Starting again

I’m sure, if you read my blog, that you’ve noticed a conspicuous absence of posts lately.  There were two main reasons for the “gap”.

The first is that I haven’t been blogging about bioinformatics because I didn’t want to blur my work with my blog.  It’s a challenging line to walk, and maintaining it requires a lot of late evenings, which have lately been sucked up by my daughter.  Only in the past week has that time started to be available again. (Thank goodness my daughter is sleeping well, finally!)

The second is that my family has been making some big decisions.  The biggest of the bunch is that we’ll be returning to North America.  Denmark hasn’t worked out for us, and this is really the only logical decision we could make.  Our original timeline was for three years in Denmark, but we’ll be cutting it down to one year.

Yes, that does mean I’m officially looking for a new job for the start of 2013, either in Vancouver or San Francisco – the two places that my family would be happiest.  If anyone knows of a company looking to hire a bioinformatician with experience in Next-gen sequencing in either of those cities, please let me know!  As I’ve discussed with my employer, I’ll be working in Denmark until the end of the year, but will be available in January.

For the moment, I’m making arrangements to do a post-doc, but I’m not sure that’s really a step forward for my career.

As for why things haven’t worked out here, I think it’s a combination of a lot of factors, but most obvious is that Denmark is really a hard country to find your way in.  The language is challenging, and with a young child, we haven’t been able to dedicate the time to the intensive language classes that are available, and we also haven’t been able to really find a social network that comes close to replacing the ones we’d left behind in Canada.  With our closest family members being a minimum of 18 hours away by plane, this just isn’t working well for us given that we have a young child.

Of course, there are other factors, ranging from the trivial (and silly) to complex, which include (in no particular order):

  • Accessibility (it’s much harder to get around in Denmark with a young child, compared to North America, particularly since Canadians can not get a driver’s licence here)
  • Availability (We’re forced to order from UK or further away to buy many of the products we need/want for our child because they’re just not available in Denmark.)
  • Comfort issues (Denmark doesn’t believe in bathtubs, for instance, and I haven’t had a shower in Denmark that didn’t involve either frozen toes or scalding blasts of hot water since arriving),
  • Pets health (still haven’t found a replacement food for the cat after searching for half a year)
  • Community (Everything shuts down on Sundays, which is devastating when you’re living in a “small” town and only have a handful of friends.)

All in all, however, I think these are simply things we take for granted in North America, and  a year in Denmark has been an expensive education in recognizing how differently Europeans and North Americans see the world.

Thus, I’ll be returning to North America with a lot more life experience and hoping that someone out there will want to put it to good use.

Weather

I thought I’d share two pictures from the other day.  They’re far from good, as I took them on my phone, but they’re interesting.  We’d been having on and off rain, some of which has been positively torrential.

image

image

Both pictures were taken from my balcony – and you can see the rain coming.

I can’t say that I’m enjoying the Danish summer, really.  It’s either cold, rainy or both, for the most part.  In defence of Danish summers, though, I’ve been told that this is the coldest one in the past 20 years, so that might explain my rather unenthusiastic attitude.  Frankly, the best part of it is that only every 2nd day is windy.

 

Accessibility

Walking the dog this morning, I remembered another subject I wanted to blog about: Accessibility.  It’s something that the Danes appear to be absolutely incompetent about.  I haven’t figured out if it’s because they genuinely don’t realize that it’s an issue, or if they just don’t care.

image

You’re probably wondering why there’s a picture of my dog on a random sidewalk in this post.  Well, the dog’s in the picture just because I figured it would be an even more boring picture without the dog… but if you can get past that, this picture is relevant for a number of reasons.

The first reason is that it shows a typical danish sidewalk, composed of blocks of concrete, with a line of cobblestones down the center.  This particular example of sidewalk is relatively new, and looks pretty flat, but overall, most sidewalks aren’t.  The concrete has sharp lips everywhere, the cobblestones stick up and are tripping hazards, and the shoulders are often uneven.  For anyone with difficulties walking, these sidewalks are probably a serious challenge to navigate.  Even worse, many of the walking areas of the city are composed entirely of (highly irregular) cobblestones – which is probably impossible for wheelchair bound people.

Personally, I really notice it with the pram/stroller/baby buggy, as it’s just about impossible to walk some of the streets.  But, I opted to buy a small stroller, while most Danes buy $1000 strollers with off-road, all-terrain wheels with proper suspensions.

