Please excuse my lack of updates, but I've been desperately trying to get used to Denmark, and all its wily ways.
I know that this page has become an online diary, and that should be great for a lot of you people out there who like that sort of thing. But I gotta tell you all who read this: Please please please don't e-mail me or talk to me about anything I write here, unless it directly applies to you. I don't mind you knowing it all, but I don't want to talk about anything more than what I've written. Does that make sense? I hope so...
So, you wanna know what's going on? Okay, click for the latest entry: here. Or just scroll down to go in chronological order.
Or go back by clicking here!
The Danish Diary (in English)(heh)
25 Oct. 98
First let me give everyone an idea of what I've been doing. I am in a class composed of foreigners (MO2, which stands for modtageklasse 2, a "reception" class), in which they teach some basic danish. The kids in the class are:
Sharone, from Malawi
Juan, Delin, and (ugh) Deshty, from Kurdistan (Iraq)
Patrick, originally from Congo, but has been living in Paris, France
Isn't that cool?! I never thought I'd be meeting people from all over the world while I'm here. Anyway, I'm also in a class with regular danish kids, the 9th class (or "klasse", really). However if I were in America, I'd be in 10th grade. Hmmmm... Everyone has been so nice to me and helped me adjust, but there's still some discomfort, but I'll talk about that later.
My birthday was the 22nd, and it was one of the best I've had in a bunch of years. My parents gave me some really cool gifts, including a Cyndi Lauper CD, which is extremely cool. My day went really well, too. I had a smile on my face the whole time. Well, that isn't sooo unusual. Heh heh. Then on Friday, I had a little problem. I know that a lot of schools even in the US have their students shower in a big open room with each other after gym, but not my school in the US. So you can imagine how uncomfortable I was when I was faced with the situation of being completely naked in front of a whole class of girls. Well, maybe you don't need to know all the details, but I lived through it. I'll tell you, it felt really strange. Yesterday, the gifts that my brothers sent got here. Steve, the younger (who's 19), sent a really cool little giraffe statue. And Matt sent a fuzzy blue purse filled with a hairy barette, a glittery dragonfly barrette, glitter nail polish, a "Chef on a STick" (feel free to ask; I'll try to explain), one of those miracle fish things that you put on your hand and they curl up to tell your fortune (apparently I'm passionate, I don't know with whom), and a vial of googly eyes. There was also a great cartoon birthday card, made by him, that provided hours of entertainment (well, okay, 15 minutes). Then last night, a bunch of girls from the class and I went to see Out of Sight (yeah, I know it's been out forever in US, but shut up!). I'll go ahead and tell you who was there, for purposes of introducing the names. There was AnnSofie, NanSofie, Ulla, Julie, Sidsel, Louise, and Tina. Nina and Karen couldn't come, which was too bad. I'll try to explain these girls later. After the movie, Nan- and AnnSofie, Ulla, and I were going to go to a concert at a local place, but it was too late, or we needed to have gotten tickets, or something. I dunno. So we went to this guy's house where he was playing a really cheesy horror film, but even so, I hate horror. I don't like seeing a lot of blood like that. Not that I minded Pulp Fiction. Anyway, I think we only went to the party because Ulla's boyfriend (?) was there. AnnSofie didn't really want to stay either, so she and me and NanSofie left (note that Ulla stayed), and I was a little tired, so I said I wanted to go home. However, I was a little frightened to walk throught town late at night by myself (Denmark gives a lot of money to people with disabilities, including crazy people. so they, in turn, roam the streets and bother nice innocent young girls), and they were going to try to find a place to hang out in the same direction, so we went together, they walking their bikes, and me just walking. Denmark is big on bikes. In Odense (where I live, silly), there are bike lanes on EVERY street. I thnk it's pretty cool. So, in the end I decided that I'm not much of a "night hawk", and I don't have to pretend that I like staying out really late at people's houses who I don't know. I guess I'm content to spend my early evenings with friends doing whatever, but when it gets to about 10 o' clock, I'm ready to get into PJs and chill by myself. Part of it here is that I don't speak everyone's language, so I just kind of sit there patiently and try to understand what's said. But it does get a little tedious.
