Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Påskeferie Post

Prepare for a seriously broad generalization in 3...2...1...

The Danes are a bit funny about religion.

We're smack in the middle of "påskeferie," or Easter vacation, so I figured I'd take the time to discuss my impression of the Danish relationship with Christianity.

In the US, various forms of Christians make up the majority of the religions folk.  The same is true here in Denmark, where the state religion is Lutheran.  Nearly 80% of Danes count themselves among the Lutherans in the Church of Denmark.  The Danes themselves, however, are not especially religious.  Those that are will often state proudly how they go to church.  Once a year, for Christmas.

Now, I'm not a religious person.  Once a year is more than I normally go.  Then again, my own religions background is a bit of a hodgepodge including Catholicism, Judaism, Unitarianism, and a stint in high school when I decided I wanted to be a witch.

The Danes get funny about religion when it comes to their perceptions about how the rest of the Christian world handles their religious life.  A month or so ago, we were discussing the Danish tradition of "fastelavn," which is the Danish version of Mardi Gras or Carnivale.  Our teacher discussed how, "back in the olden day," fastelavn was the big party before a (gasp) 40-day period of occasional fasting!  But no one would do something as crazy as that these days, right?  Truly, she didn't seem to associate the holiday with anything that might be going on in other countries today and didn't seem at all aware of Lent.

As I said, I'm not a religious person.  And I have no issues with the level of religious life in Denmark.  I do, however, think that the Danes occasionally have a habit of assuming that the way things are done here are the norm.

As far as I can tell, though, as far as religion goes...

There is no "norm."

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Studieskolen - Module 3 Test Prep (and a small update)

Technically, as far at the Studieskolen module calendar is concerned, this module doesn't end for another 2 weeks.  However, since påskeferie (or Easter vacation) is next week, our teachers decided it would be better to have our module test the Friday before the break.  I know I don't expect to speak much Danish during my week off, so I can understand the logic.

One small problem...

My husband and I booked tickets to go see the family in England long before they decided when they were going to have the exam, and I leave on Thursday.

Luckily, the folks at Studieskolen are generally pretty understanding about the fact that their students are adults and have lives outside of Danish class, and are totally accommodating.  What that means, however, is that I'll be taking the test by myself in a different room during class on Thursday morning.

As far as what the test will involve, here's what I know:  There's no spoken section of this exam, and no listening section either.  As far as I know, the test is made up of a few sections that involve reading texts and choosing correct answers based on that test, and then a writing section in which we'll need to write a formal letter and possibly an informal email.

We spent the last class working on informal emails, and we spent one previous class working on understanding the formal and commonly used expressions in formal emails.  However, as I mentioned in a previous post, I feel like this is a skill that would have been helpful MUCH earlier on.  At the very least, earlier on on module 3.  Hell, even closer to the beginning of module 3.2.

But I don't write the curriculum, so...

We'll see how it goes.

And a quick update on this post:  I went to the hospital on Friday, and they took a family history and and gave me some additional information about the implications and preventative measures if I do end up having the gene (all of which was actually more distressing than I'd previously thought), and then sent me downstairs to get blood drawn for the test itself.  And now, I wait.  I wait somewhere between 1 and 2 months...

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Studieskolen - Module 3.2, Frustrations

I'm about a week away from my module 3 exam, and there's definitely tension in the air in my class.  It seems that quite a few of my classmates are frustrated with the class for various reasons.

Some feel like they're not learning anything new, or they don't feel like we're focusing on the things they need help with.  Others are simple lost completely.  Still others (myself included) are getting tired of our Monday/Wednesday teacher's teaching methods.

It's been a very different vibe in class during module 3, and not always in a good way.  Especially on Mondays and Wednesdays, when many of us feel that even the teacher doesn't know the correct answers.  And if he doesn't really know what the answers are, then how are we supposed to learn?

Today was especially frustrating.  We spent part of the class working on the "tryk" or stress on words in sentences.  Danish is a sort of musical language, and the inflection has a sort of rhythm to it.  Unfortunately, our teacher doesn't seem to be a terribly rhythmic guy, so even when he's saying a sentence with the stresses clearly on one word, he tells us that the stress is on different words.  It's baffling and frustrating.  It's never been an exercise that I've had problems with until I started taking classes with him.

As far as the module 3 exam, it's entirely made up of reading and writing exercises.  No listening or speaking this time around, which is fine with me.

However, we've just now started learning how to write the more formal letters that we'll have to write for the exam.  Things like job application letters and formal requests for various things.  If it were up to me, that's the kind of thing we would have been working on from the start.  The Danish job application letter is very different from an American cover letter, and I just today found out that I've been writing them incorrectly since I got here.

It's frustrating.

More frustrating still, it looks like I'll have the same teachers for module 4.  I still really like our Thursday/Friday teacher, but Monday/Wednesday-guy needs to get his act together.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Being Wary of the Ides of March

I spent much of today wondering why I was so tense and tired.

I've had a quiet, relaxing weekend.  Spent lots of time with my wonderful husband and adorable dog.  Ate some lovely food.  Watched some television.  Saw a completely stress-free, brain-candy movie.

So, how come my shoulders are tied up in knots?

Oh, right... remember this post?  (Probably not.  I posted it a year and a half ago.)

This Friday, I'll make my way to Rigshospitalet (my local hospital here in Copenhagen) for what might be the first of several meetings regarding getting tested for the gene I discussed in the above post.  My concerns about having the gene were a big part of what discussed with the doctor a few weeks ago.  As with most things when it comes to the Danish healthcare system, you go to your primary care doctor for any and all questions, and then that doctor will either treat you himself or give you a referral.  In this case, the referral was sent to the hospital and they sent me a letter with my appointment date.

That date is March 15th.

Life, your sense of poetry is not amusing.

It means missing a Danish class, and I've had to miss a few this module.  In fact, I'll be away on the day that they've scheduled our module 3 exam, so I will have to schedule to take it on a different day.  Hopefully missing a few classes won't jeopardize my chances of passing.

But let's be honest... getting this genetic test done is more important than whether or not I have to re-take 6 weeks of Danish classes.

In the meantime, I'll just hang out with my husband and my puppy and try not to think too much about it.