Enjoy Not Knowing

Just another American living in Sweden


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swedish word of the month: lagom

This word has no direct translation to English.

Lagom. Pronounced lah-gohm it’s a somewhat difficult word to adequately describe.

Where do I begin? The closest translation is “enough”, “the right amount”, or “what Goldilocks is desperately seeking – the middle ground, the just right”. I’ve personally had difficulties smoothly incorporating “what Goldilocks is seeking” into casual conversation, so I gotta say lagom is a good alternative.

Sweden is the land of lagom. I know I’ve said Sweden is the land of IKEA…and the land of fika, but REALLY Sweden is the land of lagom. Because you should decorate your home with just the right amount of IKEA, and enjoy enough fika (not too much – that would be craziness). Here in Swedeland lagom is the golden rule…alright, the golden rule is still the golden rule…making lagom the platinum rule.

Lagom applies to everything. Food, drink, exercise, time spent with family and friends, you name it – the Swedes want it in just the right amount.

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swedish word of the month: latmask

This was actually one of the first wlatmaskords I learned in Swedish, after hello and hippopotamus (priorities). I learned latmask because my dear wife lovingly adorns me with the title, often. Latmask is pronounced laht-mahsk. Directly translated latmask means lazy worm, so Evelina clearly thinks I’m an up-and-go kind of person.

The old adage goes, the early bird gets the worm. So logically the lazy worm doesn’t get eaten. I’m choosing to see the bright side of things – Evelina is essentially saying I’m a clever survivor.

If you Google lazy worm, you get a bunch of amusing pictures, like the one shown here. I hope you’ve enjoyed this month’s Swedish word of the month. Just think, now you can start calling everyone you know a latmask!

signatureUntil next time.

 


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swedish word of the month: smörgåsbord

For the second Swedish word of the month I thought I’d present one of the few words that are also English words. The key difference here is the Ö and Å. The Swedish alphabet has 29 letters, the first 26 are the same as the English alphabet, plus å, ä och ö.

The Swedish word smörgåsbord is defined as an open-faced sandwich, served cold, with butter, pickled herring and cold cuts. The smörgåsbord is served as an appetizer. (As according to the Swedish Academy’s dictionary) The English definition is similar, a luncheon or dinner buffet offering a variety of foods and dishes (such as hour d’oeuvres, hot and cold meats, smoked and pickled fish, cheeses, salads and relishes). (As according to Miriam Webster’s dictionary).

To be perfectly honest the English definition aligns almost perfectly with my experiences. The Swedish definition seems less specific…though the specificity of the English definition is likely implied within the Swedish definition. Convenient how that happens time to time in Swedish. Little is expicitly said, much is implied – we’re all on the same page after all, aren’t we?

Before moving to Sweden I had heard of a smorgasbord, though I had never eaten pickled herring in my life. The home made kind (as pictured above) are definitely the best). Pickled herring is quite tasty, definitely give it a try! (N.B. DO NOT confuse sill (pickled herring) with the Icelandic shark dish hákarl).

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swedish word of the month: fika

2018 is officially underway and I’m excited to start something new for the year here at ENK. Every month I’ll post a new Swedish word for your enjoyment. In this way you too, dear reader, can learn some important, interesting and/or usefully vocabulary for your next visit to the land of IKEA.

For my first word I have chosen fika. Those who know me, read this blog, or have ever been to Sweden know the importance of this holy-to-a-godless-people ritual. I’ve written quite a bit on the subject of fika here on ENK. The first mention was in March 4th, 2012 where I list seven important things to know about Sweden. This was the first of two posts featuring a short list of important things Swedish – both of which mention the all mighty fika ritual.

I’ve tagged the word “fika” in 13 (now 14) posts, so you know it’s a hot topic here. The most encompassing fika post however is what is fika?

Pronounced fee-kah (realizing now I’ve never explained this), the daily tradition of taking some time to sit down for some coffee and a tasty treat to eat is observed in many settings. At work you get a fikapaus (break for fika). Many a Sunday afternoon is spent having fika with friends, family, or strangers at a local coffee shop. Don’t worry, you don’t have to limit yourself to coffee if you’re not a coffee drinker *gasp*. Tea, hot chocolate, juice, milk…yes, your beverage of choice may be consumed at this midday meeting of minds. The highlight of any good fika is, often, the company you’re with. Good conversation may be the true highlight of any fika. Conversation and the coffee. Coffee is really quite a highlight for me. Coffee:

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Fika is for anyone and everyone. Come one, come all! Sweden isn’t just the land of IKEA but also the land of fika.

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book of january: one, two, many

I haven’t had a lot of time for free reading this month. That is to say I’ve done quite a bit of reading, but almost exclusively for my ECE degree. I say almost exclusively because not reading road signs makes driving a whole lot harder.


This book, En, två, många (which translates to One, Two, Many) has all the information you might want regarding mathematics in the early years of life. Of course, in Swedish. 

Side bar: only the first letter of books are capitalized in Swedish. I may have mentioned this before on the blog, but it really baffles me. Every time! So I need to bring it up again now.

I definitely recommend this book for any early educators, people curious about basic mathematical terms in Swedish, or just anyone looking for a good time.

Dig in!


