Big Danish Test Part 1: check.

Last week, I took the first part of my big Danish test.  Ever since, people have asked me how it went, and I’m never quite sure what to say.  It was a writing and reading-comprehension test, and I guess it went fine, but I can’t really say until I get the results (next week).  There were a lot of questions during the reading-comprehension part that I just wasn’t sure about, which is a little nerve-wracking, considering that was the part of the test that I was least worried about.  And the subjects for the written part were good, and write-about-able, so I’m hoping for the best.

Now I’ve started a new class specifically for preparing for the spoken part of the test (mine’s on June 17th) and am getting continually more nervous for that one, as I expected.  I’m practicing my weird Danish vowels, something I haven’t really focused on before, and again, just hoping to pull a good topic that I feel comfortable talking about (for example, education, as opposed to something like politics).  But we’re practicing a lot in class, which also gives us a good opportunity to use the phrases we’ve been stowing away for when we have no idea how to answer a question (like: “That’s a very broad question…” “I’ve never given that a thought, but I could imagine that…” etc.).  After all, it is a language test, not a test on how much we know about the given topics, so as long as we sound coherent, and fluent, that’s the most important thing.

I’m really excited for the big test to be over.  We get our oral results as soon as we’re finished with the exam, so at that point, I’ll know my whole score, and whether or not it’s good enough to qualify me for the next class, or if I’ll have to retake the test again in November.  I’ll feel better once I know that, and can start making a plan (or rather, hopefully not making a plan).  However, when I’m done with the test, I’ll have no more Danish classes, which are basically the only real thing I have going on in my life.  I’ll then have a good six to nine weeks to essentially “do nothing” although I’ll really be getting ready for (and freaking out about) the baby.

In other baby news, oh my goodness is it strong.  I got kicked in the belly yesterday so hard that it felt like someone snapped a really thick rubberband against the inside of my belly.  I gasped and clutched at my stomach, which really freaked Andreas out, and the spot’s still really tender.  I’ve also relapsed back into the first trimester exhaustion that I had in the wintertime, only now, I don’t get to sleep until 10 or 11 every day, and instead have to be up at seven, and it feels like torture.  Even today, when I got to sleep in until 9, I felt ready for a nap three or four hours later.  I’d sort of forgotten what all this was like and left it in the haze that was those first three months, but boy am I remembering.

However, I’m being ambitious tonight, and am going to try a new recipe (chickpea curry!) and even make some basic chocolate mousse (just chocolate and water) to eat with some strawberries I bought yesterday.  I was going to make strawberry shortcakes, but Andreas has been struggling with allergies lately (milk and sugar) and even though strawberry shortcakes are actually a pretty allergy-light dessert, I’d still feel guilty.  Luckily, I remembered the mousse from when I made it when we lived in Sweden, and I’m excited to try it  again!  Of course, there’s a bit of sugar in it, as there is in the sliced strawberries, but…you’ve gotta live a little.

Meanwhile, I’m trying to decide if I have time for a nap before I embark on kitchen adventures, since Andreas is going to badminton after work today and won’t be home until later…

PS-I realize that alllllll of my posts lately have been dry and pictureless, and that’s because I…haven’t been taking pictures.  But I’m trying to get better at taking some, and thinking about doing photo-a-day June, as well, to maybe get me started up again.


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…

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’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.