Something Swedish


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2014 Resolution Evolution – My New Years Monthly Challenge

Happy-New-Year

Gott Nytt År! We decided to end 2013 by celebrating with a candlelit homemade meal, wine, a movie, chocolate cake, champagne, and then watching fireworks over the river.

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How will we start 2014? With a New Years Resolution, of course.

Last year a few of us decided to have a one word New Years resolution – mine was “success.” Did I fulfill my goal? In many ways, I suppose I did. Did I think about it and strive after it the whole year? Unfortunately not.

This year there will be no typical throw away resolution easily forgotten after a few weeks. This is a year-long project designed to take it one month at a time: 28-31 days dedicated to something different.

Goal: For me to find new ways to enjoy and improve my life through these monthly challenges and to hopefully incorporate some of them into my life.

Why: I want to experience new things, find new hobbies, change my habits, broaden my horizons, try new foods, do  things I’ve been meaning to, reach more goals, make a difference and see a difference in myself.

2014 New Years Resolution:

Improve/change/develop in 12 different ways

JANUARY: Be a vegetarian

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How: Avoid eating meat, eat protein substitutes and take vitamins.

Why: Even though I love meat, and have nothing ethical against eating it – I am curious about how it is to be a vegetarian.

Goal: Eat healthier, be more aware of what I eat, eat less, eat different types of food, form the habit of taking daily vitamins.

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FEBRUARY: Be fit

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How: Exercise everyday – Push myself to start running again, go to the gym, learn yoga, work out at home.

Why: I need better self discipline.

Goal: Get back in shape and back in the habit of working out with a touch of meditation.

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MARCH: Be a dancer

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How: Take dancing lessons. “Bugg” to be precise – a Swedish style of dancing similar to swing.

Why: I’ve always wanted to take dancing lessons, it seems like a fun way to gain confidence and coordination, and continue working out.

Goal: To finally learn how to dance.

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APRIL: Be musical

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How: Pick an instrument, take lessons, practice and learn!

Why: I played saxophone in band when I was 15 and have wanted to continue playing ever since.

Goal: Reconnect with an old passion, pick up a new hobby/skill

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MAY: Be more fluent

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How: Speak only Swedish for a month. No English TV shows/movies/music, conversations, texting, writing or reading.

Why: Because it’s the best way to learn and I use too much English at home.

Goal: Become completely immersed, improve my Swedish skills and lengthen my minds stamina.

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JUNE: Be more Swedish

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How: Become more Swedish through meeting certain stereotypes and realities of being a Swede. Taking suggestions and listing the ways I have (imo) already transformed.

Why: 2014 is the year I become a Swede with dual citizenship and a Swedish passport – I want to fit the part (at least for this month, to try it out!)

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JULY: Be more giving

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How: Volunteer, give donations/raise money, participate in fundraisers

Why: I think it’s important

Goal: To help as much as possible

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AUGUST: Be a traveler

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How: Visit as much of Sweden as possible via day/weekend trips.

Why: I’ve never been much of a traveler and think that being a “get up and go” type would be fun.

Goal: To see more of Sweden, to get a better understanding of Swedish geography.

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SEPTEMBER: Be more IRL

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How: Disconnect to reconnect. No social media, minimize time on computer, gaming and TV, don’t constantly check phone, don’t take pictures of everything.

Why: I hate how much time I spend in front of the PC -doing nothing- and how people, including myself, can’t go 5 minutes without looking at their phone.

Goal: More face to face time with friends, more concentration, be more productive, find other ways of spending time.

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OCTOBER: Be more literary

reader1How: Read every single day.

Why: I have always loved to read but haven’t prioritized it lately.

Goal: To read as much as possible and to remember how fun it is to slow down and read as a pass time and get lost in a book.

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NOVEMBER:  Become an author

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How:  Participate in Nanowrimo – National Novel writing month (Write everyday – goal 50,000 words)

Why: I love writing and have book ideas that are rattling around in my head that I need to focus on getting down on paper.

Goal: Dedicate all the time, focus and creativity needed to finally write a book I’ve always wanted to.

