I feel like I made a huge mistake. Everyone else here seems to have been convinced or tricked here. Someone said “It’ll only be for a year” or “I get a bigger salary there” or “But my Auntie Helle is there” and then someone was in love enough to go along with it. And some people can live with that decision and some people are finding it hard to find new ways of making it work.
What’s my excuse? I wanted to find stuff out, I wanted to learn something new, I wanted to learn a new language, I wanted to check out another educational system, I wanted to see what all this “Happiest Country” stuff was about.
So. Stuff. I have found out stuff, I have learned a lot of new things, I have checked out another educational system, I have found that this country may well be the happiest but misery is relative.
As for the language. I am sick and tired of not making progress. I hate how it is a benchmark on which people can judge me.
I have to work, I cannot go to Sprogskole in the daytime… I cannot go to Sprogskole in the evening either. I have only the option of some computer delivered program.
Which, and this is not a baseless whinge, is fucking terrible. The exercises test what I already know and they are not marked individually but rather the answers are given at the end. There is no teaching as such. There is a once per fortnight opportunity to speak but for someone who hates using the phone with strangers, makes me want to throw up all over my fancy-pants computer. The user interface is the opposite of intuitive, the text is CENTRE justified and there is no way of resizing the windows so it all stays in, you have to scroll from side to side every time. It is the worst. I have learned nothing from it. I am on strike.
I hate how if I try to use Danish I am often rebuffed or ignored or answered in English. I am trying my hardest, making no progress and getting labelled as lazy, indifferent, stupid, colonial and all that shit.
Not by everyone but by the most unlikely of people. I do at least attempt Danish in every public situation. Even the tricky ones. I do at least have a go.
The solutions suggested to me include “socialising” and conducting more of my work business in Danish. Well, I tried to socialise with some Danes a few times and you know what, it was painful for everyone BECAUSE I DO NOT SPEAK DANISH.
As for work, what is happening is that I am constantly on the backfoot. Children tell me special events are going to be happening in my lessons and it is news to me. And no one tells me these things because I WAS IN THE MEETING when it was discussed. I keep making mistakes at work and no one told me how to do it right because I WAS IN THE MEETING when it was discussed. And I am getting to the stage where a little knowledge is dangerous, I understand enough to make my head nod and think I have got it but I have not anywhere near caught enough of it to be useful to me.
I have learned enough to know when I am being talked about and it happens a lot more than it ever did in Welsh or Somali or Turkish or any of the other languages I have had to be able to learn if I am being talked about pretty damned quickly. You know what, it never happened in Welsh, the Somali girls made it obvious on purpose and the Turkish lads had better things to talk about.
(Learn the prepositions and the swearwords. That’s my top tip!)
When people say things like “I hate it when people speak foreign, I always think they are talking about me” I think “you narcissistic twat”.
Except here. I am having to deal with “hun”, “hendes” and “hende” on a daily basis. And not just from the kids. I am having to deal with pretending not to understand because I do not understand enough to react appropriately. I am having to deal with people getting really frosty when someone or other lets them know I understand a lot.
“How are your Danish lessons?” they say with a stiff arctic breeze.
“How are your manners?” I think but do not say.
(there was a spate of that two weeks ago, heaven knows what the gossip about me was)
THIS is what is isolating.
It is not being able to make progress in the language because of work and not being able to work properly because I do not understand the language. Of getting better at understanding social chit chat and finding myself socially isolated because it is basically catching people out. It is made even more socially awkward when they examine their guilty consciences and think I have understood something when I was not even listening at the time. “That BITCH, she gave no sign of understanding me at all!!”
Round and round we go. I am stuck on this plateau and can’t get off.
I have worked my socks off in this language. You should see the collection of magazines I have. The websites I visit. The radio station I am tuned to. The tv channels I made the internet to stream into my computer. My library book.
And yet, for whatever reason, it is not good enough. And I am internalising that message. We all do. If we get to be fluent we can call ourselves good immigrants and spit on the others. If we do not, it is because we did not care enough or try hard enough.
How about, I am finding it hard because I am only fluent in one language? How about, I am finding it hard because I am getting on in years? How about, I am finding it hard because I am really not sure if this is the country I will spend the rest of my days? How about, I am finding it hard because I have a Swedish accent because no fucker taught me the vowels because I started Sprogskole in October because I did not get my CPR number until September even though I was in the country from August? How about, I am finding it hard because the region I am in has a difficult accent? How about, my progress is acceptable (good even), for someone who has only been here a short time? How about, I should not be basing my self esteem on this shit anyway?
And do I want to stay here? There is so much that I love here.
I love the flat I have, the network of friends, the relaxed working culture, my classes, the creative freedom I have over my lessons, the amount of time that is mine and mine alone, the emphasis I can give to my guitar, my knitting, my writing, the countryside, the comfort, the ease of access to the rest of Europe.
There is also the inertia. I would not want to start teaching somewhere new. And I would hate the UK as much as I did before I came. So, what other jobs could I do? I have no idea.
It is just so off-putting. There is a lot in my life which is overwhelming me and what I do not need right now is a guilt trip when I know I have tried my best.