Amager Fælled: The green get-away in Amager and Ørestad, Copenhagen

On this cold afternoon, in a month that should be spring, I went for a long walk with my darling sister and gorgeous niece in Amager Fælled.

Amager Fælled is a nice, swampy nature reserve where you can walk, run and cycle and enjoy a break from the traffic on Amager and the new constructions in Ørestad.

The place originally served as a shooting range for the military, when they trained in gun use, but was abandoned in 1956 for park use.

In the 1990s Amager Fælled was declared protected.

Aktivering: Opbevaring eller opkvalificering???

Aktivering – hvad er det egentlig?

Som arbejdsløs har jeg virkelig svært ved at forstå rationalet. Hvert halve år skal jeg minimum i aktivering 1 måned. Men som akademiker skal jeg ifølge loven “varetages” af en 2. Aktør. En anden aktør skulle efter sigende være en konsulentvirksomhed der kan hjælpe mig med at komme i arbejde ved at sende mig på et såkaldt “jobsøgningskursus”. Jobsøgningskurset består at nogle korte foredrag med råd om skrivning af CV, jobansøgning osv.

På mit jobsøgningskursus blev vi også på det stærkeste rådet til at sende uopfordrede ansøgninger. Men da jeg bad om jeg ikke kunne få en skabelon/eksempel på en uopfordret ansøgning – ja, det havde de ikke. Hvordan skal jeg så lære at skrive dem (hvis jeg ikke kunne det i forvejen)??

På ovenstående billede ses et af de lokaler vi var tvunget til at sidde i fra kl. 9-15 hver dag i op til 13 uger. Når jeg siger i op til 13 uger, så er det helt afhængig af om det er 2. aktør der sende dig på jobkursus eller jobcenteret. Loven siger at man minimum skal aktiveres i 4 uger. Alle kandidater der skulle være på kurset i 4 uger var sendt der af jobcenteret, mens kandidater med længere “dom” selvfølgelig var blevet sendt der af den 2. aktør der arrangerede kurset. Hvorfor? Fordi en 2. aktør er en virksomhed. De får 500 kr per dag per deltager (betalt af jobcenteret). Så selvom deres kursus turnus kun tager 3 uger – ja så giver det god mening for dem at sende folk på kursus i 6 uger (som de gjorde ved mig). Jeg fik intet ud af det, da jeg godt kan skrive en jobansøgning, men min 2. aktør virksomhed fik 15.000 kr i kassen. Så simpelt er det.

Og når du så ser på billedet taget fra kursus lokalerne – så vil jeg gerne have at du lige tænker over om du ville kunne koncentrere dig i det lokale? Til orientering sad der ca. 25 mennesker i lokalet. Der var et vindue, ingen bordplads ved siden af computeren til at ligge ekstra papirer, der var en konstant gennemstrøm af mennesker til de bagvedliggende lokaler, en konstant snakken og en ekstrem varm og dårlig luft i rummet (ikke så overraskende med kun et vindue). Derudover blev man skrevet ned i protokol to gange om dagen for at sikre at man var der – både kl. ca. 9.30 og igen kl. 14.30 – hvilket jeg kun kan sige gjorde at man følte sig endnu mere ydmyget og umyndiggjort. Ville du kunne skrive jobansøgninger i dette klima??

Jeg har flere gange forsøgt at få bevilliget et kursus i projektstyring, som jeg ved vil kunne gavne min jobsøgning idet det opkvalificere min uddannelse. Men selvfølgelig vil 2. aktøren ikke bevillige det til mig for det vil jo koste dem penge. Jobcenteret derimod betaler 500 kr per dag uanset hvad jeg gør.

Jeg kan tage et kursus i “Projektledelse” på Niels Brock. Det koster 9000 kr for 6 ugers intensivt kursus, der på enhver måde vil forbedre mine chancer for at få et job. Dvs det er meget billigere end endnu et “jobsøgningskursus”, men jeg kan ikke få det, fordi jeg som akademiker skal “håndteres” af en 2. aktør og de skal tjene penge…ikke hjælpe mig i arbejde!

Mit forslag: 10 dages intensivt jobsøgningskursus til alle ledige. Dette kursus påbegyndes senest 2 uger efter man har meldt sig ledig. Derefter bør man have mulighed for sparring med jobcenter eller anden aktør efter eget ønske og hvert halve år kan man (efter eget ønske/behov) deltage i et opkvalificerende uddannelseskursus (der dog skal godkendes af jobcenteret som værende af relevant kvalitet og emne). Dette vil være en langt billigere og bedre løsning end den formålsløse aktivering (jobsøgningskurser o.l.) der finder sted i dag.

Jeg kan kun konkluderer at aktivering som akademiker (pt) intet har at gøre med opkvalificering, men derimod er ren opbevaring! What a waste of time and money!

Being part of the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen (COP15)

Next week I start working as an attache to the Danish Foreign Ministry during the COP15 in Copenhagen. Although it is a short period of time (December 2 – December 19) the selection procedure and preparation for employees have been very long.

