My girlfriends back home asked about the guys here — “Describe them!” —prompting me to really look at the guys on campus, in the gym, at the beach. They all seemed to look similar to me, husky, wearing a big T-shirt, long shorts, sandals, or flip-flops. They looked like big versions of boys. Even at clubs or bars, the look was the same, whereas the women tended to dress up more.
This contrasted starkly with the style of the younger people back home, which is edgier, more playful and adventurous. My short, spiky, silver hair seemed more at home in South Park than Pacific Beach and elicited comments such as “Your short hair tells me you are definitely not from around here.”
Also, on the topic of men, I was a little curious about the whole “dating” thing. You see, back home one doesn’t really go on a “date.” You get to know each other, meet a few times with friends, and basically “hang out” until it gets more serious…or not. I think this is better. Here you go on a date because you kind of like each other. But right away there’s pressure to decide if this will be something romantic, which seems unnatural and might even doom what could actually have had romantic potential.
Then there’s the whole date-setting thing. As in “Shall we try for Saturday night?” And then…nothing. Or Saturday night, late-ish, a “Come meet me and my friends for a drink!” And then there’s all the texting…and no talking. Or the “Let’s have lunch” at 11:30 on the very day of the proposed lunch. Ugh. My impression is that little planning is given to dating. Or perhaps guys are keeping their options open to see what else is out there. Overall, men seem to be on the immature side, which is probably no news to San Diego gals…or maybe I just met the wrong guys?
I also thought that everyone — especially in California — was going to be fit, blond, sun-kissed. There was much more diversity than I anticipated, and I heard Spanish all around. However, what surprised me was how big the Spanish language is in San Diego; that instructions or other kinds of information are given in English and then in Spanish. I thought, well, that is probably because there are so many people who speak Spanish here. One day I had to go to the doctor with one of the kids, and there was this paper on the wall in Spanish. I looked around to see where the English one was so that I could know what it was saying, but I couldn’t find it. There was only the one in Spanish. After this, I came across other things like that. This was shocking to me. If the city makes it so easy for people who speak Spanish, will they ever really learn English? Aren’t they just thinking, Hey, I don’t need to learn English, everything is in Spanish too? Or am I off track here?
Then the Arizona immigrant bill was in the spotlight and talk about immigration reform. This seemed to be a hot-button issue. I thought, If one does not have proper documentation, shouldn’t there be consequences?
I remember when I first heard about the bill and thought, Well, that is a good idea. Then I heard about all the people that were against it and comparing it to Nazi and Communist techniques. Really? What is so horrible in wanting everyone in the country to have the proper documentation? If they have all the papers, they have nothing to worry about. Right?
I am not saying this to be racist, nor do I have anything against Mexicans. It doesn’t matter if you are green or blue, illegal is illegal no matter where you are from. Keep in mind that this is only my opinion.
The Faroe Islands are in the middle of the ocean and therefore have little trouble with illegal immigration, or immigration at all, because no one knows where we are. We are so small that if someone was to go there illegally, we would know. However, in Denmark you have to have all the right paperwork to get into the country, which is the same as in the United States. But a baby that is born on Danish soil does not automatically get citizenship; both parents have to be legal citizens for the baby to get it.
Another issue that got a lot of coverage during my year here was health care, if it should be provided or not. I saw one doctor here using the health insurance my au pair program provides. The red tape and paperwork astounded me; I was still getting forms months after my appointment.
I needed to see the doctor for a minor pain in my back, and had I known how much of a hassle it was going to be, I would have waited till I got back home. Mind you, I am new to the country, and it probably turned out to be more of a pain than it needed to be. I had to find the right doctor that I could go to, and afterward, I kept getting these letters from…? Here there was a debate raging, and I couldn’t understand why. Wouldn’t it be better to make the taxes higher and get proper health care? You are going to be paying one way or the other. In Denmark, health care is provided; however, everyone needs to pay a share of the dental bills. The taxes are high, but what we get out of it makes it worth it.
When many people hear that I am at the end of my year, they assume I want to live here. They suggest trying to find an American man to marry. All this is said with good intentions and the assumption that here would be better than there.
I am aware that the majority of people migrating to the United States are doing it to get a better life. For me, this is not the case. When I go back to school, the government is going to pay for it, and in addition I will be getting a certain amount as a monthly stipend, so it is almost like being paid to go to school. Not to mention all the other benefits such as health care; generous unemployment benefits; 52 weeks of maternity/paternity leave to be shared between both parents — 24 weeks is usually at full pay and the rest sometimes as high as 90 percent. A work week is usually around 37 hours, and parents only pay 25 percent of child care. That doesn’t sound so bad, eh?