Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Next Time. :)

What I would do different if I ever move to a new country again:

- Learn the language. I'd never use it to talk to anyone probably, but at least I could read signs and my mail. I hate going to the grocery store and in the checkout aisle seeing a big sign in capital, red letters which is saying something that is obviously important and I have NO idea what it says. It took me forever to translate the swimming party flyer. To learn Danish now would just be silly, we are leaving in a year and I doubt I'll ever hear Danish again. :) (Awww... sounds a bit sad... and a bit relieving!!)

- Bring more supplies. Instead of bringing however many 25lb cat food bags would fit in my trunk I'd estimate how many I'll really need and bring that many. I still feel bad about not finding a cat food my cats like yet. Running out of peanut butter is my worst fear. Scotty would FREAK. :) I wish I would have filled every single empty space in that shipping container.

- Go shopping. Spend a week and go into every store and shopping center to see what is there. AND write down where you find something good because you won't remember where you found it. AND buy it if it's really good because they may never have it again.

- Public Transportation. In the first week ride the train and the bus around so you know how to do it. I think the train is much easier than I thought and it could have been helpful all along. ...and riding the bus is a survival skill as well. I had to drop off the car the other week at the shop and was able to confidently walk to the nearest bus station through the freezing rain with my poor two children and make my way home. (Then call a friend for a ride back) :)

- Go to Bakery and buy one of everything. Maybe something is yummy. You'll spend the first year trying everything anyways to find the ONE yummy thing. Just get it over with. I'd do this at the grocery stores too. If you don't know what it is and there's a possibility it is yummy - buy it and try it. You'll get desperate enough eventually... so again, just get it over with.

- Find activities. ...and be a bully about it. It took me forever to get my kids in activities here. I roamed the halls of gymnasiums "FYI these are NOT gyms, they are high schools"; I visited swimming pools; I harassed other parents... :) It took me too long to sign the kids up for things.

- Find Websites. Find a good translating website... one that will translate most words. I used a terrible one and put up with it for most of the year. Then I found gram trans and was able to translate... and thus able to find activities for the kids. :) ...also a community website that tells about activities in the city would be nice too - haven't found that one yet.

So there you have it... Those are my less obvious ones. I'm sure there's more, but I need to get ready for the first of five parties in the next three days. :) Sierra wants me to wear something sparkly... Sierra is WAY too into this party. She's planned her outfit for the past two weeks, she spent an insane amount of time on her "snack mix" to bring (pretzels, crackers, American GOLDFISH!, popcorn, etc...) She even got out of bed on my first request today. She said today will be better than Christmas! :)

13 comments:

Amy said...

If you are only in Denmark for a year, then why not do as the Danes when in Denmark for a year? I've not read what your purpose for being in Denmark is, but since you have this once in a lifetime chance, then don't fret the peanut butter, live like a Dane for a year and let your kids also. Your kids will handle things well if you do, all you have to do is be positive to the situation and your kids will fall in line also, that or they will find something else to eat then peanut butter. I think that is a problem a lot of expats who are only on a short term stay in Europe run into, they have tried to bring all their American comforts in their suitcases and hope it will last the entire time they are in the foreign country for God forbid we have to try something that isn't familiar to us!! I'm really saying this with humour, so I hope you aren't reading it as anything else...I think what I'm trying to say is your year will be a lot more enjoyable if you follow that saying, "When in Rome-" only you are in Denmark...so it would be, "When in Denmark".
I also recommend a child's book that has both Danish and English words in it, I used those a LOT when we first moved, sounds silly but I figured if I had pictures and words to go together, I'd get around a lot easier quicker.
I also hear ya about finding something you like and buying it because they might not have it again, they didn't have rice krispies here for the longest time, then they got them and we were making rice krispie treats left and right, then next time we went to the store, the rice krispies were gone...and we haven't seen them since...boo hoo....

'Babs' said...

