My first Lego

I was deprived of Lego as a child. I grew up with cheap Chinese imitation which either fits too tight, too loose, or not at all. So, yesterday I bought myself the Back to the Future Lego set. After all, Denmark is the home of Lego. It took me ~2 hours to complete, but by golly, I legede godt.

Lego Back to the Future
Lego Back to the Future
Completed project
Completed project

 

The day we almost got scammed

From the annals of forgotten stories…

This is something that happened a while back in September when I was visited by a friend from Indonesia. One day we decided to go to see the Little Mermaid and then walk back to see the changing of the guards at Amalienborg.

So there we were, walking through a quiet street in Copenhagen. We saw a guy fiddling around with his map. He asked us if we could help him. Of course, I said yes. My friend was a bit wary though. So he walked a bit ahead of me while I helped the stranger. I pointed out that the first thing he should do was turn his map around (he was holding his map upside down).

Out of a sudden, two guys came out. They claimed to be undercover policemen and showed us their badges. They did it very quickly, so I asked to see them again. So they did, but prevented me from touching them for a closer inspection. Anyway, they then started asking questions, e.g. what we were doing, where we were from, etc. So I explained that I was helping this poor lost stranger. I then asked them what this was about. They replied that they were making sure we were not doing any illegal activities.

Things took an interesting turn when they started asking for my ID. So I asked them to see their IDs again, which they declined to do. I also declined showing my ID before they showed me theirs. After a brief stalemate, they asked me what I was doing in Denmark. I said I worked here. That seemed to settle the issue once and for all. They then said I was free to go. As they were leaving, I asked then what they would do with the lost stranger. The policemen said they would take care of him.

Moments afterwards, my friend who had been looking over the incident from a distance asked me what I thought had happened. So I told him that there were two undercover policemen who were patrolling the streets and making sure no illegal activities is taking place. Then my friend replied that to him, that was not what had happened. They were scammers who were trying to get me to hand over my ID so that I had to pay a fine to get it back. I then thought for a moment and realised that he was right! Holy crap! We were almost scammed!

Of course, thinking back to the incident, it was painfully obvious that they were trying to scam us: the upside-down map, the reluctance to show their IDs, them backing off when I told them I worked in Denmark. I guess I was too trusting with people in need. But fortunately I always ask for IDs from people claiming to be an authority. When I told some of my friends about it, they asked me if the “policemen” look like Danes. Well, they didn’t look Scandinavian, but that doesn’t mean they were not Danes.

Anyway, lesson learnt: always be wary when a stranger approaches you in a relatively quiet neighbourhood.

Finished Danish Module 1

Last Thursday I had my Danish test with the rest of the class which marked the end of our Module 1One by one, we had to go into the classroom and spend 10 minutes on the oral test. I was number four, but decided to go to Studieskolen early so I could do some more last-minute revising before taking my test. However, I didn’t end up doing much revising and instead just chatted with my fellow classmates who were taking the test before me.

So, the test itself consisted of three three tasks:

  1. Tell a story from five possible topics that we had to choose randomly – all of which we had to prepare for. We had about two minutes to tell the story. We were allowed to bring in a sheet with keywords, but were encouraged not to use it if we could.
  2. Converse with the teacher, who would ask us questions based on the story that we have just told her. In my case, she actually interspersed her questions as I was telling my story.
  3. Make up a conversation for the stickmen which the teacher had chosen randomly from our workbook. The stickmen are an important part of our learning. They have speech bubbles filled with keywords, which gives us clues as to what they are supposed to be saying.

The story that I picked was one that I was not terribly confident about. I found that one to be the hardest to describe. So I had to resort to using my sheet quite a bit. I think I did OK though. The section that I don’t think I did well enough was answering the teacher’s questions. I must admit, I am still not used to using Danish on the spot. There were times when I started speaking, but didn’t think through about what I wanted to say. As a result, I missed a word or two. But the teacher didn’t seem to mind it. She corrected me and I immediately realised the mistake I had done. I did much better in the stickmen. As I mentioned, the stickmen are an important part of our learning. I guess we had done them enough times that I just remember the conversations that they are supposed to be having. The teacher also made a comment which I am sure every single one of us in Module 1 got: that I mispronounced some of the words. So I guess we will all have to work on that.

This coming Tuesday, we will start Module 2! It is hard to believe that 3 months ago, we didn’t know any Danish whatsoever. We have definitely learnt a lot. I am not sure if everyone in our class passed or not. But I do know that some will be leaving us: one will take a more intensive course and one will be leaving Denmark for a while. I think there are also another one or two who will take a break from the classes. So I guess it’s as good time as any to get together and celebrate our accomplishment – small that may be.

 

Hello from Izegem

Hello from Belgium

Hello from Belgium! I am here visiting my old friend and his lovely family in the small town of Izegem in the West Flanders region. It is a charming town. It has everything like a big town does, but it definitely feels (and certainly is) a little town. There was not a lot of people when I got in yesterday evening, but that was probably because it was a public holiday here in Belgium. But today was not that much improved either.

We went to Bruges today. It is the highlight of the trip so far. Bruges is simply amazing! To me, It kinda evokes the image of Venice — another city that I have to go and visit. The buildings are very old (and in some cases very big) and the roads are covered in cobble stones. And the canals, they were just beautiful.

Bruges

Tomorrow we’re heading off to Ghent and the Atomium in Brussels before I have to fly back to Copenhagen in the evening.

Of course, it is not a complete Belgian experience without Belgian chocolates, Belgian waffles, and Belgian beer — the latter of which has been voted the best beer in the world!

Photos will come probably sometime next week. Stay tuned.