Thursday, January 14, 2010

Official Work Papers and Free Coffee

We woke up extremely early to go to the immigration services, so early we didn't even shower and hardly did our hair. Today we decided not to walk the nearly 4 km we did yesterday, so we went to the main station to catch a train to Østerport, which is only four stops away -- "in the same zone as the central station." Shocked we were to find out that such a short ride would cost each of us 6 euros round trip! In Paris such a trip would cost 42 kroner = 3.24 euros! How can this be a society that encourages mass transit? Can I even afford to go to work four zones away?

Thankfully, we found a more economical solution by buying a 30 day pass for travel in 1 - 4 zones from central station (535 kroner = 72 euros), and a 10 day pass for travel in 2 zones (130 kroner = 17 euros). Plus these work on any train and bus in the city. We finally made it to the immigration center, and were pleasantly surprised to find no lines, and an automatic coffee machine that cost only 5 kroner (1 fourth of a metro ticket) for a coffee (kaffe) with sugar (sukker) and milk (mælk). It of course wasn't the best coffee, but it was our early morning oasis.

As we left the center, we noticed a gaggle of children being lined up for a walk, each one of them bundled up against the severe elements in one-piece snowsuits. Next winter Carla and I will be as prepared as they are with our own one-piece snowsuits. (Notice in the window at back the word "Åbent" which is pronounced OH-bern, and which I think sounds a little like "open". As we watch television more we find that while some words in the captions look unfamiliar, they can sound like the English word they signify.)

After the successful experience at the immigration services, we walked to the folkeregisteret in our neighborhood to obtain our CPR numbers --- which are like social security numbers in the US. With these, we can earn money in Denmark, see a doctor, check out library books, and pay taxes (that may or may not support the metro system). Again, we were pleasantly surprised by no lines, free coffee and tea, and an office worker who appeared so happy he was resplendent. He gave us our CPR numbers, the name and address of our general practitioner, and explained several things about Denmark that are foreign to us, like free health care. Before leaving we stopped for another coffee.

On the way to return the dress shoes I bought on Sunday (I was given shoes of different sizes, which I did not notice my first day at work until half way through when I thought my left pinky toe went missing), we stopped by a bank to open an account. This time we were pleasantly surprised by free coffee and tea, and a very nice and forward banker who said, "Who told you to bank with us? You don't want to bank with us: we only have one branch in this town. Go down the way about 400 meters to Danske Bank. We want your money, but they have more branches." After that it felt just wrong taking advantage of the free coffee. So we thanked him and left." Finally at Danske Bank, we were able to åben an account (at a cost of 300 kroner = 40 euros) with both our names, get two ATM cards at not cost, set up e-banking, and deposit a measly 40 kroner. And to top it all off, I got a free banana from their bowl of free fruit.

With such a long day of chores done, we headed back home before dark at 3PM and made a little treat of soft-boiled eggs and myseost; but this time we mixed it up by adding a thin slice of brød (bread, but pronounced brurth!) that is "30% seed."

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