Moving to Aalborg
Moving to Aalborg in the end of the summer meant that I got to enjoy the nice weather, see the lovely seaside, go for the long strolls in the evenings and enjoy the rather long days. Those things seemed completely normal and natural to me then and I did not know then how much I would miss it during the long dark winter months. I’ve got to admit – the first couple of weeks in Aalborg were more of a holiday than anything else. Having unpacked and settled in to the new apartment in one evening, I was keen to explore the city, meet new people and make some friends.
And that’s exactly what I did and the Student House was a big part of it, especially during the first couple of weeks. They had different kinds of social events almost every day/night of the week, starting from a regular night at the bar to Treasure Hunt and Speed Dating (which was supposed to help find new friends, rahter than dates). At the end of the first couple of weeks I had met so many new people I probably couldn’t remember half of their names. But I also made some good friends, whose names I will never forget.
My moving to Aalborg was not my first time living and studying abroad. Yet, there was one crucial difference if I compare it to my other experiences of living abroad: the language. This was the first time I moved to a country without speaking the locals’ language and without fully understanding how hard it might be to learn it. But I did start my attempt to learn it, first at a university course and then at a language course offered by the ’kommune’. I have to say that the journey is still in progress, but I do hope I suceed in learning it rather decently by the time I graduate in summer 2015. Albeit the courses are meant for integration of the foreigners into the Danish society, they actually help international people meet even more new international people and thus make more international friends. A tool for integration seems to work (at least in the beginning) as a tool for internationalisation.
Putting the limited language knowledge to practice was and still is a challenge. I remember vividly how I was trying to commit to using those couple of newly learnt Danish phrases in my daily life. This resulted in a rather unfortunate mishap. Trying to use a couple of Danish words at the checkout in the supermarket appeared to be a good idea since you obviously don’t need deep knowledge of the language for that and even if you pronounce something wrong, you will probably never see the same sales assistant again. The theory behind it seemed to be sound, yet I might have been better off if I had tried it out somewhere else than in my local ’fakta’ store and used my listening skills and not only the speaking skills. I firmly answered ’Nej, tak’ (No, thank you) to the sales assistant, assuming that his question was, as always, ’Vil du have en bon?’ (Do you want the receipt?). His surprised and I’d say even bewildered face was rather unexpected. My accent could not have been that bad, I thought. Only after exiting the store I realised that he had said ’Hav en god dag’ (Have a good day). Never again will I say ’No, thank you’ to somebody wishing me a good day, one experience like that was embarassing enough. I hope that, if anything, living in Aalborg taught me the importance of listening to others.
'lost in translation’
My first touristy experience of Aalborg and North Jutland was precious and making so many new friends and acquaintances so fast helped create a basis for a social life in the city and the feeling of belonging. Surely, holidays cannot last forever and the student life started to sink in mid-September. The experiences of the first couple of weeks, nonetheless, left long-lasting impressions and helped establish myself in a new and interesting city. As I progress step-by-step within the Danish language, I sincerely hope that ’lost in translation’ will be just a step and not the whole road of my life in Denmark.
This article is written by Evelina