And so brings me to my next rant: It's really weird to try to be friends with the girls in the Danish class, because whenever they form themselves into a circle (as all teenagers do) and start talking, I just stand there dumbly. I feel uncomfortable, like I can't really be myself, because I don't know how to say enough to express myself. And sometimes I think I'm making them uncomfortable, because I get a bored expression on my face, and they think they have to cheer me up. But I don't mean to make them feel bad for being who they are. I really don't. I kinda feel like I need to have my space from them until I learn a ton of danish. But everyone tells me that I won't learn anything if I don't hang out with them. So now I have pressure from my parents and teachers to make friends, and from myself, because I don't want to spend all my time alone this year. And there shouldn't be pressure when making friends! Why can't I just do it simply? I dunno. But I really like Julie and Sidsel (they conveniently live on ym same street), because I feel like when I'm just with the 2 of them, I can really be myself, like they give me the time I need to open up. Whew! I hope no one died in the reading of this passage. I'll try to write somewhat daily, but I dunno if it'll happen. Bye for now!
26 Oct. 98
Well, today wasn't such a great day. And in the midst of it all, I think I've figured out what my problem here is. I feel left out. From conversations, classes, activites, friendships. I can't be a part of whatever's going on until I can speak Danish fluently, or something close to it. And it saddens me. I don't like sitting at my desk while everyone else is talking to each other in their strange different language. But identifying exactly what I'm feeling helps. Other than that, I dunno what to do. So difficult...
My piano lesson was really great, however. I wasn't expecting it to be, because I don't really like my piano teacher. There's nothing wrong with her, but she's kinda bossy, and she interrupts me while I'm playing. I guess that's okay if she asks me to play the piece again, but when I'm playing it for the first time that lesson, I just want her to hear it. Oh, I dunno. I say that a lot, don't I? I think it's a cheap, easy way to get out of taking responsibility for a thought. I'll have to try to stop that.
Hey, have you noticed all the really killer pages out there? My friend, Mitch, has one of them. I don't mean to just be spreading a whole bunch of propaganda, but you should check it out.
Lots of subjects today, eh? Okay, I know that a lot of people use their online diaries to get out their depressed feelings and everything, and I bet a lot of people feel good to read it, whther they can identify with what's written or they just like to feel superior. But it gets a little tedious when all anyone wants to talk about is how sad they are. That's one of the reasons why I started this journal. I want to show anyone who reads this that I'm just a normal human being, and sometimes that's easier to identify with than sadness or extreme happiness.
Thank you and good night!
28 Oct. 98
I have no clue. I am not comfortable with the Danish girls, because I feel like an outcast. It's not like they are nasty to me, on the contrary, they are very nice. But I just can't make myself feel a part of it all. I simply must learn more danish.
Ever since the first day of school here, I've been friends with Sharone, from Malawi. I was also pretty good friends with her sister, Jacqueline, but she left the class a few weeks ago because she'd learned all she could. Or so it seems. Anyway, Sharone is realy cool, and speaks a lot of English. In fact, sometimes she really surprises me with all the English she knows and how understanding she can be. Of course I don't always explain things very well, but she will often just totally understand. It's really nice. But I wouldn't say that we're best friends. I really want to be friends with the danish girls, because I feel like I have a lot in common with them.
Here's a trivial thought: When I got back from vacation in France, I sent my French teacher back in the US a postcard to tell her about it, and as I wrote it, I thought, "I know she's gonna read it in front of the class, I know she'll read it". And you know what? I just got an e-mail from a friend saying that she passed the postcard around. Interesting... The lady is too predictable! But she is a really great teacher and a very smart person.