I applied for a position at the end of July this year together with 2000 other hopeful candidates (both Danes and foreigners). In August I received the first invitation to a job interview with Execute, a recruitment company, who had been chosen to find the candidates in cooperation with the Danish Foreign Ministry.

In September, I went to a group interview with seven other well qualified candidates. In this interview we were to prepare a one minute speech about ourselves in Danish, a three minute lecture in English (without papers) about Denmark and be prepared to answer a random question about the UN Climate Change Conference in English (we were expected to read the COP15 website in advance to prepare for the question).

On October 8 I was invited to the second part of the job interview which was a role-play session in the Danish Foreign Ministry. We were to prove that we could handle difficult guests at the conference with a smile :-).

On October 14 I received the final recognition that I was part of the team together with about 300 other candidates – but nothing about hours, start time or job function (and place).

I received my work schedule and job function on November 20 and since then I have been excitedly anticipating the start of the conference. Hours and place of work can still be changed any minute, but so far it looks as if I will be working 8 hours every day in the airport receiving the delegations who arrive, controlling passport and visa and supplying information to COP15 participants.

I am really looking forward to being part of this conference, which is the biggest ever held in Denmark, and I am hoping that the goals for the COP15 materialise.

Returning to Denmark and doing the Danish thing

apartment

After one year silence on the website, I have returned home – both to my website and to Denmark.

Since Thomas and I are no longer living together or in the same country we will be writing from different locations and give you an insight into our lives from there. We hope this will give you an interesting experience.

Returning to “the happiest country in the world” has actually been quite a happy experience. I have been doing the “Danish thing” for two months now – which is redoing my apartment.

Danes take great pride in their homes and usually invest a lot of time and money in the interior decoration. And with good reason – we spend most of our time inside at least half the year and according to Danish custom we usually meet with friends in our homes for social gatherings such as dinners, coffee, lunch etc.

I am personally not into design furniture and fancy interior (cause after all we can’t take anything with us when we leave this planet) but many Danes spend a lot of money on these items. I have been redoing my apartment as a kind of occupational therapy which makes me feel connected to the flat and the city again and I am happy to say that it worked 🙂

Video: Suntanning in Danish graveyards …

Huh..? You are joking?!? No, I’m actually not joking. I’m dead serious. This video shows you the beautiful graveyard with suntanning people.

Close to my house in the centre of Copenhagen is a beautiful, old graveyard called “Assistens”. It is the last resting place of a long line of famous Danish people such as H.C.Andersen and Soren Kierkegaard.

But in the summer time it is also the daily resting place of many “Copenhageners”. And it is totally legal. We are not illegal invaders.

Suntanning is indeed permitted in the graveyard…even in a bikini. But of course you are expected to act in a proper manner and treat the place with respect.

And really, why should we not utilize this public space for “living” activities? In Europe death is considered such a final and tragic event. In many other parts of the world, death is a celebration. By sharing the space with the dead people I feel like some of the morbidity disappears.

It really is a beautiful oasis in a busy city and it has been used as a park for decades in all seasons. It is wonderful for walks in the winter as well when the trees and bushes are covered in snow…a real fairytale landscape. I love this place.

Video: Copenhagen Pride 2008

This video shows the amazing Pride parade in Copenhagen. The parade took place today.

Copenhagen pride is a yearly returning event and it is definitely a worthwhile experience to watch or participate as you wish.

The event is basically celebrating the rights and freedom of homosexuals and this year’s theme was “We celebrate because we can!”. And there is a lot to be said for that. In many countries around the world, homosexuality is not only frowned upon – it is punished with jail (like in India) or simply beating up by narrow-minded citizens who face no charges for their doing.

In Denmark we were so fortunate to be the first country in the world to allow for gay marriages. It became legal in 1989 when the gay couples could finally tie the knot as well with their loved one.

Copenhagen Pride is a celebration of love and a recognition that love comes in many shapes and sizes and it is not for other people to judge how we love or who we love. We should all be free to love the one we want.

So go out and do it.

Video: Traditional Danish birthday celebration

In some countries and in some religions birthdays are not celebrated. But in Denmark, which is traditionally a protestant, Christian country, we consider birthdays as something very important and a great opportunity to celebrate.

The video below is from my sister Pia’s birthday (on July 10, 2008) and gives you an idea about the way we celebrate birthdays in my family.

In my family (and in many Danish families I know) birthdays are celebrated as the most important day of the year.

Before the birthday itself the birthday "child" makes a wish list with all the things he or she would like to have as a birthday present and gives the list to the members of the family (and perhaps friends depending on relationship).

On the birthday itself the family does everything according to the wish of the birthday child (whether he or she is a child or a grown-up).

The family makes a delicious breakfast before he or she wakes up and then wakes her/him up with the Danish birthday song (see the video). Then she/he opens the presents and eats breakfast.

Lunch is also as special as possible and oftentimes we have friends over in the afternoon for "cake-man", sweets (and fun games if you are a child).

Dinner is also prepared according to the wish of the birthday child and will often be several courses the favourite dishes of the person who has his/her birthday.

When I was a child (and later) I used to look forward to the day long time in advance and it was surely my favourite celebration. It is a celebration of love that your family makes for you and you for them.