Monday, October 31, 2011

Why Children Scare Me

Last night, my fiance had a dream in which we had children.  He woke up thinking he had to tend to them.

And then he remembered that we don't have any.

All day today, he was making little comments and jokes about how we should start having kids ASAP.

Now, this is a topic that he and I have talked about quite a bit.  Before I met him, I never even considered having children.  But pretty much as soon as I met him I started picturing what an amazing father he would be, and it became more of a possibility.

After we got engaged, my parents dropped a bomb.  I knew that both of my grandmothers had died when my parents were young.  What I didn't realize is that the cause of my paternal grandmother's death was genetic.

It turns out, that there's a 50/50 chance that I have the a mutated BRCA gene that is very commonly found in Ashkenazi jews like my grandmother. It's a gene that greatly increases the chances of getting breast cancer and ovarian cancer.

In addition to being scared to death of raising a child in general, the idea that I might have to leave a child behind when the kid is as young as my parents were when they lost their mothers...

It breaks my heart.

I'll get the genetic test before I decide on whether or not I want children.  I may go for it either way, because my fiance really should be a father.  But I want the decision to be an informed one.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Madness. Utter Madness.

Do you know what I haven't done in a while?

Worked on my Danish.

I knew that November would be a crazy month.  With a flight out for my best friend's 30th birthday as well as bridesmaid dress shopping, and then my fiance's father flying in from England for a week, followed by our anniversary, and then Thanksgiving and my father's birthday... 

I was working on mentally preparing for all of that madness.

I didn't anticipate the madness leading up to November. 

Of couse, with all of the changes at my office, we're all taking on extra work to make sure everything gets done.  Combined with the emotional toll that losing so many great coworkers took, it's been a taxing week.

Add to that the fact that they're predicting a big snow storm this weekend?  Can't we wait until Winter for Winter to come?

For the first time in years, it looks like I'll be taking a pass on Halloween festivities.

I think need another night of drinking brandy and listening to Brandi Carlile.  Stat.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Today Was a Sad Day

Tonight, I am skipping out on my Danish class in favor of drinks.

This is not normally my style, but tonight, it's a necessity.

Back at the height of the recession, in October of 2008, my company did some "restructuring."  That "restructuring" lead to me moving to Boston in order to keep my job.  In the end, this was a great move, as I met my fiance here in Boston and wouldn't be getting married or moving to Denmark otherwise.

But today, we took another hit.  A few months ago my company was bought out by one of the major media conglomerates.

And today, they made their presence known.  By laying off half of my office, including all of my managers.

I've somehow managed to survive the cut, but it's heartbreaking.  It's hard enough to get a job as it is right now.

The people here have been so kind to me.  They've been fun, and helpful, and ridiculous, and maddening.

And I'll miss every one of them.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

You Know What's Silly?

I'll tell you what's silly.  The confusingness (no, that's not a word... but it should be) that is immigration law.

It all varies widely from country to country, and certainly here in the US they make it insanely difficult.  Indeed, my fiance's visa application to come to the US for work is a stack of paper about 2 inches thick.

What's amazing to me, though, is how much the immigration experience seems to vary from person to person in Denmark, even if they seem to be in similar situations.  And because of that, it's difficult to really know what to expect.

From the length of time it will take to get legal residency, to whether or not I can go to school right away or will have to wait, it all seems to differ so widely.

And the wildest thing that I heard today is that it may actually be harder for a Dane to bring his wife and family to Denmark than it will be for my fiance, an EU citizen but non-Dane to bring me there.

Plus, there's the fact that a new government has recently been elected there, so many of the immigration laws are expected to change.  The good news is, it's a left-leaning government so the rules will likely slacken a bit.

Either way, I think I need to resign myself to being royally confused for a while.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Informal Formal Danish Class #4 - Fake It 'Til You Make It

Pretend this first paragraph is an expletive-filled rant about the frustrations of having our cable go out for 5 days, thus preventing timely blog posts.

There, now that we have that our of our systems...

I will start by saying that I was a bit distracted from my usual cramming study session for my weekly Danish class last night, as I was awaiting the triumphant return of my fiance from the wilds of Nebraska.

I will claim that as my excuse for being completely lost in this weeks class.  We worked learning words and phrases needed to discuss the weather and family...

But I'll be honest...

I had no idea what I was talking about.  I was guessing left and right, or just plain telling the teacher that I didn't know.  I'm seriously heartened to know that this class is moving at breakneck speed and that Danish classes given in Denmark itself go MUCH more slowly.

Because last night?  I was seriously faking it.

And not at all making it.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

What to Expect When You're Expecting Smørrebrød

No, mom, I'm not pregnant.

This post is about Danish food.

I've only spent a little over two days in Denmark in my life so far, but from what I've seen, I'm a little concerned about the food situation. 

Okay, that's not entirely fair.  I'm a little concerned about traditional Danish food.  Specifcially, smørrebrød.  For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, smørrebrød is basically an open-faced sandwich on buttered rye bread.  It can be topped with all kinds of things, but is often topped with pickled herring. 

I'm not gonna lie, I just can't get into the pickled herring.

Alright, I may be overreacting.  I'm perfectly happy with smørrebrød topped with other things, and I do love me some capers.  I could just live without the herring. 

On the positive side, we had the best Thai food I've ever had in my life while we were in Copenhagen.  Seriously, it was amazing.  And by far the best meal we had while there.

And, as one might expect, the Danes are damn good at pastry.