The second reason why that picture is important is that I have seen someone in a wheelchair try to navigate the corner at the end of the block, where the concrete blocks disappear and switch entirely to cobblestone.  Unfortunately, the small wheels at the front of the chair got stuck in the cobblestones…  Three times.  It was horribly unpleasant to watch, particularly knowing that it will probably happen at every intersection.

The third reason is that the picture is important is that it also shows some construction.  The entire street and sidewalk at the end of the block was ripped up last week, and has since been redone in it’s entirety.  Previously, cars were able to cross the intersection where the red signs are, but that’s now been altered, forcing cars to turn right at the cross road.  Incidentally, this road is one of the main roads in Aarhus – the inner ring road.

That has my final two points relevant to this topic: both of which speak volumes about how the Danes perceive their environment:

I can no longer cross the intersection here with the stroller, meaning I have to walk around to the nearest lights.  That may have been their intention, but considering that there’s a Netto right across the street, this intersection sees a *lot* of foot traffic, some of which has moved along to the new intersection where there are lights.  However, with the new right turn in place, cars are now doing U-turns in batches at the next intersection, which has made crossing there much less safe as well.  Overall, they’ve done very little to improve the safety.

And the final point – they’ve done nothing to improve accessibility, despite completely tearing up the intersection and the sidewalks.  They haven’t bothered to lower curbs for wheelchairs or to improve the intersection for non-foot traffic.  Instead of an accessible curb, they put in a 20cm wide gob of asphalt as a mini-ramp, which I can assure you is impossible to use with a stroller, because the angle is so steep anyhow.  I can guarantee that if a stroller can’t get up some of these curbs, someone in a wheelchair will struggle just as badly.

So, it seems to me that accessibility is just not even on the radar in Aarhus. It’s a shame – it’s a pretty town, and I’ve even discovered that cruise ships dock here, but they’re making life difficult for their own citizens and throwing away tourism dollars as people with young children or disabilities will struggle to navigate the streets.  What a shame.

Perspectives

One of the more interesting things about living in a foreign country is that you have an opportunity to gain a new perspective on your environment.  Living outside your comfort zone either drives you nuts, or into a completely new way of looking at things.  That is, you adapt or you run.

In the first few months, you spend so much of your time just trying to get your bearings that you don’t really see past the challenges.  Learning a new language, figuring out how the bank works, dealing with the little details of life.  All of that occupies all of your brain power.

Somewhere along the line, you start to see past the frustrations and start to get into a routine.  You know what to buy at the store, how to take the bus and maybe know a few of the customs – what to say and what not to say to your colleagues.

Eventually, you start to gain an understanding of the people… well, maybe not, but you get a sense of what’s important to them – and you can contrast that with what’s important to you: finally, a sense of perspective.

Most curiously, after all this time, what I find interesting, at this phase of insight, is that Danes don’t share the same sense of progress as North Americans.  The goal of “getting ahead” just doesn’t seem to be a driving force.  In Canada, we spend a lot of time saving up for retirement, planning our future, looking for ways to get ahead in our respective careers and all that jazz.  In Denmark, people are happy with where they are, they look for a comfortable job, a nice (ridiculously expensive) car, and probably 3 kids.

Most likely it’s because income equality is so flat – you’re not going to make a whole lot more by climbing the corporate ladder (unless you’re really high up in the company, I suspect).

And there’s nothing wrong with that – it’s just different. It leads to a workforce that works well together – and has surprisingly few of the “office politics” you see in North America.  Teams really ARE teams.  But when discussing the future, it’s very likely that Danes just don’t understand what it is that’s driving the foreigners. Truly, a case of “lost in translation”.

Then there’s the whole Jante law (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_of_Jante) thing, which factors into it… but that’s another discussion for another day.

Anyhow, I’m sure there are many further insights coming.  Being able to work out the local newspaper – and slowly understanding a bit of what my colleagues are saying is helping out a lot in understanding Danes…  but it’s a slow, frustrating process.  A few more months, and maybe I’ll finally understand what makes people here tick.

Deposits

One of those little things you take for granted in Canada: You can use ATMs to do most of your banking.  Apparently, in Denmark (at least, at my bank), ATMs are for withdrawals only.  I had to go into the bank and tell them that I couldn’t figure out how to do a deposit.  The response:

“No, of course not.  You can’t do deposits on an ATM.  It is a something we are working on and should have in place soon!”