There isn't so much new stuff going on, so I'll tell you some stuff I've been observing since I got here. First of all, the toilets here are different from those in America. You don't pull a handle to flush, you push a button on the top or pull a lever on the top. Amazing, eh? It is cold here. I thought I'd be okay with just getting a nice wool coat, but no, I don't think that'll work. Today it rained. Hard. I had to walk to school in it. I was thoroughly and utterly soaked. Wet jeans are no fun, I'll tell you. Another thing is, girls don't shave their legs or underarms. Just so you know. There is a lot of stuff to say, but it has all fallen out of my head. Sorry!
I really like Delin and Juan. They are nice and funny and very interesting. However, they don't speak English, and they're not learning danish very well, so it poses a problem. But drawing on the chalkboard helps. Oh, and BTW, we have a new kid in the M2 class, og han hedder Bo. He's from Thailand. And, there will be 3 new arabian kids and 2 new khurdish boys in the class on Friday. More on them when I meet 'em!
The reason why everyone tells me to get out of the M2 class and into the 9th class all the time is because whenever a new student comes to the M2 class, we start all over again in the chain of learning. It is annoying, but I just feel more comfortable and relaxed in that class. Almost everyone speaks in a language that I understand, and the danish that is spoken is simple enough for me, so that makes me feel like I've accomplished something.
A danish phrase for everyone: Jeg har str(o)mper p(a) mine (o)rer. = I have socks on my ears. Okay, when I do this (o), it means an "o" with a line through it, going from top right to bottom left. (a) is an "a" with a little circle above it, like a halo. And (ae) is like an "a" and an "e" joined back-to-back. Does that make sense? Well, refer back here if you're ever confuzzled.
29 Oct. 98
Well, I thought of some more weirdness. There is no cake deoderant in this country. All they have is roll-on and spray-on, in aerosol or pump. Blegh! I had my bro buy me some deoderant when he came from USA to visit us, but he got the wrong kind, a gel. Yuck-o! So, I don't know what I'll do. Even at the Body Shop, which is international, they only have roll-on and sprays. Weird.
I want to tell you, because I think it is so cool, about a couple of weeks ago. I was shopping in town, and there was one of those tables set up with random stuff (dream-catchers, necklaces, souvenirs) and there was a pair of earrings I liked. So, I asked the guy selling them how much they cost, he said 40 kroner (about $6), I thought that was too much, since I could live without them, and I started walking off. Well, he called me back and asked how much I wanted them for. And then we haggled! It was so fun, because I'd never done it before, and also because I didn't care if I didn't get the earrings. Anyway, I ended up getting him down to 20 kroner (duh! $3). I was very pleased with myself. Anyway, you all probably think I'm crazy, so I'll stop
Before I go, I wanna tell you that we watched The Lion King in danish today. It was really cool, since I'd already seen it in English, I knew what was going on and could anticipate what the characters would say. I hope we watch more movies like that. It's the best way to learn to hear danish, other than being in the 9th class, which I don't want to do just yet.
Today, Sharone came over. We had tea and cookies and I showed her my marvelous computer. I was afraid that I seemed like I was showing off, but I really just wanted something for us to do. I couldn't think of anything to talk about, so there were a lot of akward moments. However, I did learn a lot about her life in Malawi, which is extremely cool. Well, now I'm through. Hej hej!
2 Nov. 98
I feel like it's almost mean of me. I mean, what right do I have to decide when I'm friends with them. Of course, I'm talking about the danish girls. Well, I actually haven't been thinking about them so much these last coupla days. I went shopping on Saturday (yes, by myself, if you must know!). I know it is so stereotypical, but it really does calm me down. Also, Denmark sends child-support to EVERYONE (with a kid, obviously!) in the country, and I need to use it up. j/k. You know what? I always used to be repulsed by anyone who needed me to say "just kidding" in order to know that I'm kidding. But now it doesn't really bother me. Although, if I said something like "I have a monkey growing out of my ear", I would sincerely hope you would know I was serious. Sort that one out for yourselves.