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book of may: svinalängorna

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At one point I thought I’d try to read more in Swedish. Then I started my Early Childhood Education degree (in Swedish) and was buried in textbooks *written in Swedish*. Is it my own fault for wishing to read in Swedish? Maybe Probably.

Regardless, this book is actually part of the course literature in my History of Children and Childhood course. (I’m basically directly translating this stuff, so I could be totally off on what it really should be called). Told from the perspective of a first generation Swedish girl with Finnish parents her journey through childhood is graphically documented and beautifully written. Susanna Alakoski really can write.

The book has also been made into a movie, so you know it’s a good one. I’m not sure if it’s been translated to English, so before I can recommend you read it I should first recommend you learn Swedish.

No probs, right?

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university in sweden

Getting accepted to university in Sweden is a process. Like any other application process it involves forms and deadlines. And in my case standardized testing. Step one for me was to take what I like to call the Swedish version of the SATs, högskoleprovet. Directly translated högskoleprovet means The University Test, aptly named in my opinion.

Okay, now that I think things over step one was to send in all my papers and information about my previous studies in the US to the Swedish university administrations office. In Sweden you apply for all university studies through one website and one application process. It would be as if every university in the US took the common app and only the common app. So, all my information had to first be sent in and processed.

Then I took the test. In Sweden there are three sections: Swedish, Mathematics and English. As a native English speaker I was naturally stoked about the English sections. Though initially less stoked about answering math questions in Swedish…and basically all the Swedish questions in general.

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Okay, now that I think things over again I realize that between sending in my information and taking högskoleprovet I needed to learn Swedish. And, as you recall, I recently completed the high school level Swedish classes. Learning Swedish certainly helped with the test taking thing.

To summarize:

  • Step 1: Send in information regarding previous studies in the US
  • Step 2: Learn Swedish
  • Step 3: Take Swedish SATs
  • Step 4: Apply!

After having completed steps 1-3 all that was left to do was apply! This past fall I completed the process (the relatively easy compared to the process in the US) of applying to university in Sweden. It basically involved clicking a few buttons on the computer. In Sweden you can apply for multiple programs, but you have to prioritize them. So if you’re accepted to the program you list as your top priority, your application is withdrawn from the other programs. As was the case for me, as lo and behold: I was accepted!

Next step: learn stuff.

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five years in sweden


Five years and one month ago today I moved across the Atlantic to be with my beloved.

I sort of can’t believe it.

  • There are full humans that have existed for a shorter period of time than I have lived in Sweden.
  • I meet people today who I only ever speak Swedish with. Never English.
  • I sing along with all the annoying jingles on the radio – in my second language.
  • I fika regularly and don’t get hung up about it.
  • I can name (and have visited) more than five cities in Sweden.

It’s madness. What once seemed unusual and extraordinary has become just a day in the life.

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swedish as a second language

Once upon a time a girl moved to Sweden. In Sweden the spoken language is Swedish. The girl embarked on a language learning journey though Swedish as a Second Language classes, also known as SAS.

In May of last year I touched upon the completion of my Swedish 2 class. Really what I did was allude to the fact that my final was coming up, and use that as a partial excuse for not posting in ages. At this point I’ve even completed Swedish 3. Which concludes my academic Swedish learning.


Since moving to the city where we currently reside I’ve almost exclusively taken classes online. It’s definitely something to get used to, but now that I’ve been doing it for two years straight I’d say I’m starting to get the hang of it.

Swedish 2 concluded with an in person essay test. We had an assigned book that we were to have read and brought with us to the exam. We received three essay questions upon arrival and had something like four hours to write our essay.

I’m going to reiterate. Read a novel in a foreign language, then write about that novel for four hours. Looking back I’m pretty impressed with myself! To be honest it wasn’t as hard as I may be making it sound, I like to retain hyperbolization rights in my writing.

Swedish 3 was like Swedish 2 but more. More reading, more writing, a bigger and badder final exam. The final exam in Swedish 3 was a national exam. Think MCAS for those of you acquainted with the Massachusetts public school system, or Google MCAS for those of you unacquainted with the Massachusetts public school system. (I was going to make a common core reference, but I’m so not touching that.)

The moral of the story is that I’M DONE! Done with my Swedish book learning. All done in just enough time to forget all my Englishing.

This girl can speak Swedish now. Or at least fake it really really well.

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get a swedish passport

Now, I may have let the cat out of the bag a little on this one. News of my citizenship was published most recently this summer, following that I put up a picture during Sweden’s latest elections.

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While not explicitly stated at the time, it could have been deduced, that both of those passports are mine. You betcha! They are. I’ve officially crossed off number seven on my 30 before 30 list. Per our recent trip to Iceland it seemed like a good idea to get the document.

Travel within the Scandinavian countries actually doesn’t require a passport, other certified types of ID are also accepted. Such as a EU driver’s licence or a government issued ID card. I do have an EU driver’s licence, so my initial plan was to use that for travel between Sweden and Iceland this summer. But then I was reading up on being a dual citizen. Both on the US governmental and Swedish governmental websites it states that dual citizens must ALWAYS use the passport issued by country of entrance and exit, when entering and exiting said country. I’m pretty sure it’s also all caps, bold and underlined on the websites.

Not wanting to take any risks it seemed worth the 50 bucks to get the Swedish passport before exiting and entering Sweden. I mean all caps, bold and underline is serious, right?

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