Enjoy Not Knowing

Just another American living in Sweden

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book of february: what to expect the first year

Our tiny little baby is officially a one year old. During this past year I’ve had a great time paging through this book during different periods of baby K’s development. They repeatedly reiterate that all babies are individuals and not everyone will follow exactly these guidelines. Yes repeatedly reiterate, because that’s seriously how much they do it.

The story of my receiving this book is a fun one. My mother’s cousin lives on the west coast (of the US) and found out I had not yet gotten a hold of a copy of What to Expect the First Year. So what she did was to send the book to Sweden with a friend of hers who was going anyway. Me and my mother’s cousin’s friend met up in Stockholm where books, pleasantries and some laughs were exchanged.

If you have a brand new little one in your life, or will shortly, I highly recommend this book. Unless you’re one of those people who just cannot heed the repetitive reminders that every baby is different, and instead riles yourself up into a frenzy when everything doesn’t align perfectly. Then you should probably avoid it for your own sanity.

Happy reading!


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coursera – and why my eyes are bigger than my stomach

I want to take all of the courses available on Coursera. You guys have heard of MOOC right? It’s probably the most bestest thing ever.

I say this because I like to learn, and an excellent day for me consists of reading and exploring new ideas. When I say I like to learn, I mean it. I’ve been studing, in one form or another, non-stop since pre-school. At least 24 years of my life has been spent in organized education.

This being said, when it comes to coursera, and all MOOC really, my eyes are much, much bigger than my stomach. Learning isn’t the only thing I spend my time doing, I have some hobbies. So, I don’t actually have any time for extra learning on the side of the learning I’m already doing.

I’ve started a list of Coursera courses I plan on taking. 

  1. Learn to play the Guitar
  2. Social Psychology
  3. Early Childhood Interactions
  4. Positive Psychology
  5. Calculus One

Stay tuned, if and when I start actually completing (and not just starting) these courses I’ll write about it here first. That is, when I have a spare moment. There’s just so much to learn but so little time.

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book of september: the remains of the day


This book is assigned reading in one of my upcoming ECE classes. (ECE = Early Childhood Education, for those not ITK). ((ITK = Informations- und TeleKommunikationsbranche)).

Kazuo Ishiguro is one of the most celebrated contemporary fiction authors in the English-speaking world, or so Wikipedia tells me. What I can tell me is that this book was a great read. Assigned reading can really be hit or miss, I’ve realized. But this one, luckily, was out of the park.

The Remains of the Day has even been made into a movie, so you know it’s good. It’s even a good movie, nominated for eight Academy Awards. Don’t be lazy and just watch the movie though! Always read the book first.


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book of june: the power of habit: why we do what we do in life and business

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg was very enjoyable. But, before we get into things I would like to comment on how long the titles of my book of the month books have been these past two months! Geeze! Is that the new thing, ridiculously long titles? I like it. Or at least I’ve really liked these past two books!

The Power of Habit

Anywho! If you haven’t seen my most recent PN post, go check it out, because a big reason for why I read this book was PN. All the talk about habits in PN got my thoughts a churnin’. Luckily, this book gave me some of the answers I was looking for.

First, basically every single habit and lesson in PN is based on thorough research, some of which is touched upon in this book. Second, I think this book should be recommended reading for all those in PN. The book is captivating, touches on a wide range of subjects while still keeping its focus and the interest of the reader. That is quite a feat, in my opinion. At times I was reminded of Malcolm Gladwell’s writing, but I want to claim that Duhigg took a step up in his writing and really kept one focus strong throughout the entire book. Something that is missing from Gladwell’s writing. Don’t get me wrong I’m a huge fan of both authors (apparently!), but I felt that The Power of Habit spoke to me personally on a level that Gladwell’s books just don’t.

The ending was truly powerful *wink wink*, but I particularly enjoyed the appendix. If you were to only read one part or section of this book (which I don’t actually recommend) read the appendix. The appendix is particularly juicy. Have you read this book? Did you like it? Hate it? Tell me about it in the comments section below!


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book of june: vi kom över havet

Hello and welcome to the first book of the month after my 25th birthday. That means this is the first book of the month for my 30 before 30 list. I hope you’re excited. I know I am.

