Enjoy Not Knowing

Just another American living in Sweden


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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.

passports

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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book of october: tatuerad torso

In following my book of September, I’m continuing to read in Swedish. This month I both read and listened to the audio book Tatuerad torso by Helen Tursten.

Fun fact: In the titles of books in Swedish only the first letter of the first word is capitalized.

Both reading and listening gave me the added advantage of being able to hear the pronunciation of all the new words. As previously mentioned I’m working on learning Swedish, so my plan is to learn more words through reading.

Tatuerad torso

When I was younger I wasn’t too convinced that reading expanded the vocabulary, but this really seems to be working! Plus it was a really great book to boot! Fitting right in to the spooky creepy theme of Halloween and October in general this book is about a murder discovered in Gothenburg, Sweden. The body was discovered on a beach. When I say body I mean a tattooed torso was found. Yes, a torso, lacking head, arms and the lower half of the body. All packaged in a black plastic bag. More murders are discovered and the drama increases.

As I rode my bike down the ever darkening cobblestone streets of Sweden I listened to the voice of Alexandra Rapaport describe dismemberment, the stench of decaying bodies, and an ever suspicious cast of characters. October was a scary month for me, and not just because of the Halloween tricks, but because most of my evenings included that described above.

They made a movie of the book, which I’m definitely looking forward to seeing. If you’re looking for an exciting crime novel in Swedish. Look no further.

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book of september: harry potter och de vises sten

In my never-ending quest to fully grasp the Swedish language I have decided to read more in Swedish. I thought starting with what very well may be my favorite book was a good place to start. Seeing as I have read it over…well we don’t need to publicly publish how many times I’ve read the book – let’s just say it’s a lot of times…Seeing as I have read the book in English many many times I figured reading it in Swedish would be a good idea.

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To be honest, it was harder than I thought. Turns out I don’t know words like wizard, magic wand and Horcrux in Swedish. Just kidding, no one knows about Horcruxes in the first book. Probably Albus. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Also, Horcrux is Horcrux in Swedish. Now that that’s out of the way, I did get to learn a lot of new Swedish words! I just hope I’ll soon find a good use for “Benlåsningsbesvärjelsen” some time soon. (Leg-Locker Curse for those unfamiliar with Swedish spell names.)

If you haven’t read Harry Potter in your native tongue, get on that. I even recommend trying it out in your second, third or fourth language. All the languages!

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swedish elections

If you were an American voting in the Swedish elections how would you vote?

Today is election day in Sweden, and for the first time I get to vote, with my newly acquired citizen status.

passports

The thing is, I still haven’t decided how to vote. I’m totally new to politics in Sweden so I’m playing catch up.

Here are the parties:

  • The Center Party (Centerpartiet )
  • The Liberal People’s Party (Folkpartiet Liberalerna)
  • The Christian Democrats (Kristdemotraterna)
  • The Green Party (Miljöpartiet de Gröna)
  • The Moderate Party (Moderata samlingspartiet)
  • The Swedish Social Democratic Party (Sveriges socialdemokratiska arbetsparti)
  • The Sweden Democrats (Sverigedemotraterna)
  • The Left Party (Vänsterpartiet)

On election day you go to your assigned voting place and write in your ballot. Information is sent home in advance about when and where you can vote. Everyone has the opportunity to vote in advance, so basically there is no excuse not to vote…unless you still don’t know who to vote for…

This is what they stand for, or what I can tell are their big points of interest in the coming election.

  • The Center Party aims to make all areas of Sweden inhabitable as one of their bigger standing points this election. Much of Sweden’s land is not inhabited, and the Center Party would like to increase the Swedish people’s ability to live in more remote places by making all services available in cities available in remote areas as well as decreasing the taxes on gas to facilitate transportation. In general the Center party aims to decentralize government power by giving more decisive power to the municipalities of Sweden, as well in the past being opposed to nuclear power. This election the center party aims to create more jobs through supporting small business owners.
    Centerpartiet.
  • The Liberal People’s Party stands for gender equality and aims to work towards improving the school system in Sweden. This election the Liberal People’s Party aims to bring more power to those working in the school system in order to uphold a certain level of discipline and order in the class room. The Liberal People’s Party even aims to increase nuclear power in Sweden.
    Folkpartiet.
  • The Christian Democrats: stand for the Swedish family. It is important for the Swedish family to be able to decide for themselves what is best, for example how individual families choose to send their children to pre-school or divide up “parent vacation days”. The Christian Democrats also support lower taxes and decreasing regulations on companies in general, as well as better care for the elderly.
    Kristdemokraterna ..
    Side bar: In Sweden parents have the right to one year of “parent vacation days” for their newly born children.
    .
  • The Green Party: stands for creating an environmentally responsible Sweden. This election the Green Party aims to even increase the salaries of teachers in order to reverse the decline in Swedish schools. The Green Party believes that our biggest responsibility as humans is to achieve environmental responsibility and create a sustainable planet.
    Miljöpartiet.
  • The Moderate Party stands for economic liberalism and aims to support more private businesses and a general decrease in many taxes. This election the Moderate Party is focusing on job creation. The Moderate Party supports increased discipline in Swedish schools in order to combat declining results, as well as maintaining an open border policy especially with regards to refugees.
    Moderaterna..
  • The Swedish Social Democratic Party: stands for equality, all people have the right to equal opportunity in all areas of life. This election they are focusing on anti-racism and creating a Sweden that welcomes immigrants and asylum seekers alike. The Swedish Social Democrats aim to increase opportunities for people to obtain higher degrees in order to increase their opportunities to get a job. This election the Swedish Social Democratic Party is against private schools which earn money and possibly make decisions with money in focus rather than the students. In general the Left Party supports free healthcare and free education.
    .
  • The Sweden Democrats: stand for the restriction of entrance into Sweden. People seeking asylum in Sweden will have to go through a more rigorous process in order to gain the right to live in Sweden. The Sweden Democrats support a social corporatist economy. This election the Sweden Democrats support an increase in specifically educated teaching professionals in schools to improve the environment in schools.
    Sverigedemokraterna.
  • The Left Party stands for equality. This election the Left Party is focusing on creating a Sweden where everyone has the opportunity to go to the dentist, so that it is no longer a class question whether or not the Swedish people can afford going to the dentist. This election the Left Party is particularly against private schools that earn money and potentially make decisions with money in mind instead of students. In general the Left Party supports free healthcare and free education.
    Vänsterpartiet.

We’re set to write in our ballots today, and I’ve yet to make a final decision. So, I’ll ask you again. How would you vote?

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(all political party pictures from Wikipedia)

 


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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).

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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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