Getting Deported Ain’t So Bad

IMG_0012After almost 5 glorious months of living and working in Copenhagen, sadly I’ve had to pack my bags and skedaddle out of there. Life in Denmark’s big smoke was hectic, but awesome. Just when I thought I had it all sorted – a job I loved, with awesome workmates and a great collection of friends (no small task in a very introverted culture when compared to the likes of NZ), a fabulous apartment (also a marathon effort with central city housing subject to incredible competition). Unfortunately for me, the government seems to have taken a pretty tough stance on immigration in the last few years, and decided (in the words of the immigration office) I wasn’t “special” enough. After a long discussion I managed to translate the reasoning into something a little less literal. In essence, the government has decided that unless you are super highly skilled (Masters degree minimum) and being paid over 384,000kr (around NZ$84,000) per year, work permits were only being handed out to EU citizens as unemployment is so high. Sadly in a graduate job at a startup, and with a mere bachelors degrees, I fit into neither of those categories. It would have been real nice of them to mention that on the visa application form, or any official website, or when I handed in my application and asked “is this likely to be approved?”

Now this is a view I am most definitely going to miss!

Now this is a view I am most definitely going to miss!

Never mind. Communication has never been the forte of any Danish bureaucratic organisation. Or politician for that matter. I’ve decided to pin the blame squarely on NZ’s favourite Danish politician Marie Krarup, given it was (so I’m told) the disproportionately large influence of the Folkeparti (coalition governments and all that) that contributed to the tightening up of the immigration regulations (but seemingly only behind closed doors).

And so on to Plan B. Go off on an adventure, being sure to catch some sun before heading back to NZ. Plan B involved chilling out on a beach somewhere for a few weeks (maybe Greece? Maybe Spain), using the money I (not without great difficulty) got back from the enormous deposit I paid for my apartment. I still had 3 weeks before the official “fuck off out of our country” date (OK, maybe it wasn’t worded quite that bluntly, but it was close) and in those three weeks my imagination spun wildly out of control. Before I knew it, I’d launched into Plan C and embarked on an adventure with no set plans, no exact date of return home and a whole lot of excitement. Luckily for me there are plenty more letters in the alphabet before I have to resort to the plan that involves selling my body.

Whilst on the one hand, finding myself jobless and homeless on the opposite side of the globe is pretty much the definition of stress, on the other hand it is also very exciting! Fortunately my initial life backup plan, should my job in Copenhagen not work out for any reason (be it the visa, or the fact I started as an intern, or that I was working at a startup), was already in action. I’ve been studying by distance through Massey University, slowly making my way towards a Masters in Economics. So plan C involved heading somewhere I could live off my student loan living costs of NZ$172 per week, that didn’t cost to much to get there. Say hola Spain! My first stop and current destination is Granada, to visit a lovely friend of mine studying on exchange who not only offered me somewhere to sleep but has been giving me a crash course in Spanish and been a wonderful tour guide.

Whilst making my extravagant plans, I’ve also been looking for all sorts of ways to reduce my living costs and increase my income. Step one has been eliminating accommodation costs. After a great tip-off from another friend, I signed up to Workaway, which is sort-of like  Wwoofing only instead of (or as well as) working on organic farms, you can find all kinds of short term work-for-accommodation type arrangements. Given I have worked for the past 4 months in a company specialising in online advertising, I’ve managed to lock in some work opportunities that can help me build those skills and do something somewhat career relevant (as much fun as manual labour or childcare would be). First stop is a Spanish language school in Conil De Frontera who wants some help with office admin, social media, and some ideas to relaunch their website and get a bit more traffic. I think the thing I’m most excited about is that I get Spanish lessons for free. Already in just a few short days in Granada I’ve learned so much, and it has really put in to perspective just how difficult Danish was to learn. Ironically enough, I was proud to realise on my very last day in Denmark as I called up to cancel the power and internet bills, I could finally understand and navigate my way through the customer service menus. Slim chance of me finding that language useful ever again, but at least I know what buttons to press now…

In terms of upping the income, in my short time working for Admazely, I quickly discovered my favourite part of the job was writing the company blog. No surprises, given the amount of content on this here blog that I’ve churned out as a hobby. I had been thinking for a while that it would be great to turn writing in to a full time gig, and getting the boot from Copenhagen has certainly thrown me out of the nest fairly quickly. I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find there are a number of opportunities out there. From friends with connections, to Elance, an online market place for freelancers of all types to Copify, the site that has thus far been the most lucrative. Whilst many sites (like Elance) require you to bid against the masses for a shot at a somewhat vaguely described job, once you’ve been accepted on Copify it is a first-in-best-served situation, which gives a level of certainty I am much more keen on. While a lot of the jobs are small and low paid, there a quite a few of them, and its not a bad deal if you land one writing a press release or something with a larger word count.

