Getting on top of my situation

So this whole ‘getting my student visa’ situation is really getting frustrating. I keep reading other people’s experiences and hearing how other people did it. People give me good advice but when I look at my papers it looks a lot more complicated.

It makes me really sad, because I really want to continue my education in New York. I think it will be an awesome opportunity to study hospitality and tourism in the greatest travel destination on earth! Also, I don’t feel that I put my best foot forward while studying in Denmark and I do want to enhance my understanding of the industry. Plus, I think it will benefit not just me on a personal level but also the business I want to build once back in Denmark.

Anyways, I’ve not given up the last 5 years and it’s absolutely not the time to do so now. Not only is it a perfect choice for me to study in New York it will also be of my own personal interest. I have a lot of friends in New York that I can’t wait to get to know better and I wanna ‘be a part’ of the group! I’m not ready to say goodbye to any of them now.

So in my fight to keep this dream going I went to get my picture taken yesterday, and I filled out my application for the green card lottery. I did it a few years ago, not knowing that you’re not suppose to pay for it. This time I did it the right way and it was so easy! Now, obviously there’s no guarantees that I’ll win it but it doesn’t hurt to try.

Today I was also looking into other hospitality management programs in New York. There’s definitely others but the cost is still the same or more. I wish I didn’t have to show documentation that I have $32.000 … When in fact, I do have them .. coming!

Ay, this very second I’m just going to enjoy that the sun is shining and I have a view that gives me butterflies …
The Truth!

Sweet return, or?

It was hard leaving New York. Leaving the town of Forest Hills, that is my home. Leaving my friends, that I love so much!

I got the chance to say goodbye and hug two of my best friends, and it did break my heart looking over my shoulder when saying the last farewell, on my way through security. I know, that when I return .. it’ll all be here .. but it will be different!

I gotta do, what I gotta do. If any of it was real, it will have more the reason to be real when I come back! I have to tell myself that.

The flight was not as pleasant as hoped for. I love flying Icelandair. But we were stuck on the runway for 40 minutes. I took a Benadryl and was able to sleep most of the way to Iceland, but I woke up with an aching body many times. I guess sleeping on an air mattress / couch for 3 months is not healthy at all.

When I finally got to Denmark, my mom picked me up. Haven’t seen her in 4 months and it was a tearful moment.

A few hours later,  I saw my baby sister (the 15 year old) and oh, I love her so much! I kept hugging her, never wanted to let go.

It was a weird evening, being back in the house that I grew up knowing that it’s no longer home. Not knowing what will happen to me in the next couple of months. But I will be strong, “I will come back STRONG!”

Denmark is my country and I will get the best out of it, before I go back to New York for school. After all, that was the whole purpose of going to New York in the first place, right? Not creating a life, not falling in love …

Please, remember me! Please!

(This one is dedicated to you!)

Broadway show and other fantastic experiences

I’ve been so busy, way too busy to write anything. Even my dissertation is suffering from it. But life is so beautiful, and how can I possible say no, when being asked to go out and enjoy life!

Since Irene, I’ve been running around, seeing things, experiencing things, hung out with friends.

I’ve been spending a lot of time with one good friend in particular,  and has really been a true pleasure to get to know him better. I normally never talk about my private life in this blog but he really is worth mentioning! Through his eyes, I now see New York in a different light. It’s something I will take with me. (You know, this is ‘real’!)

It also took me on a trip to Philadelphia, where I met new great people.

..

Yesterday, I went with my a close girlfriend of mine to see Phantom of the Opera on Broadway. It was on my Bucket list for last year but never got a chance to go. BUT WOW! What an experience! Absolutely recommendable!

..

I’m so happy to have friends that makes life easier and even though I don’t want to leave them to go back to Denmark in 12 days, I know that they will all (no exception, right?) be there when I come back. And I can’t wait for that day. When that’s said, I will make my stay in Denmark good. Will be great to see my beautiful sisters and wonderful mom again. I sometimes forget how much they mean to me.

