Tuesday, October 19, 2010

5 Weeks

Nyhavn - downtown waterfront

Christiansborg Palace - home of the Danish Parliment and the Royals

We have been in Copenhagen for well over a month now. I swore on my last post that I was going to write often, and I still plan to, but we have had some complications. My internet was a little funky for awhile and then my computer went a little crazy. Then we moved to our new place and didn't have internet set up for about a week and so I am finally up and running. I don't have much time right now to write a lot, so this is going to be a summary of the last 5 weeks and then I will add more details and pictures tomorrow.

Week one - two: Sleep, Eat, Walk around Copenhagen. We have walked so many miles around Copenhagen. I have seen the most amazing buildings and parks. The first few weeks I just walked around all teary eyed- I kept seeing the most beautful sights I had ever seen. I felt like a I had been wandering in a desert (literally?) and was now shown green for the first time. I am being a little dramatic, but I really could not get over how green and lush and beautiful everything was for the first few weeks. I still feel that way, but it does not overwhelm me now- for the most part. When I went to London a few years ago, it was beautiful, but this has raised my definition of beauty just a little. Nothing against London- I love that place!
We have been down to Nyhavn, the waterfront. There are cool, old, colorful ships lining the harbor, tasty looking restaurants and a ton of people. We have been to so many sights that I can't think of them all anymore. I will start including pictures here soon. We went to the Copenhagen Zoo. It was so fun and you could get so close to the animals. We went with our Swedish friends Lars and Ulrika and their kids. We also went across the water to Malmo, Sweden to stay with them a few days after that. I didn't get to see much of Sweden, but I hope to soon! What I did see was so pretty!
By far the coolest experience I have had here was in a church called Vor Frue Kirken (Church of Our Lady) in the downtown area. This church houses the original Christus statue. The church itself is amazingly beautiful. The architecture is so grand. The aisles are lined with statues of the 12 apostles and there is a woman statue 20 feet or so from the alter. Those statues alone are amazing. As you walk in a look ahead all the way to the alter, you can see the statue of the Christus up ahead. When you walk all the way up there and stand up close, the statue looks so real. It is also quite a bit bigger than the ones I have seen in Mormon temples. As you stand in front of the statue with the organ playing and look up it really feels like you are looking at the reality and not a statue. I can't adequetly express the amazing experience it was to stand there in that church and so I won't try anymore! I plan to return to that church many, many times.

During the second week we had a little bit of a scare because we went down to the local immigration office to register and receive our CPR numbers (like social security numbers, kind of) and cards. Getting these cards gets you access to the free healthcare and registers you in the area and is a vital step in the process. When we sat down with an agent at immigration and showed them our green cards that are stamped into our passports, the lady told us that our green cards are invalid and that she could not issue us CPR numbers. She said that we had to have arrived in Denmark within 3 months of having been issued our green cards. We were issued our green cards in April and we did not get to Denmark until September. They expire if you don't arrive after 3 months, apparently. No one told us that. It was not on the paperwork anywhere that we received with our green cards, the only expiration date on our green cards was 3 YEARS away. We were shocked. And scared. And angry. Mostly scared. The lady told us we had to go down to the main immigration office on the other side of Copenhagen to figure it out. They were already closed by then so had to wait until the next day. Matthew and I were both forming a game plan in our heads for what to do if we got kicked out of Denmark. We could move to Sweden- move in with our dear friends Lars and Ulrika until the green cards got reissued. We could move to the Polish countryside temporarily and find work in the fields. We could go to Germany??? At that point we did not know if they would reissue them. I think we both thought realistically that it would get straightened out and they would issue us green cards and everything would work out, but I was worried that this might delay our access to the healthcare. The rest of that day and the next morning we worried about it and hoped it would be alright.

The next morning we took the bus and then walked to the immigration office. As we walked in we could see it was PACKED. We took a number and just as we were walking in the main waiting area, a Muslim woman in full dress stopped us and told us that we could have her number. Matthew and I were like- okay, thanks. We didn't really look at our number yet or what number was up yet or anything so we just kind of said thank you and went to go sit down. As we sat down and looked at our number, the number that was up next and the number that the lady gave us, we started freaking out! We had something like number 259. The next person to go was number 198 or so. The lady gave us number 210 or so. We were so excited! We felt like it was a break and hope it continued! We met with another immigration lady and she straightened everything out, issued us new green cards and then sent us back to the local immigration office to get our CPR numbers. We were so happy!

Week 3 - Finding a New Apartment- Matthew spent hours and hours trying to find the 30 day apartment we had at first. He got a lot of responses from scammers trying to get him to send them money, but mostly did not get a lot of possible apartments. It is difficult because we have a dog and a baby and need a fully furnished place and didn't want to sign a lease or anything. We had so much to do before we left the United States that we realized Matthew could not continue to spend two hours a day hunting for apartments so he thought of the idea to contact a place he liked and just offer a lot more than the landlord was asking for. He did that and we secured the 30 day place quickly!

