Sunday, April 13, 2014

One month in.

Yes, you read that title correctly.  We have been living in Aalborg for one month!

"What have you been doing this whole month?" I hear you asking.  Where are all the pictures of you guys gallivanting to one European city after another?  (We'll get there.)  How do you feel?  Are you adjusting?  Do you speak Danish yet?  What's the food like?  Have you been hit by a cyclist?  Do you have any friends?  David, how is it working for a Danish company?  Alana, what do you do all day while David is at work?  Do you sit around crying while looking at pictures of your friends back in Boulder?  (No, but I love you all and think of you often.)  Do you eat danishes everyday for breakfast?  (Also, no.)

David will have to speak for himself about working in Denmark (and hopefully, I'll get a job one day and experience that for myself), but here's what I've been up to for the past month:

1)  Finishing grad school stuff.
Yes, I defended back in January, but it's pretty common to have to make some revisions to your dissertation after you defend and to prepare papers to submit to scientific journals.  But, of course, right after defending, the last thing I wanted to do was more work.  Then, shortly after defending, David was offered the job, and planning to move to Denmark was much more exciting that finishing my dissertation.  Fortunately for me, the deadline to turn in the final copy of my dissertation isn't until April 18, and I can do that electronically, and last Thursday, I did!  So most of what I've been doing here has been putting the finishing touches on my dissertation, and now I am officially done with grad school!

2)  Looking for an apartment.
This has been harder than I expected.  There is no equivalent to Craigslist (at least that I've found), and Craigslist has always been my go-to for finding apartments.  Instead, there are several different websites that have listings of available apartments.  But most of the listings have no pictures, and many have only generic (read "useless") descriptions of the apartments, and every listing has to be translated into English by my new best friend Google Translate which can lead to some funny descriptions (like "the apartment can house no livestock" which I assume means "no pets").  Most surprising to me was that all of these housing websites require that you buy a subscription in order to have access to the landlord's contact information, and the subscriptions are only valid for a set amount of time.  Also, for several weeks, neither one of us had a phone.  So I didn't want to buy a subscription and then not be able to contact any landlords because we didn't have a phone.  Fortunately, one of David's co-workers let us use his subscription because he found a place (Thanks Daniel and Bailey!).  So the search is on.  But now, for every 5 landlords I contact, maybe one will respond.  We have our temporary place until May 15 so I'm not too worried yet, but this process has already taken longer than I expected.

3)  Figuring out what to cook and then cooking lots of it.
I like to cook, and I really like to eat, and Denmark isn't that different from the US regarding food so there haven't been too many surprises in this area.  But cooking here has taken a bit more time than I'm used to.  First, our kitchen is TINY.  We don't have a lot of space to store food, and we'll be moving anyway so the less we have to move the better.  Therefore, I don't have the usual stock of ingredients to work with.  Second, we don't have an oven so anything baked is not an option.  Third, and the thing that requires the most planning, I'm not always sure what ingredients the Danish grocery store will or will not have.  Canned black beans have been quite elusive in Denmark, and these were a staple of our diets back in CO (I miss you burritos!).  However, avocados are all over the place.  So I scour the internet looking for recipes that have minimal ingredients and don't require baking and have ingredients that I know I can find here and, ya know, taste good.  Then, I head to the grocery store and walk up and down every aisle because I still don't know where things are (and I'm embarrassed to ask anyone).  Once I find a winning recipe, I make ton of it because our kitchen is so small that cooking in it is more of a chore than it used to be.  So now we have a ton of food, and it is at this point that I realize that I've always taken microwaves for granted.  Of course, Denmark has microwaves; it's this little apartment that doesn't.  It also doesn't have another thing I've taken for granted, a dishwasher.  :(

4)  Facebook-ing, Skype-ing, and trying to stay in touch with people around the world.
Can you imagine that just 100 years ago when people moved from Europe to the US their only way of communicating with people back home was writing a letter that would float on a ship across the ocean?  They would maybe get a reply in a month.  (And forget about visiting back home.)  Technology is something I'm not taking for granted.  I think I would feel a lot more alone in this new country adventure if we didn't have an internet connection.  So post all the pictures you can on Facebook...I'm the person commenting on them at 4am (when it's already noon here).

5)  Planning adventures.
The most exciting benefit of living in Denmark is the entire new continent that we get to explore.  Yes, most of the past month has been spent getting settled in Aalborg.  (And I don't even feel that we're really settled yet.)  But the traveling starts this week!  David gets off work on the Thursday and Friday before Easter and the Monday after Easter so we are headed to Amsterdam and Berlin!  Pictures to come next time!


  1. Oh man -- isn't being finally, completely, totally done with grad school the BEST FEELING EVER? Congrats :)

  2. World Travellers, Unite! All aboard the train for points south. Remember, If it's Tuesday, this must be Belgium, right?Bon Voyage!