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DECEMBER:  To Be Announced

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How: This month is dedicated to my readers who I hope will give suggestions and make this month as memorable and worthwhile as the others. There will be a page dedicated to suggestions, ideas, and voting.
Why: tba
Goal: tba

Happy New Year!!! And good luck on any New Years Resolutions you have!


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My first 5k race and winning a trip to PORTUGAL!!!

It feels like just yesterday I learned about Vår Ruset (Spring Rush) and decided to make it a goal – my first 5k (3.1 miles).  Vår Ruset has been running for 25 years and is one of the biggest races in Sweden with thousands of participants in each of the 17 participating cities throughout the country, taking over a month to reach the last city. It’s only for women and raises money for a different cause each year.

I started training (jogging) three weeks before with absolutely no running experience to speak of,  horrible cardio, terrible feet, and really old sneakers. See my improvement below – the last one is my time for the actual race: 36:44. My goal was to finish it between 40 and 45 minutes. I think I was able to jog about 90% of the time, which felt pretty awesome – next step is improving my speed.

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Prepping for the race:

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After our group zumba-like warm up session with the instructors high up on scaffolding:

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The race is split up into six different start groups depending on if you are being timed, if you are running the 10k, if you are running, jogging, or taking it easy and walking.

This is our start line:

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Behind us at the start line (did I mention there was a lot of people? Imagine, our start group is second to last so most people are already gone):

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And we’re off! It was motivational to be running along side so many women:

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Hubby found me in the crowd about 2 km in:

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Afterwards everyone received metals:

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And a goody bag of stuff from the sponsors (and bananas and juice):

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I bought a bracelet to support children in Kosovo who need homes:

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The weather was perfect for the race and to sit down afterwards and enjoy a picnic.

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And as we were leaving an hour after the race, I heard my name in the distance being called over the load speaker. I went on stage and sat with 8 other women, all anxiously waiting to see what we could have won. Half way through the prizes got significantly better and my name was still not called. I’m told that I looked excited and terrified at the same time.

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With a microphone in my face I received my first place prize: a trip to Portugal for a whole week to attend Training Camp with Vår Ruset.

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I was shocked and didn’t know what to say, let alone in Swedish to thousands of people picnicking after the race.

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I explained that I’ve never won anything before and I’ve never traveled outside of New York and Sweden.

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I didn’t dare mention that I’ve only been training for three weeks… but now I’ll be sure to continue!

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Each day there will be activities to participate in such as running, “nordic walking(?)”, yoga, dancing, strength building, core exercises, and of course lots of fun in the sun!

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I can’t wait!!

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After an unbelievably exciting day I came home, collapsed, and dreamed of my next adventure.

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Teaching English in Sweden

2013-04-03 08.31.44This month I was hired by Folkuniversitetet to teach an English class. Folkuniveritetet (The Peoples University) is an adult education foundation with over 100 locations all throughout Sweden. They offer tons of classes ranging from psychology to photography, but are probably best known for their language courses. The classes aren’t free like most education in Sweden, but they are more convenient. It’s specifically a great place to learn Swedish if you don’t have a personnummer and aren’t qualified to go to SFI.

I applied to Folkuniversitetet a few months ago, and while they were interested in having me onboard, my classes didn’t get any student sign ups. This time around they had a class with no teacher and called me. I was offered two other classes, but neither worked out for other reasons, but its nice to have my foot in the door and be requested.

My class is a 90 minute conversational English class three times a week and it has been a blast! I love helping people improve their English and seeing my students build confidence. It’s fun creating lesson plans and coming up with fun and interactive ways to use the English language. It’s very different teaching adults, but I am enjoying it just as much as teaching kids.

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I’ve decided to take my TESOLS certificate class this year and continue my education towards a pedagogy degree in January, which means a lot more Swedish studies this year so that I am on a High School level. Right now, it feels great to be teaching and putting my English degree to use. Hopefully I will get more classes, or even a job at a school eventually.

Another part of me is torn. It feels a bit like cheating to be working in English instead of Swedish. I want to use my Swedish skills and continue to improve them. Right now I appreciate the balance between teaching English, having a language internship at a restaurant, and substituting at a preschool all in Swedish.