Remember how I have been studying Swedish? Well in that post (the one you can read if you click that blue link) I tell you about my Swedish as a Second Language class. That class is officially said and done, and for that class we read a novel: Vi kom över havet by Julie Otsuka (which we then got to write our final exam on).

photo 1 (3)

The book has been translated into English, if my English speaking readers are wondering, in English it is titled The Buddha in the Attic. If my Japanese readers are wondering, I tried to check if it’s also available in Japanese, but I can’t read the Japanese Wikipedia page, so let me know if you find out.

I really enjoyed reading the book, and was honestly surprised how well it went to read in Swedish. As you know, I read Mödrar och söner by Theodor Kalifatides in Swedish, and that was actually pretty tricky. I was often looking up words, and asking Evelina to translate for me. This time it went a lot better.

Vi kom över havet is about Japanese immigrants having come to the US. It is in the perspective of Japanese women who travel by boat to husbands who have paid for their new wives. It is really amazingly written, and I highly recommend it. In any language.


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three. learn swedish

So, learn Swedish. A pretty tricky one, I think. When I wrote my 25 before 25 list, in late March of 2012, I had recently started on my journey of Swedish learning.

As, somewhat, preiously explained there are many levels of Swedish learning available in Sweden, completely free of charge.
First, there’s Swedish for Foreigners (SFI). Yup, that’s me, a foreigner. Anyway. SFI is done in four stages A-D.
In the spring of 2012 I was enrolled in SFI C. Seeing as my native tongue uses the Latin alphabet and I have attended more than 12 years of school, I was automatically placed in C. After attending night classes for 3 weeks my teacher thought I was ready to take the National exam. One must pass this exam after each stage in one’s Swedish learning. (Except one – more on that later.) I took the test, and patiently awaited my results. When they were returned to me, my teacher had some surprising news. Not only had I passed the National Swedish for Foreigners C Exam, I had done well enough to also use that exam to pass the D Exam. So with one fell swoop I had completed my SFI learnin’.
The next logical step is to continue on to Swedish as a Second Language for Beginners. I started this class in the winter of 2013. After moving from one city to the next, and navigating the new application process that came with the change in city and course level I had been accepted to night classes.  These went farily well, until the New Year when a different school won the rights to teach SAS for beginners. Luckily, I was able to complete the requirements and pass the course.
That brings me to my online studies of Swedish. This past fall I was enrolled in Swedish as a Second Language 1, and this spring I was enrolled in Swedish as a Second Language 2 (as mentioned my final exam was last Wendesday). For my SAS 2 course I posted a video for an assignment, after which it was again reaffirmed that I will likely always have an accent.  That’s fine right? Anywho I recently found out I need to also take Swedish as a Second Language 3 in order to fulfill university requirements. Basically prove that I know enough Swedish to complete university level work.
My Swedish as a Second Language 2 course went better than the first, which is encouraging. And, although I will not be able to complete Swedish 3 before my 25th bithday, I am actually satisfied with my Swedish knowledge. I would say that I can speak Swedish now. Check off number three!
The hapiness levels are high!


book of december: mödrar och söner

Guys I did it! I read my first full length novel in Swedish. Yes, you should be impressed.

Mödrar och söner

Mödrar och söner was assigned for my Swedish as a Second Language 1 course. Our test on the book was a couple of weeks ago, so it was a good fit for my book of the month. It was a huge plus that it was actually a really good book.

Theodor Kallifatides is a Greek man who emigrated to Sweden. (Just like me! Only I’m not Greek.) He is a writer, as is evident by his having written this (and other) books. In this book, entitled Mothers and Sons (for those of you whose Swedish is not where you’d like it to be), he writes about his mother who is still living. He has never written such a personal piece about someone who is still living, so it was a difficult task for him. I really think the book was mostly about Kallifatides himself, but take a look for yourself and make your own opinions. I have not been able to track down an English translation, so for this one you will have to know Swedish.


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driving on the right side of the road

I’m currently reading the books that contain the information necessary to get a driver’s license in Sweden. I need a Swedish license to legally drive in this country. I have needed it since September 8th of 2011. . .

Driver's books

Don’t take my delay in attaining a license to drive as procrastination, because honestly it is something I want to do. Need to do even. And am motivated to do. I was not motivated, however, to pay for it.

I am astonished at how expensive it is to get a driver’s license in Sweden!!

I’m not sure if I find the Swedish fees for attaining a driver’s license obscene because when I was 16 I did not actually pay for my driver’s education and/or licence getting in any way. But hear me out.

