Something Swedish


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Lately & Two Swedish Words That Explain Why I’ve Been Missing

Remember when Something Swedish was updated all the time? Those were the days. I’m not complaining though – I’m finally more settled into my Swedish life with things to do, places to go and people to see.

I always have things to write about Sweden, because everyday is still an adventure. I read the newspaper more and learn more interesting things that I want to share. I have tons of ideas about posts, some half written, some scribbled in a notebook. Some time sensitive ones that slip between my fingers.

Then why have I been missing?  I’ll describe it with two Swedish words:

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“Hinner” & “Orkar”.

These words don”t have direct word to word translations from English to Swedish, but are easy to understand and explain.

Hinner = to have time.
Orka =to have energy to/to be able to/to manage to

So, when “hinner” or “orkar” are negated (inte) it means that I can’t find the time or the energy.

“Förlåt, jag hinner inte. Jag orkar inte att skriva idag.”
(Sorry, I don’t have time. I don’t have the energy to write today)

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Lately life has been centered around studying, working, and socializing – the way life should be!

Firstly, St. Patty’s day. Last year (here) I pointed out that it’s important to hold onto traditions even in a new country that doesn’t do things the same way. I started to create St. Patty’s day instead of just celebrating it. This year I extended our celebration and made a bigger dinner and celebrated with friends. A St. Patty’s Day care package from family arrived, we drank green beer, ate corn beef and cabbage, soda bread, colcannon, stekfläsk, and a chocolate Guiness cake! (Click photos to enlarge)

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Secondly, this month was Bokrea – which I wrote all about last year: here. Basically, it’s a country wide book sale. We picked up a mix of books, some English, some Swedish – not that I’ve had time (Jag har inte hunnit) to open any of them yet. We found Swedish graphic novels of Dracula and Tom Sawyer, a pile of Swedish audio books, and a young adult novel by one of my favorite authors, Neil Gaiman, translated to Swedish. Once I’m done with Svenska som Andra Språk (which is going smoothly – I’ve stared the third level) I’ll make sure that my “studying” consists more of leisurely reading of the Swedish books I’ve bought.

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This month has been filled with new friends and a lot of fikas! Both at cafes and at home with the hubby:

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Life is good. I promise to share it more often again. I was being greedy.


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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!!

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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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Annual Country-Wide Booksale!? – “Bokrea”

I have fond memories of the school book fairs when I was younger. Rummaging through the bins of books, searching the shelves, adoring the posters, figuring out how much I can buy. The school library was transformed from a place to study and required classes to a place of magic. I’m not sure what the difference was, they were still books. This was a long time ago, when I would read any and every book that was authored  or starred by anyone with the variation of the name “Meghan,” the spelling was never the same but for some reason I felt connected and a desire to read books by or about them. Or at least own them.

When I moved to Sweden I left most of my books behind. Thankfully my kindle is here for withdrawals, but it’s not the same as looking at my bookshelves filled with such history, wisdom, adventure, fantasy, tragedy, and culture. Side effect of being a literature major I guess. I know that hubby and I will rebuild and create a collection of books together, but I didn’t count of prices of books to be so high in Sweden.

The other day I noticed book sale signs in the window of one of the bookstores, assuming it was an average sale I thought nothing of it. A couple of days later I saw a book sale in a department store, which seemed abnormal. Then when walking with hubby I spotted another book sale with a huge colorful sign at the other book sale. I asked what the heck is going on. He explained the book sale phenomenon and we went to check it out. Apparently he had told me about this before but I didn’t understand that it was every year, country wide, or such a big deal.

The book sale was so large that it took place in another building, where a store next door had just closed 4 or 5 months ago. We assume that Bokia (the bookstore) rented the space since the Bokrea was coming up soon. Hubby said that the book store used to hold it’s Bokrea at this location before another store opened there- about ten years ago. He was disappointed as soon as he walked in and saw how much smaller the sale is now, remembering when he was younger when this sale was a much bigger deal (Although, it was already a week into the sale). He compared it to “Black Friday” in the U.S., stores opening early, people waiting on long lines early in the morning, and the sale being packed with people searching for books. The discounts are still very good, but the demand and popularity has decreased over the years pushing this from the largest sale date to the second largest next to Christmas sale. In this age of technology, e-books are replacing the need for frantically purchasing books at the bokrea every year. Additionally, people are ordering online instead of going to the sales.

