Tuesday, April 18, 2006


I'm recovering today from the annual Scandinavian Baha'i youth gathering known as the Vikings Confrence. It's held in a different country every year and this just happens to be Denmark's turn to host. It wasn't just for youth it was also organized by youth but luckily those who were in charge were very mature, responsible people.

This confrence is a pretty major event here and it atracts people from beyond Scandinavia. England for example. There were three brits who showed up a few days early to see the sights and since everyone else was busy getting ready they took their video camera and ventured into downtown Copenhagen.

Now, as you may or may not know, three young men with a video camera can manage to get themselves into some very unusual situation. One of the confrence organizers was quite surprised when in the middle of all the last minute preperation she recived a phone call from the police asking if she knew these guys. When she said she did and asked what it was about (she was starting to wonder if they had been hurt) the policeman didn't answer but kept asking questions. Where are they from...what are they doing here...etc. Eventually she insisted on being told what was going on.

As it turned out they had been found video taping in front of the American embassy. Two of them are from Persian families so there was some concern about terrorism and the fact that they told the police that they were in Denmark for a religious event did not help. The police insisted on watching the whole tape but eventually let them go.

That was the way things started out.

The rest of the confrence was basically a success. The workshop I was supposed to teach ended up getting cancelled after one day due to lack of participation ("fodball" and music atracted most people) but I did have that one day with the few people who showed up. The owner of the video camera even gave it a shot. There was also a fire alarm at one point but no fire. Otherwise everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and we were all very lucky to have Ian Semple there as the main speaker.

Now it's back to the real world. It's Norway's turn next year if anyone wants to go. Don't forget your video cameras.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Danish lessons

I finally started Danish lessons this week so soon I will have a better idea of what's going on without depending on others to stop and explain everything to me. I am actually getting a lot better at recognizing written words because there are a lot of English TV shows that have Danish subtitles but the way words are spelled and the way they sound are very, very different.

Lucky for me everyone here learns to speak English in school. I'm actually feeling a bit spoiled because there aren't really any situations that force me to use Danish so it would be very easy to get away with not learning it at all. There are even a few people who are surprised that I would "bother" to learn. But if you can manage to make some unusual sounds it's not really that hard and when would I have the chance to to learn this at home?

The other nice thing about taking classes is that you get to meet other people who are new here. My class has about 8 people in it from places like Holland, Germany, England, Romainia and China. We all speak English but there are other classes with people who don't and we can all mix in the school's resourse centre where they have computers for keeping in touch with our homelands. Well, we can use them for extra Danish exercises too but there's a lot of emailing going on. We spend a lot of our breaks comparing notes on weird things we've noticed here. The biggest thing - and I was warned about this as soon as I got here - is that people here are not very outgoing. Once you get to know someone they will be friendly but when you meet someone new or deal with people in stores or offices they say the bare minimum to be polite and that's it. They also tend to be very blunt about how they say things. For the people who come from very friendly cultures this can be upsetting.