Well, I'm also looking forward to meeting this girl who is the daughter of a couple of my parents' friends. I am going to stay with her in Roskilde (near Copenhagen) next weekend. I'm really hoping that it'll be fun. She spent a while in England, so she speaks pretty good english. And it will be nice not to feel any pressure to make friends when I'm around her. Of course, we'll be in the same house for 2 days, but no one will be telling me that SHE is the friend I must have. Forst(a)r du? It means "do you understand?". Alright-y then.
4 Dec. 98
Wow! I am sorry for neglecting this page so much!!! A whole month... gracious! But it's really because I didn't want to turn this into one of those numerous diaries on the net that are just cry cry cry whine whine whine. But now I'm in a kinda sad mood, so I'm just going to put a few sentences here about my homesickness: I really wish I could go home. I try to think of what all I've gained from being here even these four months, and I can't think of anything. For some reason I'm at the same point of friendship with the Danish girls here as I was 2 months ago. We hardly do anything. For a while it was because I felt unhappy about not understanding their conversations, as you know, but now I just don't know what it is. I am starting to understand a lot of danish, and my mum's friend said that it took her 6 months to get comfortable with the language, which gives me hope 'cause we're nearing the 6 month mark soon. That will be weird to think that I will have spent half a year in this place. Hmmmm...
Enough of that. I went to the Roskilde girl's (names hidden to protect the people who might read this and for who knows why get mad) house and I think we had a pretty good time. We pretty much just hung out the first day, and then on the second day, she became sick and I went home early in the morning. So that was that.
I was so happy last week for Thanksgiving! Both my brothers came to have dinner. One lives in New York City and the other one goes to school in Strasbourg, France, so this was something of a big deal. We also had some guests, like always. It was a very fun couple of days. The younger bro is going to stay with us for almost the whole month of January. Yippee! (If you want to find out who my crazy brothers are, go here)
I know it seems to everyone else in the whole world a really boring subject, but I'm pretty darn happy about getting my hair cut tomorrow. I love being pampered and since I've recently decided to go au naturel with my hair (that is to say, letting it air dry and become crazy-curly), it will be fun to come up with a new hair style. I just hope that the Danish hair dresser will understand what I want. But I'm sure she will. Right?
16 Dec. 98
Well, not much is new. Just 2 more days til Holiday Break! The Danish world is completely focused in on its one religion: Lutheran. And they make no excuses for it. That's fine with me; I think PC-ness is getting ridiculous in America. So, I am in a Christmas play (julespil). Everyone has pretty equal parts, except for the main character: Jesus, of course! But it's a comedy. Jesus is 17, and at one point I play one of the girls who's all over him. Heh heh. We even get to do a synchronised dance to "YMCA". Isn't it great? I'm also a nisse. Nisser (plural) are like Santa's elves, but there are some differences. Not too big, so I won't bother with them now. So, anyway, fun play.
On Friday, after we get out of school at 11:00 (yay!), a whole bunch of us girls are going to go to see There's Something About Mary and then go out to eat. Finally, I'm being included in something. I mean, I know that I've been distancing myself from the girls in the class because of the language thing, but I feel like I'm the only one inviting them to do anything. And I know that they're doing stuff. Last week, I understood Ashkan (duh! a guy in the class) asking if some were going to come to his house that night. But no mention of it to me. Harumph. But oh well. I guess I probably wouldn't have wanted to go anyway. I told you all about how I decided I don't really like parties, right? I'm too lazy to scroll up and see. Anyway, dinner and a movie. Good stuff
Hanukkah! Tonight is the half-way mark. So far, I have received (keeping in mind that we haven't lit candles yet tonight): A sweater, a scarf (very much appreciated; i lost the cool one my mom made for me), a weird "Wupper Airlines" toy (i can't explain it. go to denmark or germany, where it's made, and see for yourself), and the new Lenny Kravitz CD, 5. That last one is the one I like most, because I just kind of said in passing to my parents that I thought the singles from the CD were cool, and they remembered! Wahoo! And, if she ever sees this page, I wanna say thank you a bunch of times over to Mirth for sending me Fetch, the golden retriever Beanie Baby all the way over seas! I had been scouring Willyburg trying to find it before I left for Denmark, because it reminded me of my golden retriever, Freya. Well, big hugs to Mirth (ug. that sounds soo cutesy. sorry about that).
