Tuesday, September 25, 2012

modul 1 and etc.

i woke up to danish in my head and i felt nervous all morning.  it's amazing how nervous i could get over an exam where no one else's future depended on my preparation and performance, and where the examiner was a good-hearted, almost goofy, danish man and not a person sitting high above me in a black robe.  

but the morning was beautiful after lots of rain and wind last night, and not so cold (which is good, because i have lost my ear muffs)...

and on my way to class i ran into greg who had taken the guys to school so i could look up this word or that word one last time. and it is always nice to see my guy's face when i am worried over something... 

i was the second person to class, which is typical.  ever since my fall of 2012 i have always gotten to class early and i have never been tempted to cut that corner again.  

soon the class was buzzing with the energy that surrounds a test.  

'are you nervous?' 



'i don't care about the exam.  but i want to go first to get it over with.'... our young friend and classmate from poland.

so she went first, while the rest of us stayed back and tried to not learn the new vocabulary we were being taught so as not to lose any of the words we might need during the exam.  

15 minutes later, she was back with a big smile...  she'd passed... and a revelation to us all-- we'd learn whether we passed or failed, immediately after the test.  so this would be awkward, i thought, if i came back looking a little glum...

after our trailblazer, the examiner decided to have us pair up... perhaps to make things go faster.  after the second pair left, my friend from england whispered to me that she couldn't put it off any longer.  she needed to get it over with.  

"i'll go with you," i quickly volunteered.  

so when the next pair came back, we jumped up before anyone else had the chance, easy readers in hand.  oy.

down to the examiner's office.  

since i was the more "meget nervos' of the two of us, he had me go first.  six cards, placed face-down: 'book 1' 'book 2' 'book 3' 'topic 1' 'topic 2' 'blank topic' (to give the 'topics' the same chance of being picked as the 'books').  i picked: 'book 1'.... which happened to be 'far'... you remember... henrik and marie... henrik, too busy with his studies to pay any attention to his sweetheart... and then she discovers she's pregnant and he breaks up with her, but in the end decides to do the right thing... 

i had to talk about it for one minute (i know! that's it... just one minute) and then answer questions about it for three.  

deep breath in, then launch into the story in my best basic danish.  i am happy to report that my brain did not fail me as i recited the plot and answered the questions.  then my friend's turn.  then ten pictures, face down.  i chose one.  the idea here is that we would ask the examiner questions about the picture and he would answer and we would go back and forth, question and answer. dialogue.  but instead he had me and my classmate ask and answer the questions... a slightly easier task perhaps or maybe just the feeling like you're in this with someone else.  i turned up a picture of a woman sitting at a desk in a library and we made up a story about how she was a teacher at our language school, with three kids, i presumed grown, but we didn't get that far.  he apparently felt confident enough in our danish to stop the q&a and give us passing marks.  

relief.  on the way back up to the classroom, my friend joked that we should enter it looking gloomy.  

"i don't think i can!" i said, unable to bend the huge smile on my face into a grimace.  

in the end, we all came back smiling.  

of course, just because you pass a test you weren't so sure about, doesn't mean you're not going to have a flat tire when you go back out to your bike.  one good event in the day doesn't immunize you from other mishaps.  and so i found myself walking my bike into town with a flat front tire.  it's amazing how many car shops you pass when you're trying to find a bike shop.  finally, right off the pedestrian street i found one.  

"we can replace the tube," said the bicycle repair man.  

"can you try to patch it?" i asked, thinking this would be the cheaper option.

"no. we only replace tubes here."  

i thought about it.  

"well, okay, better than walking (the full 5.6 kilometers) home."

"fine. we can get it to you later this afternoon."

"oh.  when is the soonest you can get it done?" i asked.

"mmm... an hour and a half," he said.

eh. i decide i can walk it home in that time and decide to pass.  (my second pass of the day!)  

at the next bike store i come to, they cannot get it back to me until 4:30.  nope.  i will walk home.  greg and i talk on the way and agree that it's probably time i replace my now treadless tires anyway, so i'll take it to our local bike shop and have them work on it.

anyway, the long walk gives me time to highlight the setup of our bike paths here-- the ones that run along main streets...

note how you have someone's yard on the far right (here, actually, i think, church property, bordered with hedges).  next the sidewalk... so far, similar to what you'd find in the u.s.  but then, to the left of the sidewalk, you don't find another little patch of grass, like you often have in the u.s.  instead you have the bike path, which is raised up from the road by a curb.  other than at  intersections (where the bike paths are marked by bright blue strips), you don't see buses or parked cars getting in the way of the bike path to drop people off or make right turns.  this is not always true for every path-- occasionally a bike path will spit you out into the right turn lane-- but it's generally true, and it makes for very easy commuting.  so now take this very simple idea back to your city's next council meeting and somehow convince them to find the money and implement this and then the u.s. will be well on its way to creating bike-friendly (or friendlier) cities.  actually, i have no idea how that patch of lawn between the sidewalk and the street works-- does the homeowner own it?  the city?  i'm sure it's all more complicated than ripping out the grass and turning it into a bike path.

okay, back to the task at hand-- getting my bike fixed and getting home.  i'm hungry for lunch at this point!

an hour and twenty minutes after class gets out, i am in the super best parking lot, and head to the bike shop two doors down.  

we agree on what is to be done and i ask him when they'll have it completed.  

"tomorrow," he tells me.  

so that is not an hour and a half later, or even four-thirty.  but at some point, when you establish your loyalty to and put your trust in a place, you will suddenly find yourself settling for tomorrow.  i leave my bike, make a quick stop at the grocery store, and walk the rest of the way home.  

it's 10:30, so let's end with a picture of two matching polar bears, wrestling with their dad before bed tonight...

vi ses i morgen!


nina said...

Oh, good for you! I wasn't sure of the outcome -- your buildup was great! -- but I was sure even early in the post that you were okay with it and that was tremendously cool.

Sorry about the bike. Can you carry a spare and change tubes, or are there SO MANY bike shops in Denmark that it's never necessary to do that?

greg|regan said...

Well, I could do that-- a little pump, a tube in a box, a little tool to get the tire off the rim... wouldn't take up too much room... but the problem is I haven't figured out how to change a bike tire yet. I watched one of my old neighbors do it before we came here, but I'd really have to try it a few times with someone watching, who knows what they're doing, to feel confident about it. The times that Greg's changed or patched the tubes have not been good times for me to watch-- because it's also typically been dinner-prep time or get-the-guys-ready-for-school time. It's on my long term goals list though.

nina said...

Besides, it's always raining.

(I watched Ed do it twice and a bike shop guy do it once, but I have this terrible fear of pinching the tube. Like you, I'd rather wheel the thing to a shop. Which I have done. Or call Ed. Ed! I'm stranded!)

Eric Graessley said...

Congrats on passing the exam!