Bokreans started in the end of the 1920’s, as a way to sell a large surplus of old books. Since then bokrea has become regulated by the Swedish Booksellers Association, creating rules and regulations in the 1930’s. Every year it is strictly coordinated which day for every store and online participant to start the sale, so that no bokrea starts too soon. It is always in the end of February, carefully situated far enough from Christmas and hopefully around vacation week from schools. Anticipation is key. It is heavily advertised and some places send out catalogs. The sale lasts for about two or three weeks, this year it started on February 22nd and when I asked they said it would end in another week. The first day is always the busiest, when the doors open at midnight or very early morning. As of 2009, you are no longer allowed to pre-order your purchases, as it is seen as “cheating.” The specific books that will be on sale (reaböckerna) during this time are not allowed to be sold before the bokrea. In the 1970’s Bokrean started to lose customers due to repeat titles being sold every year, as a result price cuts were made larger.

And so we shopped. I can get lost in a book store, apparently even if it isn’t even my native language and there is only a small section for English. We bought a pile of books,  most of them reference books, three for fantasy and two for language and then one book to read. I’m excited about the “Rimlexikon” which is the Swedish Ryhme dictionary. Of course itt will be some time before I can use it but it’s really nice to have for the future and was over 50% off, paying 99kr ($15) instead of the original price of 269kr ($40).

The next day I was scared that the sale would end soon so I visited a department store that was also participating. I decided to go another direction and buy some Swedish books. Not any Swedish books, but children books. I found a decent range to read starting with two very simple books that have pictures and very small sentences for kids who just start to read (I already learned that “husdjur” which I read as “house animals” is the same as “pets” which of course makes sense but I was only making a literal word for word translation instead of trying to make sense of it). It is a bit embarrassing to read “baby books,” but its the best place to start without getting frustrated and giving up. And the pictures are super cute!

Next there is an “in-between” book with less pictures and much more text, “Nils Holgerssons Wonderful Trip Around Sweden”. This one is actually a Swedish classic and my hubby was pretty happy that I picked it up and said it was the best one I could have found. The language is simple enough, but it will take a long time to get through. It is about a little boy who rides a goose all around Sweden. (I thought it was a gnome, which reminded me of a book from my childhood). I’m actually very excited to read this one for a lot of reasons.

Lastly I picked up three “teen” books, which will take awhile to get around to that level, but its nice to have them around.

The great thing about going back and buying these books was that it was “slutrea” (endsale) since the sale has been going on for a week and a half, the sales prices are cut. I bought all 6 of these books for 150kr, where as we spent 450kr on the 6 other books (of course different quality, but the “slutrea” cut off about 200kr from my purchase)

Not exactly the books I had in mind for our bookshelf, but it is a start to other goals. I would love to start reading more again, but I need to concentrate on reading Swedish instead of books I have on my “to read” list. I will find a balance for both, both time wise and mentally. I’m just glad to have learned about bokrea and had the chance to pick up a few cheap finds.


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Listening to Swedish: “att lyssna till svenska”

Spending more time on studying Swedish, which feels great through a few fits of frustration. Which is expected but still makes me… “AGGHH” from time to time.

What other ways are there to study a new language without the exercises, repetition, memorization? Letting the language seep into your surroundings and subconscious through your everyday interactions. Yes, that is easier if you move to the country (as I have), and interacting, but there are other ways.

  • Radio. I usually have the radio on in the background when I am home and not studying, not for the music (Which is mostly English, songs I know and love), but to always hear Swedish throughout the day, listening to the pitch and tone, the speed and nuances. Of course actually understanding what they are saying is difficult because there is a lack of context.
  • Television/Movies. A great way to learn another language is to watch T.V in that language, with subtitles in that language or your native tongue.  Or do the reversed, watch T.V in English with the Swedish subtitles, and never stop reading, constantly figuring out each word from the context. This is also a great way to pick up on less formal language and all the  slang and curses. The same goes for movies. Unfortunately, this option is limited for me at the moment as we don’t have cable right now, but that is the number one reason we are getting it hooked up.
  • Music. One of my favorite ways to absorb my new language is through music. I love to listen to Swedish music, even without knowing the language there is more context in a song than you realize. However, I do prefer to have the lyrics in Swedish and English in front of me as I listen and follow along, on repeat. Eventually you are singing lyrics you don’t know the meaning of, which is a step in the right direction. For example, I often read along to this page when listening to one of the artists I’m familiar with.
  • Reading. If you are an avid reader and have a favorite book that you know inside and out, get the book in a different language. See what  you can translate and identify by comparison. It will be difficult, but you know the story, you are simply filling in the blanks.
  • Audio book.  I’ve never used an audio book, but I probably should. It is supposed to be a great way of learning and studying. An approach I’ve never taken, but I will try eventually.

Here are two videos of Swedish songs with both English and Swedish lyrics to follow along – Enjoy & tell me what you think!



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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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