Dates in the City

I’ve always said that New York City is the love of my life. Because no matter how imperfect  I am, how much I mess up. New York will never leave me.

I also tease people sometimes by saying I’m going on a date. People think I’m talking about an actual date, when in fact I’m just talking about dating my city. In other words: Just walking around the streets of Manhattan is to me, quite an awesome way of spending my time.

After I moved into my apartment I have been able to enjoy my time alone and have more energy to actually enjoy the wonders of the city I live in, without having to stress around.

Lately I’ve been spending quite a lot of time with a dear friend of mine. I thought he knew New York, maybe not as much as I do, but quite well. Therefor it was a very nice surprise when I realized that some of the places we went, was the first time he’d gone. I love when I can show people MY city! But I love it even more when I can actually share it with my closest.

Yesterday, I wanted to take him to my favorite cafe on the Upper West Side. It’s called Edgar’s Cafe. Sadly, I came to realize that it has been closed since the last time I went. But, I was happy to hear that they have a second location not far from the original. We went and I had the opportunity to speak with the owner. He explained that after 22 years at the original location, he could not renew the lease because the rent was being doubled.

That made me feel so sad. The owner is an elderly man from Sicily and he seemed like such a nice person. We had a brief conversation and after our brunch, I went and shook his hand and thanked him.

Here’s some pictures I took with my phone:

Outside
Inside
Edgar’s Favorite Omelette

The prices are very reasonable, but even if they weren’t I would still come back. I love the Edgar’s favorite omelette and the coffee is just delicious! Go check out for yourself: Between 91 and 92 street on Amsterdam avenue.

Now, one of the next couple of days I’m gonna take my dear friend with me around Forest Hills and try and convince him that this area kicks butt!

But if I can’t  … At least I still have the City!

4 years, 10 months and 12 days later

I did it!

Nobody, not even myself believed that I was going to do this. Now, while the tears are running down my cheeks, adding a dimension to the smile on my lips, I know I had it in me.

Eventually the struggle, the hassle, the hard work has paid off.

It’s 4am; besides from the rugs I bought in Ikea yesterday and the suitcases that I managed to pack the leftovers of my past 8 years in Denmark, the room is empty.

It doesn’t matter. I already knew this apartment was going to be my home. It already feels like home. I am home.

I found a studio! vol 2.

After I got the call that I shouldn’t expect problems with getting the board approval I thought it was going to be easy peasy the rest of the way. I was so wrong!!!

First I had to fill out two different applications. Make copies (5 in total) of all of my papers, letters of recommendation, references, passport, danish social security card etc. It cost a lot of money – but most of all annoyingly lot of waiting time in Staples.

Then, because I can’t open a bank account until I have proof of American address, I thought all I had to do was make money orders with the rent (First month+4 months security) and the $1000 deposit and finally $50 for the nameplate.

First I went to the bank. They couldn’t help me. But I was told to go to the bank. After a long wait in the line at the post office and filling out a form, the little Chinese lady behind the counter got angry with me and started yelling: “We do not take credit cards! I can not take credit cards! My computer says it’s credit card. I can not do that! I can not do that!” I stayed calm and then said to her: “This is in fact not a credit card, but a debit card. But thank you so much for trying! You have a good day now!”

I was mad furious. Not only was it one of those hot stinky days above 100°F but I didn’t know how to get the money from my account in the right hands and I was scared if that would cost me the apartment.

Long story short, after arranging a money transfer through my online banking to their bank account – the money has been transferred. It took a few phone calls to Denmark. A mess and a headache.

Yesterday I went with my application and I signed the lease. Unfortunately I can’t get the keys before the board makes a final review of the application and the papers I provided. It’s going to be fine but might just take a few days.

It has been a hassle, and I haven’t even gotten into details. But I guess it’s worth going through a mess – for the love of your life … Even when it’s just an apartment!

I found a studio!

Last week I went for a walk around the neighborhood of Forest Hills, NY to think, relax and look for ‘For Rent’ signs.

