08 Jun 2013 1 Comment
08 Jun 2013 1 Comment
Today the Swedish flags are raised to celebrate the wedding of Princess Madeleine (Duchess of Hälsingland and Gästrikland) to New Yorker financier Christopher O’Neil. (this is the second royal event since I’ve moved to Sweden)
To celebrate (aka as an excuse) I am prepped with a slice of prinsesstårta (Princess cake) to eat while I watch:
I thought this might also be the perfect excuse to share some photos of Prinsesstårta CUPCAKES that a friend and I attempted for the first time last week. I’ll post the recipe once we perfect it (More fluffy cream and use green marzipan so they look like prinsesstårta, for starters)!
19 May 2013 10 Comments
Last night Europe was huddled around their television sets watching the finally of The Eurovision Song Contest, crossing their fingers for their own country to win, or at least a neighboring country. It’s usually a love hate relationship; there are die hard fans of the competition and then there are people who think it’s a joke. Either way it is an acquired taste. One of my favorite parts is following Twitter #Eurovision2013 and reading the comments and reactions.
Last year I wrote all about the Eurovision contest, recap or learn all about it for the first time by clicking this link: Sweden Wins Eurovision AGAIN! A History Starting With ABBA
This year The Eurovision Song Contest was held in Sweden because of Loreen’s powerful hit, “Euphoria.” Hosting Eurovision is a big deal; bringing in thousands of tourists and being able to show off your country to the world.
Instead of telling you about all 26 finalists (or even highlighting them all) I want to show you my favorite part of the show, which was an intermission song called, “Swedish Smörgåsbord” performed by the host, Petra Mede, singing all about every (true) Swedish stereotype and characteristic that exists. It’s hilariously accurate and paints a great picture of Sweden and the Swedes. (Read the lyrics HERE) It really is a must watch:
Sweden has been getting a lot of credit for putting together a great show this year, with special attention to this song, calling it a “Show Stopper” and that the host “Steals the Show” with a disappointment that you can’t vote for intermission songs.
Sweden’s entry unfortunately came in 14th place:
However, our neighboring country, DENMARK, won by 50 points!:
So, next year Eurovision will still be right around the corner, in Copenhagen.
18 May 2013 4 Comments
Growing up in NYC, I never thought of going out to a shooting range for fun. The only ranges I ever knew about are the ones on TV that are in some building that the cops go to when they need to blow off some steam, shooting at a paper cut out of a body with a pistol.
A random last minute invitation in Swedish to go shooting (“Skjuter”…followed by hand gestures to explain) left me confused and unsure what to expect, but I’m glad I was told that I wanted to go
The Swedish word for “guns” is “skjutvapen” (shootingweapon)
Digital screens to show where your bullet hit, or “Träffar” (which means “meet” in Swedish, but also where the bullet “meets” the target). After unloading my first empty shell case I finally understood the phrase “the smoking gun”!
Mind blowing that I can follow a gun instructional in Swedish and understand everything: how to position your body and why, how to adjust the scope, how to load/unload, and then a little competition called “GRIS” (Swine/pig) which would be equivalent to playing “HORSE” with basketball (who ever does the worst gets a letter, gain enough letters to spell the word and you’re out)
It was three of us, all new to shooting, with two instructors. “LADDA!” (“Load!” which also means “to charge”, for example, your cell phone) “Tre, två, ett!”: 20 seconds to aim and shoot after the countdown. Soon the first “GRIS” was out of the game and our time went down to 15 seconds. Then it was tied “GRI – GRI” and it was down to the last shot: 10 seconds to aim and shoot… I was the second “GRIS” out of the game.
Went through almost three boxes of ammunition myself. Before our screens were cleared to play “GRIS” I got a bulls-eye – I swear! I even kept the empty shell, but I didn’t think of taking a photo until the screen was erased!
Hubby is a much better shot (From all the FPS games):
I had a lot of scattered shots compared to him – it’s not too easy! Mostly because it is so darn uncomfortable! It’s hard to find that perfect position to get your shots to line up, and then you don’t want to move a muscle.
Today I am so sore that I feel like I got punched really hard in the back and stomach along with general aches in the shoulders.
But it was worth it for such a cool experience, along with meeting some nice new friends.
Definitely something we would do again.
08 May 2013 13 Comments
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.
Prepping for the race:
After our group zumba-like warm up session with the instructors high up on scaffolding:
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:
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):
And we’re off! It was motivational to be running along side so many women:
Hubby found me in the crowd about 2 km in:
Afterwards everyone received metals:
And a goody bag of stuff from the sponsors (and bananas and juice):
I bought a bracelet to support children in Kosovo who need homes:
The weather was perfect for the race and to sit down afterwards and enjoy a picnic.
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.
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.
I was shocked and didn’t know what to say, let alone in Swedish to thousands of people picnicking after the race.
I explained that I’ve never won anything before and I’ve never traveled outside of New York and Sweden.
I didn’t dare mention that I’ve only been training for three weeks… but now I’ll be sure to continue!
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!
I can’t wait!!
After an unbelievably exciting day I came home, collapsed, and dreamed of my next adventure.