Can someone out there tell me why when you push the latest entry link on this page, it doesn't scroll down to the target? You would think that the target was below the latest entry, but if you look at the HTML, you'll know it isn't. Weird... Maybe it's just me. In any case, I'm obviously giving you permission to write to me about this. Heh heh. New entry coming soon (hopefully)!
23 Jan. 99
Sorry again about really crummy updating abilities. Did that make sense? Well, I hope so. I've kind of gotten over myself. I feel much more comfy in the danish class. I said to the kids that I feel like I should be speaking more danish, and so now they do often talk with me in dansk. It's pretty cool. I went to a party last night and I swear, I was understanding most of the conversations! The girl hosting the party was actually being very nice and encouraging the others to speak slowly for me. Awwwww. Well, I appreciated it.
Guess what? I'm going to Amsterdam!! Yup, first week of March. Right after my winter break. We get a lot of breaks here, which is fitting 'cause we started school the 3rd of August. During winter break, there's a big chance that I'll be going home to see my friends, my dog, and my home town! You can imagine I'm pretty excited. Except that my mom has not ordered any tickets yet. I thought I might even try to get her to fly us first-class. Heh heh. I kinda doubt that will happen. I want to see all my buds, find out what's going on, read my friend's Seventeen Magazines, see a new episode of the Simpsons, basically do all the things that I miss. I want to see my sweet little puppy (who's not really a pup, but you know... ).
Oops. I started to talk about Amsterdam and then got sidetracked. I can't wait. I just hope that I have someone to sit by. Oh, I know that sounds so dumb, but it would be a really crappy 12 hour trip if I was sitting next to the fat, smelly, child-molesting hog-faced man. Ug. But anyway, I'm pretty anxious. I think it will be cool that I'll probably be the best able to communicate while we're there, since I speak English, and I doubt that the Dutch speak much danish. Some of the kids do speak German, though, but not fluently... I dunno... Anyway anyway anyway it should be fun. Yay!!
10 Feb. 99
I hate the MO2 class. This week is "emneuge" which means "subject week". Each day of the week we have one subject for the whole day. Well, monday and tuesday I was with the ninth class for math and thursday and friday I will be back again for danish. But today they had tysk (german) and I went to the MO2 class. It was so boring! Jens (the klassel(ae)rer - head teacher for my class) keeps saying how advanced I am and just flattering me to make me feel better about it, but it pisses me off when I have to go and waste my time in that class. I don't mean to sound smug or superior, but when we're just sitting around and filling out worksheets, I finish in like 20 minutes, and that was Jens' agenda for the whole day, what am I supposed to think? Plus the kids in the class get on my nerves so much. They are always talking when the teacher's talking, under the pretense that they're trying to translate the danish for one another, but I doubt it. And I thought I was friends with the French kid, Patrick, but all of a sudden he started blowing me off and not talking to me. One time I asked for his help with some math, and he just walked away. Geez!
But I do like the ninth class. I feel so confident about understanding the teachers, and sometimes the kids. Heh heh. But it's true. I don't know what it is, but the kids speak in such a way that I can hardly understand 3 words! But I can deal. Did I tell you that I went to a party a few weeks ago? Yeah, I know - "big deal", but I'm only bringing this up because one of the hostesses of the party was so nice and tried to get everyone to speak slowly for me. That was really great, just to know that she noticed I was having trouble.
Oh, and I'm not going home. Well, of course I am eventually, but not over vinterferie (winter break). Instead, my mum and I are going... skiing! Wahoo! I'm so excited. I've never skiied before! We're going to Norway, and the town is really close to Lillehammer, so my mum says we might go shopping! Cool! But I'm mostly excited about going skiing! Yay! What fun!
8 Mar. 99
Well, I'm pissed off. I just wrote an incredibly long entry, and Tripod didn't save it. I really don't feel like writing it again, but I just wanted you to know that I was thinking of you and I tried...