Some of the houses in Forest Hills are almost mansion-like, big beautiful houses, crazy expensive. Then, I saw a ‘For Sale’ sign. I thought to myself, what if I could buy? Then a Chinese lady approached me (I guess she was the owner of the house) I told her I wasn’t able to buy at the moment (would I ever be able to buy a house in Forest Hills?) but I was curious how much the house was on the market for. She told me $1.5 million. That is one expensive house. It wasn’t even that beautiful.

So, I said I was looking to rent but it was hard to find something. She told me, in her broken English that I should read the Chinese newspaper: “Many Chinese, they buy house and then they rent!” … Alright lady, so now I need to learn Chinese to find an apartment? Thanks.

I walked further down the street and 5-6 blocks later I saw a ‘For Rent’ sign, I immediately called, left a voicemail and a guy returned my call shortly after.
The apartments I saw for rent was 3-bedroom, and even though I wouldn’t mind that, I’m sure they don’t go for anything close to $1000.
But, he asked me to go take a look at a studio in an apartment building.

I went, but due to renovation I couldn’t take a look at it until the next day. I did talk to the doorman, Nick, for a while. He’s so nice.
The following day I got back and saw the place. I truly fell in love with the charming studio with a separate little room. It’s was still a mess because they were renovating it but it felt like home.

I knew it was my home. When leaving, I teared up. I send a prayer to God and asked for His help. I can see myself grow old there (with or without a husband)

The thing is, that to live at this particular place you need to be approved by the Board. Which can be tricky since I’m a foreign student.
Long story short, I have my papers stating that I’m fully capable of paying the rent. I offered them 3 months rent in security deposit (as we always pay in Denmark) and then I waited …

Monday night I went and saw another studio, same rent, beautiful building (no doorman or automatic elevator doors though) but further out in Forest Hills. Even though my roommate loved it (and she doesn’t want me to leave her) I just couldn’t see myself growing old there.

Tuesday morning, I thought maybe I should just do the most responsible thing and pay the deposit on the studio I saw but I had my doubts. I listened to my inner voice and …. Well, 5 hours later I got the call from one of the board members. I was so scared but when he told me, that it wouldn’t be a problem for me to get the studio I started tearing up again. How embarrassing!

So! Eventually my prayers paid off. I got my beautiful studio gem in Forest Hills. Now, I’m gonna fill out the paperwork, figure out how to withdraw $6000 from my account in 2 days, when I’m actually only allowed to withdraw $1200/day. And then hopefully tomorrow I can sign the lease.

I’m so happy! Truly so happy.

Status on NY dream vol. 4

Only a few days after my last blogpost I went to my mailbox and the only thing awaiting me was this beautiful envelope:

cuny acceptance letter

The letter was thick and heavy and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to open it. When I finally did, my heart sank when reading the first word: ‘Congratulations…’

Really didn’t read the rest of the letter until a few hours later. First, I had to phone my mom and let her in on the good news. She was of course so happy for me, but I think I also sensed her being a little bit sad. After all, this is going to mean that I will be out of Denmark for quite some time. But as I told her, I will be back!

Then I texted a few good friends in New York. And finally I posted the news on facebook! Normally my status updates doesn’t get a lot of ‘Likes’ but this one cleared the table!

Finally I read the whole letter but especially the first paragraph felt so unreal:
“Congratulations on your acceptance as an advanced standing student into the Hospitality mgmt program at New York City College of Technology for fall 2011 semester. I am pleased to welcome you to the City Tech family”

Me, chubby little Dane, a part of the the City Tech family. ME!!!!

Even writing this now, makes me so emotional. It’s not like I have doubts in myself ’cause I know my own value.

It’s just, when I realized I wanted live in New York back in ’06, I didn’t even have my high school diploma. I was a drop-out, a quitter, a wreck in many ways.

I pulled myself together and did what I had to do. And NOW – It paid off!

Well, there’s not enough time to apply and get the F-1 visa (student visa) so I will have to talk with the school to postpone my start until spring semester ’12. But no worries, this will only allow more time to finish all necessary paperwork, applying for scholarships, finding proper housing, work/save money etc. Plus, I do have unfinished business (like a dissertation) in Denmark.