Matthew starting looking for our second apartment once we had been there about a week and a half. There is a lot of competition for housing here. He looked for a few days and found a cute place that had just been posted. Matthew emailed and called and he was the first to go see the place. Apparently the landlord had just posted it and received around 200 calls in the first two days! Matthew went to see it that night and came home and we called the guy and accepted it that night. We feel really happy that we got it! It is tough here and we have the dog, a baby, we need a fully furnished place and the fact that we don't have jobs. That makes landlords nervous! So, we moved in about a week and a half ago.

Week 4- Moving In - One of our friends, Stine, knows someone who has a car and she helped us move all our stuff into the new place. The furniture that is already here is okay. We don't love any of it, but we don't hate it. We can work with it- we are just happy to have a bed and a couch. Oh! And the landlord left silverware, plates, pots, pans- a fully stocked kitchen! It was such a blessing! I can't imagine how much money we would have to spend on those things! We have done a lot of moving furniture around and we cleaned every surface in the entire place. I will post video of it tomorrow, I love the windows and the light and that it is twice as big as our other place. We desperatly need rugs and art to make the place look more homey, but that will take some time. The location is good. We have a beautiful cemetary really close (in Denmark the cemetaries are like parks you can just stroll through and look at the amazing foliage). We also have a really cool church (pictures below), a fun downtown area about 15 minutes away that is all immigrant shops with Middle Eastern pastries and fruit stands and buffets and grocery stores. Most everything in that area is Middle Eastern. We are really enjoying it so far!
Grundtvigs Kirken - in our neighborhood

Week 5- Maybe We Should Stop Slacking Off and Look for Jobs - We met with someone from workindenmark.dk - a job search help resource that Danish Labor puts out there to help Danes and immigrants find jobs. The guy we met with went over our resumes and gave us good revision tips and good job search resouces. It was a very beneficial meeting. We have a ton of work to do on the job front!

Olivia got sick last Wednesday. At first it was just a cold. Then it turned into a bad cold with some kind of eye infection. The infection really kicked in last on Saturday morning. We waited until Monday morning because we kept thinking her eye would clear up on its own and the cough would subside. They didn't. We took her to see a doctor on Monday (yesterday) around noon. The doctor said her eye was infected and prescribed her some medicaiton- some for her eye and some to take orally for her cough and cold. I got her home and gave her the medicine and put her down for a nap. An hour later she woke up crying and would not stop. Then she started throwing up. And throwing up. I tried to call the doctor but she had gone home for the day. We called the after hours line and they told me to take her to the hospital to see what was going on. We walked down to the hospital- it is only about 15 minutes away (the most beautiful hospital I have ever seen, by the way). When you get to the hospital you just slide your CPR card in a little reader. No paperwork, no check in, just slide it and go sit down in the waiting room. We waited about half an hour and then saw the doctor on call. He examined her and said she had an infection in her lung and her eyes. He said that she was throwing up because she probably did not have enough food in her stomach when she took the medicine. He told me to keep giving it to her but make sure she eats more and come back if there are any problems. The doctor was not worried about her and that made me very happy. The other thing that put a huge smile on my face- not paying to go to the emergency room or to the doctors' office earlier that day.

This morning when Olivia woke up she looked so much better! Her eyes were still red but at least she could open them! I am so relieved that she is doing so much better, poor kid! Now Matthew has taken over being sick. At this moment I have two sick people in the house. Little Olivia and Ole' Soupy Sales (Matthew). I hope they both get better soon!

Well, that is the short version. I will add more about the last 5 weeks in detail later.

Finally- The most pleasant suprise about Copenhagen so far: the city is so thoughtfully constructed towards babies, strollers, and kids. There is a changing table everywhere I go ( I remember nursing Olivia in the Phoenix Art Musuem hiding in that window outcropping where you have that amazing view of the city a year ago and pretending to be really into the view for about 15 minutes). Every curb has a ramp for strollers. All the busses and trains have special areas for them where no one else can be if you need the room. It is great. There are parks everywhere. Right next to our apartment we have a park with a freaking zip line in it!! What!!!

The most unpleasant suprise about Copenhagen so far: everyone smokes. All the time. The young, the old, the very young. And usually they do it in doorways just as you walk through them! That is really my only complaint about Denmark so far. Not bad.


Evelyn Campbell Curtis said...

beautiful pictures! I'm glad you all are adjusting, and hope you don't get sick but everyone else gets better!

Elizabeth said...

I love the pictures of both churches. So simple in their design. Not much like Italy at all. :)

Great to hear you guys are settling in. It sounds freaking awesome. Make room for my family of six in your living room! lol

Lucia said...

Sounds like an adventure! Love the pics. Sounds like you are communicating easily, do most people know English?