Joy!

It has been a fantastically good weekend:  We’re officially moved into the new house (which is FANTASTIC!) the weather has turned nice(r), and, this morning I woke up to a series of emails that my thesis has been officially accepted by the university, my PhD program is now officially complete as of today, and I will even be allowed to (apply to) graduate in May!

Oh Frabjous Day! Calloo Callay!

What a sudden reversal of fortunes…

When things work…

Story time.

My wife and I are moving closer to the city centre next week, and thus have been uprooting ourselves again.  All in all, I think it’ll be a huge improvement on our standard of living.  We’re just not happy where we are, and the house we’re in is just too big for us and it just doesn’t work for us at all.  In fact, to illustrate this point, after we vacate this house, a family of six (yes, six!) will be moving in to displace the two of us and our two pets…

In any case, as we get ready for another move, we’ve been packing the house up – putting everything back into boxes.  For the most part, it hasn’t been too bad living out of a suitcase again, but we’ve packed a few things that we’ve needed to drag out again, which means hunting through the stacks of boxes that have piled up in one of the unused rooms.  However, not all of our hunts have been successful.

One of the things that has gone missing was a set of papers that every pregnant woman in Denmark has – a “journey journal” (vandrejournal) – that tracks the development of the fetus across the term of the pregnancy.  You bring these two sheets of paper with you to every doctor and midwife appointment so that they can record all of the information in one place.  Of course, it’s the patients responsibility to hold on to these sheets of paper and ensure that they’re present at each appointment.

Normally, misplacing the sheets for a few days wouldn’t be a problem, but we had a midwife appointment this week, meaning that we’ve had to spend several days diving into each and every packed box to find the missing papers.  Showing up to the midwife’s without the papers would be a big no-no, like showing up to the dentist without brushing your teeth for a few days.

Alas, the papers never did show up, leaving us to walk sheepishly into the midwife’s office, offering up excuses that we were moving and just couldn’t find them.  Expecting a mild chastising at the least, we were utterly surprised with the result:

“It’s not a problem – we’ve installed an electronic journal system this week.  You will not need the journal anymore!”

Bullet dodged!  Apparently the whole thing is now online and when we do find the blue sheets, they’ll have a quick trip to the nearest shredder – Score one point for Danish Efficiency!

 

Ode to Aarhus suburbs.

I’m rambling – but it’s therapeutic.  I’m moving closer to the urban centre of the city next week, and just felt like doing some rambling. (Much of this was brought on by reading this article in the Guardian about how great life in Copenhagen is – which more or less describes what I had hoped life would be like in Denmark for us….)

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Aarhus is a city of many contradictions – it’s proud of it’s position as second biggest city in Denmark, but revels in it’s rural nature.  Living in the suburbs has given me a wonderful appreciation for this duality.

30 meters from my house is a two lane bus street, dedicated to mass transit and side-by-side with a pedestrian walkway lined by and mini forests.  It’s a major artery for moving vast numbers of people…. and yet, the city runs one bus each direction per hour in the evening, with the last bus going by my house just after midnight.  During rush hour, two buses go by an hour.  Now that it’s spring time, a walk along this major artery is filled with the sounds of chirping birds.

At night, when the sun still sets in the early evening, you can walk along the path with your dog (you might see a couple of other people out there walking their dogs as well, if you’re lucky) and gaze at the stars, which is one of my favourite parts of the Danish landscape.  Light pollution is kept to a minimum by turning off every second street lamp, plunging the landscape into darkness once 10pm rolls around.  The stars are bright, the pathways become treacherous – and, on every second night, the wind will scour your skin from your face while you gaze upwards.  But it is an amazing sight to see.

In a country where cars are levied an 180% tax, this landscape is paradise for those who can afford a car to get into town, for when the dark nights and quiet evenings begin to dull the senses. I hear stories of pubs and bars that cater to the large student population that never wanders this far from where the streetlights stay lit at night.  Cafes that cater to the people who huddle in the warmth over a cup of coffee, while leaving clusters of prams outside in the street with babies dressed for the cold.

Spring, when it comes, announces its arrival by the buds of leaves that grow on hardy bushes rather than bringing warmer weather.  The Danes seem to take this greening of the country side as a call to spend more time outside – braving the gusty winds and occasional hail – if only to take longer running between the doors of the mall and their cars.  The children in prams already spend all their time outdoors, and thus only seem to notice that their parents spend more time outdoors with them.

Spring also announces it’s presence by the sudden appearance of chainsaws.  Trees in Aarhus are never allowed to grow to their full height, and somehow bonsai sculpting just doesn’t seem to fit the landscape of tile-roofed brick houses.  Instead, as soon as the trees thaw, some enterprising landscaper comes by and trims all of the bushes, trees and anything else in by chopping and wood chipping every group of trees that can be found to a uniform 8 meter height.  Neither the young saplings nor the mature trees are exempted from this spring haircut – leaving behind tormented trunks of trees lining the side walks and  well manicured bushes between them.

And, all of this in sight of a shopping mall.  A single commercial building – with nothing but wide streets, cute houses and mangled trees in a 2km radius.  Ikea’s warehouse beckons from a short drive away – if you have a car.  Don’t follow my example and try to carry furniture home on your back.

I can’t wait to move next week.