Every Tuesday and Thursday evening, Don and I dutifully pack ourselves off to Danish class. Largely sponsored by the Danish government, these courses are available to every new immigrant to the promised land (for a small fee). You have three years to take advantage of the language classes, and after that, you're on your own. I don't know why I'm always surprised by how many newcomers actually make the conscious decision to not learn Danish, but instead choose to just hobble along with English or German (something that isn't totally far-fetched, but still).
I used to loathe these classes, and Don would have to bribe me with chocolate or beer or the promise to fold an entire mountain of clean laundry. Now, I look forward to them, mainly because I've grown fascinated with the lives of my classmates. Living in a land where you don't understand anything on TV (except for the fifty-billionth episode of "Friends") makes you look elsewhere for dramatic characters.
Simply put, our class is fabulous. These people are so interesting, and their backgrounds and personalities blow Ross, Rachel and Chandler out of the water. Two weeks ago, I scanned the class and wrote down who was in attendance that night:
2 Mexican software engineers
1 Chinese engineer
3 Brazilian engineers
1 German technical designer
1 Afghan secretary
2 Polish machinists
1 American trombone player
1 American teacher
1 Chinese student/hotel housekeeper
1 Filipina au pair
2 Ukrainian engineers
1 New Zealander university lecturer
1 German slaughterhouse inspector
1 Lithuanian student
I mean, you can't make this up, right? Our class seems to be mutating, and last night we had even more people than before. Break time is the most fascinating time to me. Some folks dash outside to suck down cigarettes (including our teacher), but those who stay in the classroom tend to be chatterboxes who love to ask about each other's deals (like me). One night I egged on the two guys from Mexico to tell us what kind of Mexican food they cooked here, and they described it in mouth-watering, almost cruel detail. (Have I mentioned before 1. how much I miss Mexican food and 2. how bland and unremarkable Danish food is?) I was practically writhing in my seat when they told about making molé from scratch with chiles and chocolate carried over here from Mexico by one of their mothers. Aye yay yay caramba. The Lithuanian student was transfixed; I'm pretty sure she'd never heard about food like this before. The Afghan secretary (who works in Germany nearby) has a terrible gorgeous shoe addiction, and the Filipina nanny thinks the Chinese engineer should marry her Danish boyfriend right away and have children and WHAT is taking them so long? Last night a newcomer, a muscled Israeli dude with a shaved head, was flirting so amorously with the shy Brazilian engineer that her cheeks were like embers. (She did not seem one bit displeased.)
What's amazing to me is that ALL of these people speak pretty dingdang perfect English. When a Danish word comes up that we can't figure out, it's always defined in English; any explanatory discussion happens in English. Just about all of them pack Danish-English dictionaries, which I suppose makes sense as I have yet to see a Danish-Tagalog version for sale. Right now, we're in module #2 of a six-module program, and an exam will greet us sometime soon, (hopefully) promoting us to module #3. I'll keep you posted on how things go...