First there’s two classes you have to take. Mandatory classes, not like driver’s ed. They’re called Risk 1 and Risk 2. I actually took Risk 2 first. Luckily that was allowed. Risk 2 starts with a classroom discussion on safe driving. You learn how much you weigh going at different speeds.

This is how much I weigh going 50 km/h

This is how much I weigh going 50 km/h

Then you get into a car rigged up on a machine and do a 360. An upside down 360. It went very slowly, and is not at all what it feels like in real life. (Yes, I do know what it feels like in real life.) It was more like a child’s roller coaster ride. It does however demonstrate that seatbelts will keep you in your place if the car were to roll over. The next stage was to drive on a specially designed course. It was made slippery with oil and water, and the purpose was to learn what it feels like driving when it’s icy/rainy/hailing etc. It’s essentially a slip’n’slide for cars. I got to drive around the course breaking heavily on both normal gravel and the man-made slippery surface. It was a lot of fun. After a few laps the instructor brought out a moose. Not a real moose. A moose made of hanging rubber tubes attached to a pole. Then I got to break on the slippery surface and avoid a moose. Honestly, I spun the car around a few times. But in the end, on the last lap, I made it successfully around the moose. It was actually a lot of fun, and with my successful avoidance of the moose I feel I’m clearly good enough to drive in Sweden.

Clockwise from top left, where I drove Risk 2, my ride (notice the epic front bumper), everyone's ride, our instructor adding water to the slip'n'slide

Clockwise from top left, where I drove Risk 2, my ride (notice the epic front bumper), our instructor adding water to the slip’n’slide, everyone’s rides

Risk 1 is purely lecture. I got to sit for 3 hours and discuss with 18-year-old Swedish kids what I thought of driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, and lack of sleep. My thoughts are that it’s a bad idea. We watched somewhat terrifying videos of car accidents. Learned some relevant statistics about driving under the influence, as well as the fact that you should buy as new a car as economically possible (as these are the safest cars on the road). One might hope it was mostly a common sense course; however, it really wasn’t.

I feel as though I’m well on my way to getting my Swedish license. Just have to pay the final fee. (After the Risk 1 fee, Risk 2 fee, Swedish identification card fee, and test fee.) I better get this thing on the first try. I’ve had enough with these fees.



seems like i might know this stuff…

A goal of mine, on my 25 before 25 list, is to learn Swedish. Thus far I’ve discussed how I will forever and always have an accent in Swedish, or at least that’s my outlook at the moment. I’ve shared my joy in how I actually understood a store clerk.

Now it’s time for an update on my mad Swedish skills. At least I hope they’re mad skills. I’ve started with the class Swedish as a Second Language 1. In this class we’re reading two books. One is a text-book that we read excerpts of (and is surprisingly well written). The other is a novel. Which will be the first official book I have read in Swedish. Craziness.



SAS 1 is the first of three high school level classes in Swedish. The third one is apparently optional. This means I could possibly be done studying Swedish FOREVER come next summer. Craziness. I might opt to take the optional class, seeing as I am not a native speaker, and the more Swedish learnin’ I get the better. But we shall see. It may be time to move on to bigger and better things at that point.

Time will tell. signature

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Remember how I told you that I got a new job? Well, it’s time for another hint about what it is I do: I work with children. I’ve been at my new job for approximately six weeks now, and I have been sick twice. Small children are good at being sick, and apparently so am I.

As I was less than thrilled about being sick again, I tried to look at it in a positive light. Take it as a learning experience. Of course, being the generous person I am, I wanted to share these things I have learned, so that you will also have more information about being sick. (Who doesn’t need that?)

  1. If someone throws up on you, it is likely you will become sick. The story behind this is simple. A small child threw up on me. I got sick. What I have learned: Avoid being thrown up on.
  2. Do not get Vick’s VapoRub in your eye. While Vick has clearly learned the secret of the Gods, and has been blessed with the ability to concoct their Godly salve, it is not meant for in-eye-use. I’m sure Vick has written this somewhere in the fine print. What I have learned: Apply VapoRub with caution.
  3. While tea with honey and lemon is a great way to feel better when you’re sick, an even better way is to add some whiskey into the mix. Evelina learned this as an old family secret passed down from generation to generation, and now she has passed that on to me. It tastes absolutely wonderful (is it just me?) and will help you get better quicker. Proven fact. What I have learned: Whiskey makes it better.

Now, go! Take this new-found glorious information with you as you make your way through the world! If all else fails, stick with number three.