That's a really good list, and could be helpful to anyone reading who is planning to come this way.

I'd add: be ready for culture shock ;)

I have spent so much time being shocked about the culture shock, if I had of known before hand to expect this I think I wouldn't have been so unhappy about it.

But boy, are you lucky to be getting out of here:) DK is wonderful, in so many ways, but to spend a lifetime here and only leave to go on holiday would be so limiting. LOL, a bit like an open prison.

'Babs' said...

..P.s: back again - have just read Amy's comment and have to say that I disagree somewhat. I think that even though it was meant with good humor that it does come across as a little disparaging.

One of the hardest things about being transplanted to another country, as a refugee or through marriage or because of a temp.work contract or whatever,is that it is not as simple as just 'doing in Rome'.

Especially difficult to do is when we bring our children, because then we have the worry of how it will affect them and if they will assimilate the experience in a healthy way.

One of the best things one can do for ones family when one is in a new place is to keep the familiar around the children as much as possible, and this would include supplies from home.

It is a myth that kids are 'resilient'. They are sensitive and need to feel secure.

It must not be forgotten that these supplies, this clinging to the home land life through food products is also a connection to the people and family we have 'left behind'. Children often gain great comfort from, for example, eating the sandwich spread they associate with grandma.

(We have a lot of stuff shipped and to be frank, a lot of the reason for this is that the food is so bland here. Thank God for the middle eastern deli!)

I have met people who have lived through being transplanted and become adults. This is all anecdotal, but I couldn't help noticing that those children who were transplanted in an unsympathetic way (ie.: when in Rome, now suck it up)ended up with some form of personality splitting type psycho ailment to contend with in adult life.

In my experience, children from a bilingual and multi national background in DK tend to have the most problems long term in the system, but the families that manage to avoid this happening appear to be those who do not relinquish their home culture but pay their respect to the DK way too.

It is too much of a big deal to let it go as 'the kids will fall in line' :)

I reckon, from what I have read of Tara's purpose here, through her blog, that she is positive, that she has really made great strides to interface with the native culture here, and that her kids have definitely gained from her efforts to balance the adventure of being here for a short while and retaining their home culture.

It doesn't make any difference whether an international family is here for two years or twenty, the way to happiness here is different for everyone, for some newbies it is to become Danish (very easy and the government run courses in it and one basically has to just give up;) and for others it is to protect their 'international-ness'.

We can do both and make a contribution to Danish society, and realistically speaking, there isn't one way to do this, it is entirely personal. Tara's list shows this very clearly.

:)

Lisa said...

I have been reading your blog and love it! My husband and I are looking for jobs in Denmark as we speak. I have kids and would love to ask you some direct questions. my e-mail is ldarnell@pacbell.net. OH and I would add canned pumpkin!

Anonymous said...

@Amy

Kellog's Rice Krispies can be bought in just about every supermarket in Denmark year in and year out, so I don't understand why you haven't been able to find it.

Anonymous said...

Quote: "also a community website that tells about activities in the city would be nice too - haven't found that one yet".

Try these 3 websites:
http://aarhus.dk (click Kultur, Fritid & Sport etc.)
http://www.guide.dk
http://www.visitaarhus.com/international/en-gb/menu/turist/turist-maalgruppe-forside.htm

Anonymous said...

Yes GramTrans is probably the best translator between Scandinavian languages and English.
http://www.gramtrans.com/?uilang=en

Google Translate has also included Danish language now, some sentences tansaltes better in Google Translator and other in GramTrans.
http://translate.google.com

Babelfish still don't have Danish language.

Kelli Nørgaard said...

Anonymous... Amy lives in NORWAY, not Denmark.

Tara... first of all, if you are only here one more year, you are DEFINITELY coming to our next girls night out!!!!!