All this temp work is coming to an end soon though, so we will see where life takes me! All I can say is moving to a new country means starting over again, being sent back to a 5th grade learning level, working hard to prove yourself, being busy studying your way up to an understandable level, trying new things, never turning down an opportunity, not being over qualified for anything, needing to make a lot of connections, enjoying new experiences, and going with the flow. Oh, and holding your thumbs. (Swedish way of saying crossing your fingers)


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Awards Awards Awards

I started writing this post in October 2012 – I’ve been seriously slacking. Awards from other bloggers have been accumulating; unaccepted, unthanked, and unshared. What can I say? I really try not to talk too much about myself or this being a blog and you all being readers too often, but apparently the gig is up. These are great compliments, and I want to say a huge belated Thank You for thinking of Something Swedish. Moreso I want to recommend some of my favorite blogs to my readers.

Before I list the blog awards from other bloggers I wanted to show a very special award I received last year from a website called Expats Blog  – A website I didn’t even know about, so it came as a huge surprise. Expat Blog Award 2012: “We have searched high and low to find the best expat blogs out there.”

Moving to SwedenComments/Votes:

“By far, one of the best expat blogs on the web and definitely THE best Swedish blog.”

“I have been following this blog for half a year, and I never fail to be entertained and enlightened by Meg’s stories. She covers a full mix of expat topics: from food and language, to historical tidbits and detailed photography. She’s the sort of expat who doesn’t just want to glorify her life abroad, but is genuinely keen to educate and share with others.”

Thanks readers!!

Continue reading this post:

Continue reading


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Standing in Shakespeares Inspiration

As I crossed the cobblestone courtyard, ducked through the small dark and narrow passageways, climbed the steep and sagging brick stairwells, marveled at the untouched chapel, watched the swans swim around  the castle moat, heard my voice echo in the tremendous ballroom, looked out the windows to see the cannons pointed towards the coastline of Sweden – I was imagining Hamlets plight. Envisioning the ghost of his father, eavesdropping, deceit, secrets, murderous plots, revenge, and a death stained fencing match. Shakespeare may or may have not ever been to the Kronborg Castle (known as Elsinor), but he was inspired by it nonetheless, and framed the most famous play in history within these walls.

Exploring the underbelly of the castle, originally built as a stronghold fortress in 1420. Continue reading


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Never Stop Doing What You Love

Four months ago my husband urged me to keep doing what I love. Writing. He knew I was out of my element when I moved to Sweden and out of the groove. He suggested to start a blog. To keep me inspired, to keep my skills sharp, my mind alert, and my passion burning. It’s hard to get back into my old rhythm, but I know that I miss it and I need it.  This is to inspire myself and others – a reminder. Moving abroad turns your life upside down and inside out, it takes time to find yourself again, but never stop trying. Take the time and do it. Take your new life and use it as ammo, fuel, momentum.

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Life changes. Things get harder just because they are different. It doesn’t take much.
You’re not where you thought you would be. Time flies. People change.
Adjust.
Make the best of it. Find balance. Never Stop Doing What You Love.
Don’t say you’ll do it later. Or that you have more important things to do now.
Even if life is perfect and all the pieces aligned, don’t neglect your passions.
Sometimes we forget we have them.
Sometimes we adapt new ones and forget the ones we had.
Remember the way they made you feel.
To write. To read. To knit. To play an instrument. To throw a ball. To dance. To sing. To draw.
These things built you. Made you who you are today, wherever that might be now.
Sometimes we feel empty and can’t figure out why.
Life can be great. You love who you are with, where you are, and what you do.
Though something isn’t right.
It’s those passions you forgot about, pushed away and neglected. Priority elsewhere.
Bored, fading, and tired of waiting, they reach out to you and beg. Tugging on your sleeve.
Pick them up. Dust them off. And start again.
Don’t think it. Or say it. Or promise it. Or plan it.
Write. Read. Knit. Play. Dance. Sing. Draw.
Now. You haven’t forgotten how.
Only how they made you feel.
Complete. Calm. Skilled. Proud.

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