blocks.  They don’t have to run that much.
Andreas: Yeah, but oh my GOD HE’S….well…I guess that’s kind of skinny for an American.

We also added our own spicy commentary, since the commentary on TV was in Danish and I wasn’t understanding much of it.  Fortunately, our own was just as informative:

Andreas: The flag…he said…I think the flag is on the Giants, he said “something something something” so I think someone gets the flag…

Zeta: Look, you can see his leg fat jiggling
Andreas: Oh, I didn’t see it…
Zeta: It was in the background. Maybe they’ll show it again.

Andreas: This just seems like a game with men tumbling around, but there are so many crazy rules.
Zeta: Yes, they have to tumble in a certain way.

Of course, the halftime show was also noteworthy:

Andreas: See look, the Romans came, too.
Zeta: Oh, whew!…..they look oily.
Andreas: Well, you can’t be Roman without being oily.

Andreas: Who’s she?
Zeta: Nikki Minaj, I think…
Andreas: I just saw part of her buttcheek.

Zeta: How did she change her clothes so fast?  I guess she just put it on over her other clothes
Andreas: Yeah…Plus, it’s Madonna.  She probably practices changing her clothes every day.

Towards the end, I think we were getting a bit delirious:

Zeta: Brady has something on his arm like Buzz Lightyear and then he opens it and he talks to the other men.

All-in-all, it was really, really fun to try to figure out football with my husband, and though we weren’t very successful, at least now Andreas can have a real opinion about the sport:

Andreas: Man, there are a lot of boring breaks in this game…what the hell…

Andreas: This game looks not very hard at all!  They have breaks all the time!  Like compared to…….any other sport…

It was well-worth staying up until 4 am.

Tillykke!

Let me start this post by saying that I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anyone so happy (and cute!) as the Danish handball team.

The Danes won the Euro Cup today against Serbia, and the following footage of the team celebration was like watching ridiculously happy seven-year-old boys whose hyperactivity doesn’t wear off.  Aww…it was so cute, I cried a bit.  And the keeper, Landin, got the best player award which was SO exciting because he is my favorite player.  I mean…he’s gotten nailed in the face with a handball, gotten back up (after shoving some cotton junk up his nose) and saved two more shots in a row!  Plus, he can do the splits.  That’s all I’m really asking for in a man.

In other happy news, I got another poem accepted!  It’s my pet poem, to boot!  I wrote it first in Danish and then translated it to English, and it’s all about my mother-in-law.  I knew it was special when I first wrote it, and I’m happy to see it find a home.  It also gave me the push I’ve been needing to go out and actually SUBMIT stuff, so I’m feeling motivated.

The last week or so I’ve been feeling pretty down and useless.  I’m not a particularly self-motivating person, so when I don’t have a purpose, or a reason to get up every morning, it’s easy for me to fall into a bored rut.  Now that my husband has graduated (with top marks, yay!) we’ll get to spend more time together, and he always helps me stay on top of my projects, so I’m looking forward to the next “hunk” of time until we move to Sweden.

Also, I’m going to start doing push-ups and sit-ups every day!  We’ll see how it goes.

I also experienced my first bout with homesickness the other day, though it was more family-sickness than America-sickness.  I have four sisters and two brothers, and now that we’re (almost) all grown up, we’re very spread out.  Over Christmas, we managed to gather all but two of us for a few days, and that’s the largest family gathering we’ve had in years.  This means that I often get “homesick” for my family, even when I lived at home, so it really can’t be helped.  Otherwise my transition to Denmark has been smooooooooth.  Tomorrow we have to go out shopping (my husband owes me a chocolate bar on a bet!  Candy is a bit more expensive here, so this is a treat.) and I’m excited for it (even though we’re just going to BILKA or Netto).  Also, I’m determined to take Andreas and my sister-in-law ice skating before we move!  Adventures!

Thank goodness the gloomy depression fog has lifted.  Thank you, handball team!  I’m convinced they played a part.

Starting Over

I’ve been working on a pair of legwarmers for a while (I’m an avid knitter, for those who don’t know).  They started out as socks, but for some reason, turned into leg-warmers.  Sixty rows after that, I realized I was doing the pattern wrong, and though everyone said it looked fine, and it did, I had to restart anyway, so I decided to re-start with some new yarn (yay! new yarn!) and decided to learn a new cast-on method (that you can find here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wf8cY_djTRI )

At this point, with my new (slightly larger gauge) yarn, the legwarmer was too big (way too big) so I started over with fewer stitches and now, a hundred or so stitches in, it’s too small.

Nuts.

I sometimes feel like I have the same problem with my Danish, but it’s probably just all in my head.

In other news…….
I won the Danish version of Monopoly (Matador) and felt terrible, taking everyone’s money.  How do real businesspeople do it?!  Probably by not looking their debtors in the eye.

Also, I’m pretty excited that I don’t get to see *any* of the political campaign ads on television for the next eight months.  Go me!

Today is the only day this week that Andreas doesn’t have to leave, so I’m hoping to enjoy it.  I know I am not completely alone, since I’m living with his family, but in some ways, that makes it even worse when he’s not here because I lose my “safety net” and feel slightly uncomfortable being in someone else’s house ALL the time.  Only about a month until we move to Sweden, though!

Dansk Melodi Grand Prix 2012

Tonight I officially became a Dane!

Well, maybe not, but I DID get to watch the competition to find the Danish representative for this year’s Eurovision contest, which apparently almost qualifies me to be a Dane. I liked the singer who won, but not the song (it sounded a bit country-western, and that’s something I can’t ever get over, having been forcefully exposed to 15 hours of it every week on the bus ride to and from school for 13 years).  Overall, it was a good show, and now I can’t wait for actual Eurovision!!!

I also watched the Denmark vs. Macedonia handball game which was THRILLING to say the least, and I can’t even share the thrill on Facebook, considering that most of my friends don’t know what handball is, and the ones that do were in the room watching with me.  I don’t get excited about sports in general (I went to college in Green Bay and the only reason I wanted the Packers to win the Super Bowl was so that my entire city wouldn’t be grumpy the next day), but I get excited about soccer, volleyball, and now—handball!  Honestly, when I was a kid, I thought that handball was the same as baseball except that you hit the ball with your hands instead…the real game makes a lot more sense.

I know I have a long way to go before I am even slightly Danish, but I’ve got basically the rest of my life (yippee!)  One goal that I hope to accomplish a lot sooner is to become a better blogger, with pictures and everything!  At the moment, I’m trying to solve the case of the Missing 4GB SD Card, and until it’s cracked, I can’t promise much, but I’ll do my best.

I’ve been doing some experimental baking and cooking (we made Indian food with naan tonight which was great, though we accidentally bought the tomatoes with basil instead of plain) with my husband and sister-in-law, and I should be a lot more diligent about photographing our cooking adventures.

There’s not much else for now.  I’m still doing my darndest to learn new Danish words every day, and I find myself using Danish phrases as well (“nååååååååårh, ja” is a particularly common one).

It’s late, so we’re going to hygge os i sengen og sover snart.  I realize that I don’t actually *do* much here, but I’m considering going to school with my husband on Monday to collect some more writing fodder.  We’ll see what happens.  Meanwhile, I have to try to work on my poetry and knitting while Andreas studies and “use my time wisely” as my elementary school teachers always said.

Vi ses!