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!