The Journey Never Ends, part II
Several days ago the UNHCR published my column “The Journey Never Ends, part I“. Here’s the second part.
From time to time I get asked what I knew about Denmark before coming here. Since I was always very interested in geography I knew that Copenhagen was the nation’s capital and I knew that the peninsula of Jutland links Denmark to the rest of Europe. I knew that the country produced and exported a lot of meat and dairy products and that it did not have many natural resources.
So, what is my story in Denmark? In 1994 I started at Skive Gymnasium. I think it was here I first began to learn about the Danish language, society and culture. Later I started working and I learned even more about Danish values and society. In 2003 I graduated from Nordic Multimedia Academy as a multimedia designer, and since then I have worked as a graphic designer in various companies.
Unlike the natives I do not have a particularly good relationship with Danish food. I think it was in 1998 I got acquainted with Danish roasted potatoes. I was at the company’s Christmas party and I saw these delicious brown potatoes. I ignored almost all the other food and filled my plate with the potatoes. When I tasted it all my senses got a shock and I almost literally ended up on the floor, and it was not because of the beer or the schnapps! It was because I just could not dream potatoes could (or should) be sugary, sweet!
Another Danish food I could not eat for a really long time is rye bread. It was hard, dry and did not taste very good. It may well be that the bread is healthier than ciabatta style bread, but I always felt it tasted like wood. However, one thing I think Danes excel at is pastry, fruit tarts, and marzipan: Othello cake, apple cake (everything with apples) and berry tarts.
Although I now have lived in Denmark for 18 years I have still not got used to the Danish weather. We Danish Bosnians say that “even dogs do not bark in Denmark”, but if something is untamed in this country then it must be the weather. I still have a hard time getting used to rain, wind and sunshine all on the same day. The first two I could easily do without but in a way there is a certain charm (do I really mean this?) about the changing and unpredictable weather.
In Denmark I have lived in refugee centres, in a so-called satellite (a house attached to an asylum centre), a townhouse, a house and a number of flats. I think the process of establishing myself in a new country went rather well. It was not easy, I was a stranger and unfamiliar with the surroundings, but quietly my family and I found our place. It was not always easy to get in contact with the natives. This is especially true in the western Jutland where locals are often very reserved towards people they do not know. My experience is that they open up after they have known you some time. In the beginning I had a hard time understanding their reservation towards foreigners, but I got used to it and eventually I realized that’s a part of their way of life.
Today I have my own family; a wife and two beautiful daughters. I tell them stories about my home country and teach them about Bosnian cultural values, but I also raise them so that they tomorrow can be good and valuable members of the Danish society. I am very proud of my family and I know as long I have them with me everything is going to be fine – that is why I will always fight for democracy and individual freedom in Denmark so that my daughters do not experience what I was forced to in those dark, final years of the twentieth century.