I think your list is amazing... and I agree wholeheartedly about the language. It has been critical to my acclimation. Of course, I am suspect I will live here for many many years so I have a bigger need, but there are always times that it is needed with signage...who knows, you could miss out on a REALLY great deal at the market if you cannot read it. And we know how few and far between those REALLY great deals are! LOL

Your list is great.. and I hear you about the being pushy to get the kids involved! That one is critical! Just jump in with both feet and making the very best of the situation, as our kiddoes are watching us.

And another note...on my blog is the link to my email. Shoot me an email sometime and we can figure out a time to meet for coffee?!? If I do not end up in Århus in the next few weeks, maybe we could meet halfway in Silkeborg?!

Amy said...

Wow, just goes to show how much gets lost in translation through the written word...I could just let this slide but then it would almost be like I agree with Babs in that I had some malicious intentions with my posting and I didn't. I really was trying to give MY humble perspective on your situation. Of course everyone is different and what has worked for me might not work for you. Only you know your family best and if Peanut butter from the states is that important to your family by all means do what is best for them!!!! I wouldn't encourage anything else, but again, on an open forum like this, people write their experiences and what has worked for them and you either take advice or oversee it based on what is best for you and your family.

I would also say that we haven't given up on our American traditions and culture just because we live in Norway, but it has been easier to adopt more of the Norwegian way of life then try and be an American living like an American in Norway. In our case, our children are both Norwegian and American so we have tried to give them both cultures but of course the Norwegian one has dominated since we live here. But this is our situation and as I mentioned every situation is different.
I really meant nothing bad by my posting and I'm sorry if you were hurt by anything I've written. I'm sure you are doing the absolute best for your kids and your family!!!

'Babs' said...

WOA Amy, hold your horses, I didn't infer that you were being malicious!

I read your comment to be a 'little disparaging' is all.

Disparagement is a long way from malice

;)

Now you have explained more of your position, that your children are both Norwegian and American, your original advice could not be seen as disparaging, you probably hadn't read that Tara was not as deeply rooted as you.

I wanted to offset the 'when in Rome' suggestion to Tara, because I suspect that is the overwhelming pressure. But the 'in Rome' can do more harm than good for some international families here, especially if they are only here a short time.

Amy said...

Babs- again, I humbily apologize for the misunderstanding! No hard feelings?? :-)
Peace and Happy Holidays

'Babs' said...

No hard feelings at all.

Happy holidays to you too :)

Tara said...

Feeling obligated to respond... :) I think we have "done as the danes" pretty well. We did the bus thing, we bought bikes and rode places, we did the bakery once a week thing, slush ice for the kids, we ate those red plasticy hotdogs... I just want to give them peanut butter and some of their favorite non-healthy American snacks and cereals every now and then.

I feel like such a terrible mother at least twice a month because they don't get to watch playhouse disney, and scotty can't talk to other kids, and they only know a handful of kids that speak english, they didn't get plastic easter eggs, and they don't get to see houses COVERED in Christmas lights this year. I miss seeing them have these things more than they miss having them I'm sure.

I know they'll be fine. :) I know missing Yo Gabba Gabba isn't the end of the world.

I want my kids to look at Denmark as just another place... they do things different and talk different.. but it doesn't make it wrong or bad. When the parents complain, the kids do too. I'm guilty. I'll come home and complain about the little milk cartons and the next thing I know the girls hate the milk cartons.

I did know a family that was here that had a big box of America UPS'd over nearly every month, How jealous was I! Even though I had learned to make my own cream of mushroom soup by then I happily took hers when she left.

I'm not even going to read back over this to see if it makes sense. ..and PS I don't have spell check either. I'm going to the couch and hope that Andrea is asleep for the night. :)

Text is hard to read sometimes. You lose tone of voice and facial expresions... I didn't take offense to anyones comments. :) We're all in this together! ;)

Oh and :) We have a kids "min forste bondegards bog". Sierra was looking through it tonight and making a list of Danish words and what they were in English. ...to help me at the store. :)

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