Something Swedish


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Awkward & Offensive Language Mishaps # 3

Language is all I think about nowadays. People say that in the beginning you learn the basics quickly, but then you plateau for a few months, which feels like an eternity of not absorbing a single thing, but then after that halting rough patch, you start picking it up faster and more fluently. I feel like I’m finally there – gaining more insight, understanding more, being more comfortable speaking, while learning more grammar and vocabulary every day.

With this progress comes more and more mistakes:

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  • When you want someone to be quiet, you would say: “Tyst!” Instead I told my husband, “Tysk!”  – I called him a “German!
  • While cooking one day I was excited to use a new vocabulary word that I thought meant to pull something apart, to separate it. So, I tried to ask my husband if he can cut up the whole roasted chicken: “Kan du skilja for mig?” Instead of asking if he can divide it for me, I asked if he could divorce me. Make sure you understand new words!
  • While eating fish sticks, my husband pointed out that they call it “Fish fingers.” Taking this literally, I went into a supermarket and asked someone “Vet du var jag kan hitta sås for fisk fingrar?” Do you know where I can find sauce for fish fingers? Met by an odd look and a shake of the head, I thought nothing of it. The actual name for fish sticks is “Fisk pinne,” meaning… fish sticks.  (Apparently he meant they call it fish fingers when they learn it in British English, comparing the variation of English names- not in Swedish.)

  • Trying to learn all of the many ways you can use “slå” [roll dice, mow the lawn, hit, beat, knock on, bang on, ring...], I wanted to tell my husband to hit on me, as in flirt. This doesn’t translate too well; “slå på mig” is literately “beat me.” Whoops, nevermind.

Sometimes these language mistakes leak into and combining with my English vocabulary. I now make mistakes like:

  • The capital of a country is called “huvudstan” – translating to head city. Combining Swedish into my English I said Athens is the “Head capital” of Greece.
  • A nipple is called a “bröstvårtan” – translating to breast wart, (*giggle*) resulting in me saying, “Nipple wart.” Lovely.

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Enjoy past blunders:
Awkward & Offensive Language Mishaps #2
Awkward & Offensive Language Mishaps #1


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Organic Deli

Discovering new restaurants or cafes is probably one of my favorite things about moving to (or visiting) a new place – be it a new country or a city, or even just the next neighborhood from where you always lived.

Finally following up on a fellow bloggers high recommendations of a local eatery, hubby and I went to Spis & Deli yesterday. It’s such a shame that this place is not on a main road, or else we would have remembered to go sooner. Now that we have finally eaten there though, I see what Dankoon was talking about and why he insisted we check it out. We were  impressed by the food and the atmosphere and we plan to go there regularly.

Whenever I think of organic food I think of spending a lot of money, but we were pleasantly surprised to see reasonable prices.

The name Spis & Deli translates to Stove and Deli- serving salads, sandwiches, wraps, burgers, roasted vegetables, stone baked pizza, soups, fish – of course everything is fresh, in season, usually locally grown, and organic. Even their juices, teas, and coffee is organic. All dairy is lactose-free. All the bread they serve or sell (loafs) are sour bread dough. The desserts are a limited variety, but looked delicious. Their menu is always changing, which is a nice reminder of fresh food.

“Snabbmat som vill dig väl” Quick food that wants you well (healthy)!

I had the roasted eggplant and my husband tried the wild game burger, both were delicious! His burger came with a small side of roasted carrots and potatoes which were full of flavor. I was jealous!

Real lemon tree

They do more than serve healthy food, but also try to promote a healthy life style. You’ll find health magazines and books displayed around the deli along with a lot of information on their website about balanced diet, the importance of water, and exercise.

I’ve never been one to eat organic food, but I see the benefits and am looking forward to eating here more often. Even if Spis & Deli wasn’t organic and healthy, I would go back just because it’s a comfortable place to sit and eat or relax while enjoying a tea. It is a lot different than most other restaurants and cafes in Halmstad, which is a welcome change.

They also sell a variety of packaged food, such as nuts, seeds, acai juice, protein and vitamin supplements, dark chocolate, and more.

Usually the places off the busy main road are the hidden gems – unique and special. Ask around and see where the locals like to go. Thanks for the recommendation!


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First Two Days: “Första Två Dagarna”

After months of talking about it, thinking about it, anxiously waiting and wishing it would begin- my SFI classes finally started this week. I’ve been excited and counting the days until I would be officially learning Swedish, but once the letter arrived in the mail … I panicked.