So for anyone else wanting to go adventuring on the cheap, I can definitely recommend a make-your-own-exchange with Massey distance learning, working for free accommodation  and seeing if you have some skills to sell online. And for all those viewing from home, unless I end up on plan D, or E, or F, I’m aiming to be back on the mothership in September.

Well I can think of worse places to study...

Well I can think of worse places to study…

291. Halloween Catering Extravaganza

The family I am working for/living with had a halloween party where they invited a few other families over (complete with kids) which meant a great opportunity to unleash my inner Martha Stewart (one of my favourite activities) and do some halloween themed catering. The days leading up to and including the party were so much fun.

On the menu was:

Marshmallow Chocolate spiders

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Fingers, in the form of carrots in dip and hotdogsIMG_8400 IMG_8401 Mummy dogsIMG_8402 Bat wingsIMG_8403 Pizza hands and green worm spaghettiIMG_8404 Evil hamburgersIMG_8405The house decorations were also fairly elaborate:

IMG_8397 IMG_8395 IMG_8394 IMG_8392 IMG_8391As was my favourite (and the most gruesome) of the costumes:

IMG_8398Halloween doesn’t seem to be much of a tradition here – trick or treating is not very normal and has only recently started to grow in popularity – but the excuse for a theme party is definitely a popular one!




290. Carve a Pumpkin

IMG_8261 (640x480)Pumpkin carving is very much a northern hemisphere kind of thing, probably because our southern pumpkins are green so it just doesn’t quite work… So carving an orange pumpkin was quite the novelty for me, and yet another first.

With the 10 year old of the house unleashing her creativity with a permanent market, my job was to do the actual carving. I was quite surprised at her pumpkin designs in the end – quite elaborate! Especially the one with the plastic gun shooting out its pumpkin brains.IMG_8263 (640x480) IMG_8384 (640x480) IMG_8259 (640x480) IMG_8256 (640x480) IMG_8258 (480x640) IMG_8257 (480x640)

161. Burn Witches

On the 23rd of June is a midsummer celebration called Sankt Hans/Midsummer’s Eve where the Danes have huge bonfires to both celebrate the balmy summer evenings and to remember all of the women who were burned back in the witch hunting days. Often they will even have a little scare-crow-esque “witch” figure on fire too. Early in the evening we had seen one being set up, and a BBQ just near home. The intention was to go by later in the evening when the celebration started, but time got away on us. Easily done in the north at the moment, as the sun doesn’t really go down until after midnight, so it is easy to think it isn’t late yet! Around 10pm we went for a drive and saw the embers of the fire, everyone having cleared out as it was actually a night more typical of a Danish summer: cold, drizzly and grey. We carried on driving to Horsens, where there was a fire on a raft in the middle of the lake, and even a band and bar

158. Lake Skanderborg

Just near myhouse lies Lake Skanderborg, or Skanderborg Sø. It is  a really prettylake, with no shortage of million dollar hosues along the edge. Many of the houses have these cute lilttle pool-house type creations going on, some resembling sun rooms, others storage sheds, and others still mini houses. For 100kr you can take a boat tour around the lake, and the wee boat (SS Dagmar) even has a mini cafe/bar onboard.

The lake itself is quite historic, as I learned at the Viking Museum. There were many viking settlements around the lake, and it was the spot were a whole bunch of bashed up weapons were found, cast in to the lake in a fit of rage, from the viking village that had successfully fended of the attack. It still seems  very odd to me that such a pleasant, unconfrontational population as the Danes have such a violent heritage!