You know what, cross that part  – Not that important right now …

I DID IT!

Things to do instead of …

Yo!

Pro-Poor Tourism in USA, specialization report, hand-in Monday, 20 pages ..

So as I’m getting more and more frustrated about the fact that I have to write something that has already been written before I find myself coming up with excuses to do  much more important things and my mind wanders off and suddenly this is what’s going on:

Listening to old cd’s with Vonda Shepard.

Packing a box for shipment of SATC dvd’s I sold online.

Trying on pants from my closet realizing that they actually fit so much better now after all the powerwalking I’ve been doing.

Curious about how the pants look with the plateau heels I bought this summer in NYC.

Getting even more determined to be able to walk those heels on a regular basis when I’m gonna be a fancy international student in NYC – here’s to our welfare system!

Running back and forth from the kitchen, in heels, prepping for dishes and making a pot of coffee.

Thinking, a hardworking student such as myself needs coffee to write interesting reports on pro-poor tourism aka sustainable tourism aka eco-tourism aka whatever.

Realizing that I still have some starbucks instant iced coffee left that I bought the last day in Forest Hills.

Contemplating having both hot and cold coffee when one of my favorite Vonda Shepard songs are playing..

Decides to look it up on youtube but accidentally starts listening to other versions of it .. Share it on facebook. Makes a silly comment trying to link the fact of being heartbroken and having to hand in a 20p report on Monday.

Finally sits down.

Check my email – nice! Newsletter from Forever21. Gets caught up by some very nice dresses

Again thinking about the shoes. Together with the dresses.

Writes an email to a friend.

Checks my phone. No text messages.

The coffee is ready in the kitchen. Dang, I love my coffee. I actually love my kitchen too. It’s cozy. A real, old Copenhagen Apartment kitchen.

Am not going to afford an apartment like this in New York. Will be renting a room. In somebody else’s house.

Why is tuition that crazy anyway? Oh well, anything to live my dream, right?

I can’t wait to start applying for scholarships.

Oh wow .. PEST analysis .. Economic factors in the external environment.

I don’t like working within the box of regulations and rules and expectations.

.. I’m a smart kid.

This report is going to kiss some butt. I even have this sentence in my report:

…’cause it is shameful to forget about the people living in devastating situations around the corner from where we shop our Manolo’s and have our venti triple mocha lattes.

I only have this report, 2 months of classes and a dissertation left. I’m motivated. I will do it. I just can’t wait to do it for real, in real life situations, on the work place.

The coffee is still steaming hot. I can’t drink hot beverages. It has to cool off for at least 20 minutes. Preferable half an hour.

I love my blog. This domain. Have had it for 3,5 years. It’s about time I do more with it.

I don’t care how great my blogs are (thank you very much!) but nobody wants to read my stuff forever .. Nah. I wanna do more. I wanna give back to society! Or at least the ‘New York starving’ tourists.

If only I had more hours in a day – then I would be writing a perfect report, cleaning up my apartment, having lunches with friends AND! I would work harder to get this website and the other 5 I have more popular.

So many ideas …

I need to write a blog.

Here you go …

It’s been 4 years

September 26, 2006.

It was an early morning, didn’t sleep all night. My bags were almost packed and all I had to do was get as much coffee down without puking – I was a nervous wreck.

I didn’t blame anybody but myself. I thought I could handle this but when the day finally arrived I had no idea why I’d decided to put myself through this.

An hour later I was in a bus with my suitcase in front of me wondering if I would even make it on time. The bus wasn’t moving because we had to wait for the bridge to go down. — Later, I was late for my train. The train I got on didn’t go all the way. Had to transfer at Copenhagen Central Station. Approximately 1 hour 20 minutes later than expected I arrived in Copenhagen Airport.

My best friend awaited me. As always he knew exactly how to treat me and made sure I got to relax a bit. I got checked-in! Got my first $$ and was just about to hit the escalator when it hit me again – “What in the world am I doing?”