It’s been a LONG time since I’ve had to go up to the counter to put money into my account.  In fact, the last time was when I was around 10 years old, after the bank had written several letters to me telling me to stop putting coins into the ATM. (Oh, the things we do as children.)

Visiting the bank, yesterday, I felt just like I had just come back from collecting money from the people on my paper route – minus the fact I didn’t have to tell them how many coins were in the envelope.

Naming a child in Denmark

Here’s a weird post, but I figured I should leave a breadcrumb trail on the Internet for people who will be following in my path – if there are any, that is!  At the least, this is information that would have been useful to me before hand.

If you’re having a child in Denmark, the process by which you give your child and name, and subsequently have proof of said name is not obvious, unless you’re a Dane.

Contrary to what I expected, a child is given a CPR number as soon as they are born.  Within minutes of being born, in fact. This number roughly translates to the SIN or Social Security Numbers for North Americans, so I was expecting to have to apply for it, which is not the case.  In fact, the process is a little different in that the child is entered into the Danish system immediately, and the rest of the process is simply filling in the details in the computer.

The first thing you need to do is decide on a name, which isn’t as easy as it might sound.  First, the name you pick MUST be on the list of acceptable names for a child.  If it is unusual, foreign or otherwise novel to Denmark, you must apply to have the name recognized.  This does not apply to last names, however, just given names.  Fortunately, the name list is quite extensive, and any reasonably common name (and some that really aren’t) are already there.

[Edit: I forgot one thing – the usage of names in Denmark is different from North American in an odd way – middle names, here, are not the same – at least, they are not analogous.  In the end, despite trying to convince me to use the Danish convention where “middle names” are maternal last names or something similar, neither I or tr woman at the church office felt strongly enough about it to change what I’d already entered into the computer.]

Once you’ve selected the name, you can head over to https://www.personregistrering.dk/, where you must log in using the mother’s identification.  (If you’re not in Denmark, you won’t be familiar with the system, but it involves using your CPR number, a password and a disposable key card with ~200 key/response pairs.  It’s quite a neat system, really.)  The mother can then enter the name of the child into the system. At this point, the computer then will Email the father and require that the father log in (using the his own CPR number, password and key card) and confirm the name in the system.

However, this is where it starts to become interesting.  If you will be christening the child, you’re more or less done the process at this point, and you can head over to your local church to finish the process.   If you won’t be christening the child, you’re more or less done as well – unless you’d like a birth certificate – in which case, the process is a little more involved.

What you need to do, at this point, is to figure out which parish you live in.  In my case, I went to city hall, and told them I wanted a birth certificate for my child, and they said “Go Here” and handed me a piece of paper with an address.  That address (Vestregade 21) turned out to be a church run office, where I had to figure out that I needed to enter through the front door, walk up a flight of stairs, and through a sitting room to find a woman who is in charge of church registrations.

What you then find out is that the church waits exactly 15 days after the child is born to enter the baby’s name into the system from the information in personregistrering database manually from a printed out copy.  Once it’s in the church system, they can simply print off a sheet of watermarked paper with the information on it – in both English and Danish, if you ask politely.

Surprisingly, it doesn’t contain the basic information on “where the child was born”, simply in which parish they’ve been registered, which took me by surprise.  In any case, at this point, you will have the equivalent of a birth certificate for your child – which, if you can read the Danish, you will find out is actually a certificate that you have registered the name to the child, not that the child was born.

And there you have it, now you know how to name a baby in Denmark!

Contentment

It’s always easier to blog when you’re upset about something than when you’re feeling content.  Content isn’t a strong emotion that motivates people to get out of their chair and write something, but today, I feel content enough that I wanted to share it.  That’s a huge change from the past 6 months.

Yes, the arrival of my daughter has something to do with it – she’s already impressed me with her wonderful personality – and she’s not even two weeks old yet.  As a father, I couldn’t be any happier.

But, it’s not just that.  A LOT of my complaints about our relocation to denmark have been solved.  Not all of them, but enough of them.  Relocating to a house that suits us has made a massive impact on our quality of life, and is probably most responsible for the change.  We’re close enough to the city that I was able to bike out to get take-out dinner from a Thai restaurant – and the Pad Thai was awesome. (Thanks to a colleague for the recommendation!)  The day before, I was able to bike out to our favorite bakery and pick up some great bread.  Little things like this were impossible from our last house and it’s amazing how much of a change it is to be able to run errands without a 45 minute bus ride into town.