157. American Football

I really wasn’t expecting it, but my first ever american football watching experience was in Denmark of all plcaes! My host brother is really in to his American Football, so we went to watch one of his games. He plays for the ‘Horsens Stallions’ with a number of his schoolmates, the team ranging in age from 16-19. With that age group and probably that fact that it is a Danish team, they were a lot smaller than the players you see on TV in the States! Being from a fiercly proud rugby nation (go the All Blacks) it was pretty much impossible for me not to make continual comparisons to a game of rugby.

First, and most notable, is all the gear they wear. To me it really seems superfluous and kindof makes me laugh. The ref seems to stop them all the minute they get close as well, so it reallymakes me feel like they are being pussies! Second, with all their plastic armour and helmets, throughout the whole game you hear this continual clackity clack of plastic hitting plastic! Third, in a game of rugby you can’t throw the ball forward, so players push ahead in a line as much as they can whilst passing the ball backwards. In american football, while I’m sure there are tactics and patterns and whatnot, to a rugby watchign newby like me, they seem to just scatter in every possible direction and it looks all very chaotic.

Finally, probably due to their helmets and armour, and I assume no rules prohibiting who you can tackle, they seem to just tackle/headbutt/knock down any old person, as they wish. Being schoolboys half the time it seemed that were just doing it for the hell of it too.

I’m sure it is tactical in many ways, but to me it just seemed like a whole bunch of boys running off in opposite directions and headbutting eachother. I also still maintain they need to harden up and get rid of their armour. Sorry America, but I’m still a rugby girl.

154. A Concert In A Prison

Horsens, funnily enough named after the fact that the town used to be a very important horse trading spot, has in more recent years become well-known for having a huge prison. The local government wanted to do something about that, with a kickstart from a man named Frank Panduro to bring them all together and seek funding and ideas. He invited a number of key people over for dinner, promising a really good meal and warning them that their dinner was going to cost them, but no further details. 17 out of 20 respondents showed up out of curiosity, where he pitched the idea of making Horsens a cultural hub rather than “the town with the prison” (which has long been closed). The end result was the prison yard being turned into a concert venue and lots of big name acts being invited. Inside the prison itself is a museum, which includes equipment historically used by some prisoners to escape. No surprises why they decided to build a new one!

Rasmus Seebach

One of the first concerts held there was Rasmus Seebach. He is a huge pop singer in Denmark, and has even recorded a song with Lionel Richie. The concert was great, and I also got to see Burhan G, who was like Danish/Turkish Justin Timberlake. He had a few pretty epic songs, especially the one with an electric guitar solo atop a lit up staircase with flames in the background. I challenge a pop-star to get more epic than that on stage!

It was a nice, though small, venue, with a cozy 10,000 people singing and dancing away. The most entertaining part by far was when I looked over to one of the walls and realised this was probably the only prison yard in the world with a giant “Exit” sign.

149. My Back Yard

A few photos from my backyard – the lovely village of Elling, where I am working as an Au Pair during term time. It is just the most picturesque place on a sunny day, and a bit of a special village as it was one of the few areas that refused to relocate when the local government decided farms should be all spread out along the roads rather than radiating out around a central village.

147. The Highest Point In Denmark

About 3km from my house is Ejer Bavnehoj, or the tallest point in Denmark. When I was first told about it, I was a victim of my Host Mother’s wicked sense of humour – she mentioned she lived near the tallest mountain in Denmark, and I could climb it one day if I wanted but I might need to find some climbing gear first. In actual fact, Ejer Bavnehoj is 175m, a light jog with a restuarant, monument and tourist centre on top. The cheek of her.

The monument was built in 1929 as a memorial for the war. It was particularly symbolic as the celebration was held around the time that the border between Denmark was settled, post WWI. In a very lovely, considerate and Danish manner, a referendum was held on whether citizens in the proposed area identified more with Denmark or Germany. Where the population was 50:50 the line was drawn. Anything more than that it was Denmark, anything less it was Germany.

The monument also has a great little information centre with all kinds of historical information, and on Sunday mornings between 8am and 11am they sell the most amazing bread there.

There has also been some argument over where the highest point actually is. Technically the monument isn’t actually at the highest point, it is a hill about 50m over. There was also another region that was arguing they had the highest point, but measurement showed they fell a few metres short. Nonetheless, with the monument it most definitely is as high as you can get now, and provides an amazing panoramic view of the countryside: