Tuesday, October 8, 2013

For not having a job . . .

I sure am busy!  I have been so busy that I keep wanting to blog but I run out of time in the day.

I want to write about finding apartments, our apartment, Swedish class, school, new things we have learned, how we are adjusting, etc but I'm running out of time so today you get some random tidbits about why we've been so busy.

Our Apartment
We finally have a place to call "home."  I am so thankful that the hotel we stayed in was an extended stay hotel so it felt more like an apartment and less like a hotel but now that we are in an actual apartment I am glad to be out of the hotel.
Our Apartment
I love that we have an oven.  Every meal idea I had when we lived at the hotel involved an oven. So now that we have one I shouldn't be struggling with ideas, right?  I haven't even had time to bake or cook much because we have been so busy but I have used our oven a couple of times, after I convert Fahrenheit to Celsius.  I used to plan meals two weeks at a time before we moved and I would only grocery shop every two weeks, except for a quick stop for produce on the off weeks. (Yes, I know I'm crazy but I don't like shopping for groceries or planning meals.  I used to plan meals once a week but I read somewhere that you save money if you do it two weeks at a time because the less you are at the store, the less you see and the less you buy.  Makes sense. I thought our grocery bill would be double since I was planning two weeks at a time instead of one but it didn't.  So if you are curious you should at least give it a try!) Now that we have to carry everything home I only plan 2-3 meals at a time.  I typically only plan dinners Monday through Thursday and then Friday and Saturday we either eat out or have leftovers.  Sunday we always have popcorn, cheese, raisins and peanut butter.  Jake did this growing up and we've adopted that tradition (if you know me, you know I love traditions :)).

One thing that has been really hard is finding cookie sheets.  I didn't think I would ever miss Walmart but I did when I was looking around the entire city for cookie sheets.  Apparently when you buy an oven you get a sheet with it to bake different things like cookies but we don't have one in our apartment.  I'm guessing our landlord took it with her.  I finally found one at Ikea but I had already purchased some brownie type pans to use instead.  I haven't made cookies yet but it is on my list of things to bake very soon!

We've been to Ikea twice and I am planning on going again this week with my friend Lisa.  The biggest Ikea in the world is located about 20 minutes outside of the city.  It takes about an hour to get there by public transportation or you can ride the Ikea bus which takes about 20 minutes and leaves from downtown Monday through Friday on the hour from 10-19:00. (I already have a blog post started in my head about how they tell time here.  So don't even get me started!)  We are slowly getting settled into our apartment.  Once we get things picked up I will take some pictures and give a tour of our apartment.
The Largest Ikea in the World!  The "small" ones overwhelm me but I was still excited to go, even though it meant whatever we bought we had to carry home!

Swedish Class
Jake says I need to stop calling them Swedish lessons because a lesson doesn't sound as serious as a class and these are pretty hard core lessons.  We are both taking Swedish A1.  Originally I was going to take Swedish class with my friend Lisa and Jake was going to take another class through a program called SFI (Swedish For Immigrants).  SFI is a free program where you can learn Swedish which sounded great until we heard more about it.  Apparently everyone who moves here usually ends up in an SFI class because it is free but that also means you have lots of ability levels in one class and you just have to deal with it.  Plus the class is pretty laid back and doesn't go very quickly.  Since we are only here for a year we wanted to get a good foundation so we signed up for a class at the university.  Now Jake is taking the class and the morning session is full so we are in class together again, just like when we met :).
Folks University
We meet Monday through Friday from 12:15-14:30 at Folks University for four weeks.  I think we will probably take Swedish A2 but not until January or February because we have some trips planned.  The class is a lot like my Spanish class was in college, hard and completely taught in the other language.  The professor speaks in Swedish 99% of the time.  We actually have two professors that switch off every 3-4 days which seemed strange at first but it actually is a really good idea.  Now we hear two different accents and get two different teaching styles.  One focuses more on vocabulary and the other on pronunciation.

I was a really good student growing up.  I always did my homework and got good grades.  But this class kicked my butt the first few days.  I forgot what it was like to be on the other side of a lesson.  I forgot how to be a student and I also forgot what it was like to struggle through a lesson.  I loved math and I was good at science because it usually involved math but reading and writing were/are not my strong subjects (which is probably why this blog sounds like a conversation instead of an essay :)).  I really struggled with learning how to read when I was in school.  Sounding out words did not come easy to me at all, in fact I had to memorize most words because I couldn't just phonetically sound them out.  I had forgotten about that part of my education because after about 3rd or 4th grade I just worked my butt off and I could hold my own in classes.  Well, now that I'm basically in Swedish kindergarten I am struggling!  This week has been much better than last week and I'm hopeful that my confidence continues to pick up because there were days last week that I was ready to be done.