Additionally, the weather in Denmark suddenly “snapped” into summer mode a few days ago.  From the dismal highs of 12C and blustery winds, to suddenly becoming 20C with a wonderful gentle breeze, the weather is gorgeous by any standard.  And the long summer days stretch late into the evening, and start early in the morning.  The 4:30am diaper change this morning was done without turning on the lights, as the sky was already bright enough to illuminate the room. Truly, Danish summers are shaping up to be glorious.

And finally, after about 6 months, I’m starting to understand the language around me.  I was able to listen to a few minutes of news and grasp the point of the discussion (Aarhus had to buy bigger ambulances because the patients they’re transporting are too fat…)  – a new high point in my life in Denmark.  I’m also able to read emails and I’ve begun to read the local weekly newspaper.  I use my phone to translate a lot of words, but I’m learning and I can make sense out of things.  I no longer dread walking into stores and not understanding anything, and having even a basic comprehension feels like a huge weight off my back.

So, there you have it.  Nearly 6 months in, and suddenly, Denmark isn’t so bad after all.

On the bright side, I think I’ve learned a lot about myself – about being more aggressive in going after what I want and need, about not making assumptions, about being more understanding of those who have the courage to move to a new country.  This has been a valuable lesson for me in so many ways, and has probably helped shape me into a better person, which is worth some amount of pain.  Now, the goal is to build off of it and use this to become a more productive person.

It’s a bit late for a new years resolution, but I’m not going to bask in my contentment today – I have things to do.  Blogging it was just the first on my list.

One more Fejes!

Well, she’s half a Fejes, anyhow!

If people are wondering why Fejes.ca has been way off topic for so long, a good part of it has been that I’ve been pretty preoccupied with getting ready to expand the family.  This week, we’ve welcomed our daughter Amelia into the world – and she’s a cutie! She’s already let us know her favorites are: sleeping, eating, having her fingers played with and long walks in a bassinet.

However, because I’ve been blogging all about our experiences in Denmark, I thought I should share a few of the surprising events we discovered for those ex-pats who might be having a child in Denmark.  If you’re not interested, I suggest you stop reading here.

First off, the whole thing went well – Overall, it was a pleasant experience and the hospital staff was always supportive.  And, we only met one person who didn’t understand English – a member of the cleaning staff.  People always went out of their way to be helpful, regardless of what else was going on.

The biggest issue we had was communication, however.  Like every other experience in Denmark, people feel awkward communicating in English, so they rarely go out of their way to explain what will happen, or what should happen.  Thus, I spent a lot of time “taking control” of the situation by asking questions – constantly.  I often had to pin down a nurse and say “Why are you doing this, and what do you expect to happen?”  Once I realized that the only way to make sense of things was to insist the staff take the time to explain things, our experience became infinitely better.

Also, learning a few words of Danish made all the difference.  Staff frequently spoke to each other around us in Danish, and just being able to figure out what they were talking about in vague terms was sufficient to make me feel a bit more part of the process.  Considering I only recognize a couple hundred words in spoken Danish, it’s not like I could have communicated – but knowing the words for simple concepts (like nurse, newborn, mother, father, etc) was a great big help in not feeling so isolated.

Beyond communication, there were a few other surprises.  We had attended a class on childbirth education in English, where they explained what we should expect during labour.  The first thing that they explained was that the process would be nothing like the movies, where the mother’s water breaks, then the rush to the hospital, followed by a lot of drama.  Actually, it was EXACTLY like in the movies – including the speeding cab ride at 1:30am.  The biggest difference was the final stage of labour, where there were only 3 of us in the delivery room – including the midwife who was shy about speaking English. That left me to do all of the coaching and communicating – a task I was utterly unprepared for, and had to learn “on the job”.  My wife was very patient about it, all things considered.

We did have a few communication breakdowns as well – such as the discharge from the maternity ward to the patient hospital.  The midwife sent us away too soon, before the IV port was removed from my wife’s hand and before they had checked to see if my wife was ok. (She wasn’t.)  They sent us to the patient hospital, where we sat for a few minutes, before a nurse discovered us and realized we’d been sent to the wrong place.  While she did identify the problem, her solution was to have us walk to another ward – about 400m away,  (a 12 minute walk in my wife’s condition) where it was discovered that my wife wasn’t doing well. She wasn’t supposed to have been walking and she shouldn’t have been allowed to walk that far so soon after delivering a child.  After completing all the checks and finally having been treated for pain, swelling and completely crashed blood pressure – 4 hours later – we were allowed to return to the patient hospital by shuttle.

