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.
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.
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!|
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 :).
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!|
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!