Suddenly I was nervous and stressed with an uncomfortable amount of anxiety. As quickly as it hit me – it disappeared. Once I got to the school and saw some of my classmates my heart was beating at a normal pace again and I wondered what I was so freaked out about. I’ve always enjoyed school, and have missed it the past three years- now I am finally back in a class room learning. I’ve been sitting at home day after day with nothing substantial to do for four months – now I finally have a schedule. I am now able to socialize more and most importantly I am learning Swedish.

We have two teachers who teach on different days, they have very different personalities so the change will be refreshing. The class is taught 95% in Swedish, only switching to English when something is crucial to understand or someone asks a question or says, “Jag förstår inte” - I don’t understand. I understand about 90% of what the teachers say (80% actually and 20% through context), it’s nice having someone who understands the limitations, knows the right speed to talk and which words we would grasp. It is a beginners class but you can tell that almost everyone has studied before. There are about 20 people in the class, all around 20 – 35 years old. For these first two days there was a lot of “presentera sig” – introducing ourselves (especially because of the two teachers) in Svenska of course.

Jag heter Meghan.
Jag kommer från U.S.A.
Jag talar Engelska
Jag bor i Halmstad.
Jag har bott här i 4 månader.
Jar är gift.
Nej, jag här inga barn.

We also practiced with the other students, both asking and answering these questions. It’s nice to be able to practice speaking and pronunciation, especially with people who are at the same level as  you. Most people have been in Sweden for a 4-6 months, the longest being a year and the shortest being one month. Some people are more advanced than others, some just pick it up faster. Most people in the class are bilingual or better, so learning another language is not as difficult. There are people from Iran, Turkey, Bulgaria, Serbia, Dominican Republic, Peru, China, England, New Zealand, England, and a few others – I’m the only one from the States. So far everyone is social and friendly, which is a relief.

It’s only the second day so we are doing basics like the alphabet, sounds, numbers etc. The most important part for me is practicing speaking and pronouncing since it is a big mental road block for me.

A few interesting things about the Swedish alphabet:

W and V are basically the same letter – They both have the “V” sound.

G and K are “special” in that the G sounds like a soft “je” [y]  and the K sounds like a “sh” when they are followed by certain vowels.

“rs” combination in a word sounds like ‘sh”

There are basically no words in Swedish that begin with “Q” it is really only used in names. Some words used to start with Q back in the day such as”kvinna” which means woman, used to be “qvinna.”

There is a lot of emphasis on how your mouth is shaped to get the right sounds – this was pretty funny to watch the teacher repeat and do as a class.

The word for the relationship status of “sambo” is from “Vi bor tillsammans, “We live together”

It wasn’t all letters and sounds – Some useful words we learned to fill in for always saying “ja” or “nej”:

gärna – Yes, very much, of course, would be happy to
jaså – Really
jaha – Oh well, aha, oh yea?
javisst – Yes, for sure
tyvärr – No, sorry, unfortunately, sadly

The translations are lose because it is more of a sentiment behind each.

So, after this week I will hopefully adjust to my schedule – get up earlier, eat my meals earlier, get things done before 11 am instead of after 3. Go food shopping after school at 4 instead of at 1 or 2. Nap after 5 instead of sleeping until 10. I won’t be around for phone calls I normally get between the hours of 11:45 and 4:30. Soon I’ll get adjusted and won’t be as tired so things will be back on track. We get a 20 minute break and the class ends 40 minutes earlier than is listed – so it will be easy peasy! Once I’m ready I will start trying to look for work and see what I can do with school smack in the middle of the day. For now I am happy with finally getting started with SFI!


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City Girl: “Stadstjejen”

Being from New York City there are a lot of things that I haven’t been exposed to that have been met with great amusement here in Sweden. Yesterday a friend invited me to come with her to take her horse, Wielka, to the vet. After waking up at 6am (unheard of these days and a huge accomplishment in my book), meeting at 7, getting the trailer, and then arriving at the stable by 8 I had to give her a heads up that I was going to act like an excited kid with a new toy.

I explained that this is a known fact because I have shown this behavior before. With cows. You see, there are cows that graze on my in-laws property and having never seen a cow up close and personal, I was completely in awe of them the first time I saw them so close. (who am I kidding, I’m still in awe) I am slightly obsessed with them when we go to visit.  I never would have imagined that cows have such curiosity – before I knew it a crowd forms each time I stood close enough to catch their attention.

 

I giggle in delight as they all come to say hi, foolishly standing near the fence taking photos, completely unaware of the bull glaring at me until someone tells me that I should move along. They tell me a story of my husbands grandmother needing to fend off a bull by sticking her fingers up its nose. The cows are an everyday thing to my new family, but to me it is still new and amazing, I find them so cute.