Once in the patient hotel, we were provided with pamphlets (in Danish), brochures (in Danish) and a kind nurse tried to accomodate us by passing some of the information on the web through google translate. ( It was completely unreadable.)  Despite being friendly, the information wasn’t particularly forthcoming, and we failed to understand the purpose of the hotel, which turned out to be nothing more than a space in which families can relax, the mother can learn how to breastfeed and to make sure that the parents have some indication of what they’re supposed to do with a child before leaving the hospital.  It wasn’t until I asked on the second day that they explained it to us – and that we discovered those are the criteria that you must fulfil before they let you go home.

In any case, the nurses were incredibly helpful and came immediately upon request.  They were surprisingly non-challant about the child’s health, however, claiming that weighing the baby should only be done if they think there may be a serious problem with feeding – because all babies lose weight the first day, and it is too “depressing” for the mother. (They weighed our daughter in the evening on the second day, anyhow)  A healthy baby will only ever be “eyeballed” by the nurses to make sure that they’re doing well.

Fortunately, my ability to read Danish has improved by leaps and bounds since we arrived, so I started reading through what I could in the brochures.  By about the 28 hour point, however, the lack of information was overwhelming and frustrating., and I ended up compiling a full page of questions that hadn’t been addressed, such as

  • Am I going to have to pay for staying here with my wife? (Yes, and meals are extra for the father.)
  • Is there an internet password that we can use for the wifi (Yes, but only if you specifically ask for it.)
  • How do we get a birth certificate for our child  (no one knew, but I found it later online, through borger.dk)
  • Can you give us the information on how to care for your child that you provide to Danish speakers in the course offered in the afternoons, to which we weren’t invited? (Yes!)

and so on and so forth.  It was much like playing 20-questions, however, as you might miss something by asking a question that was close, but insufficiently accurate.

For the first 24 hours, our best lifeline to information was our smartphones – and thank goodness for them!  Email, Google searches and advice all in English.  Without it, we would have been lost and uncertain about a lot of the little trivial things that we didn’t know, and that no one had volunteered. (For instance, letting a newborn baby suck on your thumb is a bad idea, because the child is supposed to be learning how to breast feed and it will develop bad habits if the thumb is offered – no soothers for 2 weeks!  Who knew?)  Once we became much more aggressive about demading information, our stress level dropped considerably, and things became quite a bit easier to deal with.

The other fascinating thing about the patient hotel was the room we were put into, which was on the edge of a rennovation zone for the hotel.  At times, there was a backhoe that was litterally 3 inches from our window, moving dirt, breaking up concrete and separating metal from the construction debris… and despite that, we managed to rest, learn to breastfeed  (well, I didn’t do much on that front personally) and stay comfortable for 48 hours.

 Anyhow, that’s just a summary of what went down. My wife and I have already spent an hour passing along the details to a friend of ours who’s expecting a child imminently, with the hope she’ll be able to put some of the information to good use. Hopefully the above will be useful to other people as well.   If you would like more information or details, as usual, feel free to send me an email or leave a comment.

Masterchef Australia 2011

This is going to be a rather off beat post, as if the whole last year wasn’t off beat enough for my blog.

Since moving to Denmark, there’s been one thing that’s been constant the whole time: Every night except Saturday, at 7pm (19:00 for the Europeans), MasterChef Australia 2011 has been on. We’ve watched the entire season, and other than maybe the first week, the only episodes I’ve missed were when I went back to Vancouver to defend my thesis and one or two nights when we visited with friends.  That’s probably a good hundred or shows that we’ve watched.

From MasterChef, I’ve dutifully read the Danish subtitles and “reverse-engineered” enough Danish to be able to read the written language.  Everything I’ve bought at the grocery store has been enabled by the words for food I’ve worked out from the tv show.  Additionally, I’ve followed the contestants and learned and tried new recipes from the show.  We even adjusted our dinner time to match the time slot for MasterChef, so that we could make it a part of our evening.

