Settling in Level 3

This is one overdue blog post! I have missed updating you all on all things Danish but life suddenly got quite busy. Lydia, work, language classes and some super fun visits from friends and family, haven’t left much time for blogging. If I have any time left at the end of the day, which tends to be 9pm, going on Lydia’s recent bedtimes, I tend to choose to sleep. If I had one of those Trainspotting t-shirts from back in the day, mine would be amended to ‘Choose Sleep.’

So it’s about time you had an update, and we’ve hit some pretty big settling in wins lately. So here we go…

1. We have both started our Danish language lessons.

It’s so nice to use parts of my brain that have been in slumber since school and feel like I’m really challenging it. And even though I haven’t had many lessons, I can now pick out words I here in every day life and that’s a huge settling in win.  Rich and I are in separate schools, as one of us needs to look after Lydia, so Rich has been going on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and I’ve been going on Monday and Wednesday evenings. My school, called Studieskolen is quite hardcore it would appear. Lessons are 5.30pm-9pm and there’s a lot of homework. I had to actually be interviewed to get onto the course, which involved an English grammar test, that I feared I’d failed after forgetting what an ‘article’ was. Embarrassed English Lit graduate. Then I had to translate Danish even though I hadn’t had any lessons. Perhaps they were testing I had some sort of brain up there?! Anyway, I got on the course and my first lesson came after a 24 hour flight back from San Diego. I looked a little spaced out to my new classmates. I’d like to say that look has changed, but as a mummy to a toddler who never sleeps, I don’t think it has. No one else in the class has a child, which is my reason for being the one who never does their homework on time. Richie’s lessons have been more relaxed, finishing at an early 8pm. His school was called Clavis. I say ‘was’ because halfway through his module, he received a letter from the government informing him that his language school was closing. The students found out before the teachers and just like that, before even finishing the module, his class was dismissed and told to enrol at a new school. There are now three language schools left to choose from in Copenhagen, compared to the original six, because the government are no longer funding those that teach ‘labour market-related Danish.’ The rumour on the language school circuit, is that it’s the beginning of the phasing out of free language classes altogether. Whether that is true or not, I have no idea, but we are extremely grateful to be learning while we can. Rich will start his new school in September, and I will continue with my classes after a summer break. I will keep you updated on all things Danish language and how difficult the pronunciation is! Right now, my only aim is to converse with toddlers. And that, I am beginning to achieve. Win win!

Standard language text book image. Standard swotty Emma notes.
This image is so very accurate.

2. Keeping with the theme of Danish – Lydia can speak some of the language!

Aged 21 months, Lydia can count to ten in Danish – not always in the right order and sometimes mixed with a bit of English, but she can do it. Eight ‘otte’ and ten ‘ti’, are her favourite numbers. She also says ‘vi ses’, which is ‘see you’, ‘hi hi’, which is ‘bye’ and the word that gets the most use at the moment, ‘nej’ which means ‘no’. I think she’s probably saying other words that she’s picked up at nursery but I wouldn’t know. A mum told me last week she was saying peekaboo to me in Danish. I thought she was doing a poo.

3. Lydia is in Danish nursery – vuggustue.

She started at the beginning of June and settled in after just a week of building up from one hour to five. It was heart wrenching, just as it was when she started nursery in England. I’ve personally found nursery the hardest part of parenthood so far. Thankfully, it didn’t take Lydia long before she was running in to greet her friends. Perhaps because she was older, this time at 20 months, rather than 12 months when she started in England, but it was a much smoother transition. The nursery gave me photos and names of everyone in her class, as well as a laminated sheet of Danish vocab they would be saying to her during the day, so I could repeat it at home. Lyds knows all her nursery friends’ names by heart – Sophus, Viggo, Jens Peter, Clara, Christian, Daniel…I won’t list them all as there a quite a few. And not quite as many adults. This is the Danish way it seems. It’s laid back, and then some. It has and still is, taking me a bit of time to adjust to it. Lydia is happy, I can tell, it’s just poor Rich and I who are left a little in the dark as to what she actually does there. The motto of a lot of Danish nurseries, is no news is good news. In England I was given a sheet of paper at the end of each day, telling me exactly what Lydia ate, how many nappy changes she had, what made her laugh, what made her sad and a development ‘test’ to check she was reaching milestones in social and physical development. The end of a nursery day here, consists of me asking:

“How has she been today?”

“Fine. Vi ses i morgen!”

We get updated via an app with photos of what the children are doing each day and I know they will text me if Lydia is having a bad day. It’s just a different kind of approach that I’m getting used to. Yesterday I logged into the app to see photos of them building a camp fire in the playground. You know, like you do with under twos! Lyds is happy and healthy so we are just trying to go with the Danish flow.