I know that I will be a better teacher by the end of this course.  I had forgotten what it was like to struggle and feel like I was just barely keeping my head above water.  That didn't happen for me much in school after 3rd or 4th grade so I had forgotten what it was like.  But now I know exactly how it feels and I think it will definitely make me a better teacher.  It makes me think every teacher should have to take a course every once in a while, in something that is so difficult they feel like quitting just so they remember that feeling and then they would know what helps and what doesn't help when you are in that position.

It has been fun being back in class with Jake, although sometimes it doesn't help my confidence that he is really good at picking up languages and I am not.  Funny story about Jake and I being in the same class:  One the first day of class Jake, Lisa and I all sat together.  We had to go around the room and say our name, where we were from and what languages we speak.  The second day Lisa sat in the middle so Jake and I weren't working together, turns out I don't handle him correcting me as well as I could.  By the third day we switched to another side of the room and I was talking with some classmates.  One of them asked if Jake and I were married because she noticed we had the same last name.  I told her we were.  Her response was, "I had no idea because you guys weren't holding hands or making out or anything."  So apparently, in order to be married and in class we need to make out.  I could not stop laughing.  I told her we met in high school and had classes together there and then again in college so we have figured out how to keep our hands off of each other and learn while being in the same room.  Although I do remember playing footsie together in high school :).  On the third day I told the class, in Swedish, that Jake was my husband just to clear things up.

I am still volunteering at a school 5 days a week.  I get there around 8:30 and work until 11:15. I eat a free school lunch and then head to Swedish Class.  This week is my 4th week at school.  I am starting to really get to know the kids and feel more comfortable.  It helps that I am learning Swedish because then I can pick up on more of what the kids and teachers are saying.  I also like that when I'm helping a student with something they are also teaching me new words.  And they laugh at me when I try to say things in Swedish which they really enjoy.
My view as I waited for the metro this week.  I love all of the leaves changing colors!
This week I've been teaching the students multiplication songs.  Jenny Becker, my friend and the wonderful ELL teacher at my last school, made up songs to count by 3s and 4s and then we use other songs for 6s, 7s, and 8s.  This week I've taught both classes that I work with how to sing the threes song.  It has been really neat to be able to teach kids over here the same things I was teaching my 3rd graders.  The teacher I work with the most wants me to work with some small groups and to teach some whole group lessons too.  I've really missed teaching so I'm excited about that.  I also taught them "Give me 5."  My first two weeks at the school I kept catching myself wanting to use "Give Me 5" to get them quiet but I knew they didn't know what that meant.  After talking with my cooperating teacher to see how she gets the students quiet and telling her what I used to do she thought it sounded like a great idea.  So now they use it.  Before they would just say "Everybody, listen up" or something along those lines.  There isn't a school quiet signal which is so weird for me but maybe this will spread throughout the school.

Things they do in Sweden that the US should really consider:

  • Everyone here speaks at least two languages, Swedish and English.  Most speak three languages.  Even my students at school speak 2-3 languages.  When we introduced ourselves at our Swedish Class Jake and I were the ONLY ones who only knew one language.  Everyone else knew at least 2 some knew 5 or 6.  I really think everyone should learn a second language early on. It is just so neat that these kids are bilingual.
  • No one is overweight.  In my opinion, this is a combination of people walking or biking everywhere and the food selection.  They do not sell junk food.  They do sell chips but that is about the only junk food you can buy.  They don't have snack foods or prepackaged food here like they do in the US.  Kids bring snacks to school and all of them are healthy.  They all eat fruit for their snacks.  Every kids eats lunch at school for free and the lunches are good and very healthy.
  • Parental leave is incredible.  You get 16 months of paid leave per child up at 80% of your salary.  This leave is shared between parents.  So far what I understand is most moms take a year off of work and dads use the other 4 months.
  • Daycare here is super cheap.  It is about $200 a month to send your kid to daycare and food and diapers are included in the $200.
  • I realize that most of these perks come at the expense of high taxes but still, they seem to have their priorities straight.
I need to get back to doing my homework but hopefully I can start blogging more because there are so many things I want to remember. Thanks for reading all about our adventures here in Sweden! 

1 comment:

  1. I'm exhausted just reading what you've shared so far. I am so proud of you for not sitting in your apartment all the time. It's so interesting to read about the differences between here and there. And also the similarities. Can't wait to learn more =)


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