01 May 2013 4 Comments
Last year was my first time experiencing the celebration of Valborg in Sweden. Here, let this link to last years post refresh your memory: **Links are currently broken – search for “Valborg- How We Welcome Spring in Sweden” to learn more about this tradition **
This year I decided to do something a bit different – I decided that text and photos are no longer enough for the fans, friends, and family of SomethingSwedish – so I started a Youtube channel, recorded a video, edited it, and am now sharing it for your viewing pleasure!
A lot of you have said how it feels like you are living vicariously through my words and captured moments, I want it to feel like you are really in Sweden with me. A picture can say a thousand words, but is that enough to feel the atmosphere, hear the language, and listen to the music?
Enjoy this video of the Valborg celebration, I hope it to be the first of many! Tell me what you think and what you want to see videos of next!
27 Apr 2013 8 Comments
This 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.
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)
08 Mar 2013 6 Comments
This year I skipped the long in depth play by play and am just curious about your votes! The songs range from serious to funny, with lyrics in English or Swedish, Pop, rock, or ballad styles all with great choreography. Tomorrow is the finale which will decide which one of these songs will represent Sweden in the Eurovision Song Contest in May. Watch these 10 videos (in order of their line up schedule tomorrow) and let me know which one you think will win! (or any commentary about the acts) Lets vote!
28 Feb 2013 9 Comments
in Adjusting & Differences, Halmstad, Money, Sweden, Teaching, The Swedish Language, Work Tags: arbetsförmedlingen, experience, finding a job in sweden, guide, job, Moving, praktik, Sweden, Swedish, Travel, work force, working
A few weeks ago I managed to find two part time jobs (Actually, one found me)! Not only are they in a new country with me speaking a new language, but also in fields where I have little to no experience – a restaurant and a preschool. Read about my job hunt Here.
Lärare Vikarie (Substitute Teacher): I’ve taught children before as an English tutor, but never ages 2-5, and certainly never in Swedish. It’s fun to play with the kids, help them build and figure out puzzles and read to them in Swedish, even if I sometimes struggle to understand (sometimes it’s simply baby talk). It’s great practice for the language, I pick up a few new words each time I am there.
Språk Praktik (Language Practice):
More often I am at my other part time job, which is more like an internship to train my Swedish in a workplace. (Explained below) While I do a lot of what a normal worker would in the restaurant such as working the cash register, serving and preparing food and cleaning, I work less hours each shift and focus on improving my language by interacting with customers and co-workers in Swedish. This helps me become more comfortable with conversations and descriptions.
About Working in Sweden
It feels great to finally be part of the work force again, socializing with new people, doing different things, and learning something new every day. Expats tend to get in a funk somewhere along the way, but once working is back in the equation it helps a lot.
When you start looking for work in a new country you have to be open to try new jobs or career paths; even if you have experience, education, and comfort doing something else. It’s about adapting to a new environment, training your new language, getting your foot in the door, networking, and picking up new skills along the way.
You never know what you will find, so just go out there and try.
Don’t be picky – Any Experience is Good Experience.
Don’t expect to (or count on) finding a job within your first six months – learning the language is priority and makes everything easier.
Don’t get easily discouraged, it’s hard for everyone.
Networking is super important, especially when you don’t have any experience or references in your new country.
Be competitive – Take initiative and be persistent.
So, What are Some Differences of Working in Sweden?
Swedish Resume: Swedes are very humble and modest, especially when it comes to work experience, responsibilities and achievements on a resume. Unlike in the USA it is considered rude and pushy if you start to list every one of your responsibilities and show off that you were the best at everything. The Swedish resume is much simpler with fewer and shorter bullet points for each job description. Most important thing about your resume is the cover letter and when you get called in for an interview remember that being punctual in Sweden is a must.
Payday (Lönedag): Instead of weekly or bi weekly paychecks, Sweden revolves around it’s monthly payday – The 25th. This method really shapes the way things function from paying bills to going to the movies. A lot of people are pretty much broke by the 20th and life seems to slow down, it’s especially noticeable in restaurants when less people spend money to eat out. It’s a whole different way of budgeting and handling money, after the bills are paid off by the 27th, anything goes for a couple of weeks – it’s like the town comes back to life. I’ve heard very positive things from Swedish workers who love being paid a bigger sum on one day instead of a little at a time, they say it is easier to budget and save. Payday is a big deal here in Sweden, something to adjust to – it does feel like more of a celebration!
Language Competence: One of the big complaints about Sweden and finding a job here is that your expected to have very good Swedish to do anything at all. Even if you are applying to a cleaning or maintenance job where speaking, reading, and writing is not required, your Swedish has to be much better than what most people can manage within their first year or two of studying. The thing that aggravates people about this is that Sweden has the best English fluency in Europe, but being able to speak English doesn’t help in most cases. Great Swedish is usually required. In fact, it means very little that you are fluent in English in Sweden since so many people are, meaning English is not the huge asset that many people think it will be when they move here.