I was almost tearing up as was my friend.  I thought to myself: “Too selfish a decision, why am I so immature?” – Five seconds later I couldn’t see him anymore and I had no choice but to move on.

Through my first security. Found my way to the gate. Got on board, found my seat, sat down, heavily breathing. Not only was this my first time in an airplane. This was also my first time to go away on holiday without my family. And the first time to leave Europe.

I called my mother – back then I didn’t realize that you’re not suppose to use your phone while on the plane. But it was somewhat comforting to hear her voice as we were taking off the runway. It was very emotional – and then – she was gone!

8 hours and some later I arrived in Newark Airport. A danish architect, Troels, doing an internship in New York helped me get to Manhattan. To this day I haven’t forgot his help.

A few hours later I sat foot on 42nd street, Port Authority, Times Square around the corner. I remember the smell of that day. And for the very first second I was disappointed. Finally I was in New York and then what? I realized it wasn’t just about traveling to a new place – it was a psychological escape from a world I didn’t appreciate and a way of proving myself.

The danish architect followed me to Columbus Circle where he wished me a good holiday and then he left me through the park. There I was – a pale, chubby Dane – alone on the streets of Manhattan without a clue of what I was doing. I tried to mimic what I’ve seen in the movies; hailing a cab. Apparently it worked and I arrived at my hotel on 71st street.

The room was fine, the TV was showing commercials. My body was aching and I blame the jet-lag for the moving walls.

I heard the ambulances, the police sirens, the traffic. I heard people yelling on the streets.

That night I fell a sleep not knowing that the very next morning I would fall in love!

4 years later: The immature, selfish decision turned out to change my life. Here I am, sitting in my studio in New York for the 194. day with 32 days to go before being back in Denmark. It’s been 10 travels, it’s been January, February – June, Juli, August, September, October, November and December. It has been UWS, Midtown, East Village, Jamaica, Park Slope, Forest Hills. It’s been thousands of dollars. Thousands of miles. Thousands of tears of joy. It was a dream, it was a goal. Then it became a reality, a future, a life.

Who knows what it will look like in 4 years from now but I hope that I’m doing the right thing in life with the right partner, the right decisions made. A brownstone perhaps or a nice 3-bedroom in beautiful surroundings. Maybe it’s not the city but maybe it’s close enough. Maybe a child playing in the backyard. Maybe my family wont be so far from me. I wouldn’t mind having ‘grandma’ over every week or being able to see my sisters. If not, I hope my life is simple so that traveling will be a part of life. As H.C Andersen said: To travel is to live.

Who knows – maybe it will be even better. Paradise on earth.

All I know for now is that I’m happy! Happy that I’m alive. Happy that I didn’t let all of those people’s disbelief tear me down. If you want something – you have to make it happen no matter how impossible it might seem. If you’re not making it happen it’s because you’re all about the talk …

[heart] NYC 2006-2010

I always said I would

Someone wrote me an email yesterday that got me thinking.

So many people talk about doing something but never do. Takes desire,determination and help from others to make it a reality.

So, how long have I been talking about and making a fool out of myself , wanting to live my dream in New York?

Back in August 2006 when I booked my first  flight to New York I didn’t realize that I was on a path towards my reason for living. I was just curios. But then I got hooked and it became a battle for me. It never really occurred to me how much I would have to give up to get here. A month ago it looked like all the hard work and effort and all the things I had to let go, was wasted but then … Poof!

I’m in a bobble and you can’t touch me. I’m dancing on cloud 9.

At the moment I’m taking my time finishing my Venti iced latte at Starbucks because there is no reason to rush home to Park Slope.

There is no reason to worry about the fact that my return ticket to DK is next Tuesday.
It’s not that I love flying back and forth but I know that I will be going back to New York August the 2.
And I’m allowing myself to call it my 10th trip to the city.
And I’m also allowing myself to announce that 2010 is the year where I will be living here. Even though I will go back to Denmark by the end of October. Just for a few more months… Responsibilities.

That’s what I call determination.