It has been one of the few scheduled items of our life in Denmark.

I’m sad that it is now over.  Even more so, I’m depressed that it’s being replaced by “Backstage with Oprah Winfrey” or whatever it’s called.   I’m *really* not a big Oprah fan.

So, as strange as this is, thank you Master Chef.  Thanks for teaching me Danish.  Thanks for entertaining me for nearly five months, and thanks for all the recipes.  I’m going to miss you, and my evenings won’t be the same anymore.

5 months in Denmark

So, its been about 5 months since we arrived in Denmark, so I thought I’d try to capture what’s going on at this point, and to give a bit of perspective.

About a month ago, we moved into our new apartment. It has made all of the difference.  We’ve walked downtown a few times and even found a few places we’d like to try for weekend brunch – and we were able to take the dog with us on those walks (no, the dog doesn’t come for brunch).  It wasn’t like our usual weekend jaunts in Vancouver, but it felt reasonably comfortable.   Seeing people on the streets, having somewhere to walk to and being in town has made a HUGE difference for us.

We’ve also discovered we live near to a couple we’d met at our childbirth education class, and it’s so nice to have friends in the neighborhood!  They’re fascinating people, and time just flies by when we’re hanging out with them.  I also have to admit, they have a fantastic library of English books in their house, which is quite impressive, especially since neither of them is a native English speaker.

In any case, things are finally starting to settle into a bit of a routine.  We have our favourite (English) shows to watch, we manage quite well at the grocery store, we seem to pay our bills on time and we can find stuff to do on the weekends.  I’m even able to read a bit in Danish now, at least to the point where I can skim an article and work out what its trying to say.  Spoken Danish is becoming a bit more tractable, but damn, Danes don’t make that easy!

At any rate, just as we have our routine down, we’re up to the last few days of waiting for our child to arrive, which will happen any day now.  Our last visit with the midwife is scheduled for tomorrow, so whatever routines we have will probably be tossed out the window and have to be started over fresh.  That’s just the way it goes, I suppose.

There are a few odd things that still irritate me: Lunch times, Danish surprises and the weather are at the top of the list.

Lunch times, because they feel incredibly awkward for me.  If I join the rest of the company, and they chose to speak English for me, the conversation is often slowed down and drags along because not everyone is comfortable in English.  If they chose to speak in Danish, then the conversation is lively, fast paced, good natured – and I understand one out of every 10 words.  Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.  In reality, as a foreigner that doesn’t speak the native language, it shouldn’t be a surprise that this is how interactions go, but it is an irritation that is a part of daily life.  I’ve at least gotten over my usual conversation starter of “I’m sorry, I don’t speak Danish but…”   After a while, you realize that everyone knows that, as soon as you open your mouth.

“Danish surprises” are my own way of expressing those things that just blind side me when I least expect it.  For instance, this week it was paternity leave.  The rules are really designed to support working couples, or working mothers, but they’re really quite poor for single income fathers.  An example of that is the rule that fathers get two weeks off after the birth of a child, but the pay is (if I’ve done the calculations right) stripped down to about minimum wage for the time you take off.  After that comes a 12 week period in which the father is not allowed to take any further parental leave, followed by some ridiculous amount of time that can be spread over 9 years – but again, at minimum wage.  If there are problems, and the father needs to take more than two weeks after the birth, it’s just not allowed by the state.   I imagine one could use vacation time for that purpose, but if you’ve recently moved here, you won’t have acquired any.  I’ve already posted about the no vacation for 18 months rules before.  That probably wouldn’t be a concern if I had family here to support my wife after I go back to work, but that’s just not available, as we’ve left our families in Canada.

(I should point out that my company has been quite flexible about these things, to make life much more bearable – but the default rules are strict and obnoxious.)

Finally, the weather here has just been lousy.  We’ve had two weekends in the past 5 months where the temperatures have been decent – Once it went up to 16C, the other time to 19C.  It’s not like I’m expecting summer to arrive in May… but well, ok, actually I am expecting summer to arrive in May.  Hey summer, where the heck are you? At least the days are long, stretching well into the late evening, with a light sky at 10:30pm – even if it’s only 7C outside.

At any rate, life goes on, and bit by bit, we become more comfortable. Still, we’re not getting too comfortable, with some life changing changes in the works. But, with the new house, some basic Danish comprehension skills and a few new friends, life has been looking up for us.  A very welcome change!