Something Swedish


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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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Delish Fish Quiche

Wanted to show off this new app called pic frame which is really fun to mess around with and easy to use. You can adjust all the sizes, colors, frame width, frame style – great for showing off a collage of 2-4 photos on the blog without taking up too much room!

Made this fish quiche two nights ago- what a fun thing to say “Fish Quiche,” much better than  “Seafood Quiche.” It’s shrimp, salmon, and  crab meat over a pastry covered with cheese and a creamy batter.

Anyway, the quiche came out really delish… “Delish Fish Quiche!?” Try saying that three times fast. Got the recipe from here. Followed it exactly except that I added mushrooms to the mix (I add mushrooms to almost everything and have trouble not messing with recipes apparently!) Made enough for three 2-person servings and my husband is crazy about it even though he is not a huge fan of seafood. I almost skipped the crab meat because I couldn’t find it, it would not have been nearly as good without it though. Thought it would be difficult to make but it wasn’t, will certainly become a staple dish.

Going to start keeping a recipe book- pretty excited about it but I need to find the right type of book or binder (And get neater hand writing). The pic frame app also reminded me that I need to finish my wedding scrapbook. I need to start making time for old hobby’s and interests again like scrap booking and card making, (Although I never cooked before so I do have a new interest as well). Hard to balance everything even though I feel like I’m often not doing anything at all. Guess it’s more of a mental block than a time issue.


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When the Cat’s Away, the Mice will Play – “När Katten är Borta Dansar Råttorna på Bordet”

Min Katt, hon heter Delilah

Hmm, not really, but tonight is the first night by myself in Sweden. The hubby has to travel for work sometimes and so here I am while he is in Denmark until tomorrow. I wish the title of this post could be a little more accurate, but I guess we don’t actually have the roles of cat and mouse so it wouldn’t work regardless, I just really wanted to use it as a title and show a photo of my cat.

For anyone who knows some amount of Swedish will recognize that the Swedish title isn’t an exact translation of the English one.  Instead of translating word for word, which would be, “När katten är borta, möss spela” (When the cat is away, mice play). Swedish has a corresponding idiom as English which has the same meaning but is said differently, the text in the title translates to: “When the cat is away dancing rats are on the table.”

It is almost 8pm here (20:00- I don’t think I’ll get used to saying time this way) and the most “playing” I’ve done was to take a lovely two hour “tupplur,” which means “nap.” I learned that word yesterday- from twitter! And I certainly haven’t danced on any tables!! (I think I like being likened to a mice over a rat)

I suppose my version of “playing” will be staying up later than normal  to see if I can make some phone calls to some family and friends. With the six hour time difference it’s hard to get a hold of people who work until 5 or 6pm, since I am usually sleeping or at least off the computer at that point since hubby wakes up kind of early. The timing hasn’t been too hard to deal with though, it turns out that when I wake up early enough (7 – 8 am) a handful of friends are still awake in NY from that night before since its 1 or 2 am for them (Gotta love the night owls, the bar hoppers, the bar workers, and the insomniacs). And then there’s my Aunt who wakes up super early and is usually the first person I talk to once or twice a week around noon my time. Some friends and family don’t work or have traditional hours so I’ve been pretty lucky to get a few calls every once in awhile.

Technology is amazing, having Skype has allowed me to be in another country and not feel as alone. Sometimes its a 60 minute video chat and other times its a quick cigarette break phone call from a best friend. Skype is how we managed a long distance relationship for three years and its how I will keep in touch with friends and family now. Its cheap and easy and even allows me to buy a NY phone number so its affordable for everyone. I know I sound like a commercial, but that’s only because there are still people not taking advantage of it and it helps  me so much on a daily basis.

So, my other “playing” for today was actually pretty routine- shopping for the apartment. There are a few shops in town that I always go to because I love to buy little things to organize and decorate with. I shop carefully, knowing that money doesn’t grow on trees (Why, oh why!?), but it  IS my first apartment and I AM home a lot, so every once in awhile I’ll go to  AhlensLagerhaus, Clas Olson, or TGR to see if I can find something useful. Today felt like the colorful jackpot! Min nya kudde och tre nya korgar – “My new pillow and three new baskets”

Tomorrow I will force myself to study Swedish, I have been slacking; twiddling my thumbs while I wait for my “Personnummer” which will (Aside from making me a real person!) allow me to start SFI, Swedish for Immigrants, and start looking for work. I didn’t come here to wait, I came here to live and learn. And I will!

Reach for the moon, the worst that can happen is you fall short and catch a star.

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During Swedish Winter: Under den svenska vintern

Swedish News: Sweden’s official twitter account is completely run by its citizens, each week a new Swede is updating for @Sweden, completely uncensored to show the true people of Sweden. Isn’t that neat? See the video here. Right now the user is a lesbian truck driver, and boy is she chatty! I guess I would be too if I was updating for a whole country. I wonder who will be next. I can’t seem to find anything relevant to say on my new twitter. I’m sure the more I experience the more I will tweet? For now I’ll write long comprehensive sentences linked together to make paragraphs, but I think it’ll be fun in the future. For the time being I’ve learned how to use hashtags (#) and read stuff that people are writing about #Sweden and #Swedish.

Our local library (biblioteket)

I try to go for a walk everyday to get more comfortable with my surroundings and stay on some sort of schedule since I’m not working or going to school yet,  but that still doesn’t keep me from sleeping late. Yesterday I ventured out at 10:30am (my earliest outing yet) and saw four long lines of the cutest  little kids walking to and from the library down the block from us (which is a beautiful glass building overlooking the Nissan River that I still haven’t gone inside). Made me want to take my walks earlier from now on, I was tempted to take a picture of the kids but I thought that might be creepy.

Anyway, my new schedule of sleeping late isn’t a habit I’m used to, I love mornings, so I suspect its due to the weather/season. It still hasn’t snowed here yet, instead its all grey skies and lots of wind. At least snow brightens everything up a bit. Depending on what time our alarm goes off the sun still hasn’t risen or seems like its struggling behind the clouds. I’m the type of person who needs light, not only to wake up but to function.

A few people regularly ask about how much daylight I see these days, what time the sun rises and sets.

For those who don’t know anything (or much) about Sweden- its very long and very North (relate to it this way: Sweden is almost the length

For the sake of comparison, I deleted the Atlantic ocean and moved Sweden a few thousand miles south.

of the whole U.S Eastern coast; the Southern

tip in line with Northern Canada, and the North tip in line with Northern Alaska) In Southern Sweden (Where we are least effected by the harshest cold weather and the longest days or nights) we had 6 hours and 47 minutes the winter equinox on Dec 22nd, waslong. In New York the same shortest day of the year was 9 hours and 15 minutes. Today the sun rose at 8:28 and will set at 4:11, and let me tell you it feels like it rises slow and sets fast! I hope you guys are enjoying your extra two hours of sunlight! Come Summer you will be jealous, so it makes it all worth while, I get to enjoy 17 hours and 45 minutes of daylight! It sounds like a lot but its a great way to brighten up your day! I’m just relieved to be in Southern Sweden so we aren’t stuck with even longer or shorter days, that must be rough. At least they have snow now, I’m jealous of that, but not of the weather difference, I’ve been enjoying my 4 degrees C (39 F), which is about to change but at least snow is on its way!

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