I didn’t realize that horses show the same curious behavior and I would be just as entertained and overjoyed. However this time there was no fence in between me and the new animals. When we made our way up the muddy path to the grass pasture there were about 5 or 6 horses that came to say hello as soon as we approached to harness her horse. I never realized how large horses are, which I quickly learned once they surrounded me with curiosity. I, on the other hand, was a giggling fool, so excited to be face to face with horses, a joy which was constantly interrupted by being very startled when they made any movement. I was laughing and amazed all while being frightened and intimidated, which I could only imagine made for a very entertaining image of this city girl. I let out small sounds of nervousness and ducked away when they got too close, I was just happy that I didn’t fall in the mud with iphone in hand.

My friend asked if I wanted rubber boots and a jacket, which thankfully was more of a statement than a question since I didn’t understand that we would be walking through mud and manure to get to the horse. My ideas of what it’s like having a horse was a fantasy delusion. When I was maybe 11 years old I took about three horseback riding lessons, indoors with a small horse, a clean stable, and an instructor holding the reins most of the time. Of course I thought I was a pro and this image of having a horse has always been the one in my mind, not all the hard work and maintenance involved.

And so we drove for an  hour with the horse trailer in tow to the vet in Helsingborg, which is south of Halmstad. It took a few hours, and was a good visit with good news. She got new horse shoes, which was very interesting to watch. First the hoof needs to be filed down and shaped, and then the horse shoe needs to be fitted to her hoof, formed on the anvil, and then nailed in. I never knew there were so many different kinds of horse shoes, why and when horses needed them, and that they can fix problems with the horses legs.

It was quite an experience for a city girl to spend the day with a horse, helping out with walking her, feeding her, wrapping her legs, blanketing her, and everything in between. I asked a lot of questions (maybe too many, and maybe some were silly) and felt like I learned a lot. At the end of the day I was no longer jumpy and scared of the huge animal, but instead felt like I understood her a bit more. It sure is a lot of work and I was exhausted but it is something I would certainly do again even if it means coming home smelling like mud and manure in desperate need of a shower and a nap. Who can resist this beautiful face!?


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Tour of My Local Swedish Library: “Rundtur på mitt Lokala Bibliotek”

Yesterday I ‘killed two birds with one stone,’ or ‘Hit two flies with one slap,’ as they say in Sweden. I decided to A) get my act together and hunker down to study some Swedish B) finally visit the library that has intrigued me ever since I’ve laid eyes on it three years ago. Using my Rosetta Stone, dictionary and grammar books is something I could easily do at home but I have always needed a serene atmosphere to focus. It’s been over 2 two years since I’ve stepped foot inside a library, which is where I spent most of my free time when I was in college and miss it terribly. Being surrounded by books feels like home to me. I’ve always thought that this library was beautiful, a glass huge structure built  hovering over the river.  While all three of my colleges had spectacular libraries, this one put all the public Queens libraries (that I ever frequented) to shame.

Venturing into the library seems like a small feat but its uncharted territory to me which is always  a bit scary. But it’s a library and that’s something I am familiar with- that’s something I can’t imagine can change too drastically from country to country. I am accustomed to poking into stores, browsing Swedish merchandise, hearing the cashiers speak in Swedish – but the library is different. It’s like walking into a bubble, a place to be quiet and respectful. I immediately wanted to whip out my camera and start taking photos of everything but it didn’t seem too appropriate and I decided to be sneaky instead of obnoxious.

The “Stadbiblioteket,” meaning “The City Library,” is modern, roomy and organized with a cheerful bright lime green theme throughout the three floors. The chairs are comfy and the view is just perfect. There is a full sized tree growing in the center of the building that reminds me a lot of my high school because we had the same thing, which is not very common. (I wasn’t able to get a good photo of it, sadly) It doesn’t feel stuffy and stale like the local libraries I’m used to. There is a beautiful wooden spiral staircase and glassed exhibits scattered around. The shelves remind me more of cozy home book shelves because they are not as packed and daunting. Above is a photo of the self check out, not something I’m used to seeing in libraries in the states, but maybe I just haven’t seen it.


I absolutely adore these circular bookshelves, so much more inviting and fun- really breaks up the boring space that libraries often have. High ceilings, all glass, couches and even a bean bag area for the kids to lay around in as they read. While I didn’t spend much time trying to understand where one section started and the other began you can tell its a place for everyone. The kids area is extensive, there are also study rooms, available PC’s, a cafe and loads of magazine racks.

All and all the trip was a good one, although I looked around and took photos most of the time and only studied for about 30 minutes- but it is a start and now I have a new place to go!

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