4. I got a work project that took me to San Diego.

I had never been to San Diego before and even though I was in the air for longer than I was on the ground, it was so much fun to work with a Californian crew,  produce something different and briefly see some of San Diego. Watching flight films all by myself, was also a huge novelty! (I, Daniel Blake by far the stand out.).  I’d never left Lydia for longer than a night, so being away for three nights and four days, did make me have a little cry when I said goodbye. Yes, this is how I am now. You give me San Diego filming fun, I give you tears.

6. Summer has arrived in Copenhagen.

And wow what a city it becomes. It took a while. Back in May, while England was basking in a heat wave, here in Copenhagen it was pretty darn cold. Rich did actually ask at one point, whether we’d moved to a country where you can never take off your coat and kids have balaclavas sewn onto them. But by the end of May, we were officially out of winter and we’ve enjoyed some gorgeous summer days. Blog posts about day trips, visitors and a minibreak are to follow. As you can see, we’ve discovered quite a few places and all of them are on our doorstep. The beauty of Copenhagen.

Belle Vue beach in Klampenborg
Hellerup
Frederiskberg Have
Islands Brygge
Christianshavn
Nyhavn

7. Visitors

As mentioned above, we have enjoyed some lovely visits from friends and Richie’s parents. We’ve also had two trips to see my grandparents and aunt and uncle in Jutland, including a lovely four days on the island Rømø, where my grandparents have a summer house. My parents. sister Izzy and her boyfriend Dan also came out to join us there. After five months away from them, it was so lovely to catch up and Lydia was in her element.  Rømø is where we have spent most summer holidays since I was at school, so it is always a special time for all of us. I’ll tell you all about it in another post.

8. And the best win for last. Rich got a job….and then he got a better job!

You probably noticed in the networking article I wrote back in May, that I casually mentioned, what we had all been waiting for….Rich got a job! Now I didn’t go all bells and whistles about it on here because a) it was a temporary job and b) we were waiting until the contract was signed, after a previous experience where Rich was offered a job and then the company folded. That aside, we were so relieved when it all came through, thanks to Richie’s friend at his language school. And it timed just as Lydia was about to start nursery. The job was and still is, cleaning hire cars, checking for damage, filling in paper work and driving them to an allotted space. Repeat. 8 hours on a shift rota. Part of my brain thought, eek – Rich is a business graduate with nearly 10 years experience working in sales and he’s having to clean cars. But it’s a job, in a country where you don’t speak the language and Rich has really enjoyed working there; he’s met people from all over the world and made new friends. They all have their own story to tell, of how they ended up washing cars in Copenhagen.

The day Rich signed his contract for the hire car job, he got a phone call out of the blue. A global tiles company were on the look out for a Scandinavia Sales Manager and a contact Rich had made during his networking, had put him forward for the role. Richie’s work in the U.K. involved selling tiles, so this was a perfect job and actually part of his career progression. One week later, someone from the company flew out to interview Rich at Copenhagen Airport. He was told there was one other person in the running for the job at this point, and he spoke Swedish. We know how this ends, we thought, yet we hoped differently. One week later, while Rich was on his way to his first late shift, he got the call. He was their new Scandinavia sales manager. He’d done it! Eight months after his first Danish application back in October, Rich had made it happen. Interviews, meetings, networking events, application after application and that small matter of a relocation – it had paid off. Those cars got the best clean of their lives that day.

Rich starts his new role on 1st September and a new chapter in the Danish adventure begins. It also coincides with the time we move apartments (not actually found one yet) and comes just after our first trip back to England in August (to attend four weddings-yes four). So it really will feel like we’re starting afresh, but in a settled kind of way.

When the sun is shining down on you...

Six months on…

This new chapter is probably the point most people begin their journey of living abroad – with jobs sorted, a place to live and nursery set up. We have definitely taken the road less travelled, working it out as we go along with a dollop of family-belief, and sense of adventure. It’s not been easy. May and June were both months where we had to have conversations about how long we could sustain living here if the right job didn’t come along, and we discussed all our back up plans, including the date we would go home. On top of this, we really felt the gap of grandparent support when we got about three full night’s sleep during the month of May, and then June brought us hand, foot and mouth disease. Cue a screaming Lydia, rather frazzled parents, a call to Danish 111, a knock at the door from a concerned neighbour, ending in lullabies from Richie’s mum via Facetime for Lydia but quite frankly I think we all needed it. They have been testing times but we made it. We’ve constantly got each other’s backs, checking the other is still ok doing this, ready for the next stage and still happy. And here we are, at Settling In Level Three, nearly six months into Danish living and so excited and grateful we have got more to come. There’s so much more to say, so much more to learn. I look forward to keeping you with us as we progress on our Danish dream. x

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