Breaks: Something that many non-Swedes notice and need to adjust to is how often the Swedish workplace allows/expects breaks. Fika is a very strong tradition here, and is not only limited to after work, but during it as well. Several times. When I volunteered at a school last year I couldn’t wrap my head around the staff and kids having 15 minute fika breaks other than lunch time. When I am in Svenska Som Andra Språk a two hour class has a 15 minute break, which seems unnecessary to me since I’ve never had such breaks unless the class was four hours long.
Minimum Wage: There is no national minimum wage in Sweden, but it is instead agreed upon between the different unions (Fackit…pronounced like “fuck it”), which are very important and active in the Swedish Labor market. Wage is often dependent on age brackets, experience, and what time the shift is (Night/Weekend vs Daytime/Weekday).
Paid Vacations: After being employed for a full year at one location all employees are entitled to five-weeks of paid vacation, by law. July has always been a very popular and expected time for this vacation leave, and many businesses close during the month. Lately, vacation weeks have been more spread out over the year to decrease downtime of companies. Vacation time can also be accumulated for every year you work at a company for a total of ten weeks. In comparison: The U.S. has ZERO paid vacation time on a legal federal level – any paid vacation you receive is directly from your employer/Union agreement.
Paid Sick Leave: Your employer must pay about 80% of your salary for 13 days sick leave a year after the first sick day which doesn’t count (no payment) because it is considered to be a “waiting period.” You must show a doctors note if you are on sick leave for more than seven consecutive days.
Paid Parental Leave: Stay home with your newborn child for 480 paid workdays without worrying about losing your job. This time is offered to both parents and is often split between both mother and father for better equality. Must be employed for at least one year. In comparison:
Paid Home with Sick Child: There’s even a special verb for this which comes from “Vård av barn” which means care of child, which is “Vab.” Where is Inga? Hon vabbar idag = Shes home with her sick kid today. If your sick child is under 12 years old and you take off of work to take care of them, there is also a type of paid “Temporary Parental Leave” that can be applied for which is paid by your employer and the state.
Arbetsförmedlingen (Job Center): This is a really helpful tool for anyone new to Sweden (with a personnummer) who doesn’t know how to get started. It could be compared to the U.S.Unemployment Office, but with a lot more to offer, easier to maneuver, and no negative connotation. It is considered to be a “Placement service” centered around helping you find a way into the workforce through meetings, workshops, or classes. You are given a case worker, can schedule a translator if needed, can place your resume on their website, search though jobs according to location or career, print helpful resources and forms, attend vocational training programs, receive help to set up your own business, go to nationwide recruitment meetings and job fairs, translate documents such as school degrees into Swedish equivalents, find information about what level of education is needed for which careers, research which careers have a good future prognosis all around Sweden, and more. Website Here. Remember that only 1/3 of available jobs are listed on Arbetsförmelingen, so use other means such as handing out resumes and trying different job searching websites.
Praktik, Step In Jobs, New Start Jobs: These are the best ways to get your foot in the door. Set up by Arbetsförmedlingen for people who are new to the country or have just graduated high school, been unemployed, or have been in prison.These ease you into a job by providing a percentage of your paycheck or a stipend which increases the chances of getting a job with a business that is unsure of your skills, language, or if they can afford another worker.
Instegsjobb: Arbetsförmedlingen can pay up to 80% of your paycheck. Only available if you arrived in Sweden less than three years ago from a non-EU country and currently studying SFI (NOT SAS). If you work less than 51% this set up can last up to two years, if more than 50% then only 6 months.
Nystartsjobb: Arbetsförmedlingen pays 32% or 64% of your your paycheck depending on age. If you arrived to Sweden less than three years ago, have been unemployed for 6-15 months (depending on age), or were in prison for at least one year. Can last 1 – 5 years depending on age and other factors.
Praktik: If you are unemployed and collecting unemployment benefits Arbetsförmedlingen can set you up with an obligatory praktik that they find for you or you can find one on your own. A praktik lasts 3 to 6 months and provides a daily stipend instead of a hourly wage, ranging from 100kr/day ($15) to 680kr/day ($100) depending on full time or part time hours and weather or not you are collecting unemployment benefits. Suggesting that you are looking for a praktik when our job searching is a great way to get started since the business owner is getting extra help for free.
29 Jan 2013 6 Comments
A couple of weeks ago a friend of mine made a traditional Swedish dish called fläskpannkaka, or pork pancake. I’ve read about this food before and was curious about it because it seemed very simple and easy to make in addition to something that Swedes love to eat!
It’s not just regular pancakes with pork, but instead a thicker version baked in the oven. The fläskpannkaka I ate was thinner and had spinach in it and I’ve read other recipes with parsley or other spices to give it a little different flavor and add some color. Below is the basic traditional way to make fläskpannkaka, enjoy!!
We used two different types of pork, as we didn’t have enough of either. Bacon works great, but the pork you’re supposed to use is called “rimmat fläsk” or “salted pork.” Many people prefer to bake the bacon or pork for 10-15 minutes instead of frying it by using the same pan as its going to be cooked in. Four eggs, 2.5 cups (6 dl) milk, and 1.5 cup (3.5 dl) flour with a sprinkle of salt and sugar into the batter.