Friday, October 14, 2011

Folksy Sing-Songin' in Scandinavia

Let's talk music for a bit, shall we?  I'm a big fan of singer-songwriters who are actually good at both.  I have a serious pet peeve when it comes to folks who make their living as singers but aren't actually any good at it.  That being said, I'm encouraged that there seems to be some really great singer-singwriters coming out of Scandinavia these days.  For example, The Tallest Man on Earth, a great talent out of Sweden:

And then there's First Aid Kit, a really great duo who also happens to be out of Sweden:

Okay, so actually there's some great stuff coming out of Sweden.  Where are the great Danish singer-singwriters?  I'll need to find some.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Informal Formal Danish Class #3 - Less Oy?

While my fiance is off being the swankiest Brit in Omaha (a.k.a. the only Brit in Omaha), I spent the evening in another Danish class.

I left tonight's class feeling much less overwhelmed than I was last week.  While the material was still hard, and I'm still well behind the other girl (seriously, she can read a sentence in Danish without even thinking about it, where as I have to pause before and after almost every word over 3 letters long... and some under...), I do feel like I'm progressing.  If only nominally.

Today's lesson started with verbs.  And, strangely, verbs are actually easier in Danish than they are in Spanish.  While they have their tenses, they aren't conjugated based on the subject.  As soon as he explained that, I thought "Yes!  I got this!"

My brain may have gotten over excited.

After going over verbs, we did a little work on sentence structure (which is going to take a while for my brain to soak in), and how to ask and answer questions.

Oh, and I learned to tell time.  So, that's good.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Just a Little Bit of Expat Love

Just wanted to post a little hello and a thank you to my expat readers.  

The process of figuring out the best way forward when I get to Denmark is still both daunting and frustrating.  I've signed up for a couple of expat forums and Facebook groups in the hopes of gaining some insight before I make the big leap.

So far, pretty much everyone who has responded to my inquiries, whether it be about school or language learning or immigration/residency rules, has been extraordinarily kind and helpful. 

I imagine most of them were in my shoes at one point as well.  A little scared, very excited, and completely confused by the process.  

I still have a lot to sort out, but I'm feeling optimistic at the moment.

So, again, a big thank you to the expats for being lovely.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

A "Chicken or Egg" Question

We were out to dinner last night, and I told my fiance that I was going to start pointing at random things and asking how to say them in Danish.  He was on board, so I started by pointing at my glass.

Sort of an easy one.  "Glass" in Danish is "glas."

But he then asked if I knew how to say "a glass" ("et glas" in Danish).  This lead to a discussion about grammar and whether it's important to learn a language's grammar first, or its vocabulary. He asserted that it is more important to understand the grammar of a language first, and then pick up the vocabulary later.

Part of me wants to disagree.  If I knew every word there was to know in Danish, and I knew the grammar rules of the English language, I could probably speak Danish relatively well.  Sure, my sentence structure would make the Danes laugh, but at least they would mostly understand me, and likely correct my grammar.

What I actually think, though, is that the two need to be learned simultaneously.  It's really not a chicken or egg situation at all.

False advertising.  Sorry.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Informal Formal Danish Class #2 - Oy...

That's right, I said "Oy."

Keep in mind, this is a small class to begin with, and the handful of us last week were at varying levels.  My fiance speaks Danish very well, but has been out of Denmark for a year and wants to brush up.  One girl is a beginner, but her husband is Danish and she also speaks 3 or 4 other languages, so she has a leg up.  And then there was a Spanish girl who was as much of a beginner as I am, if not more so.

Well, this week, my fiance had a work event, and the Spanish girl dropped out.

So, it was me and the girl for whom languages clearly come pretty naturally.  Not to mention that I definitely hadn't studied nearly as much as I should have.

From what I understand, the class is moving infinitely faster than a traditional, formal Danish class would, so I take a bit of comfort in that.  But...


I felt so lost today.  While the other girl read through sentences like they were in English, I struggled with the pronunciation of half of the words I saw and couldn't remember the meanings of most of them.

I definitely feel like I'm learning important stuff here, but...


Monday, October 3, 2011

Bi-Weekly Career Induced Hives

Here's the situation:

I've spent the last 6 years of my working in radio.  It's an industry that I've known for a while I would eventually need to get out of, because the industry is pretty quickly shrinking.

Well, this impending move to Copenhagen has put a pretty clear end-date on my radio career, since I don't currently speak Danish and there are no English language radio stations there.

So, you're probably wondering, whatever will she do for a living in Denmark?

And the attempt to answer that question has lead to a phenomenon that is relatively new in my life: the bi-weekly career crisis panic attack!  *cue fanfare*

I had this basic plan to go back to school when we got there, since I'd be a legal resident.  My understanding was that legal residents are able to go to universities in Denmark tuition-free.  Today I was informed that I'll likely have to be a legal resident for 2 years before I'm eligible to go to school without paying.  The last thing I need is more school loans to pay off, so this information has put that plan on hold.

I've been working pretty regularly since I was 16, and haven't been unemployed for more than a month here and there since I was 20.  Not to mention I've been living on my own (not counting a few failed attempts at cohabitation) for about as long as well.

Basically, the idea of living there and not being able to financially contribute to the household is kinda giving me hives.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Hunt for Expats

It was suggested by my fiance that I may want to try to make contact with the expat community in Denmark, both now and after we move to Copenhagen.

He's so reasonable, that fiance of mine.

So, that's what I've done.  I've run around the intertubes hunting for expat forums.  I've really only found one that seems all that active, but I'm looking forward to chatting with other expats about their experiences with moving abroad.

So far it seems that all of the expats I've had interactions with have been very kind and helpful, which is definitely reassuring.  While my instinct while I'm still in America is to say that I should spend all of my time with Danes so that I can immerse myself in the language and the culture to learn it more quickly...

I know I'll feel homesick soon enough and need an American or two to talk True Blood and bitch about Taylor Swift with.