Enjoy Not Knowing

Just another American living in Sweden

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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!

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the sweatiest bus trip of my life

Spain part 2 of 3
(part 1 found here)

While in Spain I experienced the sweatiest bus trip of my life.

I’m almost hoping that when you picture a sweaty bus trip you picture an old, half run down, bus with all the windows down and its occupants just sweltering. Fanning themselves with exhausted arms in a half stupor from the heat. Admittedly, it is warm in Spain. However, what I hope you’re imagining is no where close to what my reality was.

They have very effective air conditioning systems in their busses in Spain. On my bus trip the temperature was actually verging on chilly in there. I became extremely sweaty on this bus trip for none of the reasons you’d expect.

The trip by bus from Madrid to Don Benito takes four hours. By law bus drivers in Spain must take a break after two hours of driving. That means half way between the two cities we stopped at a rest stop. Up until that point my bus trip was very low-key. The woman to my left spent the time sleeping, and I spent the time taking wonderful scenic pictures of the Spanish countryside while listening to tunes on my iPhone.

See how wonderful!

Spanish Landscape

Take a good look at these pictures. Doesn’t it look, just a little bit, like we were driving in circles? In retrospect I seriously wonder if we did that a little bit. Probably not. Who knows. Anyway…

Moving on!

At the half way mark everyone got off the bus, as required, and the bus driver locked the bus. We all hung around a rest stop, some people buying snacks, most everyone using the facilities. Had I known what I was about to embark on during the second half of my journey I would not have nonchalantly basked in the Spanish sun. I would have been studying. Studying the Spanish language.

Little did I know my travel companion in the seat next to me was quite the chatter. I did not know this, because, as mentioned, she slept for the first two hours. For the second two hours it was time to chat. Can you guess where this is going?

If I thought that I got nervous while speaking Swedish to Swedes it was nothing compared to how nervous I became while trying to differentiate in my brain between Spanish and Swedish. In general English isn’t very widely spoken in Spain, so if you think a broken blend of Spanish, Swedish and English is at all understandable to anybody, you would be wrong. (This is not only applicable in Spain, but rather exactly everywhere on Earth.)

Despite our hindrances, that is to say, despite my hindrances, and sweatiness, I ended up having a lovely conversation with María-José. She explained about the different areas of Spain. Where she had travelled and lived. The stark differences between the Spanish countryside and Madrid (which I had actually picked up on – believe it or not). Told me about how her daughter had travelled to the US and was now working there. My big input in the conversation was commenting on horses. I’m sure she was simply blown away by my intellectual contribution. I did successfully explain that I was from the US, now lived in Sweden, and was visiting a friend who lived in Don Benito. (She was wondering why on earth I would travel to Don Benito.)

Map of Spain

A clear written explination of our discussion on Spain

I don’t think my sweatiness bothered her. I say that because once we arrived in Don Benito she stuck around with me until Katie arrived at the bus station. Safely leaving me off with someone who knew the area. María-José, thank you, I will always remember our bus trip together.


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seven more things i’ve learned about sweden

A while back I posted about seven things I knew about Sweden that you should too. Since then I have learned a WHOLE LOT. Yes, all caps. That’s how much I learned. Are you ready for the second installment?

Here’s a list of abilities that, when living in Sweden, one must have (at least they’re highly recommended):

  1. Speak Arabic.
  2. Bicycle on ice and through snow.
  3. Drive on ice and through snow. Initially I didn’t think of this ability, because where I come from we also get snow every winter. This is not the case for all locales, so one should remember that it snows in the winter. Plan accordingly.
  4. Have an extremely high caffeine tolerance. The coffee here is strong. Like kill you with its bare hand’s strong. (I’m mostly kidding, although the coffee at my previous place of employment may beg to differ.)
  5. Have an extremely high sugar tolerance. When in Stockholm do as the Swedes do. This means fika, daily. (Like I instructed you to the first time around.) I still haven’t figured out how everyone is still so skinny.
  6. An ability to talk about the weather with old people. Believe me, this is an ability; which leads us to our last point:
  7. Speak Swedish – I know I’ve said this before, but I really just want to emphasize the fact that yes, in Sweden they speak Swedish. If you want to communicate with the Swedes…you don’t actually need to know Swedish…but it really does help.